With only four weekends before we leave India, we didn’t want to waste a moment. And yet there we were, approaching the weekend with CIS graduation on Friday night, a vague plan for brunch on Sunday, and nothing else at all. Our friend Farrah came to the rescue with a reminder about the opportunity to visit Chiguru Farm and pick mangoes. When else in our lives will we get to do that?! Melissa sent a message on Friday and we had confirmation of our space in the group by that evening.
Friday evening, however, was all about graduation. It was great fun to get dressed up, Tom in his new custom suit and Melissa in her Sri Lankan jewelry, and go to celebrate kids that Tom has taught for two years. The ceremony itself was relatively short and quite lovely with a notable address by a very accomplished 2014 graduate who came from Canada to talk to the graduates about important things like kindness and gratitude. Plans for dinner under the stars were altered for rain (which one can expect nearly every evening at this time of year) so we sat in the cafeteria which was all dressed up with tablecloths and centerpieces.
Note from Melissa: I’ve never attended a graduation with Tom before and it was incredibly touching to see all the kids who came up to shake his hand, thank him for helping them, and tell him how much his class meant to them. One new grad said, “You are the nicest person I’ve ever met. You showed me how to be a good person.” Wow.
The next morning, we were up early, ready to get in our cab and travel 90 minutes south of the city to Chiguru Farm. As we hit the outskirts of the city and began to see the lush density of trees and flowering shrubs, we could feel ourselves already beginning to relax. Aiding in the relaxation when we arrived was the oddly empty courtyard and lack of fellow tour participants. It turns out we were an hour early. While disappointed to have cut short our sleep, more time for just the two of us to meander around the grounds of the farm was lovely. We were fed a delicious breakfast (and later lunch), had a tour of the farm with explanations from naturalist Kavya of A Green Venture about all of their sustainable practices, and finally picked the last of the mangoes on the trees. It was amazing.
On the way to the farm, we realized that our plan to save our voucher for a free night at the Leela Palace to use after we move out of our apartment was not going to serve us since it can only be used on a weekend. Realizing that this was our last free Saturday night, Tom quickly called the hotel and got us a reservation for that evening. After our visit to the farm, we went home, hastily packed an overnight bag, and went straight to the Leela where we were upgraded to the exact room that we’d stayed in for Melissa’s birthday. So beautiful and so full of happy memories. We showered, lounged about, and then went to cocktail hour followed by dinner at Zen and a perfect night’s sleep.
The next morning, we took our time, enjoying our beautiful room, having coffee and a little snack on the Leela patio, and then checked out at noon to head for Sly Granny where we met our teacher friends Nadege, Kitty, and Ivana for a very nice brunch. The food was amazing and the service was well-intentioned if not yet very polished – they’ve just started doing brunch and clearly had not yet figured out how to make sure that each table gets all of the things they’ve ordered and only those things. They’ll get there in time, and it was lovely nonetheless.
It was the perfect Bangalore weekend to head into our final month in India.