Okay, here I go on one of my boring travel monologues again! At least I have pictures this time, so they can make up for the lengthy post that will go on and on.
First, as promised, pictures of our swimming forest deities :-) It's not a good picture, but that's okay because I have to be careful about protecting their identities..in case there's a blog-reading girlfriend or wife out there somewhere.
Our first day in Kannur was all about waking up late and hastily phoning reception asking to send someone up to our room to help us wear our sarees since we are both hopeless losers with them. Hectic, half-asleep, pins coming off, strings and threads and what not all over the place...
And despite all this expert help, I was unhappy the whole day because it felt like my sari was falling off. Yet I managed to go for a walk on the beach, get my feet wet, walk around a park for more than an hour, then climbed up and down a lighthouse, all with my sari threatening to come undone all the time!
I like this picture of a smoking Macavity and the groom. Looks all regal and the days-of-the-Raj type :)
Then it was Chambakulam, where all the hustle and bustle stopped, and it was all tranquility and peace and quiet and beauty all around. This is the cottage where we stayed -
Our regular morning traffic - no honking or screeching or burning rubber here!Macavity never smiles like this during breakfast. But here she grinned non-stop - through breakfast to dinner.
Our cottage owner lent us a canoe and a man, who rowed us out to the church, then up to the village market, then to explore the river. And this gallant rower of weak-armed maidens plucked me lotuses! I have been obsessed with lotuses all my life, I only ever see them from a distance, or in pictures. So just holding that beautiful lotus in my hands was exhilirating for me.We also befriended some locals, who invited us to dinner. We sat on the floor, ate with our hands, washed our hands on our dinner plates when we were done, and talked late into the night in this pretty little cottage of theirs.
This beautiful St.Mary's church was only about 5 minutes walk away from our cottage. And it was not tourist infested as the other churches I'd seen, and I could actually pray. It's over 500 years old, and the beautiful murals just take your breath away. (However, Macavity spotted a big painting of a cow and a dragon, and couldn't understand why they were there. I don't think I do either :))
You know what I loved more than all the other flowers there? The Indian Coral flower (Fartuah in Mizo)! For me, they're all about Mizoram and home and childhood. Seeing them blooming so raw and wild in the forest just tugs at and warms my heart and makes me want to cry. It makes me think of days that were good but will never come again.
Local women bathing in the sacred river Pampa -
Then there was idyllic Ooty - It bothered me that people thought it necessary to get tour guides and see all the usual tourist spots. They'd be aghast when we'd said no, that we didn't plan to get ourselves guides nor do we plan to see this or that. They didn't get it that when we have forests like these, we don't need anyone to show us what to do with our time.
So like the good travelers that we are, we veered off all the spots recommended to us by our hotel and our driver and our guidebook, and strayed into the forest, and watched and listened to birds and picked wild berries all day instead. We also ate every plant we knew was edible in the forest. And we ran into a couple of wild jungle fowls. Now isn't that far better than standing in line at some man made amusement park with hundreds of other tourists, waiting to buy tickets for yourselves and your cameras?
Keralite state buses have those really big windows, and you can't close them halfway, it has to be either fully closed or fully open. And the amount of grime and grit that gets on your face is NOT funny! So after my first ride and I swiped the first layer of dust off my face, I decided I had to wear my ninja gear on those buses. At all times. All worth it though for views like this -
Another obession of mine - cashew fruits. Ever since I first saw them some years back, I have always wanted to touch them and smell them and eat them :P And not buy them from a supermarket, but right under the trees. Pluck them out from where they hang so enticingly and bite into them. I mean look at them, aren't they just too pretty!
And the best thing about traveling is that you get to fulfil these little dreams on the way when you least expect it. I saw some local guys knocking cashew fruits off the trees, and asked the driver to stop. I jumped out, and these men welcomed me like they expected me! And it's amazing how much you can do when you can't even understand a word of what the other person is saying. They graciously offered me fruits they'd already plucked, and I also shamelessly picked a fruit from a particular tree (pic above) and they got it for me. They showed me how to eat it too - all without speaking a common language. They spoke only Malayali, while I tried to make do with English & Hindi. But we understood each other perfectly!
Another thing I love about traveling is meeting good people and to find them everywhere you go. People talk so much about the world being full of bad things and bad people, but I don't think it's true. I think mostly, human beings are g0od everywhere. You'll always have some that'll try to help themselves to your money or your things - camera, shoes, butts, breasts, but that's only a very small percentage of the population. No matter where I go, I see more people wanting to be nice and friendly to you and eager to help.We met these two men in the middle of nowhere town of Allapadi. I won't go into details, but they went wayyy out of their way to help us I just wanted to hug them. Traveling makes me thank God that He put so many nice people on Earth.
Another fun thing about traveling - doing things that are not part of the plan at all! The completely crazy, unprecedented ones but the ones that you will never forget. Like sneaking in to a tea estate wearing a tiara :-)And the time and place to ponder over useless things! We love Camelias, but we don't get to see these flowers often. So finding this big tree full of flowers was fascinating for us. We sat under it, looked up at the flowers, and got lost in our thoughts. And good thoughts. I thought about my mother, and how much I love her and miss her. I thought about my cousins, and how grateful I am to have them. I don't think these things often here in my busy, hectic life in Hyderabad where there is always work and it's always somebody's birthday, and there's always a dinner or a party or some other event to run off to and to keep you from thinking....Macavity believes Keats must have sat under a Camelia tree such as this when he wrote some of his poems. I can easily believe that too!