It was November, and 20 days of nothingness. I had planned my first ever solo trip to Kerala and Pondicherry on a whim, to say the least. The background story is long, but to give you some context, my very first international vacation plan had gone down the drain in a sudden turn of events. Hence, Kerala and Pondicherry came to the rescue. Little did I know what was to follow.
A couple of days before the plan was slated, I found myself anxiously texting my old friend about my fears. For an Indian girl who had been brought up in a very protective environment, the idea of a solo trip was not all excitement and happiness. Nevertheless, I wanted to do it. Partly to feed my wanderlust and mostly for being on my own in an alien world (somewhat).
I packed my bags and reached Alleppey fine and unscathed (phew!). I soon found my home for the next three days at the backwaters- Goku’s Homestay via Airbnb, which did not disappoint me at all. Since I was travelling solo, I told my host that I didn’t feel I could bear the expense of the popular houseboat cruise. Being wonderful hosts, Goku and his wife took care of all my needs and even arranged for a morning Shikara around backwaters. Well, it fit my budget.
The next morning I set out for a very serene boat ride around the backwaters of Kerala. It was a small boat that could accommodate four riders and the boatman. Every turn seemed to offer a picturesque frame as the water lilies glazed in the sun.
I couldn’t have felt more connected to my senses- surrounded by quietness, with only the paddle of the boat being heard- when I heard a voice “So, where are you from”. I turned to look at a white woman in her sixties sitting beside me. As I answered her question we went into a deep conversation about many-a-things. She hailed from Montreal, Canada and our discussions varied from her children and grandchildren to the Indian conservatism to how mobile phones never penetrated Canada much till half a decade earlier.
Much to our dismay, our conversations had to stop as we halted for a home-cooked traditional Kerala food at a village, in one of the natives’ home. It was a short walk from the shore, and while the food was sumptuous, the high point of the lunch was a small kid in the host’s home entertaining us with her magic tactics and “knowledge” about various country capitals. No wonder she wanted to be a model! *wink wink*
We got back to our boat and covered the rest of the errand in much quietness. A couple of hours and a few more beautiful clicks later, the day
had to come to an end, and I bade my goodbye to Chontal, the Canadian woman. As I sadly sat in the auto to take me back to Goku’s, I couldn’t help but smile at what all transpired. Surely, a houseboat ride would have been a different experience, but it would not have been this.