The period of time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve was pretty cool – on a personal level, that is. Zooming up to Flowerbook with Java, still a tad groggy after the usual traditional Christmas party and caroling at Tam’s, we had to prepare for the descent of Cinimod and Zaney, with offspring, at Flowerbook later that afternoon. The Dancer, being away in South India with her mum and nieces for the Music and Dance Festival in Chennai and then later traveling up to Bangalore for Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations with friends at the Nrithyagram Dance Complex, would not be there to help. Anyway, advance notice to the trusty helpers at Flowerbook saw that most of the preparatory chores were accomplished, so when the visitors arrived, all was in place. It was a good evening – with Cinimod and Zaney relaxed, the kids occupied with all sorts of stuff and as the evening went on, even more so, as the heads lightened up and the conversation drifted in many directions.

The next day was when Mr. Zippy, Cici and Esh were expected and when Cinimod and family would split for their hideout in the jungles south of Flowerbook – not, however, before eliciting promises that we would visit them there the next day with Mr. Zip and company. And so it went. The Zippies arrived in time for cool brews and assorted other refreshments before lunch, long afternoon naps and a great evening of chat, reminiscing about the fun ‘n games at Nahorp’s on Christmas Eve and all that ‘other stuff’, before gorging on a sumptuous dinner. Plans were hatched for an early after-lunch start to the jungle hideout and then to bed.

Arriving at Cinimod’s the next day in time for tea, we wandered around the place, checked out the Kumbukkan river front and even had time for a bit of cricket with little Seb and Raven. Mr. Z kept stumps and I had a bit of a bowl whilst Java got his sturrrff together for the anticipated evening’s entertainment. In the meantime the manic Mr. Sands and brood had also showed up and the children from Rucker’s place just up-river from Cinimod’s also arrived. Not too long after that, as it was getting into that magical crepuscular time of day, Rucker and Chips, in attempting to traverse the horridly slushy part of the approach to Cinimod’s, get themselves well and truly bogged down in the mire. And so it was Cinimod to the rescue in his L-Drover and before too long the candles were flickering on the table outside and at other strategically placed spots on rocks and stumps around the homestead, giving the place a magical aura.

A huge dinner of string hoppers and a host of assorted side dishes just hit the spot and by the time all was done and everyone staggered or floated off to doss down for the night, it was pretty much past midnight with a bright moon bathing the surrounding jungle in that special light. Sleeping in late in jungle environs is pretty rare – for Java and me, at any rate, so we were up – not quite at the crack of dawn, but pretty close. And so were the others. The trek to Rukker’s place upstream from Cini’s took all of ten minutes and as the Villa loomed into view around the bend, we could see that old Rucker had really extended himself in making his complex on the ‘backs of rocks’ especially enchanting, since we were last there a couple of years back. Loads of hard work must have gone into transforming what was once a hangout on the banks of the river at the edge of the jungle, into a very special retreat that was now in major demand by an elite bunch of travelers from around the world.

Back to Cini and Zaney’s place for brekkers – another feast – and we had to get ready to make for the hills, as Mr. Zip and family had to make it back to Colombo for all manner of reasons. Lunch and brews at Ella and on to Flowerbook, where the Zippys packed up and split in time to make it home before it got too late.

The dogs were glad when the non-stop company was all gone and they could have us to themselves. We were kinda glad too – in a way – much as we enjoyed the company of close mates, as the solitude helps no end to soothe the psyche. One more day of much needed tranquility and it was back to the metropolis on the final day of the year for New Year’s Eve with the usual suspects.

And it was a blast!