Words are failing me.
It only past 7, and I am at the edge of a pond, finding it difficult to describe the sense of stillness that permeates this place. A leaf falls in the distance, fluttering its way to the forest bed. Out of sight, the trills of an insect are matched by rooster calls. Sunlight streams through dense tree cover; the few rays that make it through glint off leaves of shrubs and blades of grass. The entire scene seems frozen in time, and I am filled with a sense of sorrow because I will be leaving it so soon.
Today's morning is a lazy one, and after breakfast and a short stroll, I opt to spend the early afternoon indoors. We head for town at 2.
Munnar town has, by and large, three types of stores: spice shops, chocolateries and restaurants. Lungis are everywhere, and I staunchly repel Ruchi's attempts to make me wear one. We try to bargain with fruit sellers to no avail; no one seems willing to budge. Pricing structures here are confounding; you can buy lemons by weight at 60 bucks a kilo, or at 5 bucks a lemon.
Communism is in vogue here; every road we take, every alley we duck into, there's a CPI-M poster staring back at you. Lenin looks regal in his pointy beard, and elsewhere Engels looks down with paternal authority. Other leaders, local and contemporary, portray a less stoic image, sometimes even smiling through discolored, misshapen teeth.
We take a four seater rickshaw (also called a tuk-tuk) to a point 7 km away from our bungalow, and walk the rest of the way. It is evening, and mist is creeping in over the mountains, enveloping trees and blotting out the sun. In the dull grey dusk, tea plantations ripple down mountainsides and fireflies light our way home. We arrive with aching legs and cold sweat, satisfied with our exertions.
Celebrations for the new year are a muted affair; neither of us is in a party mood, and we spend the hour post midnight exchanging laughter and new year's resolutions. We have a lot of travel to cover tomorrow, and we retire (relatively early) for the night.