10 REASONS WHY I FELL IN LOVE WITH KERALA AND WOULD LOVE TO GO BACK AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN………
As a kid I imagined Kerala to be a snake shaped ,really green state and as far as the traveller in me can remember, I have always wanted to go there. I read “The God of Small Things” earlier this year and the desire to go just intensified and I decided I just have to go to Kerala this summer( monsoon,actually )
And so I went and was completely bowled over ……….. Here are 10 reasons why I loved Kerala……. Excerpts from my diary that I wrote during my trip…….
1) The Countryside is so green and absolutely gorgeous. Even the Avomine -headed –Me refused to doze off during the drives because I simply couldn’t keep my eyes off!!! The vegetation is unique. I haven’t seen Coconut and Jackfruit trees at altitudes of 3000 feet above the sea level ever!!!
2) The Terracotta tiled sloping roofs of houses – All houses have roofs like these and they look so charming in that landscape . It is basically a necessity in those climes because of the rain. Imagine a green landscape dotted with blue, yellow houses with brown tiled sloping roofs…….
3) The palaces in Kochi- The Cochin Palace and the Dutch Palace are beautiful . The modest exteriors belie the gorgeous interiors with intricate carvings on rosewood panels and a colourful mosaic flooring with geometrical patterns. The rulers were all called either Raja Verma or Rama Verma or Kerala Verma and no, they didn’t have initials next to their names indicating the order !!!!
4) The Men’s clothes- I felt like going up to them and giving them a high-five for sticking to their traditional mundu and veshti.It is the equivalent of a shirt and a white or coloured lungi/wrap-around. One could see people from all walks of life wearing that and it just reflects their easy and laidback attitude towards life . Everywhere else in India, Men have happily abandoned their traditional garments for the more (apparently) comfortable western wear, but this was one place where I saw Everyone wear it Everywhere. Commonsense tells me it’ll be more comfortable than a trouser!!!
5) The Sarees, the Saree shops and the hoardings for the same would put any saree shop in the metros to shame !!! What enormous collections of sarees of every imaginable type and every big celebrity endorsing the shops. Me and my mother were blown away by the collection at a famous shop called ‘Jayalakshmi’ and ended up blowing away all our money !!!! Same can be said for the jewellery showrooms. I particularly loved the traditional Kerala sarees with golden borders.
6) The Food- They use coconut and coconut oil in cooking and it adds a lot of flavour to the food . A nice twist to the tale were Shawarmas with coconut in the filling. Me and my brother particularly loved those .
7) The sheer delight of watching wispy, white clouds waft through lush green tea gardens in Munnar. I like my mountains Green and it couldn’t get any greener than this. Add to it the monsoon and with it clouds and you get some of the most beautiful scenery you’ll ever come across. One of the perks of travelling in what they call the “off-season”.(It rained and so far I’ve had my nicest travel experiences in the tourist off-season).I stashed away the memory safely in my mental hard-drive. Even as I’m typing this, I close my eyes to imagine the scene.
8) The Churches and the Jewish Synagogue- I love quaint, little churches tucked away in tiny little corners of the world. And we saw a church almost every five minutes , on our way through the countryside. The beautiful Jewish Synagogue in Kochi was like the icing on the cake during the walk through the Jew street. I fell in love with the place and its (teacup-design)blue tile lined floor,its Belgian glass chandeliers and its old- world charm.
9) The Kathakali performance was spectacular. With dramatic hand and eye movements and their colourful costumes ,the artists performed a story from the Mahabharata and did a fabulous job of it .
10) Finally, the Houseboat stay, the highlight of our trip . It was a wonderful experience cruising through the beautiful backwaters in Alleppey. What really amazed me was that, the advent of tourists from all over the world throughout the year hasn’t really affected the way of life of the people living in these tiny fishing villages. By villages, I mean tiny strips of land in the Backwaters. They continue to go about their daily chores, washing ,fishing ,going to school in a boat ( how exciting!!! ),completely unperturbed and it was charming to observe their way of life from the houseboat. We bought Tiger prawns from a small shop in a village and our cook cooked it for dinner ( the Prawn lover in me knew I was not going to get prawns as large as those in a long time to come and so I enjoyed to my heart’s content )J
And so I am back home now, dreaming of the backwaters ,the tea gardens and the prawns (!!!) and getting over my holiday hangover by writing this.