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…
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.
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…
And here’s Sheila enjoying fresh coconut milk from our very own tree…
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…
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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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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