The next place Durga drove was to the Tata Tea Museum, just outside central Munnar. Photography is prohibited inside, but I would have loved to have gotten a few photos. I really need a more discrete camera! (someone did manage to sneak a video here) The whole place still looked antique, as they had a small scale factory set up to show the tourists how the black tea is produced. They begin by wilting the tea leaves in long screen-bottomed bins, then passed through a series of conveyer belts, dropping them into machines that shred the leaves, until finally they are passed through a long steel tube where the ground tea leaves are oxidized. Black tea is about 90% oxidized, giving it t's dark color. In Asia, it's more accurately known as red tea, as the term black tea is used to refer to the different types of fully fermented (for decades) pu'er tea, from Yunnan in the south of China.
Back in town, I offered to buy Durga lunch, but he had other places to be. I enjoyed another long walk back to the JJ's. It felt nice since my bum was still a bit numb from the rickshaw... I rested a bit in my room, brewed a couple cups of tea, then decided to take a walk up the road beyond the guesthouse and see what was there.
It lead to more tea, of course, as the road evolved into a path, which continued up, around, and all through the maze of tea. I'd usually been too exhausted to pay any attention to the sunset, but this time, I'm glad I did.
It's strange how thoughts work. Once planted, if left untended (they usually are), they'll grow and grow until they consume you. I'd been thinking a lot about Gita and how Kiran had told me I could marry her. Even the thought of marrying someone just like that seemed less insane after having it swim around for a while, especially when you're in a place where that's totally acceptable. Kiran told me that I should go back to Goa and talk to her brother. I should tell him that I want to buy some land and a herd of goats but I need an Indian to put their name on the paper work. When he offers to put his, I should say I want Gita's. After that they'll consider arranging a marriage proposal. Really, I knew that would never happen, but it was starting to seem like a really good idea! I walked down to the main road, to the small row of shops and gave Gita a call. She said she was afraid I'd forgotten about her and asked when I was coming back to Palolem and I told her I'd be there in a couple of days...