In such a vast panorama only a fifth—maybe tenth—of the land is filled with trees. The rest is taken by thigh-high, chest-high cones of the shrub. The shrubs in a given patch are all trimmed to the same height and, seen level, seeing the height they have climbed and the depths they’ve plunged, they are a rollicking green ocean, especially choppy now during the monsoons. It is a flat-topped shrub, deep green, whose stem-branches are twisted and covered in green moss. There are hundreds of acres of them, falling away before me, rising on the hills on my left, on the hills on my right, up the hills ahead, and everywhere behind me. Only a few gaunt trees stand among the shrub, planted to a plan for just-so-much shade—the stubborn strands on pates gone bald. On the crests of hills the trees are lush and thick, like hair on the punk’s head.
I have spent an hour and a half walking in the creases between tea patches and then I have climbed back up to the bungalow and am sitting on the ledge that frames the front steps. I am wet: my large sturdy umbrella was blown out several times while I worked the camera and I failed to manage the two and yet remain dry. Behind me the bungalow is in darkness: the power-supply has been halted by rain. The wind is whistling and hissing in and around the bungalow, and on the hilltops it is taking the trees every way, pushing and pulling them, ravishing them, and they grind together, and heave, and reach a crescendo of movement and a voluptuous roar erupts from them that shakes this world, after which the wind collapses, and the trees with it, and they rest a while before the next bout.
The rain comes pouring and stays and comes back again. Ganesh (the General Manager of Kadamane Estate) was confident when he told me that Agumbe has lost its status to Kadamane, that it now receives the highest rainfall, four-hundred inches last year.
In a cusp between the farthest hills there is a silver glow that is now covered, now uncovered. Columns of flat cloud the height of hills move stealthily on the right, as though wishing not to interrupt the lovemaking all round. Each column is like a diaphanous side-screen in a giant theater: they flutter as they move one behind the other in a long line in which the start and the end are merged with the hills in front and the hills behind. They walk on the tea without being a weight on them. I expect that they will tear up when the next rain comes, but no, they are there, their line unbroken, walking on, now seeming like thin tall furtive ghosts.
When the rain commences it is a patter on the roof, then a beating on it, and soon a lashing everywhere. The pouring is intense and blinding in the distance on the hills—the wind, the rain, and their insistent sound move with pressing urgency, curving round and away, traveling far, curling quickly back, touching the tea and the trees and the hills and everything between them, making up for all the time they’ve been away. The pouring ends abruptly and silence takes its place—the tea sparkle, the trees lift, and the hills sizzle. But there is a sound now, which does not rob the silence, the sound of water gushing everywhere, in grooves and gutters, falling from the roof, gurgling down the steep slopes, gaining volume, growing louder and louder as it goes. I think of the water-falls in the bends of the tracks, and the muscular streams, and the swollen red river that I saw earlier when Ganesh took me on a tour of the plantation.
Darkness has begun to fall, and I take a last look at the glowing mist that has filled the trees and capped the hills. It is as though a cold white heat has rimmed the world. Abruptly, darkness falls. There is no moon, there are no stars—only sound, but I haven’t heard a single bird all evening. The lights have come on in the bungalow; it is time to go in.
The fire before me has been burning since five. I read Kapuscinski’s account of the civil war in Angola in 1975. The FNLA and UNITA have converged on Luanda in multiple columns from the north and the south. The MPLA have begun to mobilize the whole population for the decisive battle for the newborn nation. A chapter remains, to know who won, and the reportage is terrific, and I finish the book and learn that everyone lost in the Angolan War even if the MPLA won it that November. The play of rain and wind is unabated outside, but it settles in a quiet corner in my mind. Later, when I pull the sheets over me, the sounds come back to the fore: the continual whoosh outside, the roaring in the far woods that won’t stop. The thought comes to me that this building where I’m sleeping might be blown away tonight, but in a few seconds deep sleep has engulfed me and my fears. I’ve breathed so much fresh air, no dreams come.
I have seen the onslaught of rains now and then in the last few years, but never seen its full force that I was once used to, pouring relentlessly. The story furthers my longing to be in the hills and watch the dance of the rains all day long. Also read the story in Churumuri. Such effortless flow of words!
Enough for a fellow blr’ite to engage the clutch and head-out.
Incidentally, it poured like hell in Delhi on Friday afternoon-evening. A visitor landed in my car for a drop couple of blocks away, the impact and intensity was beginning to reach crescendo and had it not been the Mahindra which I was in, it might have a case of get-back-and-dont-try-again.
Brilliant Shasikiran Saheb, as they call it in North.
HUmm.. Agumbe.. you brought back the memories. I had lived that part of India some 14-15 years back. I remember we could see the rain coming and we would be ready on our bikes. Then there would be a race between the nature (Rain) and the machine (bike). For how long we can run till we get wet. The nature always won within seconds.
The other race would be to drive into the rain and then get on the other side where it is still dry. Beleive me it was FUN.
Nandan, the Friday rain in Noida was nothing as compared to what I have seen in Udupi/Agumbe. Not even 1%. The problem we have in Noida/Delhi is more because of lack of drainage system. Even I was stuck for over an hour as there was 2 feet of water just outside my office.
Imagine the natural fireworks. Heavy rainfall with loud thunder sounds and the lighting falling on the ground all around you. It is kind of sound and light show. We used to stand on top of the hill, about 4-5 Kms from the coast line (Kaup beach – pronounced as “Kapu”) and see the high waves. Its magnificiant.
The best part is that as soon as the rain stops one could hardly see any stagnated water. It has all the natural drainage system wherein all the water just goes into the smaller water bodies and eventually into the Arabian sea.
To add to this, Agumbe has also the highest density of Cobras and other snakes. When it pours, they all come out. So watch OUT !
Good one!! thanks for introducing the place. Some more info on how to get there and stuff will be helpful
To reach this estate you will have to go to Sakleshpur first..Sakleshpur comes after Hassan in Bangalore-Mangalore highway. After Sakleshpur take a right turn in Marnahalli where you find a board guiding you to Kadamane Tea Estate…Guest house accomodation is available at a reasonable cost for which advance booking has to be done.. Though the place is not declared as a tourist spot you will enjoy staying there..
How about some more of those delicious photographs….
Being born in Kadamane in the second half on 1961 and stayed on vaccations till 1987.It is really wonderful experience to see the pictures and recall my memories.
Even at the time of we live in the Estate ,most of the places were not even have the electricity or connectivity
Happy to note someone writes about the place which I like most…Born in Kadamane in 1956, I enjoyed my schooling there for five years..
I still remember the teachings of Mr Buchonan and Mary teacher who taught us. Used to go there for vacations..We go there whenever we need a break from the routine city life and get oursleves recharged..
heaven on earth, must visit place during the rainy season between May to august if one want to really enjoy rain.
Thanks for posting this great article. View my very own!
GOD was kind enough to make my mom to deliver me in His own soil…I still wonder after 44 years of my birth and 35 years away from the place that God has scattered the beauty of the nature only in that part of the world. One can imagine how a boy of 9 years old would have felt when he brings his daughter of the same age to the place where he walked bare foot all the days, swim in the starting point of river Kaveri (thalakaveri) almost without any dress. I remember running in the big hills when we see wild animals such as elephants, Ghatti,Kadamai,Wild pigs, even very big snakes sometimes. There is no scarce for the variety of fruits available in the hills, I still remember for the whole full day starting from morning 7.00 A.M till 6.00 pm in the evening I consumed only fruits available in the forest, and return to hut only by 7.30 night when my amma used to see me through chimney lamp.
The best part of life there was rainy days….. it is almost 24 hours without any small break we can see rain just pouring on us. The rivers will just be flooded, we cannot even swim there, the force of the water will pull you to death. I remember a day there was a heavy non stop rain for almost 4 days continuously, to go to school me along with my friends have crossed river by constructing a boat with the help of Banana trees (combining 4 to 5 trees together with the help of sticks).