We - me and the kids - had a short vacation in Kerala in the Gandhi Jayanti (Oct 2) weekend in my hometown Chandanapally in Pathanamthitta district. Since I was taking a Bengali colleague and her family to see my idyllic village, it was one hectic trip. The kids - my two and her only one - got on well. A train journey is enough for kids to make friends even with absolute strangers.
The guests, on the drive from the Chengannur railway station to my place, observed that Kerala was very clean. I guess so, when you compare it with the squalor and congestion in Chennai. The clean air, sweet and clear water, and placid surroundings also won their admiration. Even looking out from the balcony of my parents' house was a resort experience for them :) I guess we tend to take such things for granted.
Kerala greeted them with a 'thaalapoli' of rain. It was the fag end of the southwest monsoon but we did get to experience a little of it though it did not spoil our sightseeing.
The first day we did the usual tour of the Konni 'aanakoodu' (elephant camp), the Kodumon rubber plantation (goverment-owned), the Chandanapally "valiapally" (big church) and the fields near it.
The second day was the longest and toughest. We set out early morning towards Kumarakom, the tranquillic bird sanctuary near the Vembanad lake. On the way,we stopped at my inlaws' place in Changanassery for a lovely breakfast of appam and duck stew. The guests were then taken for a drive round the Perunna temple area and the Alleppey backwaters. The next stop was my aunt's place in Pallom near Kottayam. My NRI aunt, who was on a holiday in India, joined us for the Kumarakom leg of our journey. Boating on the Vembanad took an hour -- which my guests loved. This was followed by a walk through the quiet (save for the occasional bird chirping and insect cacophony) bird sanctuary area. Since the migratory birds start coming only in November,we got to see only a few cormorants and snake birds.
Lunch we skipped but made up for it with an early fantastic dinner at my aunt's place -- again appam-duck curry and assorted fries. We had also got some traditional kallu and karimeen fry from a toddy shop, unaware of the controversy about adulterated toddy being sold in toddy shops in Kerala. And waiting us at home was kumbil appam and kappa-fish curry.
The next day I took my friend for a walk around my village, including the local temple in Vallicode and its sarpakaavu. Dad took them on a drive too to see the rest of the village including the dyke that once fed the fields.
The kids were most reluctant to return and wanted to spend a few more days there. Mira hadnt had enough time to play with the few dolls and stuff she keeps there. It was a pity, because one whole week before our trip, the kids were killing time in our Chennai flat - it was their first-term vacation.
Only our maid, whom I had taken along, grumbled - she would have preferred to sleep in our Chennai abode for three days while we were away.
I guess I havent mentioned that this one has been with us for over a year now providing some stability to our busy lives. She is not someone we or the kids like very much - bossy, lazy but a good cook - but we have to make do as long as she is willing to stay - she needs the money and we need a nanny at least for a couple of years more. The kids long for L, the best nanny they had, who was like a grandmother to them and a mother to me. But her health does not permit her to work anymore.