Friday, March 2, 2012

Oh my Holy Backwaters

The Backwaters of Kerala are said to be a top wonder in India.  I followed through with my plan to cetch the train to Kollam and then cetch the 10:30 am ferry from Kollam to Alleppey.  You can either take a house boat through the backwaters or you can take the ferry, which takes the same route.  I took the cheaper route and what turned out to be the best route=)
Before being on ship,I hang out in the office talking to the ship mates and the captain.  We joke around and take some pictures together.  I meet the captain's partner who reminds me of my Uncle so I decide to call him Suresh.  I also meet a nice sweet, French man and we have breakfast and decide to sit next to one another on the boat. 
What happens after the departure of that boat is truly magical.  I felt so at peace with the water, the greenest trees, mansions,statues, ducks, swans, and passing through the village life. 

The whole boat ride was a total of eight hours of pure village life so for me it was 8 hours of absolute peace and beauty.   All the kids are waiving and one kid even pulls out his camera to take pictures.  We take a stop for Chai where I step off the boat and have a few girls running away from me as they see the camera.  They are so shy and cute dressed up in their traditional dresses.  I talk with the captain and he introduces me to the local family with the baby-he points and says, "Baby, photo." The baby has the most hair I have ever seen on a baby-it looks like the three stooges(I know I need a picture of this).  Men are playing cards,

We make a stop at a lovely hotel for lunch and I sit with my new French friends who are both heading to Mother Ama's ashram. It is a famous ashram, which many tourists attend. 
When we get back on the boat, we are only an hour away from the ashram.  My french friends say I should come with them and I am thinking and thinking about it.  The boat stops and I am contemplating staying and going with them.  I look outside and see a bunch of backpackers and I make the decision to stay on the boat.  Unfortunately, I do not have that much time for Kerala because I am headed to Goa for Carnival my flexibility is limited. 
I stay on the boat and a few minutes later I am tapped on the shoulder by Suresh.  He asks if I would like to come downstairs and drive the boat.  Like a ten year old, "I respond with "Yes" in such excitement. 

I go downstairs with my shipmate friends and they teach me how to steer the boat.  I did some boating in California so I am familiar with the process, but I act like I do not know to give them the pleasure of teaching me.  They direct me on where to go and which spots I should avoid.  My friend Suresh says that I drive like a fish ha! 
Rikesh tells me that he likes Indian classical music and he enjoys some American rock music-cute. I tell them that their job is amazing being able to enjoy this beauty everyday.  Sureshs says the compensation is not very good and starts to blab on that, "Money is power in India." I ask him "Suresh, then where does happiness fit in the equation." He says that he does not have a lot of money, but he feels happy.  He then proceeds to show me his pictures of his family with such love in his eyes for his daughter and wife. I share with him my beliefs on what a person truly needs to be happy and the effects of excess wealth and materialism.  Suresh says he only makes 3,000 rupees a month and sometimes it is difficult to take care of his family.  He makes me sad looking in his eyes and seeing his desire for an easier life. 

The captain comes in and we get to talking about his life in Alleppey.  He stays in Kothakari, which is a beautiful area I read about through some travel site. 
 I sit with the captain and we are talking about his nice home in Alleppey.  He asks where I am staying and I tell him I do not have a place. I joke around and say I am staying with Suresh.  Suresh says he would host me, but he has a very small village place.  The captain asks me if I am okay with the village.  "Yes, of course." He then asks do you like fish curry, "Yes of course."

He tells me to hold on a second and picks up his phone to make a call to his wife.  He says, "Okay you stay with me." I am so excited to stay in another village with another local and I say, "Thank you."

This captain is very special to me.  He reminds me of Goofy(the disney character). He has these cartoon like expressions and he just reminds me of a cartoon.  He is so sweet. He does not speak the best English either, which makes our interactions even more entertaining. 
After an hour or so of driving the boat, I head back up to the top to relax and enjoy the beauty before it comes to an end. These two lovely girls from Spain are playing the bango drums while happiness is beaming from their smiles.  The adorable couple in front of me: one reads while the other one sits and takes photos.  They have sweet caresses to one another that make me miss having someone.  I daydream about having someone special with me as the whole thing is quite magical to share with another person.  I want someone to hold my hand, caress my shoulder, and feel some comfort.  I feel this comfort through my music-thankful for my IPOD really.  

Around 5pm, the boat docks and his wife is waiting for us.  Her face looks so familiar to me.  It is like I have met her before, but perhaps this is not possible. She does not speak a word of English, but she is so sweet and makes little signs to communicate. 
The captain signals for me to get on the bus.  The 30 minute bus ride I sit contently and turn around to see them smiling big at me.  We are driving pretty far away to his home and when we get off the bus we have to take a riksha to his place.  For a minute, I think to myself what did I get myself into? To be continued....

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