In unminced words and reserving all flattery while giving credit where it's due, Kumarakom is just a becoming tourist destination in the back of beyond in Kerala. It is one of those places that look like every other place in the state, but fate turned on its head one day and decided that it was Kumarakom's time to dazzle. Lo and behold, she became one of the most popular destinations for wandering hippies, meandering westerners, green starved metro folks and haute Malayalis who have to join every bandwagon there is.
Don't get me wrong. The place is absolutely gorgeous. Stunning, even on a bad day of any sort. But so is the rest of the state. Kumarakom is just a blade of grass in the meadow that is Kerala.
I could wax eloquent on Kerala and my love for it. Verdant, it most surely is. But in Kerala, the green is a different shade as the rest of the country. One that is deeper, richer and more burnished. One that is immaculate and incorruptible. One that epitomizes the land's lusciousness and fecundity.
And the sky remains blue the way God intended for it to be. In tones of cerulean and sapphire. Azure and cornflour. Without a trace of the smog and smoke that seems to have cast its signature on a large part of the world.
When the monsoon arrives in all its glory, the land becomes purer, as if cleansed. And the rains allow the maintenance of this purity with its cycles. While it rains for most part of the year, it is almost as if it pauses intermittently to allow the earth to breathe again. And when the turgidity ebbs, it resumes its downpour and builds it back to fullness.
To find a 'pretty as a picture' spot in Kerala is the easiest task. Kumarakom is one of them but it certainly is not a rarity. It is just a part of the ubiquitous beauty of the state.
This September, it was my fourth trip to the village. And as expected, precious little has changed. Of course, you cannot ignore the proliferation of hotels and resorts on the shoreline, but they too seem to have paid homage to the identity of the place and have used colours, materials and artifacts in their construction to not only blend in completely, but also reinforce her essence. Even the houseboats seem to have taken a cue from this and have stayed away from any amount of garishness. They are all wooden, with roofs made of dried coconut leaves. In fact, the only thing that sticks out like a sore thumb here is the sound of these motor boats. But magically, almost as if the peace and quietude of the landscape imposes itself and overpowers all the senses to dull out discordant elements, the sounds fade away completely from consciousness.
Aboard the houseboat that my father had generously hired for the day for 3 people, my mother, the seafood aficionado and the person who is genetically responsible for my gluttony, which I prefer to call 'love for the good living', bought 6 whole pomfrets, got them fried, and proceeded to eat all of them over a period of 4 hours. And these pomfrets are big! My father was almost vengefully polishing off beer after beer, and at the end of 4 hours, he and my mother were, needless to say, in very high spirits.
My gaze remained afix through the camera lens at the panorama. The motion of the boat and the languid sight that I beheld was lulling and almost meditative and possibly rendered my brain activity to produce the delta waves intended otherwise for dreamless sleep, a stage more relaxed than deep meditation.
To sum up Kumarakom in a nutshell, I would have to use 2 descriptors. An experience in consciouness and mindfulness, and a journey to gastronomic decadence. It definitely is a slice of the best of the state has to offer. But failing to forget that it is but a slice, and a small one at that, might be the biggest hazard.
Below are some of the pictures I took on my trip this time round. It's funny. This post was intended to comprise of 2 lines and 3 pictures. But I have noticed that anytime I talk about Kerala, my eyes glaze over, a silly smile plays on my lips, my heart beat speeds up a bit and I start paying due homage. This must be what true love feels like.