Our next stop was my parent’s home state of Kerala to attend my cousin P’s wedding. Kerala is one of the most beautiful places in India – The phrase “God’s own country” is often used to describe the state. There was a lot of excitement for this trip – My parents being home after ages, PK’s first time visiting Kerala and being a part of my cousin’s big celebration. My memories of Kerala are few and they mostly involve visiting relatives in far away places, digging for earthworms in my grandma’s yard and going to temples. This visit was an opportunity to see Kerala from my husband’s fresh perspective.
We arrived in Kochi a couple of days earlier for a bit of sightseeing and some temple visits. My parents come from a generation when temples were the center of all social activities and the place where they made many of their childhood memories. No visit to Kerala is complete without visiting a number of these temples. I’ve been back to one particular temple called the Puzhakkarakavu temple in Muvattupuzha after every major milestone in my life – high school, college, my first job, before leaving to the states. A visit after our wedding was overdue and we were glad to make that finally happen. A highlight for me in the picture below is seeing PK in traditional attire. He was surprisingly well adjusted and not at all like me in a sari! (uncomfortable and irritable)
One of the major attractions in Kerala are the backwaters, a network of both natural and man-made waterways that extends across much of the state. Being short on time, we had made our peace with the fact that this trip would be firmly on land. Quite unexpectedly, we found ourselves on an impromptu boat ride when we saw a boat ferrying people to and from our hotel – Impulsively I asked the boatsman in my broken Malayalam if he would take us on a tour. The balmy evening breeze, the coconut trees and my parents’ childlike enthusiasm – It was an unexpected treat.
There was something in the air that week because strangely, Kochi, a place I’ve never really considered to be familiar to me, felt like home. Maybe it was celebrating at my cousin’s wedding with extended family in the land where our forefathers and foremothers were born and raised. Maybe it was the fact that I saw many people who looked like me and had the same skin color and temperamental hair. Maybe it was the fact that I found myself in those temples, waterways and that mud in my grandma’s yard. Whatever the reason, quite unexpectedly, I began a love affair with the land of my ancestors this time around. I can’t wait to go back for more.
I’ll leave you with a picture from our final stop, Karkala – my father in law’s beloved home town in the state of Karnataka. This was taken at the annual Karthik Punav festival. Thousands of bhaktas (devotees) drenched in water colored with turmeric walk through the streets of this little town carrying a palanquin with idols from the Sri Venkatramana temple. You cannot tell from the picture – the temperature that day was close to a 100 degrees and these enthusiastic men were all barefoot.