On Holiday in God’s Own Country

Blue skies, warm weather, green topography and no access to electronic gadgetry. Wait a minute, no access to electronic gadgetry? How does anyone survive unless of course you have planned it that way? Well, I did and let me tell you it was the best thing ever.

I had no idea how much my life revolves around electronic gadgetry. Whether it is the microwave, computer or even the internet. I flew home to attend a family function. It is a very different experience when you travel on your own versus with kids. You tend to worry about different things. You also have lots of time to think and observe.

This trip brought me back to the land of my grandparents, land of coconut palms, ancient herbal remedies and temples. Impressions of how the trip should be, changed, as I spent time in Kerala – God’s Own Country. Coming in from a totally wired, scheduled to the last minute, appointment oriented west, it was the shock to the system when nothing went according to the plan in your head.

It takes a while before it sinks in – then you too become acclaimatized to the weather, the clothes, power cuts, reliance on your ingenuity to get things done and power of prayer. It was not long before I too followed the routines of everyday folk living there, getting up early and taking an oil bath, visiting the temple everyday, making sure the clothes get washed early in the day so that the sun can dry them, afternoon siesta and finishing cooking and chores early so that all the work is done before sunset so that even if the power fails – its ok.

The computer was a forgotten instrument – I was too busy breathing in the air and listening to the sounds of nature as I walked between, coconut, mango, guava, tamamrind, pepper, peepul trees just to name a few. Even the movements of the red and black ants are quite fascinating. By the way you don’t want to get in their way – they tend to bite, especially the red ones. The times of no electricity forced you to look up to the sky and admire the stars that seemed to close.

The visit to the temple gives you the sense of being cleansed. As the sounds of the chants and bells resonate through the air you sense the vibrant energy. The temples in Kerala have a code of its own. The temples are squeaky clean and they are fastidious about it. Women have to wear sarees or skirts and men cannot wear shirts and have to wear the traditional ‘mundu‘ which is a cloth around the waist. The smell of sandalwood paste and flowers wakes you up. The feel of the granite stone under your barefoot feet activates all your nerve endings.

Intersting fact to note that even if there is a crowd – nobody will touch you. The belief is that if you touch then you will also get the benefit of the power of their prayers. As the priest lights the lamp and chants the mantras you can feel the power of the God.

It is almost like God himself is saying ‘Welcome Home!’

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