April 13, 2007

Kerala Day 3 – Please try some todi Sir

Early morning we left for backwaters. With all environmentalist concerns thrown to the winds, we hired a motorboat. His first question, “Did you bring beer? No problem, I shall stop on the way.” I guess a gang of four teetotallers is almost unthinkable today. But anyway, the view was amazing all along. We did not want to go through the usual route and asked the boatman (if I may call him so) to take us through the interior canals. After repeated refusal of beer, he came up with a brilliant idea. “Sir, I’ll take you to a place that sells excellent todi.” Now Mallus are excellent businessmen. The entire coconut crop is either exported or made into todi. J We stopped at a small waterside restaurant and there too every five minutes we got asked for Todi.

They say that not all wishes come true. One of my oldest dreams was to lie on a boat in the backwaters of Kerala surrounded by “tendyr cogonut woter.” I was sleeping on the boat but unfortunately could not find anything to drink but todi. Thik hain. Someday later. On the way, we also got to realize why we still have hopes for India beyond the India poised campaign. As we sat on top of the boat, a kid came running on the banks and asked for a pen. Stunned, we sat for a while and then threw at him whatever pens we could find on us. One of them landed in the water but he promptly picked it up. Sometimes we are just born lucky. I guess this was one of the times when we realized we needed to sit back and thank the One above for all the small blessings we never count.

Dad was right. For some reasons, the backwaters were a tad disappointing. I mean it’s amazing to have a boat ride, but why not the Hooghly. One thing was clear though. Tagore became Tagore by riding these boats on the rivers of Bengal J I mean, you cannot but become a poet when the wind whispers to you and the leaves of the trees along the bank swish and puts the words right in your mouth. The silent waters, the muted noise of the boat and the swish of the trees in the banks, some things are just ethereal, reminding one of the lazy summer afternoons spent in the balcony of our houses with a story book in one hand and a bowl of mangoes in the other.

Mallus and Bongs have always shared things in common, except that they are much more industrious than us. It felt like home in the evening when we saw some 20 people getting ready with red flags to march down the main road with a firm intention of causing maximum inconvenience to traffic and the police (with the administration belonging to the same party after the recent elections) defiant enough to ensure that they cause the minimum damage to the traffic flow.

In the evening we sat again on the Allepuzah beach till late into the night. I love this beach. I think this should count as my third most favourite place where I want to bring her to. But more on this at a later post. And yes, we found our “tendyr cogonut woter.”

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