Kerela

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The Kettuvallams or rice barges of Kerala were once the queens of the backwaters but with the advent of more modern forms of transportation they were left abandoned and decaying. Then in 1993 Babu Varghese came up with the idea of converting them for use as floating bungalows.  In 2009 he had another bright idea and allegedly hired assassins to get rid of his business partner.  Some of his ideas were better than others
The barges are constructed of jack wood, lashed together with rope and coated on the outside with a toxic resin made from boiled cashew kernels, not a single nail is used in their construction
In the Malyalam language the word Kettuvallam means sewn or stitched boat

It was so peaceful as we made our way along the waterways watching the local traffic
And waving to our fellow house-boaters
The renovated barges, now called Houseboats, boast from one to seven bedrooms, a modern bathroom, living room, kitchenette and veranda to fish from, or in our case relaxing and watching life on the backwaters drift by.  An Indian friend once told me if ever I found myself in India I must go to "Gods Own Country" and cruise the Backwaters of Kerala on a converted rice barge.   So, here we were on the 900km. network of interconnected canals, rivers, lakes and inlets but sadly for only one night

Fanny in full relaxation mode.
The crew prepared our lunch then moored along the bank to eat. But not before they had helped themselves to some betel nut high up a tree.  They had come prepared with a machete on a long pole.  We assumed they would have a happy evening

Lunch, prepared on a couple of gas rings was delicious.
On the menu was, baked fish, fish curry, a flamingo pink dish which turned out to be beetroot and mustard seed in yoghurt, stir fried beans with coconut and a masala of spices, Cabbage, carrots with turmeric, tomato and cucumber salad, dal and rice
In the late afternoon a refreshing cool breeze sprang up and by 5.30 our boat was moored for the night
Fanny and I put our mosquito defence plan into action.
All the Deet and Pymethrin spray that had languished in the bottom of our suitcases came into play.  May the gentle Jain forgive us but we even festooned our dining area with old fashioned fly paper which was quickly covered with all manner of flying insects.  Eventually the sounds and smells of dinner wafted from the galley.  We ate and retired, relaxed and happy.  Next morning revealed not a single bite

 
Our great crew preparing for the day.  When it came time to say goodbye  I couldn't help wondering when, if ever, we would next have 3 men waiting on us hand and foot
We headed back, winding through the palm fringed canals, past paddy fields and hamlets, passing the early morning laundresses, shoppers on the way to market, children taking boats to school and the working men and women of the Backwaters going about their daily business. 

 

My dream commute

Duck farming, coir making, fishing, shrimp farming, boat building and of course tourism all provide employment
 

Setting off for school

Arriving at the public school in style

Outrider

It didn't take long to leave the tranquility of the backwater behind.  In Appelley we got snarled up in traffic, yet another procession brought gridlock to the street
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