I'd never travelled alone in the train before, so I did not know the details we should confirm before boarding it. I screwed up at every possible juncture. I didn't check the train time right and reached four hours early! My e-ticket did not have my driving-licence number on it! Well, after boarding the train thankfully nothing went wrong. I just had to wait for Anant to join me 10hours later.

So, Happy New Year !Finally and about time too. Time felt like it was in no hurry to pass by. It just lingered. Was it that? Or was it the fact that I and Anant were surrounded by a whole
lot of Kerelites who spoke away frantically in Malayalam. Even I could barely understand only bits of their conversations! At one point someone said "Janakpuri" and he was really thrilled for he knew of that place! But, that's that. He had no choice but to look at me, talk to me.
Delhi to Kerela is a two day journey by train. We ate all the local food from the stations, played cards, listened to music and well basically spent each moment together. We even slept together on the 6feet by 2.5feet beds of the train! Cramped, uncomfortable at times, but pure bliss! I am a stickler when it comes to linen. I meticulously match all four corners of the two layers of sheet and the blanket that we used for covering ourselves. I also take a lot of time to get settled while going to sleep, change sides, tuck into the blankets better, pull up a bit, no push down, twist and then finally settle down. It was wonderful to see Anant patiently tucked in while he waited for me to get settled, he even took the whole aligning-sheets-business in good humor. He loved me through all of it!
Whats with romance and moonlight, or romance and the night? We would talk deep into the night sharing the ipod, dedicating songs to each other, looking at the moon cuddled in in each others arms! It was all so unreal! Felt like a dream :) We would end it by graciously thanking god for everything.
Mornings used to be the tough part, the humor of seeing Anant ambivalent about whether he should sleep or spend time with me! cause I usually wake up by 7am while he cant seem to budge before 11! I even enjoyed watching him sleep! He has a funny habit of twitching his feet while sleeping! :) Breakfast would be early lunch for me while Anant would usually hog during lunch-time as well! I love watching him eat, he gets 'very' hungry very rarely and when he does, he really enjoys his meals.

I wanted him to taste every possible South Indian dish during our trip and he was all game for it. He loved it all idli, dosa, vada, eyttakya-uppam, nadan(authentic)chicken curry, chicken fry, parotta, uppam, sadya(the feast lunch on banana leaves), iddi-uppam everything!

We reached Ernakulam and went to Aparna's place. Did I mention that the purpose of our visit was her sister's wedding? Well, we freshened up and again left to explore this new city neither of us had been to before, where people spoke an alien language that I could understand only bits of and well, Anant shouldn't even try to understand!! My idea of exploring a new city is to cover it by foot or by the local transport. So, we set off by foot and reached a monastery-cum-school-cum-college-cum-hospital! What pulled me towards it was the sea-lining along the back of it. It looked beautiful! I realised how much I missed coming down-south every summer to meet my grandparents. (They have shifted to Delhi with us) I showed Anant a host of touch-me-nots along the shore. He was elated to make them fold inwards and droop by just touching them. Oh! well, at least some essence of nature to our trip!

I missed my grandfather a lot all through it. He used to take us for walks in the morning across farms and forests and shallow rivers. I know the real Kerela and all little details about rubber farms, mangroves, cocoa&coffee farming, pine apples, rice etc..because of him. I wished Anant to experience as much of it as possible. Ernakulam is a city so I could only tell him about all that I'd seen in my childhood but its altogether different when you experience it yourself. The touch-me-not incident was little reassurance!

Now, Aparna's home was at a place called 'Thevara'. Anant memorised 'the' while I memorised 'vara' part of the name. Trust me, its pronunciation is very different from its spelling. After another few minutes of aimless wandering and Anant having lost his patience in the heat we stopped at a book store to buy tourist maps of the city. Why in gods name are maps so big? We struggled with it for a while, went through the guide at least twice, came down to no conclusions and ended up calling my sister (who lives in the same city) for advice on where to go! We went down town to meet her at 'Pallari Vattam' (I mention the name of the place for it took ages for both of us to memorize it.) in the local bus, although Anant was not too happy about it(travelling in bus), I loved the whole experience! We hogged like crazy, (uppam, parotta, chicken masala, chicken fry, coconut chicken, coffee, chocolate shake!) most of it was really good. The little time we spent with Uttu was nice too. I miss her a lot.

We rushed back to Aparna's place as we had to go out for dinner with the bride's family. Nothing too eventful, we ate good food, took lots of photographs. On our way back Aparna scared Anant by telling him that he would have to wear the traditional Mundu at the wedding! (its a long cloth that men wrap around there mid riff instead of pants!) Since he was the only guy there, he was the first one to be woken up at 5:30 in the morning to get dressed(hah! :) ) that too by Aparna's dad (who is quite infamous for his waking-up-children tactics). He dint mind so much when he got to know that Aparna was just kidding about the Mundu part!

South Indian weddings are held after rahu-kalam, 9am (inauspicious time before which one must leave home for the occasion). We were the first ones to reach the venue because the bride's parents host the wedding. We loitered around and chatted while the guests gathered. The wedding ceremony was merely seven minutes (the time before and after it was much more). I spent most of my time taking photographs while Anant sat in his seat, refusing to budge taking mundane photographs from three fixed angles(how many more can you get when you're sitting in one position?)

The ceremony was followed by a rich traditional feast on banana leaves. I was happy
Anant could try such authentic food and enjoyed it thoroughly myself. We took leave from Aparna and her parents and set off to find a decent hotel where we could leave our luggage. Luckily we found a decent place only a few miles from where we were. We changed and set off for the Marine Drive. One must wonder why it was called the Marine Drive cause there was no place to drive past. It was basically sea shore flanked by malls with a path along the shore that one could walk. There were loads of boat-cum-restaurants, since both of us were full till the extent that I could have easily puked. We decided on a pleasant cafe to sit and enjoy the view while sipping at lemonade. After an hour or so, we went to the Kochi Boat Club to take a ferry till Fort Kochi. We bought tickets for a surprising Rs.2.50 each! The price seemed unbelievable. I had gone to Mumbai in October where a similar ferry ride cost 150bucks! This was way cheaper cause it was a daily means of transport for the localites who climbed in scores along with their bicycles, goods (for selling) etc. The ride till Fort-Kochi was Elysian, I love water! Anant was too worried all the time that I might somehow fall into the water (Although the railing of the ferry was well 4feet high and we were seated on rows of seats!) When I jumped off the boat before it had rested safely against land, I think Anant died a little! He seemed peaceful to be back on land!

I don't remember having seen a prettier place in my life! The architecture so unique! The weather pleasant! We decided to rent bicycles but only lady-cycles were available and I was dead against Anant riding them, although he seemed quite OK with it! We reached a lovely lodge which had an open restaurant facing sea shore. Here we rented a bike and went to Vasco da Gama Church. Fort Kochi is the place where Vasco da Gama had landed at in India during his famous trip via Africa. He died here in fort Kochi.

We rode around a bit and then gave up the bike. The resorts, the villas, lodges were spectacular, I had never seen such good architecture before, that too all at the same place. We went to the beach where a temporary stage was set up and men performed the traditional kathakali dance. The beach is famous for the Chinese fishing nets (as in the photograph above) that are symbolic for the area.We lazed around at the beach till we could (we had to take the last ferry back to Ernakulam).

The ride back was fun too! Anant said he was afraid of dark waters! Added to it, he was of course afraid I might fall into the sea somehow! Sheesh..! We packed a variety of good south Indian chicken and returned to our hotel. My stomach churns right now, yearning for that very food! :( Next morning I was wide awake by 7am! In fact to Anant's annoyance I woke up with a start, worried that I might have overslept! I tried in vain to wake the darn thing up but he seemed pretty determined to get his 14 hours of sleep! Christ! We missed breakfast at the hotel so, we couldn't try iddi-uppams that I'd planned for breakfast but caught good sadya for lunch before we left for the station. The ride back was pretty much the same apart from the chilling fear I had in my mind of saying bye to him. Surprisingly we both were fast asleep until fifteen minutes before his stop! That too, we were woken up by Aman's call who'd come to pick up Anant at the station. I packed all his stuff hurriedly, brushed my teeth and before I could realise Bhopal(his stop) was there! Saying bye was not so tough after all, I had too many good memories to go through during the next twelve hours till I reached Delhi. I still smile thinking about little incidents from out trip! One night I woke up searching for his feet next to me(we used to face opposite sides while sleeping in the train cause the seats were too narrow!).

And so was our first vacation together. :)
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6 Responses
  1. sundeep Says:

    Isn't Kerala GOD"S own COUNTRY?

  2. ira Says:

    It sure is. Its such a beautiful place! :)

  3. Sandi Says:

    Sounds like a wonderful first trip together! And the food you describe sounds wonderful - at least those items I knew! Here's to more vacations.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Beautifully expressed, you almost took me along on the journey as I read on..I am sure many others felt the same emotion too.

    Feels good, really good to know the new you!


  5. NRkey Menon Says:

    Ahh!First thing that struck - The horror of wearing a mundu, I seriously need belts for them to prevent any acts of obscenity.

    And was the ferry to bolgatti island? Remember goin there.

    Fun reading the post, Sweet trip! Feel like goin down south myself.