After leaving Mysore and arriving in Ooty, we had officially crossed state lines again, this time into Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu or "Land / Country of the Tamil" is the southern most state, the site of a thriving civilization since at least 2500 BC and home to a slew of martial arts grindhouse cinema masterpieces known effectionately as "Tali-wood." The Dravidians (the indigenous aberiginal population of the subcontinent) lived here for ages until they were invaded and intigrated into the Anglo-Indian gene pool. The darker skinned Dravidians were made a lower (often slave) class, hence, the emergence of the cast system. Tamil Nadu is the most "developed" state in India, a major source of crops (tea and coffee in particular, but also carrots, potatoes, cabbage and others as we found out). All of this has bred a strong ethnic identity, complete with a customary dress (literally. see below) and a political movement seeking secession from greater India. They claim that since the Aryans invaded, the land is theirs and sovereignty is their right. A number of political parties are fighting for the establishment of Dravidia Nadu as an independent country. Perhaps you heard of the militant Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka? Same guys, more or less.
Anyway, Tamil Nadu has treated us awesome. The food is stellar (porota = giant tortilla), the land is gorgeous (mountains! cold air! CLEAN air!) and the people are the best - the women, even the old women, smile and wave at us here. that has never once happened anywhere else in india. the men are really laid back, they all smile and wave. the muslims here move in time with the hindus, speaking and smiling with one another and with us gringos without breaking stride. plus all the food is served on bananas leaves. i love it.
more than that i love the tamil dress. the men here, as a sign of their tamil pride, wear a garment called a lungi - sarong is the word up northaways - that they wrap around them like a big plaid sheet-skirt that hangs around their ankels. but wait - it gets better. when it's time for work (or a scrap) the men grab the bottom hem, twist it up and tuck it in to make a mini-skirt. it's totally comfortable. i bought one. before you sass - as a third-generation scots-irish immigrant, i am a man who is already comfortable with the idea of wearing a big plaid dress. in fact, it's downright cool.
these are my people.
the wanton pride? the two-fisted pulp action movies? the beautiful, smiling women? the plaid skirts? the need to seceed? these are texans if i've ever i've encountered them. i am making tamil nadu an official part of the Axis of Awesome. Welcome aboard, tamil nadu; meet Australia, Ireland and Texas. Now all we need is a south american and an african and we've got the whole set!