Day 23 – August 13, 2012: The Agricultural Side Of India (Ashram – Munnar)

1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

We left Amma’s Ashram at 8 AM this morning, beginning our long journey to Munnar, the city of our next stay. But instead of making the 8-hour drive in one large and arduous chunk, we stopped a little past the halfway point. This stop was not random of course – we were visiting a man named Jose (pronounced Joes) who runs a home-turned-homestay with his family.

Jose and his family served us a fabulous lunch, one that included tapioca (that tasted just like half-mashed potatoes), beef, and also some typical Indian dishes. The man of the house was not one to let us leave hungry, even telling us that nobody’s plate should be empty when they finish. He was a strong believer in seconds and thirds and because he was a man built almost identical to Sathy (we’ll cover that more in a minute), he intimidated me on more than one occasion to fill another plate. Jose was hardly a menacing man in demeanor however, as he came off as a genuinely kind soul, one that wanted to ensure our stomachs were content to capacity. So naturally I had three plates of lunch, one bowl of fruit, and three desserts…but before you criticize my power of self-control (actually you should definitely criticize that), know that these desserts were no ordinary little treats. They were little bowls of chocolate pudding-like delicacies, too good for me to describe, let alone stop eating after one two. So I ate three, the third one in one bite. Panc challenged me and there are very few challenges I won’t take up, especially when it comes to eating chocolate pudding. Let’s just say that after I devoured that last tasty morsel my stomach was full beyond belief.

After lunch, we followed Jose on a tour of his family’s plantation. This is where the resemblance to Sathy becomes scary. Not only did Jose look like he could pass as Sathy’s brother – height, weight, build, mustache, and all – he also lived on land that had been passed down for many generations in his family. As we walked around acres of land, he showed us nearly everything he grows: papayas, ginger, and coconuts, just to name a few. He described each one and how it could be used, be it in cooking or improving one’s health, leading me to label him the “Sathy of Agriculture.” Though there were a number of interesting crops and plants that they grow, everything was surrounded by trees that produced rubber. Yep, rubber comes from trees, something I had no idea about. Here I am in India, learning something new everyday. They have hundreds, maybe even thousands, of these “rubber trees,” and each one produces a strip of rubber and one kilogram of rubber water each day…and each tree lasts for seven years! The rubber strips and rubber oil are used to create rubber mats, which are then sold in bundles. After feeling the finished product – and even the raw one – it was incredible to feel how real it felt, especially considering there were no chemicals involved as I had always imagined that rubber was a chemically-produced good. It really is amazing how families can live off an entire plantation by using every bit of their crops, something that isn’t typically seen in the United States.

When we finally arrived at the hotel, waiting for us outside of the bus was a great surprise. Instead of stepping into a wall of heat and dusk humidity, we were greeted by a pleasurable cool breeze, accompanied by little humidity. In a few words, the weather in Munnar resembled that of Menlo Park or a nice day in Seattle. I have a feeling that this is going to be one of my favorite cities in India…

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