Down and Out with Ms Perumalmalai

Bold and wise, Ms. Perumalmalai is a millennial agony aunt: a journalist giving advice on personal problems. In this regular feature in The Kodai Chronicle, she takes on your issues with family, neighbours and more.

Ms PP, I just lost my job. Instead of getting back to the crazy grind of the corporate world, I am thinking of starting a business in Kodai. I have a little money saved up, but I’m torn. What do you suggest? 

Hi there, Closed Doors, Open Windows,

This appears to be one of those situations where life gives you lemons and you break out the tequila.

And rightly so, my dear. 

At the end of the day, it’s quite simple. You can either go back to the corporate grind, becoming angrier by the day, or opt for the path that makes you extremely tired yet happy. Take heart from the many Kodai businesses you can easily spot around Seven Roads. From restaurants like Ten Degrees to shops championing local products like Hoopoe on a Hill, the pet shop on PT Road to handicraft centres like Prowess and creative consultancies like Turtle Torque, featured in TKC, just about any type of small business can flourish here.

There’s no better time than now to try.

I wish you luck.

If life gives you lemons, break out the tequila and start a small local business, says Ms Perumalmalai (Photo: Tim Mossholder/ Unsplash)

I love being outdoors, especially if I’m bird-watching, but I’m terrified of snakes and other wildlife. #CantKeepCalmAndBirdOn

Hello, Ms/Mr Hissssssterical,

I really do feel that snakes have been plagued by shockingly terrible PR since that whole thing with Adam and Eve (interestingly apples came out of that whole debacle unscathed). If they’re in a movie or TV show, there isn’t a single one in which they’re not featured as a villain, from Anaconda and The Jungle Book to Snakes on a Plane. And for no good reason, as they’re usually just minding their own business on screen in the first place. I mean, have you ever watched a movie about bloodthirsty butterflies? 

My point is that in reality, snakes are more mild-mannered than malevolent. They usually do their very best to avoid people if they can, and they only ever attack if you do something to provoke them, like step on them by mistake, which is a very understandable reaction if you ask me. And only in India are caused by venomous snakes.

In most cases, wildlife encounters are rare. But if it occurs, stay calm and put what you’ve learned about how to behave in the wild to use. Being prepared is much better than being shocked.

Take me higher, in nature (Photo: Rosario Janza/ Unsplash)

Ms PP, I don’t want to join a cult or anything, but I am looking for a more spiritual experience in Kodaikanal. Any advice?

Hi High Hopes,

My understanding of a spiritual experience is that it brings about a higher state of awareness, or a feeling of being connected to something bigger than ourselves. Unfortunately, there’s no step-by-step guide on how to achieve this.

What I can recommend, at the risk of sounding cliche, is hiking into the deepest, greenest Sholas around Kodai and camping overnight. The farther you walk and the higher you climb, the more the atmosphere intensifies, with the woody scent of eucalyptus surrounding you and the singing of a thousand cicadas in your ears. And when night falls, an unblemished and overwhelming view of a star-studded cosmos stretches out overhead. It’s heady as hell.

If this doesn’t appeal, I’ve heard there are other kinds of stimulants (Not that I would know. Obviously.) The use of stimulants or hallucinogens, from ayahuasca to our infamous local fungi, can point people in a more spiritual direction. (Not that I would know. Obviously.) Those who indulge, I’m told, can run a gamut of transcending time and space, feel a connectedness to the Big Bang, find themselves transported to Mars, or end up in conversation with God. 

Anyway, to each their own. 

I hope you find the path you seek.

Ms Perumalmalai

Ms Perumalmalai grew up in Kodai, worked in different cities in India, and has travelled around the world. She recently returned to Kodai and lives in Perumalmalai with her cat and rooms full of books.

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