Every time I think about my India trip I feel happy… so, here’s another one. I hope you feel that sunshiny happy feeling too! 🙂
When we were in Alleppey, we spend a whole day and night on a so-called house boat – the traditional Kettuvallum rice barge converted to a cruise boat – floating along the Kerala Backwaters.
The concept of the house boat was an idea of Babu Varghese, who saw this as a chance to save the declining boating industry in Kerala. By trial and error, and at his own expense, he redesigned the old barges to each accommodate a number of bedrooms, a sitting area and a kitchen.
As we arrived off-season, we had one of these big boats all to ourselves! Floating across the backwaters, passed the little islands and settlements, was very relaxing – not much you can do on a boat but sit and look around, right?
The shores would be filled with people. Children getting swimming lessons from their father. People doing the dishes. Women doing laundry. Actually, that was one of the most striking things I noticed: the Malayali women seem to be doing laundry non-stop, all day long. Scrubbing. Twisting. Hitting the washing stone with the garment.
It was also nice to talk to the crew – we had two captains and a cook working on the boat. They were able to explain us a lot about the area, the fishermen we saw, the birds. And they knew where to find a good toddy shop along the way 😉
Toddy is a light alcoholic drink made from the sap of certain palm trees. It has a faint hint of coconut flavour in it, but also smells a bit like feet… (or so I thought). Not my favourite, I admit.
However, I feel very proud that at least I can say I can read some (very little) Malayalam! Toddy, or kallu, is the only word I learned to recognise on road signs. Why? Because it looks like a pretzel (letter k), followed by two eyes (letter l – pronounced by pressing your tongue to your teeth), of which the last one has lashes (I think that represents a vowel…). Very easy to recognise like that! What do you think!?