I am captivated by the magic ofÂ India and this was my second trip to this fascinating country. As I stepped out of the airport at Chennai where we were to stay for the first couple of days, I put aside my Western values and allowedÂ myself to be overwhelmed by the noise,Â the smells (aromatic and otherwise!), theÂ madness of the roads and traffic, the vibrantÂ colour and the friendliness and charmingÂ personalities of the Indian people, whereverÂ we happened to be. I travelled solo (as didÂ several others), however, the group comprisingÂ equally of Australians and Brits were just soÂ encompassing. We became one big familyÂ almost instantaneously, together with a greatÂ escort who was polite, and helpful to theÂ nth degree.
After an early morning start to catch the trainÂ to the elegant garden city of Bangalore andÂ spending the night there, we began our busÂ trip to Kerala in the south taking in the smallÂ villages and towns all full of interest; theÂ temples and amazing carved monuments,Â the cultural sights and visits to local places ofÂ work plus of course enjoying the wonderfulÂ food (such a choice!) and the comforts of ourÂ hotels and the fine service they provided.Â Driving through the beautiful mountains andÂ winding through the tea plantations is quiteÂ breathtaking. Nature walks by the riverÂ through the plantations provided welcomeÂ breaks.
Boarding the houseboat in Nedumudy beforeÂ lunch, the overnight stay (5-6 in each boatÂ together with a crew of 3 to spoil us) felt as ifÂ we spent a much longer time on the KeralaÂ Backwaters as it was so relaxing. We movedÂ through the quiet waters observing theÂ villagers getting on with their everyday livesÂ and us, just part of the backwater lazy traffic.
A definingÂ moment for me was in Coonor. WeÂ stayed at the Gateway Hotel Church Gate, aÂ tranquil location. Coming out of my individualÂ cottage accommodation into the lush gardens first thing in the morning it was a little chilly,Â spitting slightly (the only rain we encountered)Â and misty. I stopped. It was magic. It was India.