“Excuse me, spiky”

I can’t believe 3 weeks have flown by and we’ve hit the halfway point in week 4. Work is now going in full flight and we’ve had opportunities to travel around Madurai. We went to the Meenakshi Amman Temple, which was amazing. It’s a massive structure, almost like a mini-city.

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We are trying to eat at as many restaurants as possible. It helps that we’ve made some friends who have stayed for months. Our friends include people from Michigan, Singapore, Spain, and Northern India. We’ve also ventured to the movies, getting to see X-men before it was released in the US. We’ve also since seen The Edge of Tomorrow. Don’t worry, we’ve stayed cultured too; we went opening day to see the Rajini movie Kochadaiiyaan. Though I didn’t understand everything, and Jane and Zach understood nothing, it was a neat experience to see the most beloved actor in South Indian cinema on the big screen. We’ve also been able to do some traveling. This last weekend, we did a road trip to Kodaikanal, a hill station a few hours from Madurai. Just the prospect of cooler climate excited us. And we were not disappointed. The cooler weather was a welcome relief from the relentless sun and heat in Madurai. We reached around 5 pm, first stopping to see the Silver Cascade and eat some fruit, Kodaikanal chocolate, molaga bujee (bell pepper covered in batter and deep fried), corn on the cob, tea, and coffee.

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Satiated, we continued to our hostel, the Greenlands Hostel. It was in a stunning location, on the hillside overlooking the cities below us on the plain. We could see cities such as Theni and Cumbam in the distance. As dusk started to set in, we ventured into the city to get dinner, deciding to eat at a restaurant called the Royal Tibet. We were surprised to find a decently large Tibetan influence in Kodaikanal, which seemed strange being in Tamil Nadu. We figured perhaps because of the climate in the hills they were attracted to this location. I couldn’t blame them, the scenery was beautiful. That night we sat outside our rooms, legs swung over the side of the porch and gazing into the countryside. Now, the cities lit up the night. It was beautiful; with limited lighting, the sky was filled with stars. And for once we were cold! I was in jeans and a hoodie, and still had to grab a blanket to stay warm. What a welcome change.

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The next day we took a three hour trek through the woods and saw some unbelievable scenery. It was a hike we couldn’t have done anywhere else. There was no established trail. Our guide literally at times told us to hold hands because we were about a foot from the edge of the cliff. We witnessed some breathtaking views from the hillside.

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Our guide was great, teaching us the names of different plants, giving us various fruits and berries that were safe to eat and delicious. We saw pretty flowers, rivers, and plants. Flytraps, cacti, roses. There was so much diversity. We even saw a wild buffalo. There were some comical moments as well. There were many thorn bushes, and each time we were passing through one, our guide would yell “Excuse me, spiky!” It became very funny and our catch phrase of the trip. After Kodaikanal, it was tough coming back to 100+ degrees in Madurai, but we’re excited for our upcoming trip to Kerala this weekend. We’re taking an overnight sleeper bus to Kochi, and also spending time in Munnar where there are tea plantations as far as the eye can see. Hopefully we can snap some more beautiful photos. Till then, signing off from Madurai!

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About abhinayrcasi

I am from Cleveland, Ohio. I am a rising senior studying Bioengineering and minoring in Biological Basis of Behavior and Healthcare Management. I hope to go to medical school once I graduate. I came to Aravind to observe ophthalmology in addition to conducting clinical research and performing healthcare management operations studies. I am an avid sports fan, including tennis, baseball, cricket, and basketball. I especially love tennis and follow Roger Federer religiously. I love watching movies, both Tamil and English. I also enjoy eating and traveling, and I look forward to doing all of these while in India.