Thursday, December 15, 2005

Reliving Titanic with Regi Thomas

Greg's New Women - Love

Tea fields at Munnar

Spice Garden at Kumli - Pepper

Although the balmy weather and relative peace of Fort Kochin was seductive it was time to check out the hills and so we made our way up, our first stop was a little town called Kumili which is famous for its spice gardens and is in particular the best place to grow Cardamom. The weather in Kumli was wet and cold and believe it or not we had to rug up, the hills are really the only region in India where there are seasons and it is actually winter here, a fact easily ignored in the big cities.

Moving even further up the hills our next stop was to Munnar a spectacular tea growing region; tea it seems will grow only in the mountain areas. We decided to hire a car for the winding and we had been told hazardess trip through the mountains, our approach to Munnar was breath taking, green in every shade imaginable from acid lime to emerald surrounded us in every direction broken by wavy dark lines – the paths between the tea that the pickers use. Tea also needs to maintain a certain temperature to grow, not to hot and not too cold. To combat the sun in the hotter months, trees are planted among the tea fields that are allowed to grow for shade in summer and then cut back in Winter, as a result the trees cut a strange shape against the sky and remind me of the Mambo trees of Reg Mombassa’s imagination

Although Munnar is so far the loveliest place I have been in India, it has a dusty and dank little town ship that charges a fortune for accommodation. In an attempt to escape the town we looked for a place near the tea plantation. After settling in we went out to ‘take tea’ as the Indians would say and met a very friendly little man called Regi Thomas, after only a few minutes of conversation he insisted we come to his house and meet his wife, and after a few minutes of being at his house insisted we come back the next day for dinner and stay the night.

The next night we walked down with our packs to the modest little house of our new friends, Regi works for the government and his wife Sonja is a teacher for the tea plantation school, as a result they live in a house provided by the tea company. Sonja is also 8 months pregnant. We got to the house to find Regi and his wife cooking up a feast and then greeted the many friends that were intrigued to say hello to the visitors, white folks no less. After the first dinner preparations were finished Regi decided it was time for Greg and I to be properly dressed and promptly got Sonja and her sister dressing me up in full Sari, and put Greg in a Lungi and Kurta, it wasn’t enough however for Regi for us just to dress up, next we had to parade around town while he introduced me as his older sister and Greg as my husband, very odd and funny experience.

Their hospitality was overwhelming, although we both did not really like Keralan food as much, the feast they cooked up was mouth watering, spicy red fish curry, flat green beans fried in a dry masala, turmeric flavoured Tapioca, and except for the standard fat Keralan rice everything was perfect.

The only unfortunate thing to come out of the experience was Greg taking a new girlfriend, her name is translated as ‘love’ and she did Greg, Love was the 2yr old of friends of Regi and Sonja who stayed for dinner and spent the night. She was beautiful, and so shy at first she couldn’t be in the same room as Greg, by the time we were leaving
she was running up to him full speed to hug his legs and kiss his knees, it was quite the sight.

But wait there was another unfortunate experience, at breakfast the next morning, Greg and I insisted that Regi sing us a song as he used to be a professional singer, after his moving rendition of a traditional song, he in turn insisted that I sing Amazing Grace, I belted out a not too bad version, but then Regi got even more insistent that I sing the song from Titanic by Celine Dion both Greg and I were in fits of laughter as he told us he had seen it 14 times and he retold the bit where Kate runs to Jack when the boat was going down.

As they waved us goodbye both of us were really sad, the kindness and generosity that they had shown us was beautiful, overnight we had become close friends just because they were willing to share so much with us.


Blogger BEN said...


I'm glad to have had the brainwave to check out your blog this evening! I was well rewarded with tales of crazy Regi Thomas. It sounds very surreal.

The blog is great, I hope that you're able to keep it up. Are you taking all the photos yourself? You've got some really beautiful shots, and the picture quality is so good!

I'm sorry to hear about you're losing Greg to a 2 y.o, but I can say im surprised: she's got to be the cutest thing ever!

Please include as many anecdotes about crazy people as possible. So funny...

Also, don't ever mention that you've been dressed up in a full Sari, and Greg in Lungi and Kurta without including a photo or two, too cruel! Actually, I'd like to see more photos of you in general.

Well I've bookmarked you now, and will come back noew and then to see how you are and what you've done. Keep writing, and i'll keep reading!

Best Wishes

2:15 PM  

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