To Kumarakom

A wonderful day! We set off to Kumarakom which was another 3-4 hour drive. We were invited to Bijou’s home for tea in the morning and met most of his family – father, mother wife and one of his two daughters who had taken the day off school to meet us. It was a great privilege to be invited into his home and see how they live. The family has a small rubber plantation and he explained the process which is fascinating.

Then we went on to the house of Anil, a friend of his, which is a pretty traditional family house and has been in the family for seven generations. We had a superb lunch cooked by four of the women of the family and served to us and the men. They had started cooking it the previous day!

The meal started with Mooli, a fish and coconut curry, with (incongruously) a Russian salad. Then there was a barbecued chicken with fried onions and chilli, served with rice, dhal (lentils) and an assortment of salads, plus parotha which is a sort of a cross between a Viennese pastry and a naan. This was followed by fruit – pineapple, watermelon, grapes, papaya and jackfruit which was much nicer than any of us expected.

After lunch (by which time it was baking hot again) we were shown another, larger rubber plantation owned by our host. He got one of his workers to demonstrate the tapping process which is fascinating and highly skilled.  One man can tap 300 trees in 2 hours, then he goes back to the first ones and collects the latex which has filled the little cups by then. After processing the rubber is hung up to dry in sheets which look a bit like shower mats, which is the form the rubber is sold in. Apparently the top quality rubber is used for aircraft tyres, which I must say I found reassuring.

We left and went on  towards Kumarakom, passing through a town called Kottayam, which is distinguished for being the first town in India to achieve 100% literacy, in 1986. I’m not sure we have any town like that in the UK!

Kerala is ostensibly a Marxist state, so there are hammer & sickle flags all over the place. But I can’t quite see how that works here: all taxes are set by the national government, so they’re the same in every state in India; Kerala has private companies, public companies, property ownership, small businesses and so on which really aren’t the features of Marxism as I know it. Education is good and the roads are (relatively) good, but there doesn’t seem to be  a true socialism in existence, nor I feel could there be.

After Kottayam we happened upon a village which was having some sort of Hindu festival. The first sign of this was a crowd of people at a temple and lots of drumming. As we went further, we came upon a bit of ground where there were three elephants standing in a row, all in great finery, and the villagers were making offerings of rice. After a bit the drums struck up and the elephants set off on a procession, presumably to the temple we’d seen earlier. A fantastic sight and a real bonus for the day.

At Kumarakom we got onto a lovely old steamer-type boat and travelled to the Coconut Lagoon which is a wonderful luxury resort hotel where we will be relaxing for a couple of days after the rigours of our travels. This is where the trip starts being a bit of a pamper!

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1,055 Responses to “To Kumarakom”

  • Ty & Janet:

    Great to follow your travels. Looks like you are having a wonderful time. Brace yourself for the UK climate.

    Andy and Karen over for the weekend.

    So love from All.

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