<<  Chennamkari, 28-Jan-2013  >>

Keralan backwaters

No roads and no rickshaws, only plams, canals and rice paddies - on trip from Allepey to Chennamkari

From Varkala I headed towards Keralan backwaters, a patch of island villages and palms connected with water canals, where travelers rent houseboats and cruise the channels. I didn’t want to rent it (too expensive and snobbish), but I decided to stay in one of the villages. There was one place suggested in the Bible (Lonely Planet), but it was too expensive, so I decided to, for the first time, rely on my tent and I got a ferry ride to that village without any idea where I’d sleep. Unfortunately, the tent idea very quickly turned out to be impossible, because there wasn’t any free land on the island, it was only swamp like rice paddies and houses with private gardens. Luckily, the owner of that expensive place told me that her family has also one homestay, so I ended up staying in old Keralan house, with grandmother, uncle and two nieces (aged 7 and 11) and I had here two wonderful days, and “the uncle” even took me to Kung Fu training in the nearby city. The whole area is (again) Christian. So, this Indian family is Christian, and he practices Kung Fu. Again, southern India proved to be a melting pot of the religions, which was even more clearly proven by the older niece, who was drawing something and she showed it to me and told me “I’m drawing the religions” and I looked at the picture and there was a Christian cross, Sanskrit sign of Om, sitting Buddha and “Allah” written in Arabian (well, it was not really properly written, by it resembled Allah in Arabian). And then she showed me the last sign, and said that it was her own religion, which she created, “religion for non-beIievers”. I almost felt urge to adapt her when I saw and heard this, she could be my daughter with this atheist fascination by religions :-)

Life is full of surprises. After writing the lines above I was called for a dinner and I had beef for dinner. Beef! I thought that I would not eat any beef for 4 months, because I wouldn’t order it even if some restaurants offer it, because I think it’s insulting to eat beef in Hindu India, but as this family (and the whole village) are Christians, they cooked beef for the dinner (it’s a homestay, so you don’t order food, you simply get whatever they cook). So here the beef is not a sin (but I hope that the smell of the beef will evaporate quickly, I don’t want to be lynched by Hindus when I leave this village). But even more surprising was, when the Kung Fu practicing uncle (who turned out to be 31, although he looks older than me) told me that he’s pursuing PhD in sociology and that he has master degree in sociology and master degree in public administration, and that he also studied the law. Wow! Here, in middle of nowhere, in the village where the time almost stopped, I’m a total uneducated primitive compared to this chap. Cool! :-)

One morning, I watched Scooby Doo and Tom & Jerry with the girls. Scooby Doo was some modern version, although it looked almost like the older series, they were taking pictures by smartphones and used phrases like “Did you photoshop that?”. But Tom & Jerry was the real original, I could even remember the episodes which they broadcasted. Scooby Doo was quite boring, but Tom & Jerry really made me laugh. It’s strange to find out that after more than 20 years, since I watched Tom & Jerry, the kids watch the same stuff today, and it’s pleasant to find out that it can still make you laugh after all that time. I guess that’s what they call “timeless classic”. Good job Fred Quincy!

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     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak