Morning broke with beautiful clear skies and views of mountains in the distance.
After breakfast we set off towards Ooty with a little diversion to take a walk through some of the older tea plantations. Various shades of green covered the hillsides and Rajat explained how individual plucking of the fresh shoots provides for optimal results, whereas some farmers have the shoots removed with a scythe which damages the twig and causes the bush to coarsen and turn darker green; the financial yield from this tea is much less. If the shoots aren’t plucked every eight days, the plant can easily get out of control and revert to being a tree – as we saw on some of the plantations. The temperatures were perfect and the scenery spectacular.
We visited the market in Ooty where preparations are in full swing for the Pongal festival which starts tomorrow, Sunday. Sugar canes and bunches of neem, with its frothy white flower, were all over and people were buying to ornament their homes, vehicles, etc.
Otherwise, deliciously fresh produce was in abundance and I have complete cauliflower envy – a huge head can be purchased for 75c!!!!
Banana fact: Each guest at EVERY Indian wedding (many with 2,000 to 3,000 guests) is given a banana! Two weeks from the date, the banana merchant is contacted and given the date and numbers. Banana branches are cut, wrapped in banana leaves, and stored in a cool dark place to ripen. One of these branches holds about 600 bananas!!!