Kerala Backwaters/Βαρκόσπιτα!

Η Κέραλα,κάτω κάτω στην νοτιότερη άκρη της Ινδίας,είναι ένα μερος γοητευτικό με πολλές εναλλαγές τοπίων. Από τούς δροσερούς λόφους με τις φυτείες μπαχαρικών και τσαγιού, κατεβήκαμε στις ακτές της Αραβικής Θάλασσας. Στόχος τα περίφημα Backwaters. 

Kerala -"God's own Land"- is a fascinating place. After the cool tea hills of Thekaddy, we had the chance to explore the famous Backwaters. 
Along the Malabar coastline of Kerala, lakes, rivers coming down from the Western Ghats and the sea have created a maze of canals,lagoons and small patches of reclaimed land.
More then 900 Km of waterways, green and full of life. And the best way to experience the Backwaters is to embark on a houseboat.

Δεκάδες ποτάμια κατεβαίνουν από την οροσειρά των Δυτικών Γκάτς, σχηματίζουν λίμνες και μικρά Δέλτα και ενώνονται με την θάλασσα ,σ' έναν λαβύρινθο καναλιών μήκους 900 χιλιομέτρων.
Ανάμεσα στα κανάλια κομμάτια γή, πού "διεκδίκησαν" οι κάτοικοι από το βασίλειο του νερού για να χτίσουν τα σπίτια,τα σχολεία και τα μαγαζιά τους.
Ο καλύτερος τρόπος να εξερευνήσει κανείς τα Backwaters είναι να πάρει ένα "βαρκό-σπιτο", ένα "κετουβαλάμ".

Houseboats -ketuvallams-are made of wood and bamboo and were once used to transport rice and other grains through the canals. Now,more than 2.000 of them have been transformed into houses,with a generator, WC,shower, one or two bedrooms and a nice outdoor sitting and dinning area.

Apart from being the name of this splendit bird, "Kingfisher" is one of the best Indian beers.
Χαρακτηριστικό φτερωτό κόσμημα της Ινδίας γενικότερα,οι Αλκυόνες βρίσκουν ιδανικές συνθήκες διαβιώσης στα Backwaters.
Τα "κετουβαλάμ" μετέφεραν παλιά φορτία,κυρίως ρύζι.Τώρα περισσότερα από 2.000 έχουν μετατραπεί σε "βαρκό-σπίτα" με γεννήτρια,μπάνιο, ένα η δύο υπνοδωμάτια και μία καταπληκτική βεράντα πίσω από τον τιμονιέρη, με καθιστικό και τραπέζι φαγητού.
Μια η το πολύ δύο μέρες είναι αρκετές για τα Backwaters.Τώρα τι μ' έπιασε την άπληστη,να κλείσω το "κετουβαλάμ" γιά τρείς;;
Μιά ψιλοκλειστοφοβία την πάθαινα κάθε βράδυ στην κρεβατοκάμαρα πού ήταν μάλλον για ένα άτομο,αλλά η βαρκο-βεράντα ήταν υπέροχη και η όλη εμπειρία απίστευτη!!

One or two days should be enough to see the Backwaters,but we stayed there for 3. (I'm usually too greedy with experiencing something,I don't want to go back home and haven't seen enough). The houseboat the Indian travel agent reserved for us was a bit small-the bedroom was claustrophobic to be honest-but the outdoor area was nice. 
And the Backwaters were magical!

Cormorans and Kingfishers and various species of birds inhabit the Backwaters.
Κορμοράνοι κάνουν κρουαζιέρα στο κανάλι,περιμένοντας το πρώτο απρόσεκτο ψάρι.

Εκτός από τον καπετάνιο/τιμονιέρη μαζί μας ήταν και ο μάγειρας,πού μαγειρευε στην κουζινούλα του,στο πίσω μέρος της βάρκας και μας σερβίριζε τοπικές νοστιμιές. Το βράδυ η βάρκα έδενε στην πλησιέστερη φοινικιά, άναβε η γεννήτρια-για φως και κλιματισμό. Δείπνο ρομαντικό....κι άντε μετά να κλείσεις μάτι με την γεννήτρια δίπλα στο κρεββάτι σου...χαλάλι όμως :]

On the houseboat there were the pilot and a cook-the kitchen being at the back of the boat. So, we were just lazying in the outdoor area while having breakfast or lunch.At dusk the boat would moor somewhere, turn the generators on and dinner would be cooked and eaten :)
Both men were extremely discreet and civil. And I'm happy to report that the cook was very competent.
I couldn't resist taking the picture of this little Kerala beauty.Isn't she a cute little doll  ? :]
Μια κούκλα  με απίστευτες μπούκλες κάπου στην Κέραλα.

Η Κέραλα είναι αξιοπερίεργο μέρος από πολλές απόψεις. Γιά παράδειγμα δεν επιτρέπεται να καπνίσεις στό δρόμο! Γλυτώνουν μεν από τις πεταμένες γόπες,αλλά τα νεύρα των θεριακλήδων κομποσκοίνια κανονικά...
Τό κρατίδιο κυβερνιέται από τό κομμουνιστικό κόμμα εδώ και 50 χρόνια, έχει ποσοστό αναλφαβητισμού μόλις 3%! και τούς περισσότερους αναλογικά χριστιανούς Ινδούς από κάθε άλλο κρατίδιο. Φιλοξενεί επίσης την παλιότερη Εβραϊκή Συναγωγή στην Ινδία.
 Απ΄όλα έχει ο μπαξές της Κέραλα και γι΄αυτό μας ξετρέλανε τόσο.

Kerala is a strange place in more ways than one. For instance its the only place I know of,where it is not permitted to smoke out in the streets. 
The local government is in the hands of the communist party for the last 50 years. Kerala has a stunning 97% literacy and more Christians than all other states of India put together.
It is also home to the oldest Jewish Synagogue in India.

Saint Thomas, the one who doubted that Christ has risen, was the first to build a church in Kerala,or so the legend has it.
The fact is that missionaries of all denominations, found favor in the eyes of the lower castes of India mainly farmers and "untouchables". Missionary/Christian schools have been offering education to lower caste children for generations.

Περάσαμε λοιπόν τρείς μέρες σε μία γαλήνια τεμπελιά, γλιστρώντας στα κανάλια και τις λίμνες, χαζεύοντας τον κόσμο πού ζεί δίπλα και μέσα στο νερό. 
Γυναίκες κάνουν μπουγάδα τά ρούχα και τα μωρά τους ,τα μεγαλύτερα παιδιά πλατσουρίζουν τσιρίζοντας, νέοι γέροι και παιδιά σαπουνίζονται ήρεμα στο κανάλι μπροστά στην πόρτα τους και μας χαιρετούν, βάρκες μας προσπερνούν και εμείς "αναπνέουμε" πράσινο και υγρασία απ' όλους τούς πόρους τού κορμιού μας! 

Slowly gliding across the canals has an almost hypnotic quality.
Everywhere there is greenery and lushness,water and more water. It is not unusual to rain heavily for some time and then,as the sun shines again,the haze of moisture engulfs everything.

Everyday life unfolds near the water. Children splashing and laughing, their mothers near by washing clothes or bathing their younger ones...people taking their bath in the canal...other houseboats or smaller canoes passing us by.

Είχαμε χορτάσει τα Backwaters οταν ο καπετάνιος μας άφησε σε στέρεα γη και στα χέρια του οδηγού πού θα μάς πήγαινε ακόμα πιό νότια, στο Κοβαλάμ, που εξελίσσεται στην νέα Γκόα.
Αλλά,η ακτή και το ακρωτήρι της Θεάς Κουμάρι σε άλλο ποστ

We disembarked full of impressions. The driver was waiting to take us further south, to Kovallam-the new Goa-and to Cape Kumari, the southernmost edge of India.


  1. Desi, I figured it out! Your blog is the "Discovery" channel of blogs! :D You post so many interesting topics and give a view of things I've never known about. It's delightful! :D *claps hands*

    I really enjoyed reading about this area in India. Such a peaceful, different life they lead. The houseboats are very cool (Steve thought so too), and I liked seeing the different images showing what it looks like there.

    A few days ago I got a bunch of "Bollywood" music to listen to and it makes me so happy--I don't know what it is that I enjoy so much about Indian pop music or music from their movies, but I really like it. I've seen some really fun music videos too.

    I would love to visit India some day, but I have issues with people treating women poorly. What was it like for you there? When people look down at me as if I'm a moron just because I'm female, I want to punch them in the face, don't you? Being extremely smart is something I am quite proud of and I cannot stand being judged by people who automatically assume I'm stupid because I'm a woman. What was your experience? I don't want to do the very thing I despise--being prejudiced--so maybe you can tell me what it was like for you? There are many places I would like to visit but I cross them off my list because I am disgusted at how women are treated in those places.

  2. What a copliment! *tries desperately to blush*
    It makes me happy when people like the stories I tell :]
    As a foreign woman in India I was never ever treated with anything but the outmost respect.I too would have liked to see some legendary places but I ll never step there,because of the way they treat women. But India is no such place.
    Womens place in India is purely a matter of caste/social-economic status. There is a rapidly growing middle class,full of well educated working women. Like in Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India. Traditionaly Hinduism has a deep respect for women.Each aspect of the Divine for them has a female counterpart, a consort:] (Isn't it precious?)
    India elected one of the first ever women Prime Ministers,Indira Gandhi.
    There are of course problems,but they are mostly due to Illiteracy+poverty+antiquated customs.
    For example,to marry off a daughter a father needs to save for years to give her a dowry,so the poorer he is the less daughters he can "afford". He prefers to have boys.So many women get an abortion if the fetus is female...forced by their families and their husbands.
    I'll post about a slum we visited in Delhi,to see a little boy we "adopted" through Action Aid, so you ll get the full picture...
    You know? You are an inspiration !!! Thanks;]

  3. PS Have you watched "Slumdog Millionaire"???Such a cleverly made movie,you'll love it.

  4. Thank you for telling me your experience in India!! This information means that I can put India back on my list of places I would like to visit! YAY!!! *hugs* Indira Gandhi, of course! I have heard of her before...hmm, I should do some reading about her, I am sure she is a very remarkable lady!

    Regarding dowries, it's really a shame that this is such an ingrained custom, but you know I think we have a slight form of that here too, where the bride's family is traditionally responsible for paying for the wedding and honeymoon. I don't know how widespread this is, but my father told me that it's the usual custom. When Steve and I got married, dad paid for everything without complaint, and we were so grateful and happy at such a wonderfully generous gift.

    Slumdog Millionaire: I haven't seen that movie, I shall put it at the top of my Netflix queue! ... .... DONE! We will watch this movie sometime in the next week when it comes! :D OH! What did you think of "The Hurt Locker"? I hope you enjoyed it, though it is difficult to deal with in many parts. I think it is a very important film to watch.

    You are very sweet to say that I am an inspiration, because that is what I think you are! I try to make posts that you might find interesting and fun, but gosh, your posts are so educational too! :D

    BTW, stay tuned for my post tomorrow evening...I think you will like the topic! :D