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A trip to Munnar down memory lane
Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

By Sudha Mathew

Nostalgia has me by the throat today. I’m not sure why. In an effort to assuage it, I am sifting through old photos and there are some great ones from a holiday a few years ago. I had gone on a family holiday with my parents and two siblings to Munnar in the tea country of Kerala. We drove from Kottayam to Munnar and stayed for a weekend. That trip too was steeped in nostalgia as my father had grown up there.

When the three of us were little kids, our favorite bedtime stories were the “Munnar Tales” narrated with infectious enthusiasm by my father. We were never satisfied with one and would try to wheedle more by pleading hard. His yarns portrayed what seemed to be an idyllic country life to the three of us who lived in a flat in Bombay in those days. There were tales of runaway cows, gardening attempts, going to school in the cold winter and throwing up on long bus journeys down from the hills. Munnar always seemed like a little piece of heaven to me. Around the time my father went away to college, my grandfather relocated to our hometown of Kottayam following his retirement. My father didn’t return for more than thirty years in fear of tainting his cherished memories. He finally gave in when the rest of his siblings planned a trip to see if their old house, school and other favorite places were still there.

Munnar still seems a lovely town to me if you stay away from the crowded and badly constructed main areas. But my father insists that it was much better sixty years ago when the British company Messrs Finlay Muir & Co ran the town. The town had grown due to the tea estates owned by Finlay Muir in the name of Kanan Devan Hills Produce Company. From electricity generation to hospitals, everything was set up and managed by the company but he remembers it to be an extemely well-run town. Even the roads were washed down everyday, he says. The company also ran the school where my granddad was the Headmaster and that my father attended. He recalls the Munnar Supply Association (MSA) being a shop for the British with many imported things that seemed exotic to him like cheese and preserves. We went in to take a look on that trip but there was nothing remotely exotic in there.

Last year my parents came along on a location visit to Munnar to add properties for seek&hide. We stayed at one of our favourite homestays in Munnar, Casa del Fauno and were lucky that we caught both the glorious sunset and sunrise over a steep valley. My father looked so content and happy to be back in Munnar. The next day we visited another of our hotels in Munnar, Windermere Estate. The manager mentioned that the great grandson of James Finlay had stayed with them a while ago. So we were not the only people who were making nostalgic trips to Munnar :) If you look at these pictures, it will be clear why I am a wee bit sentimental about the place too.

Cheers

Sudha


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Posted by Sudha at 9:48 pm
2 comments
    Comments ( 2 2)
  • Lisa

    July 14, 2012

    The tea estates are breathtakingly beautiful and the colonial hangover is amusing at the local co-op especially when your father is there to tell you how it used to be ;-)

  • sudha

    July 15, 2012

    Yes to both, Lisa. Thanks!

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About me

The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell

 

My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.

 

While our content is mostly about the holiday experience, the accommodation and services, there's so much more to a journey. I have discovered a whole new me through travel. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unexpected aspects of travel. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries. Bon Voyage!

 
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