Everybody wants to go to Kerala.
And why not.
It’s pimped as God’s own country. I mean, there’s no topping that, now is there?
So, sure, even I wanted to go to Kerala. But it was always something that I figured I’d do later. Like ballroom dancing. It was a ‘next year’ kinda deal.
But then there’s Steve. Who’s my polar opposite. He doesn’t understand procrastination. And I can’t spell it, but thats another thing.
So, he had a Monday off and he said ‘let’s go to Kerala. Let’s just do this.’ Which meant that it was going to be a very short trip, but we’d be in Kerala. And that’s all that mattered.
And the best way to actually take two days off from Bombay was to sail off on a boat somewhere quiet, preferably Alleppey.
Backwaters, houseboat, unbelievable food….. The only thought in my mind was that we might never come back.
We booked our tickets on this budget airline (which I have sworn off forever) & through the lovely world of the internetz, researched our houseboat situation. They had various sorts & the spice boat (which seemed like the best option) would have been wonderful except that it is mostly open & we were smack in the middle of the monsoon, so figured we’d have to look at something a little more covered up. And we settled for this luxury but not uber luxury boat which would have a crew of 4, one chef (most important), one captain ( in my mind I kept thinking his name should be Haddock), two other guys who didn’t do much. One of them spoke a fusion of malayali & English and didn’t understand why we looked so foxed most of the time & kept saying yes to everything he said. And yes. It was a fairly large boat.
So the day came for us to leave for our mini holiday & both of us were super excited. But then we boarded the plane. And we realised we were surrounded by animals. Who liked to eat chips and shout loudly at each other. Two hours of this later we were in Cochin! Cochin, beautiful Cochin. Green lush beauty all around, swaying palm trees & clean air. we had a two hour drive to Alleppey where our houseboat was waiting for us & those two hours we killed by discussing why we live Bombay & what a waste of life it is (usual initial holiday conversation) and before we knew it we were in Alleppey! Woohoo. Our houseboat was sitting pretty right in front of us. We met the crew, the aforementioned gentlemen, who gave us wide grins as greeting. And in under ten minutes we heard a soft hum kickstart the engine and we were off!
I’ve always felt our country has every form of topography to put any continent to shame and the beauty that we see outside of cities is absolutely breathtaking. The the backwaters of Alleppey proved me right. Serene, smooth, seamless calm spread out in front of me. Gentle water, soft wind & lovely cloud-sprinkled skies. They were right, this was Gods own country.
But then came nightfall. Around 7pm, dusk seemed to have settled in alright and the boat was anchored for the night. We figured that since there was not much to do maybe we could watch a film, get some dinner and crash early. So, out came the laptop and one other dim light behind us, and after about ten minutes of ‘not this film, not this film, ok this film, no no, not this one’, a film was decided on. So now it was the two of us and the entire cast of Arachnophobia watching the film. Only thing was we thought we were alone. Till something went ‘bzzzz’ and then ‘gzzzzk’ then ‘rustle rustle’ then ‘ksbdisuzgdvsihvd’. In about 15 minutes and an equal number of screams later we’d figured that we didn’t want to watch a film in any case. We wanted to sleep, dinner less in a dark room, that’s how many insects there were.
So, we did just that. Ok I’m lying. We ate some dinner, but whenever something went crunch, neither of us looked at the other person. In some countries grasshoppers are a delicacy.
Next morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed (what does this term even mean?) we woke up to some more serene, picture postcard beauty and a hot cup of tea. Stellar. The many language speaking guy told us that today we would get an authentic Kerala massage and see a 2500 year old church. I wanted to tell him that that wasn’t possible because, well, you know, Christ wasn’t born then but it might have broken his heart so I just said “Oh wow!”.
First up, Church, and I must say, it was stunning. On the banks of the backwaters, in a quaint little village stood this majestic 1600 year old Church (I checked the date on a board). We walked around, it was nice and sunny, the boatmen met their friends and then we went back to sailing.
About an hour later we docked again and were told that we could get our massages here. This was exciting because we were so tired of sightseeing and needed to relax a little more to slip into a coma. I met Shakuntala who was going to be my masseuse/violater. 20 minutes of absolute awkwardness and discomfort later, I figured I needed to enjoy this at some point, so I relaxed a little bit. Let me assure you, a Kerala massage is a force to reckon with. There is oil, LOTS of oil and for the most part, it’s a little creepy but after a while it can be ….. Relaxing. It was my Steve’s first time getting said massage and he came back looking a little frazzled and avoided eye contact for sometime. I can assure you that this is how most of you first timers will feel.
The rest of the day was pretty phenomenal. We had a great lunch, read a lot, chatted up with the crew. What either party said is still a mystery but it was interesting. I remember trying to breathe in lungfuls of that air and just staring out a lot. Before we knew it, it was evening and because we are really smart we ran into our rooms at around 6:45 pm and locked ourselves in. Us-1 : Bugs-0
And just like that our getaway was over and we were in a car headed back to Cochin airport. Possibly the two most brilliant days I’ve had in a very long time ….. Would I do it over again? Hell yes. Bugs & slithery massage included.