I recently visited India for a month and my visit was book ended by 2 festivals, Navarathri and Diwali. It's been a long time since I spent any festivals with my family and this trip made for a wonderful experience. We also managed to squeeze in a week's worth of stay in Ooty. This was my first visit to the hill station and I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Escaping the humid weather in Chennai, the cooler climes of Ooty suited me perfectly fine. The mornings were crisp and as the day wore on, it got slightly warmer (just enough to get the body juices flowing) and return and back to a cool pleasant evening.
We did visit all the usual places in Ooty & Kunnur like the Botanical gardens, Lake, Sims Park but the place that I really enjoyed most was the Tea factory in Kunnur. Situated next to vast rolling tea fields, the tea factory had guides to take you around the factory and explain how tea is prepared from the leaves.
Initially, tea leaves are placed on huge trays whose temperature is maintained at a steady 60 degrees Celsius to remove any trace of moisture. Once that’s done, the leaves are manually sorted and fed into a grinding machine which breaks the dried leaves into granules or various proportions. After that, the granules are laid out on a tray whose temperature is maintained at 120 degree Celsius which helps in enhancing the natural flavours that the tea leaves possess.
We were told that the tea produced at this place is export quality and not available in local stores. They had a small shop which made these tea granules available in sample sizes and you could even taste the various flavoured teas before you buy them. We spent around 90 minutes at this place and it was totally worth it.
Once we returned to Chennai, I was helping out my dad doing some admin work at the music school run by him. I also got to brush up on my music skills (namely vocal and veena). I also got around to visiting some of the newly opened restaurants in Chennai with family and friends. One friend in particular was kind enough to drag me to around to some really nice places that had a wonderful ambience and served some delicious food. I would recommend Kabul restaurant on T.T.K Road in Chennai to anyone who has a taste for nice spicy food. Some other restaurants that I visited include Kumarakom (Kerala food), entire food court in spencers, Punjabi dhaba and a host of coffee shops.
My last day in India happened to be Diwali day and I had fun visiting all the relatives, eating loads of tasty sweets and savouries. During my stay, I also managed to drag my parents to a couple of Tamil movies, which is a minor achievement considering how busy they are. In between, I managed to attend a series of concerts organised to popularise my grand aunt's (Mangalam Ganapthi) compositions in classical carnatic music.
Well, to sum up, I had a very eventful and wholesome trip to India