Photo of Bungalow at Tea PlantationLast night was like trying to sleep on a bed of nails – strange as I went straight off the night before. My only diversion during the small hours was a super bright firefly that had followed me into the room and stood guard by the bedpost twinkling at me all night.

This is the lovely place I ‘m staying in – a real 1930s colonial time warp (although recently completely refurbished with all mod cons). While last night was an absolute no-no on the slumber front, the good news is that I managed to thrash out several problems with the plot of my novel while thrashing about trying to get comfortable.

The place (mattress aside) is the perfect place for writing – especially in my case as I am the only guest! – waited on hand and foot by Savanaram and his colleagues. Hats off in particular to the cook who is rustling up a wonderful variety of delicious vegetable curries. I decided to forgo meat while I’m here and – even more surprisingly for me – alcohol too – and the decision has so far been vindicated.

Today being Labour Day is a public holiday so the countryside has been ringing to the sound of car horns, blaring Indian pop music and political exhortations – all over a public address system – I think the surrounding mountains must amplify the sound.

Photo of Savaranam Tea Plantation ManagerSadly today also marks the departure of Savaranam, the young manager. He’s returning to his home in Ooty in Tamil Nadu to see his mother and sisters before taking on a new role in a hotel development there. He has been a great guide and source of information to me and has been assiduous in his efforts to please.

He told me how his father used to work in the Middle East on building contract work; Savanaram never knew him as when he was only 11 months old his father went to do a contract in Iran and disappeared, never to return. The company employing him were unable to offer any information as to his whereabouts and appeared to have no record of whether he had even arrived! This was during the first Gulf war – so who knows what might have happened? Savanaram now supports his mother and sisters – only one of whom is able to work herself. I hope he succeeds in his ambitions in hotel management – which include working for a while in London – but he tells me this is not on the cards right now as the fare is out of his reach and he had to leave school after the “12th Division” in order to support the family so he doesn’t have the paper qualifications needed.
Right back to work now. I’ve a book to finish!

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