After spending six days in my husband’s parents’ home which is in a village near Thrissur district, we left for Cochin which is two hours away. I left with a heavy heart. The below lines by Robert Frost came to my mind as I said goodbye.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep.
There are still lanes here that I have not walked on, pictures that I have not taken, and sights that I have not seen.
I have visited this place several times in the last twenty years and each time I feel the same- that there is something more that I need to see or failed to capture. Like the water buffalo that I’d seen lazing in the water on the first day of my arrival whose photograph I wanted to take but somehow did not manage to, the canal we used to walk to when the girls were little – it’s only a kilometre away from home but we just couldn’t make it there this time or the elephants in the neighbourhood temple- we went there twice in six days but missed seeing the royal creatures that grace it.
There were just so many other things that we were doing: recreating pictures of the past, talking (we were meeting each other after two whole years), feasting (every meal becomes a feast when it’s with the entire family), lazing around while it rained and watching movies late into the night (the best out of the four we watched was Runway 34, a Hindi movie about a flight accident that is avoided and a court case that ensues as a result of it). And soon it was time to move on.
It’s as if the place is telling me, ‘If I show you everything, how will I lure you back here?‘
For a wandering soul like mine, the fun ends if there’s nothing left to know. I’m not saying it’s a good thing. It’s just the way it is. For instance, Dubai, the place I spent most of my life in- it revealed itself to me completely and now, I don’t care to return. If I ever do, then it would be for the connections I left behind.
Coming back to the village- there is no historical landmark or a popular tourist destination here that must be visited or that I could write about. It’s an ordinary village whose beauty lies in the everyday things that happen here. It’s this ordinariness that makes me want to write- the way the squirrel clambers up on the roof of the house and jumps over the bamboo mat tied in front of the bedroom window and creates a din in the morning, how a web springs up every night here between the pillars in the porch, on the washing line on the terrace, on the railings on the windowsill and sparkles with dewdrops, and the way the butterflies visit each flower in the garden sucking the nectar. It’s the time available here that allows you to slow down, observe and learn- a day feels longer, not because it’s boring but because there are no distractions.
The speciality of this place is that though it is designated a village, it does not mean it’s underdeveloped and lacks resources unlike some of the villages in other parts of India. It has good roads, easy accessibility to schools and hospitals close by and groceries selling daily provisions. Every day a fruitseller, vegetable seller and a man selling fresh fish drives through the village in his tempo announcing his arrival on a loudspeaker attached to his vehicle. I would need to find out on what basis it is designated a village.
Since our last visit a few years ago, a number of new restaurants serving Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine have sprouted up on the highway, close to home. These new restaurants make the place look touristy at night because of the way they are lit up, the ambience and their creative names. I have taken a few pictures to give you an idea of how the place looks at night.
I believe the best way to appreciate a place is to look at it as a tourist; even if it’s your own hometown. You’ll be surprised how much more you end up observing.
There is a change in Kerala- the one I knew of, two decades ago, and the Kerala of now- this new Kerala retains the past and welcomes the present- it is willing to make space for the new and thereby manages to create a perfect blend where tradition and modernism can waltz together effortlessly. It allows the younger generation to stay hooked while the older generation does not feel left out.
The change is visible throughout the State. We noticed it as we drove from Thrissur to Cochin. The biggest change was around the Lulu Mall- twenty years ago, there was nothing in the area except a church, a few roadside eateries and our college hostel. Today, the mall spans over 17 acres of land and restaurants, hotels, and apartment buildings have mushroomed around it. I couldn’t help but think if only it had been there when I was studying in the place, we wouldn’t have been starved for food or clothes.
A major difference between the malls in Mumbai and Lulu mall is that the latter is open until 11.00 p.m. while the former close by 10.00 p.m. I especially noted this because we went for a movie at 7.30 p.m. and did not expect to find restaurants open after the movie ended. Surprisingly, not only were the restaurants open but they were crowded too (I’m not saying it indicates a healthy lifestyle) and that too, on a weekday.
Some pockets of the city have gotten far too crowded for my liking. However, thankfully, this is restricted to limited areas and the rest of the city still looks the same.
Kerala is definitely a place worthy of a visit to unwind. It’s a place you can pamper yourself with Ayurvedic massages, nourish your soul in the lap of nature and dine like a king without creating a dent in your wallet. While the monsoons can be a dampener, I believe it’s the best time to visit the place- the temperatures are lower and it’s when nature is in its shiny best- every river full like juicy fruit, every leaf glossy like a polished vessel and every bark, wall, stone clothed in green.
Here is a video of what you can expect to see if you drive through the State during the monsoons or just after. If this doesn’t make you add Kerala to your bucket list, then be sure to check my next post on Fort Kochi, an island, 30 minutes away from Cochin where we spent four days.
P.S. For all those who are wondering which part of India I’m talking about, here is the map.
We drove from the centre (Thrissur), two hours to the South to reach Fort Kochi (which I will cover in my next post).
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