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>> Friday, November 14, 2008

"The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.".. Don williams Jr

I had been planning a vacation since quite some time. Finally I decided to pack my bags and leave to my home state , God's own country.....So come join me as I take you with me on our escapades...

There is a rule while going on vacation, you are not fully packed and done till you have actually boarded your train. The same goes with me too, last minute scrambling and rushing to stores for all the essentials , and still when I unpacked and looked for stuff, many of it had mysteriously disappeared.
We had booked tickets to Kerala by train, a long 32 hour journey. However we were in for a hearty surprise, the Indian railways keeping our drudgery in mind, had upgraded our train to make it a “Nature trail /Eco tourism” special. The main attractions were the mighty cokroaches. We had a field day observing their behavior in extremely cold (read AC) conditions. Few of my co-passengers though were more interested in the rat family nearby and their hourly squabbles over the fact that the cockroaches were stealing the thunder!! (Yeah, they have ego-trips too!!)

The first week whizzed past in a whirlwind of weddings and temple visits. The divinity being a little exasperated with me after a while though. I visited around more than half a dozen of them in a day and they were fed up with the same conversations I had with all of them (You see they had no variety to chit chat over high tea that day except me!!). The elderly relatives fed me till I had food coming out of my ears…complaining “You have lost weight.” (Yay so my weight concealing outfits were working… I rejoiced!!).

Then there was the dreaded M word (marriage for the uninitiated). From birds and bees to the tallest coconut trees, all wondered aloud why “good luck” was eluding me. The only end result of all this being a new “Zen –like” expression on my face and more temple visits!!

The next leg of the journey was a fun filled week of back packing across southern part of Kerala with a few friends. It was a slightly unplanned trip; we had just the places we wanted to visit in mind ….a la Anthony BourdainNo Reservations!!

The first place we went to was the majestic Padmanabhapuram Palace. The beautiful sculptures and wood work had us spellbound. The palace is breathtakingly beautiful and well maintained. We had our funny moments though … when my friend innocently asked one unsuspecting guide .. “But why didn’t Marthanda Varma, the king get married? Wasn’t he an eligible bachelor?” The look on the guide’s face was priceless and the rest of us were almost ROTFL. (psst we did have some cheeky answers from another friend for above question …but since this a family blog… ;) )
Kovalam beach was a major disappointment though .And what do I say about the Veli tourist village .. the sculptures or whatever you can call them were just best left to wild imagination …

We left for Alleppey the next day. With no train tickets, and me being a first time back packer, I was shivering when the ticket collector asked us to get down at the next station. I am sure he wanted to throw us out, but looking at the mountains we were carrying in the name of luggage he didn’t bother to test his muscle strength. So we were stranded in no man’s land in Varkala for a while, with the locals eyeing us with looks they only reserved for aliens.
We stayed at a wonderful home stay option at Alleppey. The hosts provided us with a cosy room in their house and lovely meals. Trust me, the way we were devouring food, I am sure they would do a background check the next time around… “Starvation victims will not be entertained!!”
The backwater cruise in the lovely houseboat however made up for all the missed trains and crowded buses. It was like a trip to another world, a journey we all will never forget in a long time to come.

The next stop was at Kottayam. The plan was to visit the Kumarakom Bird sanctuary. Visit it we did, but the birds seemed to have gone on a wedding reception or a party, leaving behind just a few hens and crows. I am sure they didn’t get our letter announcing our arrival, else this wouldn’t have happened.

Our final pit stop was at Cochin, rather near Cochin, in a quaint city called Thripunithura. My pal A and his parents were our hosts. Hosts would be a rather formal way to put it, the reception they gave us was like family, though we were meeting them for the first time... It was like an instant connection, like we had shared some bond long ago. We visited the Thripunithura royal family at the Hill Palace and went on a wonderful ferry ride across all the islands in Cochin. We had so much fun, with the jokes aunty cracked, for in future whenever I hear the word “Adulteration” I will think of her.( ok that’s an inner circle joke.. cant explain). As I waved them good bye, I felt I was leaving my folks behind. :)

As our train chugged out of Ernakulam Town station towards Pune and we waved out to A, I suddenly felt something was about to change... and it has indeed.. for better or for worse!!
I had one of the best trips ever. Made lasting friendships, one tiny grouse though being a miffed friend .. still wondering what went wrong in a matter of 12 hours.. I wish I knew... :(

As this post is on a journey, can baggage be far behind, considering we had loads of it . I’ll end this with a quote I read in Anita Nair’s book “Mistress”

“Baggage I suppose .. he said softly. None of us is free of it, and yet if we were, we wouldn’t be who we are”
Add Image

P.S: Two learning’s from the trip:
1) It is not necessary to just own a camera.. You should know to use it too!!! (Yeah all my pictures look like they have been shot by a 3 year old)

2) Malayalis are very disciplined people, don’t believe me … ok then check the disciplined queues at the Beverages Corporation outlets.. even army drills will be put to shame.

Acknowledgement : I thank "god" for the first pic ;) in the post


Nikhil Narayanan November 14, 2008 at 7:35 PM  

Good that you had a great trip. :)

But,you did not like Kovalam :O ?

C'mon,firangs die to come to that place!


mathew November 15, 2008 at 1:08 AM  

mm..seems like a movie which i am going to watch coz i ll be visiting quite a few place mentioned here soon!:-)

ticketless travel..hmmm...should try doing that in an airline.;-D

mayz November 25, 2008 at 5:30 PM  

hey smthn awaits u on my 100th post :)

Satish Bolla November 27, 2008 at 5:23 PM  

kerala is one place which i had been eying for long. but time doesn't permit me n my friends to visit it. good to hear abt ur experiences. well written.

“Nature trail /Eco tourism” i was misguided abt this line. but couldn't stop laughing after reading abt the cockroaches

Keshi December 2, 2008 at 6:55 AM  

I hope all os well with ya. TC! Im so saddened by the Mumbai attacks.


Anonymous December 9, 2008 at 4:01 PM  

The first pic indeed is amazing... and this is your second post with God in it! Train journeys are so much fun. If they only can exterminate the cockroaches. Never found a rat on-board though! Must be the yummy Kerala food on the train. :)

M-words, birds and bees - all in the same para? Subliminal.

Deepti December 9, 2008 at 8:12 PM  

@Nikhil: Kovalam was way too crowded and it was impossible to have fun!!

@Mathew: One ticketless journey was enough!! Imagine if they threw me off the flight!!

@Shantanu: I enjoy train journeys too :)Actually the snap was taken by my friend and the God reference is a joke!!
M word birds and bees :D that was the whole point :D

Deepti December 9, 2008 at 8:12 PM  

@Satish:Thanks a lot!! Do visit kerala .. real nice place!!