ra ra for kerala

Remind me again why we chose to travel on another dreaded sleeper bus? The Indian model provides a less coffin-like arrangement, with a double bed sized bit of flat foam that is comfortable while stationary at least, although most of the night was then spent bouncing around like dice in a cup and fearing that either one of us might flung out the open window or into the aisle.

We were disgorged some 12 hours later in lovely Fort Cochin, with its baking Keralan heat, sleepy laneways, good coffee and the odd elephant. Luckily for Fort Cochin, it is charming enough that its popularity doesn’t have to rely on actual sights, which are limited to a some smelly Chinese fishing nets and a crumbling museum containing a few moth-eaten fezzes from the most F-grade monarchy of all time. Perversely, this is actually the sort of museum that we love – a museum of museums, with confusingly wordy signage (or none at all) and invariably crap exhibits – so we weren’t too bothered. There’s also a synagogue in the somewhat awkwardly named “Jewtown” but we never made it inside, thanks to rarely seen Indian efficiency which only seems to raise its head at closing time.

Walking into a pole in the dark at Honey Valley finished off my already decrepit spectacles, so while we waited for the new ones we settled into a happy rhythm of lazy days, sheltering from the midday heat on the “poop deck” of our excellent nautical-themed digs and rising at dusk for an evening constitutional and dinner at the peerless Dal Roti, run by the bombastic Ramesh – his long dormant blog is worth checking out for several recipes of extreme tastiness.

We also celebrated Linds’ birthday, in slightly better style than last year’s premature hangover and visit to the Thai embassy. In between Linds fielding calls from his adoring fans, we checked in for a few days of air-con comfort, only to have our dinner plans forcefully rearranged by our matriarchal host – seafood platter, choc-laden desserts and a bottle of Indian plonk later, we toasted her good taste and the family and friends we were missing as we realised the novelty of spending a birthday away from home had lost its sheen since last year.

As an aside, it’s quite hard to get a drink in Kerala – which strikes us as strange, given that most Keralans are either Catholic or communist or both, depending on the company. A bit like Linds, really. How can this possibly lead to prohibition when both groups are well-known boozers? Linds’ conclusion is that, like him, they too have concluded that the local brews are an affront to God and/or the proletariat and thus, deserve the heinous tax they attract.

When the time came for us to leave Fort Cochin, we were saddled with so many goodies and well-wishes that it was a bit like leaving home. Tourism is largely a cottage industry in Kerala and it shows in the incredible kindness and personal attention we received. Ramesh not only insisted we enjoy our last meal on the house, with so many trimmings that he surely undid all the profits accumulated from our week of patronage, but sent us off with bottled water and enormous kathi rolls for the bus, in case we felt like a snack “at around one in the morning.” Our delightful host, Joan, organised our bus tickets, let us stay in our room until 8pm at no extra charge and raced down the road in the dark to rouse and instruct an autorickshaw on where to take us. Even as we were about to drive off, already overwhelmed by kindness, she beetled inside to fetch us an extra carry bag for Ramesh’s goodies, as her daughter shouted “Mum, what are you doing?!” in a manner common to embarrassed teenagers the world over.

Kerala, we heart thee.

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2 Responses to “ra ra for kerala”

  1. Too much meat Says:

    You can´t find alcohol in Kerala? I think you may no longer be able to call Australia home 😉

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8557215.stm

  2. Alaina Says:

    I loved Kerala too – it’s just great, isn’t it? Such a nice vibe to the town.

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