Ooty is a delightful respite from all the hot places that we found ourselves in: Dubai, Hyderabad and Chennai. Isn’t it such a cute name? Ooty. I have deep respect for the person who came up with this name because, truth be told, the official name of this town is உதகமண்டலம், which is just as complicated when written in English: Udhagamandalam. However, since the British could not pronounce it well, it was renamed Ootacamund. I’m not kidding! But of course, that too proved to be too strenuous to pronounce, hence the shorter (and currently the more popular) name, i.e. Ooty.
I am immensely excited to spend my first night in this town, which seems to be centrally air-conditioned. Summer is at it’s harshest peak, yet I see people roaming around the streets at night in sweaters and jackets. Masood and I didn’t bring warm clothes, simply because we came here to glaciate ourselves (we’re a couple who come from the deserts of Arabia, hence the tendency to freeze when the temperature drops below 30 °C).
Anyway, so after an early dinner and some light walk around the hotel area, we decide to call it a night. I switch the lights off and draw the curtains so that I can watch the silhouette of the Nilgiri hills until I fall asleep. But I am unable to sleep.
It feels weird to be sleeping with the curtains drawn; the hills seem to be looking at us. Plus the moon is throwing way too much light in the room; I prefer complete darkness.
I can’t hear the soft hum of the air-conditioner that I am so used to. In fact, I am immediately awaken from my slumber when someone turns it off. Also, I find it disturbing not to find an electric fan in the room. I am aware that I do not need those things here, but their absence make me think about them.
It’s awfully quiet. Except for the occasional barking of dogs, there is a deafening silence. An hour passes and I’m still tossing and turning uncomfortably. So I decide to break the peaceful night by talking to Masood. He listens with great interest, so I continue narrating my childhood stories. I go on non-stop until I realize that I am no longer getting any reactions from him, not even a yawn. He’s fast asleep and I’m still wide awake. How unfair!