Posted in RoMa Chronicles

The Wedding and After

Time flies. Today we celebrate 100 days of  being married. I have already told you what it feels like to be married to one of the most amazing people I’ve met. Ro. I am not goin to go further on that today. All I will say is that, after 30th August 2013, I know for a fact that I am indeed blessed.

Every girl dreams of being married. I said girl. When these girls grow up into ladies(graduated, fully equipped women), some still dream of a marriage and some become the eternal feminist types. I have always wanted to get married. From the time I used to play house house with my cousins and friends, all through school and college and even when I became a working professional, my dream of getting married and having a family grew with me. I nurtured the dream all my life. And then it happened. The dream did come true but not in a way I had pictured!

Disclaimer: Do not read this post if you cannot handle a bit of Narcissism.

30th August 2013….100 days ago

Thank god for photos! I will always remember my wedding date(date not day). I remember crying myself to sleep the night before the wedding. When I woke up the next day, it felt like any other morning. Until Das hugged me and said,”Good Morning, you are getting married today, finally!” SO that’s how the day started. I hate taking a head bath in the morning because I feel sleepy through the day, if I do. Bath and then straight to the temple. I dont know how people know that you are a bride to be even when you are dressed in the most casual dress! On the way to the parlour, stepping inside the temple, suddenly everyone was smiling! I prayed. I payed like I’ve never prayed before. I must tell you its a pretty weird feeling. Those hours right before you are getting married, your mind takes you places!

The place( the parlour) I was going to have a makeover for the day had another bride. She was gorgeous! I knew I wasnt the best looking bride that day. Poof went my dream of being the prettiest looking girl in town that day. However, the lady who dressed me said I had slimmed down and that my face was glowing n all. So I just made myself believe that I was looking good :). There is this moment(If youve seen Band Baaja Bride on NDTV Good Life, youll know) when you are completely dressed like the bride and they make you turn and face the mirror. For me, that moment will always be etched in my memory. I had never looked more beautiful in my life. I looked nice!Really nice. My aunt and chech who was with me had tears in their eyes. I knew what their tears meant. My mother would have been very proud. My Das had done his job of raising me, well. As I got in the car, my brothers were awed to say anything. Their smiles said it all. The 10  minute ride was the best ride of my life. Its that strange time when you are passing by in the car or waiting at a signal, when people on the road, look at you, take a look again and then smile at you. Wow! It really was the best ride!

The brother was there to receive us at the gates of the hall in which I was getting married. My body was shaking by the time I stepped out of the car! As they escorted me to my “waiting room”, I had only one question to ask,” Has he arrived, yet?” That broke the ice and everyone started laughing. My besties met me in my room to give me that push. Everyone I really loved was present in that room. I remember. Then the photography parade started. Group pics are easy. Its the singles that really make you conscious and all that. Weird weird feeling! Later, as they came and told me that I had five minutes to go, one last look at the single me in the mirror bought tears to my eyes. It was an emotion I cannot express. Fear, Apprehension, curiosity, happiness and excitement in one single emotion. I held my das’s hand and he clutched it tight.

The family, the entourage of extended family,my beautiful looking thaalam ladies( In South Indian hindu culture, thats the name given to brides maids) and my besties took me to the hall where my man was waiting. As I entered the hall, I stopped for a second. I couldnt believe how many people turned up for the wedding!There were about 2000 people sitting and about 100 standing!!! I froze. I was too numb to move and Das had to pull me in order to keep up with the pace! And then I saw him. He was sitting, waiting, smiling. He smiles very rarely and when he does it comes from his heart. All my fears vanished. My dad later told me that I was running to the stage and he had to pull me back  ;P

Everything from the time I stepped on to the stage is a haze, a distant memory, a dream for me. I remember beautiful, soothing music in the background(Das had arranged for a live violin concert). I remember Ro’s face approving my look for the day. I remember his nieces eyeing my mehendi designs. I remember his family saying how pretty I looked.And then the ritual started.

South Indian hindu weddings are the least time taking. One might think, why the four hour make up for a ten minute event. But its worth it! I took his mother’s blessings and then Das’s. That was probably the last time my eyes filled up. His did too. I noticed. I sat down and was lost looking at the people who turned up when all on a sudden the familiar music started. And before I knew it, his hands were around my neck. Not to strangle me silly, to tie the chain!I prayed. Not to any god. I prayed to my mother, his father and Big B. Believe it or not, in that split second I saw all three of them smiling at me from above. It was a surreal moment. And then I realised that his hand did not fumble and that is a very rare thing! Everyone behind us gasped because he tied the three knots without anyone’s help! And then he smiled! Thats when it dawned that I was a now a married woman. I was officially someones own for life. I would have a family too and I would live life like any other. He then gave me the podava(two sarees which in olden days was the official moment that one got marred), his mother gave me a chain and we took the three rounds. While we were taking rounds, my folks and his were doing non stop commentary! It was fun. He held my hand tight as we took those three rounds. I wonder if he was scared or if he meant something else! He put the sindoor on my forehead like he was Shahrukh Khan of Devdas! All the way from my forehead to the back of my head, one big blotch!!! And I was married!

I had a lot of me moments that day and no it didnt turn out the way I thought it would. But it was one day, I’d hate to forget. I missed a lot of people that day. My mother(she would have been very happy and would have give Das that appy, satisfied, contented, all responsiblities over nod), my grandmother( who would have enjoyed sitting and watching me get married to a Nair Boy), Big B(who would have laughed with me and given my hand a squeeze when I was jittery), Su(who is my sister by choice, who was most excited about my wedding and would have cried all the way with me), Mayur(who is Ro’s brother who would have lifted our spirits up with that wicked smile of his), Div(who would have sat in the front wth that big momma tummy and grinned at me),Sinsin (who would have just been walking around that place with that momma tummy of hers and lil in one hand laughing and talking with the people she knows) and Ms A(who would have done my wedding photography for free and also smiled at me during those moments coz she had already been there done that). I really missed all of you.

Now that I have mentioned those I have missed, its time to thank the people who made my wedding happen! Kerala matrimony and Velliachan for introducing me to RO. The viloin guy who made my wedding feel like the movie wedding. Ms A and valavi for the cards! Shobha Aunty for making me the beautiful bride. Deeps for taking off from college and travelling all the way from Bhutan just to be my side.All those who turned up just to give us their wishes.My family who turned up for the wedding from as far as UAE and USA. My friends who fought all odds just to stand by me. AC, Nani, Mons and Su for the love and support . You guys are the best. Premamayi and Jeevi for being with my dad and helping him at every step and for being my second parents. My brother and sister for taking the time off and making those ten days very memorable. Joeey and Big Guy and the family for everything. I would have not got here, if it wasnt for you guys. Last but never the least, my Das. For arranging a fabulus wedding, for letting me have my way, for the love, the care and the encouragement, for the best arrangements in the world, for finding me the best husband and for believing in me. I love you more than you know. I owe my being to you and you will always be my best man!

 

The day passes away in a daze. Ask any married woman. But you will always remember the day with a smile on your face. Everytime you fight with your other half, just close your eyes and think of that moment that you got married, you will find yourself smiling 🙂

We celebrate 100 days today. RO and I. Happy, contented, 100 days filled with lots of love. Praying that we are surrounded by this love always and hoping to celebrate many such 100 days!

 

 

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Posted in Interesting Reads

Malluland-Gods own country

Last weekend I was on a short getaway and I realised that my land truly is a beautiful place. Not just because of the landscape marvel and stuff, but also because of a heritage that is so overwhelming. Here’s the way I would love people(tourists and Non Keralites) to talk about or think of Kerala as.

Kerala, God’s Own Country! Here, you can sip coconut juice (plucked by wiry-legged, bronze-chested Kuttappans and Kochu Thommas)or dig into a plate of karimeen pollichathu on the wind-swept deck of a houseboat in Kumarakom. Or you can go on a forest safari to Thekkady or Gavi. If you don’t get a fresh Malayali tiger sighting, we guarantee you a fresh Malayali tiger dropping sighting or atleast a stone carved version of tiger, buffalo, elephant etc!!The beaches of Cherai, Marari, Kovalam and Varkala. The misty mountains of Munnar, Kuttikanam or Wayanad. The enchanting waterfalls of Athirapally. The lesser known Andhakaranaazhi, Kodanad, Silent Valley, Parambikulam national park, nelliampathy, kuruva dweep, agasthyamalai etc. The heritage of erstwhile Travancore and Malabar. The foreign influence and remains of Dutch-French-Portuguese and British Ancestry at Fort Cochin.  The fingerlicking kadumanga achaar or succulent mutton chaaps and beef varatharachathu. The flavour packed biriyanis and the secret recipes of the syrian christians and malabar mappilahs. All this and so much more!

However, we also offer you many other sightings 🙂

Our YWCA/Rotary women in their kota saris and their weekly games of rummy.

Our Marthoma achens on their Bajaj scooters with their cassocks billowing behind them like capes.

Our nasrani achayens with their scotch whiskey and their waxy moustaches.

Our gelf returnees with suitcases full of foreign scents.

Our men are hairy and so are our women. We believe in equality, a what’s-yours-is-mine policy, including your wife’s Tata Estate, rubber estate and the three gold teeth in her mouth.

To see our men in form, attend a Malayali wedding. When they’re sober, they’ll discuss the stock market, insurgency in Pakistan and global oil prices. Two Johnny Walkers down, they’ll hitch up their lungis/mundus(Jockey Bermudas peeking from beneath) and break into inebriated renditions of ‘Alliambal Kadavil.’ One can learn patience just watching the men standing in long queues in front of BEVCO shops or learn the art of walking swiftly in a lungi/mundu and jumping onto a moving bus with the same ease and fervor.

To see our women in form, attend a Syrian Christian church service on Sunday and watch the Mariammas, Eliyammas and Shoshammas in the front pew belch out verse after verse of Suriyani hymns – lusty, off-key and hitting notes that will make even the Mar Baselios Bavas turn in their graves. Learn the art of multi tasking by just watching the old muthachis and ammachis sing,cook,play with the kids, watch TV and pray all at the same time. Learn the art of sales by watching the lungi clad chechis on Lunars, selling fish, bargaining and applying the Buffets and Kotlers theories in full swing.

And what about our superstars? Can your Tom Croose or Brad Peet vanquish a dozen gun-toting villains with a single, gold-ringed knuckle punch like Mohanlal or spew English like Suresh Gopi (‘Just remember that’) or own a courtroom like Mammooty (‘That’s all, Your Honor’)?

But all said and done, we are a simble, humble people with simble, humble pleasures: watching Idea Star Singer on Asianet or the mallu version of saas-bahu soaps like “Kumkumapoovu”, scouting the obituary section of Malayala Manorama, getting our dentures stuck in plates of chakkavaratty, ogling next door mallu aunty’s large sized “bumper” or her “charakku” daughters, finding bridegrooms for our daughters (must be minimum an ingineer), going for second show and hooting when the power fails.

And why are we the way we are? Simblee. Coz we are Malayee. We are like this wonlee. 🙂

Welcome to Kerala. Nice to meet you!

Posted in close to heart, m@dness

A Dream Wedding

I told you I would write on my dream wedding.

Yes I was a tomboy during my growing up years but that does not make me any less feminine now. I dream. Like every normal girl of my age, I dream. I dream about that wonderful life, happy family, good career, nice well settled life, a dream wedding and I dream about that one man who will make all those dreams come true. Ya ya I know. For all of the above to come true, I need that one man in my life. My knight too shall come. And this is for you, so that you begin to know me and help me achieve my dream…. So as far as my dream wedding goes. Here’s the one I would love to have!

The Engagement

We hindus, here in Kerala have a very small ceremony for the wedding. Its mostly a twenty minute thing. The ritual, that is. Well traditionally we also have the engagement which is also the ring exchange.Since the engagement also marks th beginning of a new life, it would be great to have a small gathering of about less than 50 people, immediate family and close friends. I would prefer it is in my house rather than a hall. An elegant looking saree and he in a nice looking kurta and mundu! Who said only Mohanlal and SRK looks good in Mundu!

Eve of the Wedding

The bride and the groom seek the blessings of their elders and well wishers on the eve of the wedding. Last month, at a family friend’s wedding eve, I was just amazed at how well they had conducted it and I decided its what I want. The entire ceremony will be in a hall. Once I have finished taking blessings, all the elders can have food and leave. We, friends, cousins and myself will stay back and have fun: singing, dancing, ragging each other etc. After all it would be my last night of singledom!

The Wedding

We have a way two processes, one is the thaali kettal( tying the chain) and then exchanging the garlands. As far as I am concerned, the former is very important and a very private moment. I have seen many weddings and in most of them the bride is very scared during this moment and the groom generally starts trembling while tying the chain! In some very private weddings I have been to, the ones where only a few are present for this ceremony, the bride prays while the groom, happily ties the chain. That’s what I want. So I want a very very small gathering, with just about 20-25 people, really private affair. I want to take in every moment in the most pristine manner. I don’t want hundreds of people looking at me and stealing my moment in time from me. Not that day! I want him to enjoy and in a very nice, calm way take in the fact that he is a married man now and not get scared by the ruckus people create during the wedding! Me in the traditional set saree with just a chain and earings and one bangle and him in a simple shirt and mundu. Yes yes I am fetish when it comes to men and mundu 😉

The Reception

I have nothing to say about this. Everyone is invited, anyone can come. Family, friends, friends of friends, anyone! It would be great if the reception is on the day after the wedding. Laid back and relaxed. A nice theme for the reception, maybe. Something I have in mind is this: A nice venue by the water. Candles/ lanterns lit up all over the place, no stage and stuff, tables and chairs arranged in clusters. Me and him walking hand in hand, welcoming, greeting and meeting people rather than them coming up to us! Great food and drinks! This is me and this is my dream wedding. I will definitely write on how it actually was once it is over and done with. For all those who are confused or wondering if I am getting hitched, No. I am not. Not even remotely close to getting hitched. You, yes you, keep reading my blog and when I get married, you are invited too  🙂

For the time being, here is to all those of you who are married and happy 🙂 Hope every day is as good or even better than your wedding day 🙂

Posted in close to heart, m@dness, Moanday Mornings

Spiritually Yours

In Kerala, because its god’s own country (and devils own people) all the festivals are celebrated here. Hindus celebrate christmas, easter and ramzan with the same vigour that christians and muslims celebrate onam, vishu etc. Whenever people make a huge deal about the many religious festivals celebrated here, I get very, very irritated. Cacophony, pollution and glaring lights… this is apparently the best way to celebrate some momentous occasion of whatever god it is that you believe in!! I mean, if this is devout religiousness, why!??

It is so highly commercialized that it’s disturbing! Festivals have become a mode of living for some people.As for myself I am not religious in the accepted sense of the word. I would rather have people branding me spiritual. The difference? I don’t believe in the specific gods whose belief is propagated, who preside over us as described in scripture. That is a myth, proliferated merely to satisfy mans inborn need to worship a higher power, to adulate and surrender. I believe in an aura that IS a reason we exist. I cann0t find peace in reciting prayers and hearing priests preach. I find peace in just closing my eyes and conversing with myself and a spirit inside me.

I understand that it’s all a question having faith and celebrating it, but my relentless over-practicality in such matters leads me to question- how would people on earth know that the gods came from Heaven and did such and such? Now I have nothing against this… to each his own, but it would make more sense to me to worship something like the sun, the stars, nature!!! These are real entities; great, massive, powerful… I mean, we have heard of a few gods who have fought battles etc to protect mankind but we dont have proof!! But  NAture, Wind, water etc have proved their might! Tsunami, cyclones, earthquakes. They can destroy us if they want right!?This sounds extremely disoriented, but it’s so simple, yet maintaining that sense of purity of true worship! We think we have progressed, these powerful gods we create, the rituals, the rules but we have screwed it up.. made it a protocol. We have gone backwards. The end yields a simple solution and we have obviously not attained that. Today it is organized religion, just another (quite lucrative) industry…

I’m not overly religious. Let’s say I’m in two minds about that… I don’t really believe in “God”, but at the same time I can’t be called an atheist.. one could maybe say I’m almost, but not quite entirely unlike an agnostic. I do believe that there is a higher power than all of us, who planned everything. This is mainly because, as a biology student, when I studied the various body processes, it simply amazed me the way everything fit together so perfectly. Hormones and nerves, kidneys and bones, such vague sounding combinations yet intertwined in a manner simply unbelievable. Everything works together so impeccably and every little detail is so meticulously taken care of that I thought- “This couldn’t have just happened on its own…” So there must be some governing force in our life.. there has to be..

Somewhere along the same lines, as for destiny, sometimes I like to think that I’m way too practical to believe in it.., like how can our paths be predetermined?? One HAS to work to get ahead in life and accomplish anything. Yet I hold that if things are meant to happen, they will… SOME sort of Karma exists in this world of ours, or atleast should… Work is inevitable- we must strive- and if the efforts are in the right direction, we’ll somehow get there.

So I guess I’m kind of a mix-and-match, inadvertently contradicting myself as I so often do.. Well… Now that I’ve jumbled up my words thoroughly, I’m signing off or else I’m destined never to stop!

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Spiritually Yours,

M@ds

Posted in Uncategorized

Monsoon Memories

“The first sounds I ever heard were that of the falling rain.”
Thus  begins Alexander  Frater’s memorable paen to the rains in India, “Chasing the Monsoon.”  A  delightful book that traces the path of the monsoons in India as it first crash lands in the southern tip of Kerala, and then slowly makes its way up through the Indian sub-continent. Frater travels along with the rains, proceeding  through the verdant Konkan coast, making his way into the dry, arid  hinterland of Western and Northern India  before ending his journey in the wettest place on the planet, Chirrapunji, in Meghalaya.A great read any time of the year, And particularly worth a re-read  during the monsoon season !

Most of us  too, I guess, cherish our earliest memories  of  the pitter patter of the falling rain. For, the monsoons are such an integral part of our lives that  the rhythms of  the rain have become an element of our life and existence. Something that is almost embedded into our genetic code and  transmitted through the generations. The rains arouse deep primordial instincts and awaken our senses as the monsoon  plays  its  coy, dating game with us every June. After  the baking and oppressive heat of  summer, we eagerly await its arrival. Soon, the earth is drenched by  the cascading rains, and the parched  soil once again turns  dark  green with dense grass and freshly sprouting shoots.  Even as  the sky is streaked with dangerous flashes of lightning, and the majestic rumbling of thunder  fills our hearts with fear and apprehension,   we are comforted by the  familiar croaking of  bull frogs mating under dripping eaves.  The air is suffused  with the promise of new life. And the occasional year, when the monsoon is delayed, or God forbid,  even delinquent, there is utter panic and despair as  our lives are thrown hopelessly out of gear.

Truly, the  monsoon is inseparable from India and her moods, her arts and her culture. Indians believe the monsoon to be a powerful force that is a gift from the Gods. It is central to our life; it is central to our commerce; it is central to our very being. And most importantly, it has become an inalienable part of our cultural lives. This season of thunder and lightning, swollen rivers, emerald green fields and dark, ominous  clouds  is integral  to our social and cultural ethos. It is a time when  peacocks dance amorously, lovers meet in secret trysts and the senses are over powered by the intoxicating smells of wet, damp earth. It is a unique season; one that creates life, and resuscitates life.

And In Kerala, it  is also a  season for  the traditional rejuvenation of the body. It is a time when  the circadian rhythms of life are suspended and  the pace of life slows down, as the mind and the body are subjected to the centuries old traditions of ayurveda. It is  the  time to revitalize our bodies through oil massages and rest;  a time for  drinking karkidaka kanji and  having thaalu curry. A month  for re-reading the wisdom contained in the pages of the Ramayanam. A time of introspection and contemplation when we renew our bond with nature, as our forebears have done through the ages.

The rainy mornings, the sound of rain right outside the window,the colourful umbrellas and raincoats, the splashing sound that shoes make when children jump on puddles, vehicles that splash water on pedestrians and light vehicles, parents carrying children on their shoulders so that the uniform does not get spoilt, the hot teas and idli’s, the varieties of ‘kanji’, the greenery all around, water everywhere. All these are memories that every mallu man and woman will share wherever they are in the world.

Kerala’s beloved “poet of beauty” the late Vyloppili Sreedhara Menon, wrote in his pastoral idyll,   Varshagamam,

“Like a cooling unguent caressing  the eyes,
Like a melodious symphony soothing  the ears,
Like a fragrant balm nourishing  the body
Comes along a new season of rain………..”

Bellissimo……

It’s time to  celebrate yet another monsoon season.


Posted in Uncategorized

101 things to experience in God’s Own Country!

 

I grew up in Kerala. Spent 25 years here and I figured I might as well use the little knowledge i have and help people to understand Kerala a little better.  People say its god’s own country and devil’s own people. I chose to ignore those comments. So read on and let me know if you share my views. Do add on if u have more things to do and enjoy in kerala!!

1.Wake up to the world’s best breakfast
Kerala’s spread of morning dishes – vellayappam, Uppuma, iddli, puttu, masala dosa,appams etc. have been rated the best breakfast in the world by Travel & Leisure magazine. A must-try is the crisp lacy appam served with meat/vegetable stew.

2. Walk-through paddy fields
These are different walking experience. Venture in to the very heart of the paddy fields, on narrow dykes. Don’t lose yourself completely in the dazzling green around you, as you’ll have to watch out for the slushy water passages that run through your mud path.

3. Tip toe across a coconut trunk bridge
In the interiors of Kerala, you’ll come across plenty of small water bodies with these extremely narrow Bridges. Watch the native folk cross them with case, but think twice before you do. It isnt your cup of tea, don’t worry. Further down the water’s edge you’ll find a more friendly bridge.

4. Sip tender coconut
Refresh yourself with a sip of cool tender coconut- nature’s rejuvenating nectar – and a scoop of its soft white flesh, Nutrition at its natural best.

5.Take a swig of toddy 
Ask your tour guide to arrange for fresh madhura kallu (sweet toddy extracted from the coconut palm) and have it the Kerala way with exotic karimeen pollichathu (baked fresh water fish) or spicy pickles.

6. Stay on an exotic houseboat
Embark on an enchanting journey across sun – dappled backwaters on a kettuvallom-fully furnished traditional rice boats. While your eyes explore the rustic life that floats by, treat your palate to backwater delicacies prepared by your personal chef.

7. Ride a Canoe
Drift along serene waterways in a country craft, Enjoy the breeze, answer a cuckoo’s call. Wave back at the cheerful village folk on the banks. Invite some of their chirpy children to hop in for a ride. They’ll keep you well entertained.

8 Workout on a treadmill
In Kerala, traditional treadmills are still used to irrigate the paddy fields. Try your luck with the local farmer and see if you can get to pedal one.

9. See Chinese fishing nets
Watch fishermen tug at these huge nets with their rich haul. These nets that billow from massive bamboo poles were brought here by traders from the court of Kublai Khan, the Mongolian King. Their silhouettes against the evening sky make for terrific pictures too.

10. Choose your pick from the Fisherman’s net
Along the Malabar Coast and at Vasco da Gama Square in Fort Kochi, you can select your favorite from an inviting display of juicy sear fish, sardines, prawns, red snappers etc. Ask the friendly fisherman to fry it for you the local way.

11. Feast on kappa and meen curry
Try Kerala’s hot red fish curry with steamed tapioca or boiled rice. It’ll make your mouth water as well as your eyes.. But you’ll still enjoy it.

12 Savour a Sadhya
Seat yourself on the floor, roll your sleeves up and get started on this multi-course feast of rice, 12-15 vegetarian dishes, spicy pickles, crunchy banana chips, crispy pappadams, plantains and payasam- the dessert. Served on a plantain leaf, the meal is eaten with the fingers.

13 Wear a Kerala saree
Stun your friends in Kerala saree – five metres of fine off-white cotton edged with golden zari, that lends an extraordinary elegance to the person wearing it. Each piece is specially woven on a traditional handloom.

14. Wear jasmine in your hair
Get yourself a string of jasmine-the natural ornament for your hair. You could even pluck them fresh from a garden and string them yourself.

15 Spice up your life
Kerala is the Spice Coast of India. Take home a chest full of exotic spices and win compliments for your aromatic cooking. These are also available in special gift pouches.

16. Ride on 8 tonner without wheels
At the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Thekkady, you and your friends can majestically ride into the scenic jungle on an elephant. A mahout will guide you on your enchanting journey.

17 Watch birds
Spot egrets, herons, Siberian stork, darters, teals and hundreds of other migratory birds in Kerala’s enchanting bird sanctuaries. Hear them sing. Take their Family photograph. Applaud their aerobatic skills.

18 Follow the tiger’s trail
Join the Thekkady tiger trail- a real adventure trek into the dense forest with expert guides. Cook in the jungle. Sleep in tents. Wake up to the sounds of the wilderness. Try and spot a tiger.

19 Design a floral pattern
During Onam, the harvest festival in August/September, you can see colourful, beautiful floral decorations in the courtyards of Kerala’s homes. Try making one with family and friends.
 
20. Cheer a snake boat race

Watch the backwaters of Kerala come alive. Feel the excitement bubble in you as teams of 100 oarsmen row their snake boats, their bodies swaying in unison to the fast rhythm of full throated singing, in one of the most exhilarating water sports.

21. Feel the rain on your body
Kerala’s invigorating monsoon will cleanse you, refresh you and rejuvenate you. Let it run down your body, and wash away stress. So don’t just listen to the pitter-patter on the roof. Step out.

22 Munch an uppumanga
You’ll simply relish a meal that is accompanied by uppumanga, tender mangoes preserved in brine for months (the longer, the better).

23 Get an Ayurvedic massage
Gift yourself new life. Surrender to the magical fingers of specially trained masseurs. To medicated baths that will refresh you. Herbal diets that will replenish you. Yoga that will revitalize you. And meditation that will recharge you.

24 Say hello to the Nilgiri Tahr 
Half the world population of the endangered Nilgiri Tahr live in the Eravikulam National Park at Munnar. Friendly as they are, you can pat them or pose for pictures with them. So meet them and have plenty to brag about when you get back home.

25 Sip fine tea
Take a walk through the green carpeted tea hills of Kerala and strong aromas will lead you in to the factories over a hundred years old. Here you can taste and pick up the finest tea in the country.

 

 26. Marvel at elephant pageants
The spectacle of 30-60 caparisoned elephants will enthral you as they move in a majestic procession, while trumpets and drum beats work up to a frenzy. The best of these spectacles is seen at the Thrissur Pooram.

27 Listen to temple music
Panchavadyam is an orchestra of 5 native instruments – suddha-maddalam, kombu, edakka, elathalam and timila. This traditional temple music accompanying elephant pageants builds up the festive spirit. And never fails to leave its listeners entranced. Audio cassettes of panchavadyam are available.

28 Visit the local markets
Small stalls with fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, chicken… High pitched salesmen luring you with impossible bargains. Visit these bustling markets or chandas for fresh buys.

29 Go bananas
In Kerala, red, green and yellow are synonymous with various types of plantains’. These digestives come in different shapes too — tall, short, stout, sleek… And while you taste banana chips, raw banana dishes, banana milk shake, banana ice cream, dried bananas, fried bananas… you’ll wonder if there’s any other fruit more versatile.

30 Try your hand at percussion
Kerala’s rich repertoire of percussion music and instruments is world famous. So bring alive your taste for good music and learn whatever your holiday allows.

31 Cheer racing oxen
Entertain yourself at a Kumbala, the local ritualistic bullock race of Kasaragod or a Kaalapoottu – the agrarian sport of Palakkad.

32 Shop for souvenirs
Kerala’s handicraft centers have an extraordinary collection of wood, coir shell and sandlwood souvenirs, trinkets and jewellery. Woodcarved Kathakali masks, snake boats, elephants, jewellery boxes etc. are perfect showpieces for your drawing rooms and ideal gifts for friends.


33 Stay in a tree house
Spend romantic nights in the tree houses of Palakkad washed in the sweet scent of the forest flowers, and let the sounds of the forest fill up your dreams.

34 Have a mud bath
Go in for mud thereapy and discover its healing properties at the Kavil Bhavan Yoga and Cultural Centre at Nileswaram, Kasaragod.

35 Bask in sunshine
Screne, secluded and spellbinding. Kerala has some of the best beaches in the world. Ride the surf. Get a tan. Build sand castles. Or simply sift sand through your toes. Anything you do here will unwind and relax you.

36 Watch a Malayalam movie

Malayalam movies have excellent story lines and some of them are internationally acclaimed. If you visit the State during a film festival, you’ll get to see good movies with English subtitles.


37 Bathe in healing waters

 Don’t miss your chance to take a dip in the waters of the Nelliyampathy forests in Palakkad or the mineral springs at Varkala. These waters are known for their medicinal properties. Take a splash, heal yourself.

38 Buy gold for all occasions
Kerala’s gold jewellery, intricately disgined and delicate, will steal any woman’s heart. Make sure you have enough money on you before you step into a gold shop. Because whatever be your taste, you’ll find patterns you’d wish to own.

 

39.“Mirror,mirror…”
An Aramula mirror is made of a finely polished alloy of four metals – copper, silver, bronze and lead. Once a closely guarded preserve of royalty, these ornamental mirrors are exceedingly rare-only two master crafts men and their families still make them.

40 Feel the presence of God at Maramon
Witness the largest Christian convention of Asia at Maramon, near Kozhencherry. Interestingly, the waters of the Pamba River dry up every year to reveal sands that serve as the venue for the event.

41 Ride in an autorickshaw
Explore the streets of Kerala in an autoriscksha, a three wheeled taxi painted yellow and black. Don’t be surprised if you meet a driver who has a degree in English literature or is fairly fluent with the language.

42 Peep into your future
The fortune teller on the street has your future written on his cards – your career, your life, your life partner and more. Just show him your palm and wait while his parrot picks your card from the pack.

43 Spin coir
See nimble fingers at work as they spin water treated coconut fibre into long ropes with a traditional hand spindle in the suburbs of Kollam. You can shop at a number of roadside stalls for brightly coloured coir door mats, wall hangings and carpets.
 
44 Learn exotic art forms

Watch kathakali, mohiniyattam, theyyam or thiruvathira and pursue one that interests you most. Learn how a story unveils through the eyes, fingers, feet and myriad expressions of the artist.
 
45 Rock about in a bullock cart

On a pleasant evening, treaverse the scenic mud roads of Kerala at the unhurried pace of a bullock cart. The tinkling bells and roll-over-from-side-to-side motion of the cart will pull you into a lazy reverie.

46 Walk the lanes of Fort Kochi
Put on your hat and sunglasses, wear comfortable sandals and embark on a walking tour of Fort Kochi where bastions, churches and mansions built by the British, Dutch and the Portuguese, 500 years ago will greet you. Interestingly, Vasco da Gama, one of the world’s greatest explorers, was buried here.
 
47 Order a meter of tea

Stop by a thattukada, a roadside kiosk, for a steaming cup of strong tea. Watch the expert stretch it to a metre while pouring it from glass to glass, blending it well and building up a tempting froth in the process.

48 Climb rugged heights
Not all places to visit in Kerala are on well travelled roads. Or on roads at all. Hike up rugged terrains at Munnar, Wayanad and Kakkayam (Kozkikkod) for an exhilarating experience. If you haven’t tried rock climbing before, our experts will teach you the tricks.

49 Engage in water sports
An adventure sports lover will rarely find time to stay idle in Kerala. Her beaches provide you with unlimited watersporting options of wind surfing, rafting, sailing, power boating and even that of a simple catamaran ride.

50 Take a train through paradise
A train journey is an interesting way to experience Kerala. Get a window seat and watch the landscape unfold like pages of a colourful picture book, or acquaint yourself with your fellow travellers who make interesting profiles

 

51. Treat your sweet tooth
The famous Mithai Street of Kozkikkod has everything to make your mouth water – from heavenly haluvas, juicy jillebies to creamy milk sweets. Relish them as they melt in your mouth.

52. Study rare flora
Treat your eyes to exotic orchids, anthuria, sandalwood trees etc. in the forests. One of these, the rare Neelakurinji, bathes the mountains of Munnar in blue once every 12 years. It is expected to bloom next in 2006.

53. Romance the spice hills
Holiday amidst the sprawling tea plantations, picture book towns and winding lanes of Kerala’s mist clad hill stations – a world where tranquillity abounds. The dense tropical jungles in these hill stations house some of the exotic bird and wildlife sanctuaries in the country.

54. Watch the making of an Arabian dhow
Witness this 1500 year old tradition at Beypore. It takes an expert team of 15-30 strongmen at least two years to shape a vessel in wood. Locally called uru, this Arabian trading vessel is fast fading from the shipping scene.

55. Bathe in waterfalls
Nowhere else will you find water so playful, so pure, so pacifying. Crystal clear waters cascade down the mountains of Kerala, gurgling, whispering, laughing and cleansing everything in their way. Watch them wake serene rivers with a magnificent splash.

56. Go arty
You can browse in the art galleries for hours without track of time. Among them are collections of the world famous works of Raja Ravi Varma, Raja Raja Varma, Svetlova, Nicholas Roerich, rare murals and masterpieces from China, Japan, Tibet, Bali and other parts of India.

57. Visit scenic Kuttanad
Explore the lush paddy fields of Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala – the only place in the world where farming is done 1.5 or 2 m below sea level. Kuttanad is in the interiors of the beautiful backwater district of Alappuzha.

58. Taste Payasam
The payasam, a rich milk delicacy prepared with vermicili, gram or rice, is a delight for the plate. The most common dessert of Kerala, the payasam is made in scores of flavours and garnished with raisins and nuts fried in ghee. It is usually eaten with salty snacks.

59. Feast your eyes on the largest mural
The palaces and museums of Kerala have an exotic collection of ancient murals. The Krishnapuram Palace at Kayamkulam displays the largest of these masterpieces – gajendramoksham – which belongs to the 18th century and depicts an event from mythology.

60. Watch Theyyam
Theyyam is the oldest ritual art form of Kerala, Look on in awe as Theyyam performers invoke the temple diety Bhagavathy with their frenzied dancing and throbbing temple music in the courtyard of village temples.

61. Try coconut hair oil
The secret of a Malayali woman’s long, black, lustrous hair could be yours too. Coconut oil is considered the best nutrient for hair and a coolant for the head. In Kerala, both men and women massage oil on their heads before a bath.


62. Explore a tharavad 
Relive the old times in the perfect settings of antique furniture and exquisite woodwork in Kerala’s heritage holiday homes and nalukettu (quandrangular mansions with a central courtyard), each more than 50 years old.

63. Learn Malayalam
Malayalam, Kerala’s sweet toned language, has 56 letters in its alphabet. Try learning the basics and roll the words off your tongue.

64. Star gaze
Steeped in astronomy, Kerala’s planetariums will show you much more than Mercury, Venus and Mars. Buy a ticket to the evening star gazing sessions and experience the wonders of the universe.

65. Holiday on an island
Spend a weekend on Kerala’s islands or lagoons, and experience special moments . Spectacular sunset, balmy backwaters and succulent seafood at Bolghatty, Pathiramanal, Poovar….These paradises can be reached only by a ferry or boat.

66. Picnic beside virgin lakes
Pack a picnic basket and spend a romantic evening beside the crystal clear lakes near Munnar. Try your luck at fishing and feast on your fresh catch. Go for a long walk hand-in-hand, undisturbed. Lie down on the most comfortable of grass beds.

67. Go paragliding
Sweep across the lush green hills of Munnar on a paraglider and enjoy the vantage of an eagle. See the soothing blues and greens of nature. Enjoy the wind beneath your wings. Feel on top of the world.

68. Walk in to a palace
Besides exquisite wooden architecture, the palaces of Kerala flaunt the finest floors in the world. Floors that, surprisingly, need least maintenance – being made of crushed coconut charocoal, egg whites and the sap of plants. You’ll also see collections of antique sculptures, paintings and bronzes.

69. Muse in a Museum
The museums of Kerala, especially the Pazhasiraja Museum at Kozkikkod, pay full tribute to outstanding crafts-historical and contemporary ornaments, temple carts and Ivory carvings of life sized figures of Kathakali in full regalia.

70. Watch Thullal
Thullal, an exotic art form, and the rhythmic sounds of music accompanying it will keep you in a constant stage of merriment. Humour, satire and social criticism are its hallmarks. This art form was fourmulated overnight by the renowned poet, Kunjan Nambiar.

71. Visit the zoo
The zoological parks in Kerala have plenty to excite the animal lover in you. The Trivandrum zoo is one among the best designed in Asia and is set amidst woodlands, lakes and lawns.

72. Wash your sins away
According to a myth, sage Narada was approached by mendicants who confessed to having sinned. The place he created for them to pray for redemption is known as the Papanasham beach (papanasham meaning redemption from sins) at Varkala, Trivandrum. Take a dip and come out feeling clean in your heart too.

73. Go nuts
You can get raw, fried, grilled, salted and spiced cashews at surprisingly affordable rates from Kollam where cashew plantations and industries abound.

74. Chew into a juicy mussel
It is indeed fun watching mussel collectors anchor their boats, dive down and bring up basket loads of these fresh water delicacies. The shells are later burnt in kilns to make lime.

75. See wildlife from a boat
Watch wildlife at close quarters from the safety of a boat at the sanctuaries of Kumarakom, and Periyar. Herds of wild elephants bathing in the lake, the Indian bison digging his horns into an unaffected tree, the cormorant darting into the waters… a treat for an amateur photographer.

 

76. Learn Yoga
Relax your mind with yoga at the special ashrams in Trivandrum and Nileswaram – the cultural centre of Kasaragod. Sessions are conducted by spiritual gurus and experts in the field.

77. Walk the historic Kappad beach
This is where Vasco da Gama landed in 1498 with his men in three vessels. Here, you’ll find an interesting landscape of rocks that sprawl right into the sea. An 800 year old temple stands nearby.

78 Munch on crispy snacks
Kerala has a wide range of crunchy snacks- ethakka (banana) chips, chakka vattal (jackfruit chips), pappadam, kuzhalappam, achappam, cheeda and churuttu. All worth every penny, spend on them.

79 Meet martial art experts
Kalaripayattu, the martial art form of Kerala, is the oldest and most scientific in the world. Watch agile bodies gleaming in oil and armed with weapons practise their feats-chattam (jumping), ottam (running), marichil (somersault)-to stunning perfection. Explore the Bekal Fort.

80 Explore the largest and the best-preserved fort of Kerala at Bekal, Kasaragod.
The imposing laterite structure rising 130 ft. above sea level, stands on a 35 acre headland that runs right into the Arabian Sea.

81 Behold the Queen of the Arabian Sea.
Kochi, also known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, is breathtakingly beautiful. Apart from being the commercial capital and the most cosmopolitan city of Kerala, Kochi also flaunts one of the finest natural harbours of the world.

82 Discover prehistoric settlements
The Edakkal caves at Wayanad and the caves at the mouth of the Shenduruny River have interesting pictorial writings and cave drawings from the Stone Age. You’ll have to trek at least a kilometer uphill to reach the Edakkal caves.

83 Say a prayer at the old Synagogue
The 500 years old Synagogue in Kochi is adorned with mid 18th century hand painted Cantonese tiles. Hebrew inscriptions on stone slabs, ancient scripts on copper plates and great scrolls of the Old Testament are preserved here. An age-old clock tower stands nearby.

84 Let a mohini enchant you
Mohiniyattam or the dance of the enchantress reflects the graceful nature of the land. The sensuous, graceful movements of the dancer, clad in gold and off white costumes, will remind you of palms swaying in the gentle breeze and sweeping waves.

85 Spend the night at a Kathakali concert
Kathakali, the four centuries old classical art form, is usually staged at night. Elaborate costumes, ornaments and multi-coloured facial make-up give the artistes a super human appearance, which leaves you spellbound.

86 Cook in earthenware
In most of the traditional homesteads of Kerala, women cook their food in earthenware. For some time-tested reason renders a special taste to the dish prepared.

87 Collect antiques
Stroll up the Jew Street in Fort Kochi for interesting finds like period furniture, ancient coins, elaborately carved pens, ornamental brass latches, antique jewellery, grandfather clocks and timepieces etc.

88 Cruise the backwaters of Alappuzha
Alappuzha, embroidered with a labyrinth of waterways, was extolled by travellers as the Venice of the East. Visit this land where the skiff is the family vehicle, the ducks outnumber chicken and children learn to swim perhaps even before they walk.

89 Meet smart fishermen
It is indeed a spectacular sight to watch Kerala’s smart fishermen outdo the crashing waves by pushing their boats into the sea from a pier beyond the wave point, and simultaneously jumping into it in perfect coordination.

90 See mind-blowing fireworks
Make a wish under a thousand shooting starts -brilliant firework displays that mark the end of a festival in Kerala. And you’ll never miss them as every dawn in Kerala brings yet another festival.

91 Watch a puppet show
Yakshagana Bombeyattu (puppetry) is the art form of Kasaragod. Colourful puppets in huge headgears, elaborate facial make-up and loud attires dancing to throbbing music will keep you entertained.

92 Go for a flower show
Spend a colourful evening with pretty asters, glowing anthuria, exotic orchids, beautiful roses, elegant lilies and a bloom of soft cotton candy at a flower show.

93 Smash the elusive pot
Uriyadi (smashing the pot) is a spirited sport connected with some of the festivals of Kerala. The festive pot colourfully decorated will be hung from a tall pole. All you have to do is try and break it with a stick as the crowd pulls it up and down.

94 Spot a dolphin
If you ‘re lucky, you’ll get to see the dolphins do their grand act at the Cherai beach, in Ernakulam district. Applaud them as they spring out of the magnificent waters with a splash, only to take a marvelous dive back.

95 Buy a Palmyra fan
In Kerala, you’ll find small, handy fans made of medicinal herbal roots, palm fronds, bamboo splits and grass. Get yourself a portable, compact, cute and colourful little fan that comes in handy anytime of the day. When not in use, you could even put it up on the wall as a showpiece.

96 Stay in exotic resorts
Kerala’s innovative hoteliers have amazing experiences in store for you. Some even have Theme evenings when centuries old art forms like Kathakali and Mohiniyattom are performed as well.

97 Savour nectar 
Beat the bees and butterflies to it in a banana plantation. Hold the tip of a banana inflorescence (koombu) to your mouth and suck the sweet nectar.

98 Visit a Snake Park
The Snake Park at Parassinikadavu, Kannur, is the only one of its kind in the whole of India. There are three snake pits and fifteen glass cases full of various species of snakes, and two large glass houses for King Cobras. The snake demonstration conducted is a major crowd puller.

99. Watch thiruvathira
Thiruvathira, a traditional dance performed by women, has simple steps and a single rule-performers should be clad in a Kerala saree. Join them as they sing and move elegantly around a ceremonial lamp (vilakku) or a floral decoration (pookalam).

100. Bring swing to your life; Onam is the season for fun and games.
Visit Kerala during August /September and you’ll find it in every house. The friendly people here will be only too glad to let you join them.

101. Try out new ways to fish
Dangle a rod and line into the flowing waters; sweep a towel through it; feel for fish with your feet in the mud below; or simply try trapping small fish with your hands. Anyway, you’ll never return disappointed.