This is our entry in Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Chutes and Ladders.
In February of this year we rode the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) toy train from Coonoor to Ooty in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. This railway is a meter gauge, or cog, railway, having a middle rail with a rack that allows a train to climb steep inclines.
Our tour company had arranged to get us tickets for the afternoon run, but a taxi drivers’ strike scheduled for that day threw our plans in disarray. Our guide, who lives in Coonoor, worked his magic to get us tickets for the earlier train, but even then it was uncertain whether the train would run at all that day.
We arrived early to be sure of a seat, since two trains-worth of passengers could be expected to queue for the one train ride (if it happened at all). We were early enough that the morning’s haze had not burned off yet, but swirled mistily a few feet above the ground. Any object photographed even a short distance away was muted by this mist. The water tower shown below finally rose above the mist that enveloped the shrubs below it, but the sky beyond was featureless.
Coonoor Station Water Tower
This photo was taken on February 5, 2019. Specs are:
Canon 100D, ISO 320, f/9.0, 1/500 sec, 106 mm.
There are many hill stations in India. These were built by the English as places to escape the oppressive heat of Indian summers. One of the hill stations we visited was Ooty which is home to many tea plantations.
Tea is grown on trees that are constantly trimmed to the height of shrubs so that pickers can gather the leaves. Only the leaves of new growth can be turned into tea and the smaller the leaf, the higher grade tea it is used to produce. The plantations are quite beautiful.
The individual plants look like something in a lawn. Ligustrum comes to mind.
We visited a plantation in Ooty. After paying a small fee to visit the plantation, we had an opportunity to taste free samples and buy tea and — for some reason — chocolate. The tea samples were truly wonderful but the reviews of the plantation we visited complained that the tea sold in the shop is a much lower quality than the tea in the tasting room. As a result, we didn’t buy any.
Aside from the fields, the tour also included walking past the factory where the raw tea leaves are converted to a finished product. The factory is very humid and looks dangerous but it was interesting to see how something that initially looks like lawn trimmings makes it into our tea bags. The tea is then sold at auction and marketed by companies like Tetley.