Sometimes, on a group trip, you become part of a crocodile. For example, the group is on an outing to a venue, temple, building, castle or whatever, and once you’ve been dropped off by your transport, you follow each other down the lane, or through the market, and so on, and the group looks just like a crocodile as each person in the group follows the person in front of them. I was on an Exodus trip where one of the group nearly left the holiday early because she said there were too many crocodiles. I’m not too fond of being part of a crocodile myself, but I can’t see any real alternative.
When you’re walking in a group down, or up, a mountain or through the bush or jungle, the crocodile tends to get rather spaced-out, with those in front walking at a faster pace than the tailender. When the guide, who is usually at the front, stops to point out something (a bird, a plant, a crop, something in the distance, etc), those at the back gradually catch up with the front of the crocodile.
It’s then that you can hear the question from those at the rear, as everyone at the front is looking at whatever it is that has previously been pointed out by the guide: “What are we looking at?”
This happened a lot on the day we said goodbye to our tented camp, where we’d had breakfast even though we’d all spent the night in the guest house at Top Station, and walked single file along a track and out of the hills to Mundhan. It was a very good day, with lots to see.
In the distance is a tribal village where the locals avoid contact with others, as much as possible.
Chai stop in the village where you can hire ponies
Our Exodus group leader, Santhosh, gave us information about every place we visited. Each evening, he would brief us about the next day’s events, and then he’d invite us to ask him questions about absolutely any aspect of India, its history, people, geography, politics or society. The resulting questions ranged from the bland to the ridiculous. Santhosh was extremely knowledgeable and able to answer just about every question.
After the walk, we were transported to our hotel, the Green Royale, near Bodinayakanur in Tamil Nadu. Whoever it was who designed this lovely hotel, where we were absolutely delighted to be invited to a coming of age ceremony for a local girl, went a bit over the top when it came to electrics. There were 37 switches in the room Lindsey and I were given. These were mostly plugs and light fittings. 37!!
The next day, we drove further east to Madurai.
Madurai was where the group formed into a crocodile and visited the Tirumalai Nayak Palace (shown above), and the magnificent Meenakshi Amman Temple (shown below).
As we left the temple, in front of us were a dozen microphones and a group of photographers. I was about to step up and state, “Unaccustomed as I am to making speeches…” when someone pointed out that a proper VIP was about to visit the temple.