Kovalam Backwater

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Travel stories from our winter vacation in India

After checking out from the Boat House we left Alleppey behind and drove south, to another backwater area in Kovalam. We jumped down in a small motor boat and we went exploring and went of exploring the mangrove nearby.

The first thing that happened was that A and the young boat driver got into a long conversation. Partly they spoke Tamil and partly English, so I could just understand fragments of what they said. “It is funny” the boy said. “I never felt like talking like this to any other tourists I have been guiding” he said.

DSC_4144I believe his story is far from unique. I have heard stories like his many times before. To hear it from him was like hearing an echo of a million of voices from young Indians, voices repeating the same story again and again.

He grew up in a poor house. “My father is only a poor fisherman” he started. And he told of how he got the chance to fulfill his fathers dream, and came to study at an Engineering College in Chennai.

“But I don’t want to be an Engineer. I want to make movies.” He sent a short glance at the camera we were carrying, before he continued the story.

He fell in love with this girl, and they are in a relationship now. They are both in their early twenties. Even if they are young, their parents are of course already thinking of their future. And getting a daughter married is often a big concern for Indian elders.  The pressure is big, and the time is limited. If they do not find a suitable husband for her soon she will get “too old”, and she might miss her chance.

“They have already decided that she will have to get married next year. I really want to go to her parents and propose to her, but how can I do that? I have not yet graduated. I do not have a job. I have no-nothing. And now I even want to chase my dream and go into film making. There is no way her parents can accept me!”

I felt so sad, for him, and for the millions of young Indians who shares his story.

DSC_4146The story was so enthralling it almost distracted us from the landscape we were in. Apart from some small villages it was just water and vegetation, the forest more or less growing directly out of the water. Seeing a mangrove forest was somewhat of a dream for me.

Can you see the big bird in the second picture below? And the beautiful blue Kingfisher on the fourth one?

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Backwaters of Kerala: part 5

DSC_3988As soon as the sun started rising over our little boat house we jumped out of our beds, fresh and wide awake.

Or actually, the timer of the AC went of at 6 am, after our prepaid 8 hours of AC use was over, and we had to get out of the hot bedroom by survival instinct. When I came out and saw this breathtaking view I soon felt happy again.

DSC_4039DSC_4019DSC_4017We had time to sneak out for a last close look at the fields. When we returned I had another hilarious conversation of asked and unasked questions. A girl on the houseboat next to us was half-shouting questions over at me. She did not really understand when I said I come from Sweden. “Do you mean Sirlanka?”

When I learned they were Gujaratis I mentioned Prime Minister Modi, the only thing I know about their home province, and the entire boat burst out in a roaring laughter. They were travelling together as a huge family, three households including white-haired grandparents, on two boats.

I was pitying the kitchen staff, someone must have been frying an insane amount of puri for their breakfasts.

DSC_3980The food on our boat was tasty but – oh – so spicy. The dinner served the night before was so full of chili not even A could eat it. I ended up eating nothing but bread and dahl.

All in all the backwater experience was very good. If you go, just make sure you bring clothes for very hot weather and a good sun lotion.

Backwater Portraits: part 2

DSC_3970When we walked past him the first time, he was eagerly trying to catch a fish. And as we returned half an hour later he was expectantly waiting, ready to pose with his catch.

In Taiwan strangers instinctively shy away from my camera, in India I found a photo has quite the opposite effect. Somehow people asked me to take a photo.