A Travellerspoint blog

Down by the Riverside

sunny 30 °C

Our Christmas holiday is ending and we are reluctantly packing our bags to start a seven-week tour of western and northwestern India. Tomorrow we will swap our canoe for a train and begin our long trek home. Here’s Jim, going native, taking a final trip to a nearby village to get his beard trimmed…
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The river appears serene, yet it moves inexorably onwards. It is the lifeblood of the ancient communities along its palm-fringed banks and all life here is a reflection of the languid river. The slow life of the inhabitants has changed little in hundreds of years; they have time to stop and stare; time to smell the jasmine and lilies; time to chew the fat with neighbours or smile at strangers and ask, “Where you from?” We are asked twenty times a day, but not by beggars or merchants; by people who genuinely welcome us into their aqueous paradise. But, like the seemingly still river, this paradise is moving on.
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Monstrous houseboats, motorized ferries and juiced-up speedboats are rapidly swamping out the time-honoured canoes, while buses, cars and motorbikes bounce along the dusty gravel roads that top the dykes; televisions, celllphones and the internet change the aspirations and desires of the traditional fishermen and rice farmers. And Coca-Cola and Lay’s potato chips have replaced coconut milk and bananas in the school-kids’ lunch boxes. Even the traditional clothing is under attack from the West. The “Jean-Generation” has arrived.

However, Josey Thomas, our patient and charming host at Kaits Homestay in Champakulam, has preserved a slice of paradise for us and a few other lucky guests. Here is Josey up to his neck in his traditional fish trap as he catches our Christmas dinner…
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And here’s Sheila enjoying fresh coconut milk from our very own tree…
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Josey’s ancestors have lived here for nearly six-hundred years and he and his lovely wife do everything they can to give us an authentic experience of backwater life – though we don’t have to bathe in the river with the locals.
Josey is especially known for his involvement with the annual snake- boat races. Here’s Josey’s boat…
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These hand-built wooden boats are roughly 40 metres,(130ft), long, and are crewed by 130 men in a series of races each August and September. Two-thousand six-hundred crew members racing twenty of these boats along the river must be an awe-inspiring sight; enough to make us say that this is one piece of earthly paradise that we would love to revisit.

Posted by Hawkson 01:47 Archived in India

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Comments

That photo of the great white canoeist in traditional garb is priceless. Throw in a few fish and he could do business with the passing tour boats.

by R and B

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!Looks like an idyllic spot...am anxiously awaiting photos of the annual polar bear swim.

by catherine

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