A trip to remember

Regan Bharti, winner of the INDIAFRICA T-shirt design competition
Sharing his views on a trip to Kerala organized by theIdeaWorks.

The trip was organized by theIdeaWorks for the winners of INDIAFRICA “My Idea of India” Postcard Contest and the INDIAFRICA T-Shirt design Competition. A week-long vacation planned by The Blue Yonder turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences for every individual. Fun combined with responsibility to promote tourism in Kerala. The five unrelated souls on the trip were Gbenga from Nigeria - currently working in Sweden, May from Uganda, Leonardo from El Salvador and Supriti and myself from Mumbai.

I am sure that I would be doing injustice in describing the fabulous moments and memories we had on the trip, but nonetheless I would try my best to produce a small glimpse of the “awesomeness” we exp[erienced in a week’s time.

Following is a summary of the experiences we had in God’s Own Country - Kerela.

Day 1: After landing at Cochin airport, all of us met together and boarded a Tempo Traveller which was riven by Manoj, who preferred to be called Mannu. Mannu became our friend, driver and guide for the entire tour and was very helpful in whatever we wanted. After a 2 hour drive from the airport we went to stay at Karimbavalavu Islands. This secluded island had its own beauty surrounded by Allepey backwaters. What could be more serene than staying in a cottage overlooking the backwaters!

Day 2: Cruising in the houseboat the entire day, playing cards, enjoying the cool breeze and fishing. What else could a traveler ask for? The tranquil waters of Allepey, the scenic view of the sunset and sunrise that is God’s Own Country for you. We had loads of fun on the boat and were enjoying every moment and felt that the entire boat was customized to our needs and needless to say, everything was as perfect as it could get.

Day 3: Arrival at Fort Kochin, the heritage city of Kerala. What an amazing location of the heritage hotel overlooking the sea, right next to the cultural theatre! The hotel accommodation stunned us by its simple yet very modern furnishings. Not only did the beauty of the place mesmerize us but the service as well. Starting with the complimentary foot massage and the prompt and quick service of the staff everything was perfect. One has to come to this historical city and interact with the people to get an insight into its rich culture. And that’s how our sightseeing started with the Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue and Jew Town. Interaction with the Kathakali Dance Performers, watching them dress up for the show and watching them perform is a treat to the eyes. Finally the day ended with a sumptuous dinner by the riverside.

Day 4:   After a 3 hour drive from Fort Kochi, we went to Chennamangalam which is the handloom capital of Kerala. It was good to see that women in this part of India are so independent. Getting an insight into the lifestyle of these weavers, and the support from the co-operative society of weavers did amaze us. We all ended up buying Kerala dhotis from them.

Our experience was further heightened by the Home Lunch with one of the locals. Must say the yummy Kerala food served on the banana leaf left all of us asking for more. In the late evening we all went to watch another folk performance. The enthusiasm with which they performed made us join them in their beats. We all had too much fun dancing on their self-composed beats and music.

Day 5: The next day we went to another fabulous hotel called River Retreat. I must say, with every passing day, our accommodation was upgraded to a different level. We would really like to thank theIdeaWorks team  for organizing this wonderful trip for us. We relaxed in the pool, had some fun and had a blissful sleep in the wonderful room of the hotel.

Day 6: This was the most enriching and learning experience for most of us. We stayed in Maranat Mana, a homestay with a Brahmin family and had a wonderful discussion on random topics in and around the world. The food was once again delicious and the weather was great. The next day we left for the Palliative Care Centre and were again astonished by various harsh facts of life. All in all, it will remain one of the most memorable weeks of our lives.

As every good thing has to come to an end, our trip was also bound to end. All five of us had become very good friends. We enjoyed a lot during the entire trip, from eating together, to doing some quick shopping, to doing some random stuff. We will surely like to thank theIdeaWorks, The Blue Yonder and INDIAFRICA for arranging such a wonderful trip. I wish, we could all win some more such trips in the near future.

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