It has been in mind for so long, to take a day off and set out to the lavish greenery of Alappuzha to rejuvenate my soul. The place where the essence of Malayalam could be sensed with all its purity. The fertile smell of land, when the monsoon showers hit the surface. The sip of a hot black tea from a local tea shop near the river side, with two crispy vadas. Kerala back waters should definitely be on my camera; else I would be missing out the joy of exploring the natural scenic beauty of my native land. And to make the experience more like a self discovery and earthy, I decided to opt out the hangout concept of travelling to the spot with my friends or cousins. After all, sometimes it’s best to follow our instincts blindly. That’s from where our wisdom evolves in its true form. We should consider the right to chose or the freedom we are given to choose our own path as a sacred privilege. The door of possibilities reroutes itself like in a GPS as we choose a new path in life.
Long before the sun could stretch out its morning shades, I got out from the comfort of my warm cozy bed. Through the misty freshness of that morning, I walked past my local church which was preparing for the early holy mass. Avoiding the comfort of driving with the basses and trebles of music was a good decision. Boarded an ordinary KSRTC bus, heading to the town of Alappuzha. I often wondered why the KSRTC buses have different facial expressions. When I was a child, I used to think of them as the different moods of these buses. Some of them seems happy, some childish, others could even have an angry face. While the private buses seemed to have some trendy looks and new hair styles, which could be the reason why some KSRTC buses looks grumpy.
I missed the green and yellow tickets, we used to have before. Technology is a killer. It murdered our past, making some stuffs the things of past. This wasn’t an old KSRTC but a renovated one I guess. The hand rails are plastered; I always hated the naked steel rails and its rusty smell. The rush of school children in uniforms with heavy bags took me back to memories of school days. Glad am done with it. Speaking of school, I love the smell of biscuits and milk in water bottles, the smell of fresh text books and new uniforms. Whenever I buy a new book, I open it randomly and have a long inhalation. May be that could help me absorb some of the hidden knowledge.
Having taken a private transit bus to Kumarakom, popularly known as the head quarters of back water packages; hired an auto and headed down the rural inroads to explore the virgin back waters. Something was bothering me, the calling of fresh Naadan food. As we passed by a hotel with its Naadan menu kept on the road side, I could sense the title song of Salt and Pepper movie calling me to spoil myself right now.
‘‘ Thana thinna thaana thinna thaana thinna thinthinno.
Thana thinna thaana thinna thaana thinna thinthinno.’’
Of course, I was on the table the next moment lost in the menu. Puttum Beefum, I ordered. Porotta, is my favorite but I got seduced by the unique Puttu available here with its Thenga Peera and the spicy beef with Thenga Kothu. Sipped the local tea listening to the tunes of radio music and the news paper conversation of the localites. Before heading to the Kadathu Vanchi opting out the house boats, I decided to come back here to have the Ucha Oonu with the delicious Special Fish Curry.
The Vanchikaran was having a local Beedi under the shades of the slanting coconut tree. I kind of worry sometimes while playing around or passing by a coconut tree. Isn’t there a risk of the coconuts falling down ? It’s damn scary. An old man in his 70’s and two sisters boarded the Kadathu Vanchi. Having seen the sisters I thought, there could be a local church somewhere on the other side. ‘‘ Ok, let’s go’’, said the Vanchikaran in an indifferent way. I grabbed my camera and the hat. It could be sunny out there. Should have taken some Pazhampori or Parippuvada as parcel. Never mind. We sailed through the shades of local trees and the view of traditional houses by the river side. Paradise was right there and I was sailing through it. This is definitely ‘‘Gods Own Country’’. Took some great shots and drowned myself in the pleasure of sailing wild back waters. We were slowly heading to the big wide opening of the Kayal. A flock of birds, probably the Kokku, flew across the sky. The view was heavenly. And I didn’t miss to freeze that frame in multiple shots.
We had a small chit chat on the way with topics ranging from local Chemmeen Chammandhi to Mullaperiyar. The Vanchikaran was speaking lots of crap, could probably be some words of wisdom. In fact we are inclined to believe the words of those whom we don’t know, as they haven’t deceived us. The clouds were getting darker. Mullaperiyar issue, in my view is not a stupid water dispute. It’s more than a life and death situation. The heat of the issue was at its peak then. And there was much tension and protests between the people of both states, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Unless the Mullaperiyar dam is rebuilt, three districts of my state will be wiped away along with the lives of 3 million people. I defended the issue strongly in our debate of Mullaperiyar issue in the Kadathu Vanchi. I always believed that peace is not the absence of war but the presence of justice. I wondered if the Vanchikaran was from the other state. The old guy was showing some sign languages. Is he practicing some kind of Kathakali moves ? But I sensed something wrong when I saw the strange faces shown by the sisters. In the next moment, the Vanchikaran challenged me and jumped into the river. What the ?
It started raining. Thunders fighting in the sky. And am struck with some strangers in a boat lost in the middle of monsoon showers. I agree that going through challenges and failures is a solid test to develop more faith in God. But how could this situation be explained ? The monsoon showers got much stronger and I could really feel my face getting wet and colder. Somewhere from the corners of the dark clouds in the sky I could hear a whispering voice. It was my mom. Mom, you saved me from a big ship wreck. I was inside the Titanic. I tailored my dreams to make it sound more appealing. Any way I was glad that I didn’t have to spend much time in that Kadathu Vanchi, wandering aimlessly through the wide river and getting wet in the heavy monsoon rain.