40 signs that remind you of growing up in a hill station

Growing up in a Hill station is an experience of a different kind and I am pretty sure folks who have been lucky enough to be raised in a hill-station would agree with me.  I, for one consider myself to be extremely lucky to be born and raised in a beautiful hill-station like Nilgiris - rich in  flora & fauna, beautiful parks, lush green tea slopes and a pleasant climate most part of the year. I spent some of the best years of my childhood in a quaint town called Coonoor, near the famous tourist town of Ooty - also called the Queen of Hill-stations. I've also had the good fortune to go to some of the finest British institutions there. If you grew up in a hill station during the 80's and 90's you'll surely be able to relate to this blog. I am also hoping this blog will revive fond memories of your childhood and kindle nostalgia. 

1. Summer or Winter you wore sweaters all the time!

Being cold most part of the year even schools in hill stations have made the woolen cardigan a necessary part of their uniforms. Accessories included Monkey caps, woolen gloves and woolen socks. Everything to make you look like an igloo dweller from the ice lands but very effective in keeping the body warm.

2) Woolen gloves, Monkey caps and Mufflers were compulsory accessory in winter

3) Tea time meant Bun and Chai!

Buns were very popular in the Nilgiris. We relished on these big rolls of joy with jam or butter or sometimes by simply dipping it in piping hot Nilgiri Chai. Both ways they tasted great and were a perfect tea time snack.

4) You grew up reading these...

Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew, Hardy boys and Famous Five were familiar household names for you and you read every series during your school life. You even got into trouble trying to read them during class hours. It was almost a norm to have one in your school bag or desk and flip it out during free hours.

5) Friendship bands were a rage in your school. The more on your wrists - the better.

Friendship bands were an in thing during those good old school days. The boarders - usually the Anglo Indian / Tibetan girls were known to make these colorful threads of friendship. Some for friendship sake and others in exchange of tuck or colored threads or other odd gifts.  Popularity depended on or rather was defined by the number of bands on ones wrist.

6) Summer camps meant treks to the middle of paradise 

Tents in the deep Jungle...

Camp fire dinners...


7) Your town has a beautiful railway network. 

8) Sights like these were commonplace

9) Your Schools library and Chapel walls were adorned with such vintage portraits

10) Off-road adventure is not new to you!

11) You've enjoyed a steady supply of farm fresh vegetables all year round

12) You've lived amidst some of the most exotic people

13) Film crew from Tinsel Town thronged your hill station

14)...And some mega-hit Bollywood movies were shot in your quaint little town

15) Public Libraries were usually century old buildings like these...

16) Viewpoints were your favorite haunt, whether alone... or with company

17) Classic bungalows like these, were a common sight

18) Seeds from plants & trees where your favorite toys during childhood

19) You've played with these too at some point in your school life

20) Old British Bungalows with Fireplaces were common in your town

Fireplaces are so common in the hills and every other ancient cottage has them. What fun it used to be - sitting by the fireplace with friends, sharing ghost stories, girl talk and sipping piping hot chai.

21) You've tasted the finest tea in the country

Living in a place surrounded by tea estates, hill folks like me have tasted some of the finest tea and coffee in the country.

22) You've tasted some of the most exotic fruits

If you've lived in the hills, you've had the chance to taste some really exotic fruits and vegetables found no where else.

23) You've encountered wild animals. Yes in real. In person.

You've been fortunate to run into some rare wild animals, which kids growing up in plains only read about in textbooks or watched on discovery channel.

24) You've seen a lot of these, traveled on them. And possibly your grandpa or principal owned one

Vintage automobiles like Morris Minor and Plymouth were so common in the hills. Not sure if any of these exists today but I like to believe there are a few of these classic beauties languishing inside the garages of ancient bungalows.

25 ) You know what it feels like to travel on Ghat Roads with Hair Pin Bends

Travelling in the hills is challenging. Most often it rains, the roads are slippery, or you have visibility issues considering the climate is misty on most days. Travelling within the hills is something I enjoyed but travelling out of the hills, usually travelling down to plains was something that always made me feel pukish and sick.

26) You had enough flowers in the garden. Well, quite enough to grab a bunch for your girl friend, everyday!

I had a great garden with flowers in abundance. If I ever wanted to give someone flowers, I never had to buy then at all.

27) You waited eagerly for the monsoons and rainy season so your school declared Holiday

While we enjoyed walking back home in the rain despite having umbrellas or raincoats in our bags, we equally enjoyed monsoon holidays declared by our schools.

28) At least once, You rode a horse

In Ooty we see more stray ponies than stray dogs or cats.

29) Every one in your town knew each other

Life in a Hill station is often like being a close knit community. Everyone knows everyone else.

30) Your Town Made snacks were highly popular in the plains

Homemade chocolates, doothpeda and varkey, were normal snacks for me but when I went down to the plains for university studies, I realized they were extremely popular there and friends just waited for me to go back to hostel after a weekend in the hills.

31) You always believed your small town's bakery made the best cakes and pastries in the world

32) You had "Hidden Joints" in town that only YOU knew about

Coonoor was nothing short of haven. As kids growing up in the hills, we met up with friends during weekends and went on treks to our "Secret Joints" with chips, cutlets and cola. We even set our feet on soil deep inside the jungles where not many dared to go. With no mobile phones to disturb us or phone calls from parents, we spent hours there with our circle enjoying great conversations and occasional beer.

33) Your town has the most beautiful churches in the country. Usually 100 years old or more..

Arguably, some of the country's oldest and most beautiful churches are in the hills. Irrespective of your religious belief, you've been here at least once - if not for mass - at least for the carol service once in a year.

34) Your school is at least a Century old and most likely among the top schools in the country

Some of the country's finest educational institutions are in the hills. Doon School Dehradun is one. Lawrence School in Lovedale is another.  Seen in the pic above is Stanes High.. My school surrounded by finery of nature - trees.

35) Excursions meant visit to a local park or a trek right into the lap of nature

School picnics always meant visit to very beautiful places filled with rich greenery and jaw dropping landscapes. Usually it was a visit to a local park or a trek up the hill.

36) Your standard of English was far better than that of your friends from Plains - And you were proud of it!

We had more British schools and Anglo Indian teachers in the hills than anywhere else. We spoke English all the time and used less vernacular language and due to this felt we were far better in speaking English than the plains folks.

37) There was always an eerie Cemetery around the corner and lots of ghost stories around it

As kids we spoke about ghosts all the time and in Coonoor we had these very ancient churches and cemeteries that looked straight out of a novel or a Hollywood ghost movie.

38) There was always a haunted house around the corner and spooky tales

Abandoned quaint cottages were a common sight in the hills. We've tried scaling a wall or two to get a glimpse of these haunted houses but were often chased away by watchmen from the neighborhood or by that big bro who usually came there to consume alcohol or make out with his girlfriend.

39) Momos! You've eaten them at least once, during your school fete

Having studied in a school full of Tibetans, I've been lucky to taste this exotic Tibetan delicacy called MOMO.

40) Misty mornings were a very common sight on your walk to school

And not to forget, frost on the grass


  1. This is so cool, John! Thank you for sharing these memories with us!

    1. As much as you enjoyed reading, I enjoyed writing about them because in these 20 minutes of writing this blog post, I took a ride back 20 golden years. It was a nice trip. Thanks for reading

  2. Wow... you haven't missed much... it was indeed a pleasure reading this post and reminiscing my childhood days. The only thing I could possibly add is a teacher in school (mostly Irish in my time) who made so much of a difference.

    1. Thank you for visiting my blog. I am glad you enjoyed reading my post.

    2. @Bagchi : Can you tell me more about your town and your childhood. Which School did you go to?

  3. What an amazing write up...memories of my childhood came rushing in...Thanks a ton!

    1. @ Prasnjit, I would love to hear your childhood. Which hill station are you from and which School did you go to?

  4. Wowe that was awesome... i have lived for 21 years in ooty and have done evertything which is mentioned in the blog... i wish i could travel back as a kid and go through that time again..

  5. These memories are still there with me and proud to say im from ooty

  6. When I read each and every line, I realize things which Im missing now in my life... Forever I ll love Coonoor....:) :)

  7. Lovely post. I really liked it. Set in Tamil Nadu, Coonoor (Kunoor) is a quaint hill station. Enchanting views of the Nilgiri hills welcome you to this hidden hamlet. Massive tea plantations, rare fauna and flora and uncharted trekking trails offer a plethora of treats for travellers. Check out all Coonoor places to visit.

  8. Thanks John... it was an awesome, nostalgic read.. cheers!

  9. Superb description of memories not a point missed out. :)

  10. Superb description of memories not a point missed out. :)

  11. This is commendable and carried our memories back to 80's&90's all of what is mentioned here was a treasured part of my childhood, I grew up in Mount Pleasant, & went to SJC,almost the same time as you. Thanks a lot.

  12. Very illustrative blog. I loved it. I have been living/working in coonoor during 1980-82. Still that nostalgic feeling haunts me every now and then. Your blog and Keetu's diary rekindled my sweet past. Tempted to visit the place again this month. Thanks for sharing wonderful and useful information about this heaven on earth. God bless you !

    1. Thank you so much for your comments. I am very happy that my blog managed to revive wonderful memories of your time in Coonoor.

  13. Very illustrative blog. I loved it. I have been living/working in coonoor during 1980-82. Still that nostalgic feeling haunts me every now and then. Your blog and Keetu's diary rekindled my sweet past. Tempted to visit the place again this month. Thanks for sharing wonderful and useful information about this heaven on earth. God bless you !

    1. Thank you for your kind review Prithviraj. I have already conveyed your message to Keerthana of Keetus Diary!