They were white and bell shaped, almost like a trumpet, I thought. Seeing a few of those white bell shaped flowers for the first time had changed to the wonder of seeing them in thousands, ten thousand or more, all appearing on either side of the road ever since we passed Adimali town. I envied the chiaroscuro the dark night and the white flowers offered. They were surreal and beautiful at the same time. We were passing through the forest road now, and it was almost deserted. Hardly any other vehicles passed us at that time as the road was famous for pachyderm elephants on the probe at night. The roads were good, and the night was getting thicker and the moon was shining bright.
We were on a sudden trip to Munnar from Kochi which was suggested at around 9(by Mr.Makku) at night and by around 9,30 we were on the road, all packed (the exact term should be stuffed in the boot) and with a dozing off Annu snuggling cozily under her blanket on the back seat.
It was a beautiful full moon night. We had just entered the Kallar road, I rolled down the glass and let my hair loose resting my face on the window. The eeriness of the night, the cold wind that blew my hair around, the swishing of the trees and leaves, the creepiness of the crickets, the smell of the forest and the deserted road that twisted and turned ahead of us made me more awake than I would ever be at 12 am on any other day. The hills were visible in the distance, houses were thinning out in number now but there were lights burning in a few of them. We passed quite a lot of churches and chapels, and soon we saw the first shrubs of the tea plantations and realized we are reaching Munnar.
A little further and we stopped the car mainly for Makku to set the google map to find the way to our hotel and I stepped out into the heart of the night and felt like I was transported to another sphere, another life. I felt like a newborn in an alien world, for this was entirely new to me. The hills, the trees on it, the valleys, everything was bright in the flooding moonlight and everything was shining. I could almost visualize a lake at the bottom of the hills, glistening in the moonlight and felt like dejavu, a strong sense of having been there some other time, maybe in a dream. I looked above and the moon was right above my head, glowing and venus shined bright like a star. I pinched myself to make sure I was not dreaming, it hurt so this was for real. Here I was, standing on an alien place past midnight drenched in moonlight, shivering from the fog that was surrounding us all of a sudden. In the headlight of the car suddenly we realized the fog had come up and was surrounding us. I got back in and closed the door and pressed the window button as the glass went up.
Soon we were driving again and was having a conversation about it being a Good Friday where spirits might be roaming the earth as Christ was crucified and all that. As we spoke, the fog got a little thicker and the map kept asking us to follow a straight road. We entered the Munnar town, passed the few hotels and inns which were deserted now and when we reached a junction the map pointed to go left and we blindly took the road to the left which was an uphill climb. It was a fruitless climb where there were no sign of our hotel and soon we passed all the hotels on the way but it kept asking us to keep going up until we reached a really deserted place full of trees and no light and really no sign of any people living anywhere nearby. The map suddenly decided to take another route and asked us to take another left which was a cut way path, not actually a road! Totally confused, we restarted the google map again with the name of the hotel and it gave a totally different route this time. We called the hotel for assistance but the man who took the phone was not very clear in his directions.
We went all the way back to the town hoping to find someone to guide us the way. It was past one in the night and there was no sign of any patrol jeeps of any uniformed personals like we would easily find in Kochi. I was skeptical to have to stop somewhere to ask for directions actually, as the time was past midnight and we also had a sleeping child in the back seat, having read all sorts of nonsense stories happening in deserted highways and roads. The only people we passed were rogue looking men who were leaching inside the car even as we passed.
Somehow we found the way but still at some juncture it got confusing again and we had no other choice to rely on the map. And again after a futile drive to some lefts and right we again reached another hollow land. Well and truly lost, having been driving round the same place almost exhausted, we called the hotel and by some luck another guy answered the phone. He guided the way from where we were till we reached the hotel efficiently and as we turned the last turn, we saw the hotel all lit up and glowing and a sleepy eyed watchman opened the gate for us.
Thankfully we checked into the room which was beautiful and slept peacefully for the rest of the night (which was left of it from our midnight getting lost adventure) 😀