import: god’s own country…

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SO this past weekend I took a road trip with two of Gina’s friends, who I believe I can now call my own friends…

We left around 4 on Friday, everyone taking off work early and headed for the northern part of Kerala. Sonnu and Hemal were my hosts and we set out on the way to see Sanu’s niece’s naming ceremony. We all had to leave work early to try to make it through a gate that leads into a protected forest. Luckily we made it there by 8 (the gate closes by 8:30)!

The drive was much nicer than the buses I have taken in the past few weeks, better scenery and less bouncing around on the speed bumps.

Upon arrival I was very warmly greeted by Manoj, the father of the new baby, who promptly got me a drink and put the song list for karaoke in my lap. The drink was nice, and luckily I was rescued from singing [and drawing more attention to myself] to meet other members of the family and sit outside. There were people everywhere in the bungalow that came for the celebration and it was really fun to meet everyone and feel so immensely welcomed!

Since we arrived after dark, I didn’t get to see the view until the morning, and WOAH was that a pleasant surprise, all I knew was that we had to drive up a winding path and that we were on the top of a hill. As you can see from the picture it was a heck of a sight, though the camera doesn’t quite do it justice. As far as you can see are rolling hills covered in tea plants.

Given the amount of people in the house, I was happy to find that my two companions also needed to get out of the house a little. The first morning we walked down to the nearest village and had a little breakfast (since we were up early and breakfast is served late) and some tea. We walked back up the hill, and halfway saw a really pretty rainbow in the cloudy mist covering the next large hill. I don’t think I can say enough how breathtaking everything was.

We returned for breakfast, showered, and everyone got ready for the ceremony, which involved the mother and grandmother donning Coorg-style sarees (Sanu’s family is from Coorg) which you can see in the photo. The ceremony was nice to watch and the baby girl cooperated as well as any 4-month old really could.

After lunch, Sonnu, Hemal, and I drove to the nearby lake and took a guided tour around the perimeter in a boat. Apparently the lake is shaped like a map of India… there were lotus flowers all around and we even saw 4 monkeys playing in a tree (though not close enough for a picture).

Saturday night was spent drinking, chatting, and celebrating! I had an amazing time and the family was beyond hospitable!

Though it was only 2 days, it really felt rejuvenating enough to have been a week. I wish I could stay there forever, and I can clearly see why Kerala is known as “god’s own country.”

As Gina put it when I returned, I was “on cloud 9” …the weather, the people, the companionship, all was amazing. I am now, for sure, 100% in love with India!

bye for now & Namaskar

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