Quick Stop In Kerela

19th Apr 2014
Photo of Quick Stop In Kerela by Arjun Nambiar

Took off to Kerala for a couple of weeks from 19th of April. First checked myself into a two week Ayurvedic detox treatment- the last few months of heavy alcohol and bar food were beginning to catch up. And no, this wasn’t a rehab, it was a detox! :) The LDL numbers apparently weren’t hot, so this was a good chance to help that- I’m not too worried about it once I get off my butt and on the road though.

Kerala, also called God’s own country, is a tourist favorite. It’s where my family originally hails from, but being born and brought up in Bombay, it is resigned to being my “native place”. Also I’ve always associated it with relatives, so I’ve never felt the freedom to explore the place because more days there meant more tedious relative visits. And this isn’t a dig at them- it’s just too many formalities. Now that I’d gone alone, it was a whole new world. The first thing that strikes you is just the greenery. From the moment your flight approaches to the time you’re in the city. Even concrete constructions feel like they’ve only been grudgingly allowed some real estate, and it’s common to see brick walls have some growth overflow onto it from the surrounding. The green is a fresh green, not the dusty dull green that we’re sometimes used to in big cities like Mumbai. There’s also water bodies all around. Small ponds, canals, the ocean or the famed backwaters- you aren’t far from it at any point. Considering this was a short trip, what will stay with me though is the people, not one or two, but them as a group. I haven’t ever seen as genuine, easy smiles as I’ve been flooded with here- it was heart warming. The one negative may have been the weather- the height of summer isn’t considered the best time to visit tropical Indian cities, and so it proved.

The detox treatment was a couple of weeks, and ended Saturday so didn’t leave a lot of time to explore considering I was leaving on a Sunday night. The nearby Fort Kochi is a little bit of an attraction so decided to head down there. Looked up hostels.com and was glad to find hostels in the area. I hadn’t used hostels in India till then, but with tourism picking up, seems like there’s no shortage of these all over the country generally averaging around $10-$15 a night, and they seem to compare pretty favorable to the ones in N America and Europe. Took a train down from Thrissur to Ernakulam, and then a cab to the hostel I was staying in. The hostel hooked me up with a half day backwater tour for barely $10 or so. I can’t stress this enough, but a backwater trip is a must-do.

From the general serenity, the curious pole vaulting of the boat with long bamboo poles, the laidback fishing on the banks, the flora and fauna, and other backwater boats, this is good for the heart. It was the best possible start to the trip, before setting off walking around Fort Kochi. Also, as a piece of advice when on a budget, ask around for the Volvo AC buses(especially to and from the airport)- they’ll save you a bunch as compared to taxis. This was a good teaser for me and I’m coming back soon to explore the place in greater detail.

The good thing I think was that, in my mind, it finally kick started this journey in some ways. For the last month, I’ve been like one of those elephant seals off the coast of California- eating, feeling sleepy, bellowing, sleeping, eating, and yes, sleeping. As much as we talk about the luxury of just lazing, it grows old in a few weeks and was beginning to do my head in. And I seem to easily settle into familiar roles in familiar surroundings- I’ve done zero exploring and meeting people, considering I’ve had more than a month in Bombay. Being away for a couple of weeks solo as part of the treatment got me into a bit of a schedule, back to staying awake most of the day, to reading and just seems to have perked me up a little, which is good. Currently reading the autobiography of one of my favorite sportsmen, Ronnie O’Sullivan, and some of the work of Dr. Steve Peters.

Now back home, and inching through the passport renewal process. It’s been close to a month and a half and the delays seem to have already cost me the Argentina leg of the South America trip. Patience, I hear, is the key to getting shit done here.

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