January 2009 – The day after the first inauguration of President Obama, I flew halfway around the world to India. In November, Chitra had relocated here for three months to train under world-renowned Kuchipudi dance expert Kishore Mosalikanti. In the time prior to my arrival, Chitra had planned an itinerary that took us from city to the water and into the mountains.
We began by spending several days in the 9 million-person-strong metropolis of Chennai. We meandered along the Bay of Bengal on Elliot’s Beach, enjoyed multiple excellent South Indian lunches at Morgan Idlii’s and even went to see Slumdog Millionaire! We were also able to spend time with friends, both old and new. I was fortunate enough to meet Fugan – a former Peace Corp member in South America, current Buddhist monk and exceptionally talented musician.
Next, we flew across the subcontinent to the southwestern state of Kerala. Unlike much of India, Kerala is a land of blue skies, green mountains and tranquil waterways. A hired driver transported us to the city of Alleppey where we took an overnight houseboat tour on Lake Vembanadu.
Finally we drove high into the eastern mountains to the town of Munnar. Using the lovely Windermere Estate as our base, we viewed countless hills converted into tea plantations. We rented a paddleboat to explore the Mattupatti Dam Reservoir and visited Top Station, the highest reachable point in the region. At a mile above sea level, we experienced Top Station as being continuously blanketed by a rolling sea of whispering clouds.
Below I have cataloged our journey through a page of photographs, three videos and one panorama from Windermere at dawn.