Alleppey

The next morning, we boarded a bus and went to Alappuzha. The bus from Idukki took us to Kochi. We got ourselves coffee and some snacks, and waited for a bus to take us to Alappuzha. While waiting for the bus an elderly woman in uniform asked me if I would like to buy lottery tickets. Lottery is a very big deal in Kerala. They are government approved, the government even employ people who are physically challenged to sell the tickets. The lotteries are drawn everyday, some on special occasions and festivals. The best thing about Kerala, I never saw a single person begging. Kochi is different from all the other places I have visited earlier here in Kerala. It is a bustling port, quite crowded. It was office going time, the roads and the bus stands were filled with people, the bus crowded with people. Reminds me of the Delhi street scene. Nijil showed me Kerala’s largest church at Edappally in Ernakulam, as we passed it. Starring through the window, I saw rows of foreign car showrooms. Some still bears the water marks from the recent flood. Then came the vegetables, and the fresh fish vendors. All these time in Kerala I haven’t seen much fresh water fishes. Here in Kochi, I saw people selling freshwater fishes. I caught the glimpse of a rather huge tilapia, and in my head I have already made a stew out of it with mustard greens. After about one and half hours of riding in the bus, we finally reached Alappuzha.


The air in Alapuzha was filled with the aromas of freshly fried banana and tapioca chips


An auto rickshaw took us to the hotel we booked earlier from OYO. The air in Alapuzha was filled with the aromas of freshly fried banana and tapioca chips. After about ten minutes of riding, we finally reached the hotel. We were greeted by two arowana fishes at the entrance. The hotel was not bad for the price we paid. It has a traditional Kerala charm to it, even the doors in our room had traditional wooden latches. We settled down, freshen ourselves up and then headed straight to see the backwaters. There were lots of boating experience options to choose from. There were some very fancy looking boats. Some, meh! We chose the later one. It was a government operated ferry. We waited for a few minutes to get it filled. Once it was completely filled, the ferry set off.


Nothing can bring happiness on a Manipuri’s face more than fish and rice does


The engine was pretty loud, the school children chatters. But I can’t complain it cost just 9 rupees for almost a two hour ride. The air smells of swampy water. Some smells brings out memories. It was this stinking smell that did it for me. The smell took me to my childhood days, the days I spent catching fishes. My mother always refrained me from doing it. Still, I would sneak out with some friends, find a small pond, dewater and catch fishes. I would return home all dirty, clothes wet and covered in mud. Mother would scold me, and I would show her the fishes I caught. Nothing can bring happiness on a Manipuri’s face more than fish and rice does. The fishes talked for me, mother would calm down. The smell evidently faded off as we reached the backwaters. There was a hand pump that the workers take turn to pump out water, the bell gonging for every stop, the workers jumping on to the parking platform to pull the ferry closer and let the passenger get in and off, the driver reading a book in between. There were so much happening just inside the ferry it was quite amusing to watch. In the distance we saw the fancier boats blazing off. Some are huge, a house boat with the options for night stay. Riding for long, I became tired and dozed off.


The orange hue of the setting sun, the soft splashing waves, I wished it never ended


We reached our stop, I followed Nijil. He asked me if I was curious of where we were going. To somewhere exciting, I replied. I was true, he led us to a toddy vendor. I almost danced in joy. We ordered toddy, stir fried mussels and boiled kapa. Sweet baby Jesus! Toddy was delicious. Something of that milky liquid reminded me of the familiar rice beer from home. But the taste was quite different. Toddy tasted more nutty and earthy, the fried mussels with coconut accompanied it really well. We sipped the toddy, talked, listened some music and then headed back for the hotel. We returned quite tipsy. The intoxicated eye have a better appreciation of beauty, I guess. The return ride was more beautiful than the earlier. The orange hue of the setting sun, the soft splashing waves, I wished it never ended. But life always doesn’t grant what one wishes for.


With a heavy heart, a tanned skin, sunburn scars, and a ton load of precious memories I left for Delhi


The ferry ride is finally reaching its destination. So is my trip. This will be my last night in Kerala, the next morning I will be leaving for Delhi. We went back to the hotel, freshen ourselves, rested a while and came out to get dinner. We decided to try from the Indian Coffee House. I tried beetroot dosa for the first time there. It was a bit spicy for my taste. They served good coffee though. I ended up buying myself a packet of ground coffee from there. We returned to the hotel and slept like babies.

The next morning we packed our bags, bought some banana and tapioca chips, and left for the railway station. With a heavy heart, a tanned skin, sunburn scars, and a ton load of precious memories I left for Delhi. My trip to Kerala was all about finding home in a foreign land. When home calls, you respond. I am looking forward to my next visit to Kerala.

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