The easiest way to reach Kodaikanal is to hire a taxi from the nearest airport at Coimbatore or Mysore. The other option is to travel by public transport. The latter means changing buses and finding your way through a town that doesn’t see the need to print road signs in any language other than Tamil. This could be mildly inconvenient but it’s the option to take for a more interesting journey.
We took a flight from Delhi to Coimbatore and the rest of the journey was to be made by bus via Palani. In Coimbatore, we were bombarded by gaudy hoardings of a certain sari showroom and traffic jams. When we reach the terminal, the bus to Palani was almost full and my sister and me had to sit apart from each other. It must’ve been a premium sort of bus as there was a TV installed for the entertainment of passengers through the four hour journey through the heat and dust. A Tamil movie was running that must’ve been a local hit considering the number of heads turned to the CRT screen and their reactions. It wasn’t difficult to follow the story. And language didn’t matter anyway as I couldn’t hear any dialogues over rattling bus and the general conversational din.
The old lady sitting next to me couldn’t hold back her curiosity any longer and asked me many questions, of which I could understand none. She was accompanied by a teenaged girl, apparently her daughter. Muthu tried to communicate using her limited English. I explained to them that I was with my Akka and I wasn’t wearing any bindi because I didn’t want to.
I managed to catch a few winks through bits and pieces of smalltalk.
“Excuse-me,” Muthu was holding out her phone to me. It was a basic black and white mobile with a “Happy New Year” picture SMS. This was cute particularly because the new year was still more than a month away. I couldn’t stop laughing.
“Thanks that’s sweet of you!”
“Sorry for disturbance!” she was abashed.
By now we had reached Palani foothills. The landscape was studded with windmills. I could see the Lord Murugan temple on a hilltop.
At Palani bus stand we struggled to find a bus to Kodai. There were absolutely no English signages and the conductors and other staff were equally lacking in friendliness. Somehow we figured that the bus wouldn’t arrive until another hour. The wait was spent with the help of murukkus, vadas and oven made tea.
This was bus was of an even lower budget than our ride till Palani. It’s entertainment system was a blaring radio. The good part about the journey was the scenic uphill drive and waterfalls.
We reached Kodaikanal after sunset and were left with just enough energy to look for our hotel, eat, and call it a day.