April is what I am talking about, of course. It begins with a long weekend. Which means travel. The Family lays down the law: I have to start looking. Can we go to Corbett? No, that requires a longer vacation. What about Munnar? No, same reason. Badami? Hotels don’t look too inviting. North Bengal? Too short a trip. Assam? No.
I’m lost. The Family says Valparai. Where’s that? I look up Wikipedia. It looks like we should fly to Coimbatore and drive a hundred kms. Valparai seems to be essentially tea and coffee estates on the edge of a forest which you are not allowed to go to. Now this actually begins to look like a dream weekend getaway. Maybe we can spend three days loafing about: eating grass, going for strolls across tea gardens, and sleeping.
Edge of the forest? Bound to be some birds there. Take my camera along. The Family never travels without her binoculars and the battered Grimmett and Inskipp. Battery packs, several skeins of usb connectors, a laptop. I read further: lion-tailed macaques, great hornbill, the Nilgiri Tahr. This will be fascinating. I’m already enchanted.
But there is more on the web. valparai.com tells us “It is a place to be visited at least once in your life span, to bring out the joy and peace within you”. The 40 hairpin bends on the road to Valparai may bring out more from within me.
I keep my misgivings about food to myself. Does man live by grass alone? Could they have interesting mushrooms? Wikitravel is silent on the topic of mushrooms, but promises “lots of good bakeries with fresh eatables, biscuits, breads and other bakery products”. It’s been a long time since I had bakery products like fresh eatables. So I’m definitely looking forward to this.
There’s also a fascinating virtual tour showing what looks like snow. Can’t be, I tell myself. Valparai may be 3500 feet up, but it is in the Annamalai range. No chance of being buried in the ice and being dug up 10000 years later with wild mushrooms in my pockets.
Mundane matters will now follow. Finding a hotel, transferring money, buying tickets. But I am charged up. April is no longer the cruelest month. I will not fear a handful of dust.