Let me take you on a journey to a place of immense beauty, where the tea gardens stretch out as far as the eye can see, and the sound of rushing waterfalls fills the air.
This is a place that speaks to the soul. A place that fills the heart with wonder and awe. The leaves of the tea bushes rustle softly in the breeze, creating a symphony of sound that soothes the mind and calms the spirit. In these tea gardens, there is a sense of magic and romance that is palpable, a sense of connection to something larger than ourselves. It is a place that inspires poetry and art, a place that fills the heart with a sense of longing and wonder.
But before we embark on this journey, I have a confession to make. You see, one part of this journey was experienced with bhang in my systems, partly due to the festival of Holi. While the other parts through the hangover from the bhang. And so, the story is scattered into two parts. So please bear with me as I convey my thought and feelings in whatever way I manage to recall.
And so, my dear reader. I invite you to join me on this journey, to explore the beauty and romance of these tea gardens. Prepare yourself as I attempt to immerse you in the sights, sounds, and scents of this enchanting place. Let us embark on this adventure together, and discover the beauty that lies within. But first, a little preview of what Holi is, and how bhang finds its place in this wonderous festival of colors.
Holi & bhang
Holi is a vibrant and colorful festival that is celebrated in India with great enthusiasm and joy. It usually takes place in late February or early March and marks the arrival of spring. The festival is known for its colorful celebrations, which involve throwing colored powders and water at friends and family members, dancing, singing, and feasting delicious traditional sweets and dishes. The atmosphere is electric, with people of all ages coming together to celebrate and have fun.
The festival has deep cultural and religious significance in India, with many legends and stories associated with it. One of the most popular legends is the story of Prahlada, a young devotee of Lord Vishnu who is saved from his evil father's attempts to kill him by the grace of the Lord. Another popular legend is the story of Radha and Krishna, the divine lovers who are said to have played Holi together and showered each other with colors and love.
One of the unique aspects of Holi is the consumption of bhang, a potent form of marijuana that is traditionally consumed during the festival. Bhang is usually mixed with milk, sugar, and spices to create a special drink that is believed to enhance the festive spirit and bring people closer together.
Bhang is a traditional Indian preparation made from the leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. It is typically consumed during the Holi festival in India, where it is mixed with milk, sugar, and spices to create a special drink. Bhang has a long history of use in India, dating back thousands of years. It is considered to have medicinal properties and is used to treat a variety of ailments, including pain, nausea, and anxiety.
The effects of bhang can vary depending on the potency and the dosage, but generally, it produces a feeling of relaxation and euphoria. It can also cause mild hallucinations, altered perception of time, and heightened sensory experiences. While bhang is legal and widely consumed during the Holi festival in India, it is illegal in many other parts of the world. In countries where it is illegal, possession and consumption of bhang can result in serious legal consequences.
Despite its illegality in the world around, bhang continues to be an important part of Indian culture and tradition. It is seen as a sacred plant with spiritual and medicinal properties and is an integral part of many religious rituals and festivals.
The bus and the bhang
“I know you’re lactose intolerant. That’s why I got it in a beer. Don’t ask me how I got it in there and how it will taste… but you chug right. You have that trophy you brag about. So prove it to me. Chug it like there’s no tomorrow!! And remember. No matter what happens, do not!”
Rob was about to say something important. I couldn’t really make out what Rob said in the end. To be honest I didn’t care. Excitement had taken a seat in my brain and I was eagerly waiting for Rob to end his speech. But before he could complete his sentence, the bottle had already touched my lips, and the beer-like concoction rolled down my mouth, leaving behind a bitter aftertaste that almost made me throw it back into the bottle. As I lapped it all up, controlling the terrible taste it was accompanied by, I popped open another can and poured it down my throat.
Heightened by the beer and the anticipation of the upcoming bhaang, and the Holi celebration, the colors, and lights around us, our senses seemed to dance in time with the background. However, as the minutes trickled by, a sense of paranoia began to creep into my mind. What if we had missed the bus? What if we were stranded here, in the middle of the night, with no way of getting to Munnar? And then we got the announcement. The bus is delayed by an hour at least. And our anxiety grew further.
To combat our growing anxiety, we decided to immerse ourselves in the vibrant surroundings. We laughed and joked with each other, admiring the colorful decorations that adorned the bus station and the neon lights of the city. As we peered out into the darkness, the colors and lights seemed to take on a life of their own. They swirled and danced in patterns that defied logic, drawing us deeper into their mesmerizing embrace. Despite our worries, we were determined to enjoy every moment of the experience.
As the bus pulled up right in front of us, its headlights glared right in our faces, blinding us. And the loud deafening honk caught us by surprise. We stumbled towards the bus like ghosts in the night, the effects of the bhang slowly creeping up on us. The sounds of the city seemed to blur together, and the streetlights flickered in time with our erratic movements. As we boarded the bus, our minds were awash with confusion and disorientation. The driver looked at us with a mix of amusement and bewilderment, as if he too could sense the strange energy that surrounded us.
The bus was dimly lit and filled with the sounds of snoring passengers, which only added to my disorientation. We took our seats and sank into a dreamlike state, our minds swimming with hallucinations and hazy visions. The bus pulled away from the station, and we were plunged into darkness, save for the faint glow of the streetlights outside. Despite the chaos in our minds, there was a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air. We were embarking on a journey to a place we had never been before, and the bhang was taking us on a wild ride through our own subconscious.
As we traveled deeper into the night, the bus became a vessel for our collective madness. Our thoughts and emotions collided in a kaleidoscope of colors and sounds, blurring the lines between reality and imagination. And so we journeyed on, through the night and into the unknown, our minds filled with the strange and wondrous. It was a journey we would never forget, one that would forever be etched into our memories like a vivid dream.
The bus journey was long and winding, and the effects of the bhang continued to intensify. The once-familiar sights and sounds of the city were transformed into something otherworldly and surreal as if we had entered into a different dimension altogether. As the bus trundled out of the city and into the open road, the landscape outside began to blur and distort. The headlights of other vehicles streaked past like shooting stars, and the trees and buildings in the distance seemed to warp and shift like something out of a Salvador Dali painting.
Despite the chaos in my mind and the oddness of my surroundings, I felt a sense of euphoria and excitement. The bhang had taken me to a new realm of consciousness, one where everything was both strange and wonderful at the same time.
As the bus wound its way up into the hills towards Munnar, I leaned back in my seat and surrendered to the sensations coursing through me. The world outside became a blur of colors and shapes, swirling and morphing into unrecognizable forms. Our thoughts echoed like a distant memory, barely audible above the chaotic symphony of our minds.
The hours passed by in a blur of sensations, as we were transported deeper into a realm of heightened awareness and altered consciousness. At times it felt as if we were floating through space, weightless and free, while at others we were rooted firmly to the earth, grounded by the intensity of our thoughts and emotions.
The tea, The high, and the chai in between
When I opened my eyes again, the sun was already up, and we were deep in the heart of the tea gardens. The landscape was nothing short of breathtaking. The tea plants stretched out as far as the eye could see, their lush green leaves shimmering in the morning light. The air was filled with the aroma of fresh tea, and I could feel my senses coming alive again…
The tea gardens of Munnar are a symphony of colors, with hues of green ranging from the lightest lime to the deepest emerald. As the sun rises, the color of the leaves changes, giving a visual spectacle of the play of light and shade. The tea bushes seem to dance to the rhythm of the wind, swaying back and forth, creating a hypnotic effect.
The tea plants in Munnar are typically grown on terraces, which gives the planters better control over the quality of the leaves. The terraces also add to the picturesque beauty of the tea gardens, creating a layered effect that enhances the natural contours of the hills.
In the early mornings, the mist that settles on the hills adds to the ethereal quality of the landscape, transforming the tea gardens into a fairy tale setting. As the mist clears, the sun's rays pierce through the trees, casting long shadows on the hills, and adding a new dimension to the tea gardens' beauty.
The tea gardens are also home to a variety of flora and fauna. The trees that border the tea gardens provide shade and shelter to a variety of birds and small animals. You can spot colorful butterflies flitting from one flower to the other, adding a touch of whimsy to the already enchanting landscape.
The tea gardens are not just a visual delight but also a testimony to the hard work and dedication of the tea garden workers. The tea bushes require constant attention and care, from pruning to plucking to processing. The workers, mostly women, are skilled at selecting the right leaves, using their experience and intuition to choose only the best quality leaves. It was then that I realized how much hard work and effort goes into producing a simple cutting chai (cup of tea). It was a labor of love, and the end result was a cup of pure bliss.
…As we disembarked from the bus, we were greeted by the cool, crisp air of the mountain breeze. The sound of rushing water echoed through the trees, and in the distance we could see the faint glow of the tea gardens, beckoning us towards their verdant embrace. We had arrived at our destination, and the journey had been nothing short of extraordinary.
As we stepped into the tea gardens, I felt like I was in a magical kingdom, surrounded by fairies and elves. The hills rose steeply on either side, covered in dense forests and misty clouds. The tea plants seemed to form a green carpet, and I could see the workers busy at work, plucking the fresh tea leaves. The vast tea plantations sprawled across the rolling hills, as far as the eye can see, creating a serene and idyllic landscape. The tea bushes, with their shiny green leaves, stretch out in rows, meticulously pruned and maintained, like an immaculate garden.
As we arrived at the camp, nestled amongst the tea gardens and facing a majestic waterfall, I couldn't help but feel a sense of awe at the natural beauty of this place. The camp was made up of several rustic cabins circled around a cozy fire burning in the hearth, and a communal dining hall where we would gather for meals. The cabins were built with natural materials, such as wood and stone, and had a charming, rustic feel that blended seamlessly with the natural surroundings.
The interiors of the cabins were simple and inviting, with comfortable beds draped in soft linens and blankets. A large entrance allowed the natural light to flood the rooms, and the sounds of the waterfall and the rustling of the tea plants provided a soothing backdrop that lulled us into a peaceful state. Outside the cabins, there were several seating areas where we could relax and take in the stunning natural surroundings. Adirondack chairs were scattered throughout the camp, and we spent hours sitting in them, sipping tea and taking in the awe-inspiring beauty of the tea gardens and the waterfall.
Just after our arrival, we rested our bags by the tents and set out on a hike down the mountain path toward the waterfall. As we made our way through the tea gardens, the leaves of the plants rustled softly in the breeze, creating a soothing melody that seemed to lull us into a peaceful state. As we walked along the narrow pathways, we could feel the crunch of the dried leaves underfoot, releasing a pleasant earthy aroma that filled the air. The gentle rustling of the leaves and the occasional bird call provided a natural soundtrack to this tranquil environment.
As we continued on our journey, we encountered elderflower plants. Their delicate blooms danced in the wind like fairy wings, leaving us bewildered and amazed as if Tinker Bell herself came and threw pixie dust on us. The sweet, floral aroma of the flowers was intoxicating, and we stopped to pluck a few to take with us on our journey. And then, we came across rows of cardamom plants, their leaves and pods releasing a spicy, earthy aroma that made me feel as though I was walking through a spice bazaar. We stopped to examine the plants, feeling their leaves and pods, and breathing in their heady scent.
As we approached the waterfall, we could hear the sound of rushing water growing louder and louder. The path wound its way down the rocky cliffs, and we made our way carefully, feeling the refreshing mist from the waterfall spray on our faces. Finally, we arrived at the waterfall, its powerful rush of water cascading down the rocky cliffs in a dazzling display of nature's might. We stood there, mesmerized by the beauty before us, feeling as though we had been transported to a magical realm.
The journey down the mountain path toward the waterfall was a sensory experience that filled me with wonder and delight at every turn. As we made our way back to the camp, we took a scenic detour, through a magnificent forest. As we emerged from the forest, we were greeted by the vast, expansive tea gardens that stretched out before us. The lush green leaves of the tea plants sparkled in the sunlight, and the air was filled with the sweet scent of the tea leaves. The path wound its way through the gardens, and we walked along, marveling at the beauty of the place.
As the night drew closer, we gathered in the communal dining hall for a hearty and nourishing supper. The food was prepared with care and attention to detail, using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The dining hall had a cozy atmosphere, with a large fireplace that crackled and glowed, and long communal tables where we shared stories and laughter over delicious meals. We gathered around the fire pits and enjoyed our meals, sharing stories under the stars. The camp was a place of tranquility and relaxation, where we could connect with nature and recharge our spirits.
In the end, the journey to Munnar filled us with magnificence and cleansed our auras. It was not just a physical journey, but a spiritual and emotional one as well. It was a journey that allowed me to connect with the beauty and magic of the world around me, and to experience a sense of wonder and awe that I will never forget.