I don’t remember what woke me up this morning. It certainly wasn’t a bird song, for there was no bird willing to drop down from the clear endless sky right to our window side and announce its arrival with a song. It wasn’t a gust of wind that shook me off from my dreamless sleep. Was it the aroma of freshly ground coffee from the outdoor kitchen nearby? Probably hand-picked beans from the lush twenty-acre coffee estate on which this cosy homestay was located. But frankly put, it wasn’t that either. It was a little far-fetched to imagine that a smell, no matter how strong, could jolt one out of bed. Especially when the non-stop buzz of everyday had reached a level that mandated a well-spent well-deserved well-relaxed vacation. And this was certainly turning out to be one.
Happily lost in the woolen quilts offered in the rooms at the Elephant Corridor homestay, I looked out the door that was left ajar. My adventurous husband seemed to have left on a morning walk. And it does explain quite a lot that he hadn’t even closed the door! For many reasons, this place gave me a strong sense of safety. No one would sneak in, no one had harmful intentions, and none of the four dogs that inhabited this place would walk in to our room or hurt us in any way. In the owner Viju uncle’s words, “They are well-trained well-behaved dogs”. And that was unarguably true.
I strained my ears for the morning sounds. The faint clattering of dishes from the kitchen nearby, voices conversing in the local Coorg language with what seemed like English thrown in occasionally, and the subtle breathing of my four-year old daughter. In the soft light of the Coorg morning, I slowly replayed in my mind the moments of yesterday. The warmth of the bonfire around which we all had dinner – walking, sitting and posing for pictures. The faces of people, the light of the fire lending a beautiful aura to them. The delicious and exotic wood apple curry – sour, sweet and irresistible. Viju uncle putting our little one to sleep, as we slowly nibbled on baked cheesecake after a heavy hearty meal. My daughter conversing with Viva, the calmest (and probably wisest) of their dogs. It had so far been a holiday filled with warm frame-worthy moments.
As I later walked out of Manomay – our room in the homestay, I was greeted by Viju uncle who also showed me around his family’s 150-year old ancestral home. The pictures on the wall, the articles carefully pinned, and age-old photographs…this was one lavishly pampered home. Just the way Viju uncle and his wife, Nimmi aunty takes the greatest care to ensure that every single one of their guests is utterly at home. Sitting in the verandah of their beautiful home, my straight view was the long corridor-like walkway to the gate of this estate. I imagined elephants ambling around, their large feet crushing the lush foliage, their tiny eyes taking in little squares of scenic perfection, and their shadows creeping in to the Chengapas’ living room to haunt good old Viju uncle and his beautiful wife. Time passed by like a curious tourist here, stopping by to take a closer look at such picture-perfect corners. I didn’t realize my morning cup of black tea was getting cold, but it didn’t really matter. The freshness in the air lasted long and kept me perked up.
When the time came to say goodbye, we lurked around their extensive lawn unwilling to get back in our car and drive off yet. We all grouped together and smiled for the camera, and later repeated our goodbyes at every step we walked towards our car. We drove away, our hearts lighter and our smartphones heavier with a whole lot of photographs – each one a pleasant memory, and worth so many stories. This was indeed a home away from home, and we knew it wouldn’t be too long that we came back to visit the Chengapas again.