Once one dares to step into the unknown, there is always a guarantee that a reaction will occur, which will then lead to a transformation… Perhaps unknown at first, yet I promise you that the imprints will come out sooner or later.
A few days in Kochi were exactly what were needed in order to adjust to the complete contrasts of lifestyles and of course, the jetlag! After exploring several powerful street scenes such as the wash house, the Paradesi Synagogue, and the Chinese fishing nets, we were all happy to get treated by a generous Indian flavoured dish as the evening rolled in.
I didn’t exactly know what to expect on my first encounter with India, but I knew that it would impact me on a grand scale. The deep inner connection of the Indian community made me realize that as human beings we sometimes forget that our greatest strength lies inside ourselves. This spiritual energy is immensely beneficial to anyone who is open to be swept into that kind of world and wants to rediscover the small important things in life.
Certainly a highlight before setting off from Kochi was the Kathakali dance, which is a passionate traditional tale, mostly used with the eyes to express all possible emotions and the use of body language is tested and played on the audience. A must see!
As we were driving away from the eclectic city life, and rising towards the mountains, a thought crossed my mind. How blessed are we really, being able to experience something so completely different to what we are accustomed to at home.
I decided from the early stages to completely immerse myself in the culture, the way of living and not have any expectations on how it was meant to unfold. The most rewarding way to travel is to always have an open heart and mind to the experience of what life is providing you. This has helped me greatly to see things I would otherwise dismiss.
Munnar turned out to be a very colourful village, where the food market and textiles made you wish you had a home close by or a suitcase big enough to bring back bags of freshness and souvenirs. What inspired me most was that people seemed content with the smallest gestures. As long as they had good company, fresh food and their bright smiles, nothing could ruin their happiness.
Walking amongst the magical lush tea plantations and meeting the local women working in such hard conditions was a true eye opener as to how strong these people must be, dealing with such strenuous work.
After slowly, but surely falling in love with the Indian cuisine, it was time to learn a little bit more of the magic of what happens behind the doors of Indian kitchens. Having a cooking class by kitchen guru, Nimi Sunilkumar, who revealed her favourite dishes - Paalappam, vegetable and mutton stew and lastly Paal ada prathaman (Milk pudding with rice flakes) still has my mouth watering! The amazing spices and flavours which were introduced to my palate will remain one of my fondest memories!
Our next stop was Thekkady. Another vibrant town tucked away amongst the lush Indian jungle. A very exotic experience - where we came across a family of monkeys, wild elephants and we might have also seen a tiger… but then again it could have just been my imagination playing tricks!
Our journey was nearing its end, yet there was still room for one last adventure…
Spending the day and night on a boat house in the backwaters of Kerala, Kumarakom was a great way to unwind, enjoy the Indian scenes from a different perspective, and of course indulge in the tastiest Indian food. Sharing some final laughs and reflecting on the trip we shared with strangers who are now friends for life, was exactly how it should have ended.
The smallest glimpse into India made me want to discover more of the mystery of this beautiful country. I know that this is just the beginning of a never-ending journey towards a deeper way of living.
I will never forget those moments of utter ecstasy where a smell could send me to heaven, or a smile could brighten up my soul instantly. Thank you for the unconditional love and light India!
I still have to absorb the incredible knowledge and wisdom you have supplied, but I know that you came at exactly the right time, and I shall keep the memories and life lessons in my heart forever.