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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Visit to Tea Gardens At Kerala

Dear Rohit

I have not seen you on the Facebook since a long time.  Each day I go to check your timeline I do not see any fresh status on your block under  "Whats on your mind".  I had posted some pictures lately of my trip to Kerala but there were no  likes nor any comments from you. Did you do that on purpose? Did you ignore my post or have you been away from  Facebook lately? Hope all is well with you.

 Last week I spent few days at the tea estate at Peermade, four hours drive away from Cochin. I was with my women companions...friends who are beautiful inside out..ones who I love most dearly..ones who add sunshine to my life, the combination of their presence with the beautiful stretch of greenery spread over miles and miles of open space transported me to another world..of happiness and bliss...a pure personal delight.  My virtual friends  on social media, who saw the pictures of my trip thought that I was at the most boring place to be, since they could not see any other people besides us. They wondered as to what fun could we have in such a lonely place.

But believe me Rohit, it was a wonderful experience. I wish you had also come along with us, I am sure you would have liked it. I know, I know, its my fault. But then, I couldn't have invited you since we were a group of only five women. 

Early mornings were the best. The crisp air had lovely fragrance, perfect time to practise Ramdev's pranayams. We would spend the time on cane furniture, out at the porch, soaking in the sun, sipping warm jeera flavored water, chit chatting in our night clothes, our hands clutching the shawl wrapped tightly over our shoulder. So many stories to share..of family, of friends,  of good times, of bad times, knitting the canvas of past memories together, bridging the moments with laughter and fun. Each day was so precious, that I would wish it could last forever.    Not that there was no moment of silence, there were. Sometimes I sought an empty corner of the house to be check my thoughts..but it lasted just a while. The murmurs of group chat always distracted me...I didn't want to miss on those conversations.

Days were spent exploring the area, driving through the uneven dirt tracks in between long stretches of small neatly arranged shrubs of tea plantation., some of roads were too narrow and bumpy, so dangerous that we slipped off our seats. Since seat belt is not an Indian culture...we held on tightly to seats or to the friends arm for support....eyes popping off sockets with instant fear. Diverting our attention to a game of Antakshree was the best option.

Rohit, I am sure you would have enjoyed the South Indian cuisine.  When in Kerala, eat what locals south Indian food was our regular diet. We had three cooks in the kitchen who pampered us with their delicious cuisine. Fish  made regular appearance at our dining table so much so that our vegetarian friends wondered how we could enjoy the fish everyday. But we did. It may seem like same fish everyday to my vegetarian friends, what do they know the difference in taste between Rawas, Tuna or Sardines? For them fish means fish, with tail, head, fins. One afternoon I even spend some time in the kitchen watching the cooks churn out a  tasty fish curry. I have made a note of the recipe and clicked pictures too and I plan to cook for you sometime. Coconut rice was another dish that I enjoyed a would have loved the delicious coconut bits with dash of mustard seeds and curry leaves...You missed it, I am telling you, you really missed it. For my vegetarian friends there were dosas and appam with stew or sambar...and spicy coconut chutney. 

We were not totally cut off from reality. Although it was difficult to get telephone range, we were lucky. We had wifi. It was easy to stay connected on line. I was able to post pictures on Instagram and also tweeted some interesting moments. We heard music on U-tube. Lazy hours were dotted with music and game of cards. We played with only plastic chips, winning a game brought so much pleasure. I also cheated in game of cards, (like I always do) but then it was not with real money, so its okay to cheat and be caught in that act.  I captured many candid shots on my camera to share on Facebook and Watsapp hoping that you would see. But you didn't. People who saw the pictures were not very impressed. They felt impossible to believe that I could enjoy in such wilderness...there is not a soul...just greenery...But we did.... 

On our third day, we went into the city at Tekkady..We walked down a busy street, shopping for silver jewellery, ate freshly fried hot banana chips. In the south, they fry banana chip on the road like they fry batatawadas in Mumbai. The air smelt strongly of burnt oil. 

I even sneaked into a beauty parlour for instant kerala spa. I wanted to try the Shirodhara massage, an Ayurvedic treatment that consists on dripping oil on the forehead, exactly in the place where the traditional Indian culture says the third eye is located, I was told that we could find the gate to our inner realms, in a randomised, controlled protocol involving regular movements. But then, I would have to wait for two more hours at the place and then go out with oily body. (Friend tells me that after such massage you are in daze, you walk like zomby with irregular gait). Time was short, so I went for just head massage.

We went to see Kathakali dance. Have you see this beautiful cultural performance? This dance focussed on facial expressions. The performers are dressed in huge stiff colorful dress, their face painted with thick different color mask. The colors reflect certain categories of emotions and gunas (attributes). For example Green goes with godliness, white with spirituality, red with ambition and violence, yellow with passivity and black with evil. Rohit, did you know that?

Their eyes rolled to the rhythm of mridangam from left to right, up and down like marble chips on a billiard board, their face expressions narrating a mythological story without words. You have to see this performance Rohit, this is so amazing. 

Later, we walked down the spice garden, plucking out the bark of cinnamon off the tree, or nibbling on fresh, soft cardamom seeds. There were bay leaves, and cloves, and edible leaves and herbs,  spice fragrance was so strong that I had an urge to cook a Briyani. We did some spice shopping at the end of spice trail. Unnecessary expenses, you would say, if you would see the number of bags I bought back home.

The days passed too soon. There is so much more I could tell you about this trip but I am saving the interesting part to share with you when I meet you personally. I have to go back to Kerala again and this time it will be with you.


PS: I have posted a video of my trip on Utube, do watch when you have time. Here is thelink 

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