Sunrise at Vattakanal
Israeli conscripts, when discharged from their service, tend to evacuate their homeland and roam the world, and they often congregate on certain spots. So much so that you can see Hebrew signs, menus and even commercials for universities in Israel, all over these places. There were no single rooms in Vattakanal, only small apartments for groups, and Israelis very often come in packs. Those who don't, are fed up with the constant partying and exclusively hanging around with their own country-people.
I stayed a couple of days, and started searching for another place. People live everywhere in the hills, even in the big nature reservations around Kodai. I took a day trip to Poombarai, and was struck with the scenery and people. Poombarai is a farming village that shows the conditions which I assume many Indians live by: Very basic. As I was sipping a Chai in the village square, a man walked quickly past, carrying who I guess is his daughter, covered in a bloody blanket, followed closely by immediate family, in tears. No ambulance, no car, and I suspect no doctor, as they seemed to poor to afford one. India has its ways of showing beauty and horror, all in the same breath, and it's forced upon you, whether you want it or not. I don't know how it went with the girl, and I made no enquiries.
Just outside Poombarai
Impressioned from the day, I returned to Kodai. My new friend Joe, who I had met at a hostel, told me of Karuna Farm, a place with small, simple cottages, option to cook your own food, or eat at their restaurant. The perfect place for a self retreat, or just chilling out. The next day we went for provisions, and the day after we took a taxi there. A truly beautiful place, with interesting hosts and intense nature. A pool with waterfall, a rock with an astounding view, and a hill that begs to be visited during sunrise. Easy to get stuck there.
Eucalyptus trees close to Karuna
Living in one of the jungle huts at Karuna
Three days later, I was lucky enough to be able to visit Bodhi Zendo, a zen-meditation Centre secluded in the jungle not far from the neighboring town of Perumal Malai. Father Ama Samy is a Franciscan priest who went to Japan and learned zen, and has been making and teaching at Bodhi Zendo ever since. Waking at 5.30, the days are passed intermittently meditating, working, eating home grown veggies and socializing with the 40 or so guests here. Truly a gift to the spiritual seeker.
From the courtyard of Bodhi Zendo
Next: Christmas! (If this blog had been on time... )