We got up at a leisurely hour and had breakfast in the Mackenzie Room – since the dining room is undergoing renovations. In fact people are very busily working all over the hotel giving it a facelift. The whole front covered area is being repainted. I think ti is because we are lucky enough to be having a break in the weather and we will like have more monsoon rains in a few days.
Today our guide was off but our driver took us first to the splendid Government Botantical Gardens full of many English and BC plants – dahlias, california poppies, red sage, calla lilies, pansies, hydrangeas, azalias and many others. The lawn up here is regular grass unlike the tropical grass on the hot plains. The garden was full of people from Kerala – many asked to take a picture of us and college students - groups of boys – asked for us to be in photos with them “Sahib – one photo?” We agreed. It is amazing how digital photography and cell phones with cameras have changed the face of tourism with the tourists being photographed more that the colourful locals. We were suddenly inspired to shop and bought a piece of Toda embroidery and 3 shawls at a large Tibetan market outside the garden. How will we fit them into our already stuffed suitcases to take them home?
We then had lunch in the same veg restaurant as yesterday. The place is full of staff – young men in dark suits – presumably waiting for the locals to come into lunch after we are done. This lunch was very intriguing with lots of fruits and vegetables mixed into the rice and jame and pineapple on the naan. The tea was hot with tons of sugar and served in a glass. A funny thing happened in the restaurant. We had only seen one other European tourist all day but some Swedish people sat at a table across from us. They were trying to order what we knew was called “thali” - so I told them – much to the amusement of the driver and all the waiters.
After lunch we drove up to St Stephen's Church – which was a very old Anglican Church with many plaques to English people who had died in the area years ago. Then to the public library which was unfortunately closed for lunch. We were able to see the Reading Room with a lot of books and magazines laid out on tables – almost all well known to Canadian readers – including lots of Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew in the “Kids Corner.”
Next we went to the Lake where Indian tourists love to go on a sunny day. We were taken for a row around one end of the lake and then went on the miniature – strongly reminiscent of the children's train in Stanley Park. Quite fun.
That was the end of our program for the day and we decided that after our tours tomorrow we really would have seen all the sites in Ooty so we are planning to leave a day earlier to go to Mysore. We will drive through the national park and stay at the Sandesh Hotel on Saturday and Sunday nights.
We finished the day with a walk down into Ooty Town. It is a busy place full of little shops and lots of traffic. As with everywhere the few sidewalks there are are in rough condition because ot the torrential monsoon rains and most people walk on the road – expecting the tuk tuks, two wheelers (motor bikes), cars, buses and lorries not to run them over. At 4:30 there was muslim call to prayer. At 5, the children in their uniforms with big backpacks were heading home, and 6 the the 6 o'clock buzzer went off.