Our first port of call was the Anandam Retirement Community at the foothills of Kodaikanal , 90 minutes by road, from the airport at Madurai.
We turned right at the Ghat Road just before the road climbed up to Kodai, to enter a scenic flat floored valley surrounded by hills where the clouds hung as cotton wool fluffs, even as peacocks roamed the 240 acres of the Bahri Beautiful Country.
We were completely enchanted by the tranquility and peace of the place. The air was clean, there were no car horns and the roads were wide as they skirted quaint individual cottages with sloping roofs and a front verandah. Visually Idyllic. We thought we had found the perfect spot to spend the last lap of our journey.
We unpacked our bags and checked into a trial villa and stayed on in a rental villa for 20 months watching our cottage come up, brick for brick, tile for tile, in the adjacent plot. Our Doll house was just 1000 sq feet, a far cry from the larger houses and apartments that we had lived in since we got married, but we loved it. It reminded us of our first home in Karigiri as newly weds.
The cottage had a verandah in front, with six plastic chairs in bright and cheerful colours. The shoe rack tucked away against the far end had a versatile granite top to sit or serve on. The bedroom opened out into a verandah at the back , a pretty patio with potted plants that grew mint , cilantro, chilli, celery, oregano, dill, lemon balm and thyme. The steps from the verandah lead into a lush green cover of shrubs, fruit and flowering trees.
The white cottages had sloping roofs with red tiles and tinted glass windows. A hall that doubled up as a living cum dining room, had two lazy boy armchairs facing a wall mounted TV for the movie buffs that we were. The round 4 seater table was a challenge , after the long 10 seater that overflowed with food and friends, our friends, our kid’s friends and the grandkid’s friends .
The galley kitchen with its built appliances was a narrow corridor comfortable for one , crowded for two. If I stood in the passage of the kitchen with outstretched arms, I could touch the sink and the induction hob. The work triangle was super efficient and certainly less than 28 feet.
I insisted on two bathrooms. His and Mine. The best way to ruin a good marriage is to bang cross-legged, on a bolted bathroom door with your bladder reaching your clavicles, imploring the spouse to come out before you had a physiological accident.
One of the bathrooms, mine, had an ante room, a corridor really that served as a dressing room. This was a bonus, an after thought, with built in wardrobes on one wall and a full length mirror on the other. It was sheer joy to have pull out drawers that slid completely out, displaying its contents with easy accessibility. No rummaging . No unused deep dark recesses seldom reached, on the shelves. Closet wardrobe lifts and a pullout rod brought all the clothes on hangers down to eye level. Absolutely brilliant for the elderly citizen.
What did not fit the cupboards, were put into suitcases that were telescoped into each other and stored in the roomy lofts above the cupboards. Whatever we could not find in the wardrobes, we did without. Mismatched clothes, socks and shoes did not bother us. We were happy if our clothes were clean and covered our frames. No formal dressing, no white coat, no briefcase , no laptop, no silk saree , no matching blouse, no petticoat. No tailor holding you to ransom.
The tiny bedroom had a queen bed, a sofa-cum-bed and a writing table. Our bedsheets and linen from the nuptial king bed, were too large for the retirement queen bed and had to be tucked in . Miles of the fitted sheet were tucked in with multiple folds and creases.
Wrinkled bed linen was the least of our adjustments when we deliberately downsized.