India Part 2: Backwater Beauty

Backwaters of Kerala

After a 3 hour taxi ride to Allepey, we were cruising down the green, glassy backwaters of Kerala, also known as the “Venice of the East.”  Kettuvallam is the name of the one bedroom, multi-deck boat we rented for 24 hours, meaning “bundle” or “package” boat stretching about 60 to 70 feet in length and has a width of around 15 feet in the middle.  The boat is made of wooden planks joined and stiched together using coconut fiber ropes.  The roof covering is made of bamboo poles and palm leaves and the outside of the boat is painted using cashew nut oil.

I spent the afternoon comfortably nestled in a swinging bamboo chair taking in the calm and tranquil vibe while sipping on chai and munching on coconut fried bananas.  This was the life.   We were summoned to dinner, which was more or less a masterpiece of Indian cuisine.  Joe and the crew had been working hard all afternoon, but went about it in slow and calm manner, which matched the atmosphere of the boat and backwaters.   Bee and Ricky, our other two houseboat mates, kept us good company spitting out phrases of Cockney and “taking the piss” out of us four Americans ladies.

Elephant boy and sister

Upon our return from a walk in the sunset around the local grounds, two children sat singing Hindu hymns in candle light on their porch on our way back to the boat.  I obviously couldn’t help but get involved and spent the next hour quizzing them on their English about everything from animals to world political figures which was displayed in their black and white notebooks.  The boys favorite animal was an elephant, so I went on to name him “elephant boy.” (I know, I’m horrible with names, but it’s the only way I can remember).  As they warmed up to me and felt enough trust, the girl showed me her journal.  Inside was a creative composition of her thoughts and feelings, in broken, but beautiful English.  An entry that particularly stood out to me read, “Oh my teacher my dear teacher from heaven a shining star to me and sweet to my heart.”  She somehow found the words to express in writing how she felt. And in English. And as an aspiring teacher, it touched my heart immensely.  She did not write about the a,b,c’s or words that she learned from the teacher, but wrote about the teacher herself.  It made me think a lot.  Before leaving, I noticed the boys foot was not resting on the ground when he walked.  His mother went on to explain that they had not enough money to take him to the hospital to get it fixed.  My heart churned again at this notion.  I said goodbye to smiling “elephant boy” and the sweet girl with their address in hand in hopes to find a way to help pay or in the meantime, send them a photo to remember our time!

The next morning we stuffed ourselves to the brim with another wonderful South Indian feast and set out to canoe down through the smaller lagoons in which the houseboat was not permitted to go.  School kids walk side by side on the narrow strip between the lagoon and rice paddies.  Local women releasing their emotions by battering their husbands dirty laundry upon a rock next to the river.  Canoes glazing by like a figure skaters on ice.  Unfortunately due to my paranoia that my camera would get wet, I have no pictures of this entrancing and beautifully scenic ride.

Our 24 hours of luxury was over, as we said goodbye to Joe and the crew, the Brits and our wonderful other American sister Theresa.  With more time, I could have easily spent a couple days exploring the backwaters, but instead jumped on a 7 hour bumpy bus ride to Periyar National Park in Thekkady.  Let the journey continue!

Joe preparing breakfast

“What the teacher is, is more important than what he

teaches”  ~Karl Menninger

For more pictures click on this link: Kerala


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. holiday tour packages
    Aug 10, 2013 @ 18:35:10

    Great post! I have been referencing this article quite often. Thank you for providing such valuable information.


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