On a Small Delta

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Travel  |  House: Booksie Classic


Short Travelogue on a day package through a River in Kerala, India

Submitted: May 18, 2018

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Submitted: May 17, 2018

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On a Small Delta.

It was a fine friday evening and we were all together at tea time as usual. My wife came up and grinned, "Everyone enquired about our yearly family trip. Now two days holidays also there." "Hmm... We can discuss if all are free, but where to go? " I replied while sipping the hot tea, had a bite on the crispy parippu vada, a common south Indian snack. Not enough time to plan for a long journey. Of course something could be planned, a chance to explore the near by sites. "Didn't you see those nice photos of that agricultural farm. It's only 25-30 minitus drive away?" Her point blank conceived a topic, something was there to discuss. The idea got an applause from other members of the team too. "Why are they not picking up the line!" I was despondent after making numerous attempt for a booking. "Kochacha now it's ringing.." Niece brought her phone to me. We were all trying on those published phone numbers. Children were attentively observing. "Hello... Agricultural farm office... " a feeble voice answered finally. I started with eagerness "We have been calling for a number of times... either nobody answers or the the line was busy.... Can you make a booking please... ?" "Yes sir, how many people? Which day? " I informed them that 16-20 Paxs on Sunday, the easter day. "Sorry... We're closed... Any other days?...." "No...it's ok.. " No point to continue further as other days were not suitable for us, curtailed the connection. I was surprised "How a picnic spot be closed on holidays!.."

"We need to find out another option, they're closed on Easter. What are the next options!" Everyone had something to share, a lot of ideas through brainstorming. Made few calls to our close circle, and found few interesting suggestions as well. As the common phrase, what happens is always good. We prioritised a day package starting with back water house boat riding and other activities in the resort. Next step was to find a suitable place, browsing for the near by resorts and phone calls based on the suggestions, to find out someone who organises the back water ride in the Vembanadu Lake. "Hello.. Green Island Resort... " I was informed the details and pricing of the day package and other activities of the resort. "We are planning for a day package on the Easter day... day after tomorrow..." I wanted to make sure that they were not closed. "Sure sir... How many People?" The booking details have been collected and asked me to pay an advance to confirm. I had made my mind to visit the resort by next day morning to pay an advance for the day package as discussed, my intention was clear to witness the facilities and ambience before making the payment. They guided me their location and explained that how to reach there from Ernakulam. "Please look for the sign board on left side of the road after passing the Poothotta bridge almost 150 meters..." Mr Thomas explained. A retired government employee who runs the property along with his ex-nri son.

Parked my car after located their board near by the west bank of the river. I could see the similar board on the other side of the stream too. As I thought the boat was steered towards me, I boarded and stepped out to the resort premises in 5 minutes. The simple yet spacious, neat Cottages and the Childrens playing area caught my attention. Neatly cut natural lawn gives a good background. They showed me the dining area, water sports activities and swimming pool, then guided me to the office. Altogether nicely maintained and felt quite natural. Thomas again described the details of the day package : lunch with Kerala meals, evening tea & snacks, House Boat Ride, activities like Pedel Boating and Kayaking. The ride begins in the morning till lunch through the Murinjapuzha river and to Vembanadu lake, there will be a stop on the Delta, a land formation in the middle of the Vembanadu lake where the river joins the lake, and it would be interesting to get down on the delta, return via Poothotta covering Perumbalam side Islands. The Delta might emerge as an Island after many years if the authority stops the illegal sand mining. They have agreed to include the near by hanging bridge location also, somewhere East side of the Chempu as part of the package and to arrange a purely vegetarian lunch on my request. I was happy to make the advance, even though bit of worried whether others would like it or not.

"Hurry up... we're already late by half an hour to leave from home." An usual thing happens even though planned well. Meanwhile I received few calls from teammates saying that they were on course as scheduled. Four cars headed to Poothotta started from different places, stopped on the way to shop some timepass snacks and bottled water. Informed the resort people that we were on the way. Mostly we all reached Poothotta almost same time, parked the vehicles in their compound space and assembled on the private jetty. Thrilling and fun time started with selfies, but the house boat was slightly delayed, bit irritated. Small raft of ducks and thier quacks were filled the surrounding. They might be in search of their breakfast, the ducklings just followed the mother. We didn't know until the shikara, smaller version of house boat, arrived was for us, had been waiting on the jetty for 15 minutes, infact other members were even commenting on the delay. Boarded to our temporary home for next 4-5 hours. The boat was clean, spacious for 40 people and the floor was nicely covered with a green synthetic carpet. The house boat slowly departed the shore using paddle. The captain, a nice and friendly guy, switched on the small engine fixed additionally to the boat, confirmed the change of the route to the hanging bridge. The shikara turned towards South, then South-East through one of the shallow tributaries of Murinjapuzha. We were served with the welcome drink, a freshly made cold caramelised lime and pineapple juice. Life jackets were kept on a chair. As usual, our team started with anthakshri, that is the simple activity everyone has to participate to make the trips more enjoyable, a fearless attempt of signing from where other person stopped, one can sing as they wish though few sung amazingly good with correct lyrics and rhythm, and the sound system installed in the boat also boosted us. The ride started with energy packed moments, group members exchanged the greetings and comments as if they met first time. Some of the lush green branches were dancing with the wind and dipping in the slightly blackish green algae coloured water. The blowing wind didn't made us feel the raise of mercury though it was a sunny day in the mid of the summer. Fishermen were busy on their daily catches, some have smiled, waved, few just neglected as they were busy in their fishing. There were few other house boats carried foreigners drove past us. Some small families were moving using the pair of oars in rowboats, their available and common means of transportation, though some of us exclaimed that how beautiful it was. We got down to a land near by the hanging bridge since the shikara was not reaching to the jetty due to low tide, our mobile cameras were busy again. Elderly members decided to stayback, as they were not interested to climb the iron zigzag about 60 steps to reach the hanging bridge. A black mixed with white patterned Jersey cow stopped eating the grass and were watching us. A white small counch shell was tied in between her big oppositely curved horns. Children starrted climbing the steps at pace, walking and running through the hanging bridge was a fun, some of us were screaming while swinging the bridge made laugh on the local pedestrians. The view from the hanging bridge was marvelous, the parallel greenery was touching the far away mountain wally, small waves rolling on the surface of the stream, and slowly wobbling the boats. We started climbing down the steps. Once again the Karumbi, the cow, raised head and looked at us while engaged in rumination, chewing again the grass eaten earlier. One by one boarded again.

Again started the house boat ride, now it was cruising to south-west, then to west direction. The captain moved to the front deck which has a navigational wheel stand at the front end too as his sight was obstructed by the occasionally dancing groups among us. It was interesting to move with the deviations on course of the river. He pulled a chair and sat in front of the wheel stand, which connected to the helm of the boat, while our activities were in fully active. After sometimes I saw him getting up suddenly and rushing towards the rear of the boat. He said that the rudder was stuck and no response on turning the wheel. The boat is moving towards left side and nearing to the shore. I hurried to the deck and aiming to push the big branch leaned to the river side. The boat was still heading to the shore though the captain reacted suddenly to stop the engine and started in reverse mode. I pushed very hard to the solid branch of the Paruthi tree, felt a hard curve on my spine, speed reduced and stopped the boat finally with a jerk. Not many have noticed the jerk since they were busy in the activities. My wife's cousin also came up to the wheel stand, and we both were trying hard to turn the stuck rudder wheel as per the captain's hand signal while reversing the engine to correct the course. It took almost 5-7 minutes of reversing and forwarding to correct the course. Thank god, you saved us, otherwise the boat might have slided over to the brink and crashed into the riverside trees. I saw a long sigh on captain's face, his presence of mind and experience avoided a situation.

Sun is on top now, again cruising started, towards west, our boat and its shadow was moving slowly, the anthakshri was in full swing. The view of a bridge from a boat is beautiful. Most of us were experiencing the panorama of murinjapuzha bridge for first time from the boat. We had to cross the Pillars of the Murinjapuzha bridge. The speed was reduced further, very slowly and vigilantly moved in between the Piers. We could see many islands, small and big, full of greenery, in the Vembanadu lake, as we were nearing to the Delta. There were many boats anchored on the delta, and saw some were out of the boat and walking on the delta. One can easily stand on the river bed upto waist level water in the middle of the deep lake, a beautiful sight never imagined earlier. The delta formed is around more than 1 and half square kilometers of area. He propelled towards the other side of the delta since less crowded, passing the disputed resort property which was half way stopped the construction by the stay order from the court. It would have been an excellent tourism point if it was completed and running, but sadly one of the examples of the disabled administration and inefficiently handled resources. Captain anchored the boat on the delta. He measured the depth using a kazhukkol, a long bamboo stick used to navigate the boat at times, and showed us the level was only more or less than a meter. Cousin and I got down to the water, followed by our children, the water level was not even upto my waist level, the river bed was very soft and spongy in nature, but riverbed was not visible on that day. A very good experience, standing on a delta on which we had studied only in mid school curriculum. We spent more than 15-20 minutes on the delta, few were also thinking to get down, a shoal of fish were swimming near by. The curiosity of delta was over.

The bows of the boat were high from water level, infact climbing back to the boat was not easy though adventurous. Others got in and it was my turn. I jumped to hold on the side of the bow, then pulled my body upwards until reached the bow, became Gymnast for a while. A rope ladder would have been perfect in this condition. All those who got wet were on the deck now, wearing the cap and trying to dry up. Not feeling that hot though the sun is on top, started the boat again. This time wheeling towards North-East, returning through the other side of the islands. Not feeling hunger as Snacks and fruits substituted enough, and the anthakshri has begun again "panch varna painkili thathey.... " lines from a popular Malayalam oldies. Mineral water bottles were in high consumption. We could see poothootta bridge now from west side, few boats were boarding for their next trips. Children belongs to the near by island were jumping to the water from a slanted coconut palm, as their mothers wash the urn and vessels. The boat turned towords South-East, then South, as we have crossed the piers of Poothootta bridge, finally entered into the stream, boat now headed towards the resort. We have reached the opposite jetty from where our boat trip had started. Thomas and others were waiting for us" Hope you have enjoyed the trip.... " he enquired about trip and experience. We were on the garden chairs and benches, while the children were on the swings, see-saws, and other playing equipments. Our room was getting ready, we decided to fresh up before moving to the dining area. There were some small canals in the resort joins to the stream made a different ambience like small small islands in the property and each connected through small bridges. The bird chatter from a group of Geese, Shelduck and white Pekin, felt like they were also telling something while walking to dining area. A Red eyed White Rabbit crossed the pavement. A working model of famers water wheel, used to do water irrigation in olden days, was installed in one of canal near by the office. Most of us were experimenting the wheel one after another and moved to the dining room. Our tables were ready with traditional Kerala meals in banana leaves, the energetic staffs started serving us, enjoyed the homely like tasty lunch with semiya payasam at the end. I just acknowledged as the Supervisor came upto me and whispered "It's ready, let us know..." Have to wait for the suspense, just ignored of the gestures and queries of those who noticed the act.

Elder members returned to the cottage for a small nap, we moved to the shadows of the sugar fruit trees, that is how they called it because of the red fruits smaller than grape sized from the thick bushy trees were very sweet. Love birds and parakeets were caged on the side of the office. Moved to the pond side after spending sometime under the refreshing shadows. Pond was sufficiently big for the pedel boating and kayaking, a white four seater pedel boat is tied in a coco palm and near by a two seater blue kayak also. Few of us were started with pedel boat riding, but I was not interested, my aim was to experience the kayaking. Resort staffs were explaining the navigational techniques using the blades. Entering to and exiting from the kayak was bit tricky, required to control the center of gravity though not expert in physics, rather taking a bath in the pond. Cousin and I got into the kayak with initial balancing effort, both of us had oars in our hands and we started rowing but the boat was just rotating, until we understood the proper use to sail. The kayak started moving forward, we easily made two rounds around the pond, very interesting. Interested people among us experimented kayaking, and as decided we moved to the swimming pool, and more than an hour we were in the pool. Our childhood and adolescent memories rejuvenated.

"Enough..Shall we go... They have informed that the tea is ready...." as a set alarm, we left to cottage in small groups to fresh up and dress up for evening tea. Moved in small groups to dining hall again crossing the duck fencing, the bird chatter of shelducks are high at this time, might be on a useless and perhaps baseless arguments like most of the non productive debates in media channels. "Harikkutta... Please go and inform elders.." he should be away while making the arrangements, staffs understood my gestures and responded immediately, two tables were joined adjacently and covered with a white table cloth. A nicely decorated Red velvet cake was ready on the table. The birthday boy, who had no clues, entered to the scene just after the cake was in place and not only excited to see his name on the cake and also a surprise for his parents, the birthday celebration started, other guests in the resort were also participated in birthday singing. Totally a different birthday celebration, Cake were served to all, few Diabetics had controlled their desire. Hot pazhampori served with tea, a popular snack made out of sliced banana dipped in thick basen batter and fried, added caramel and cornflour made the snack crispy and sweet. Time to say bye to the resort, as the package time has finished, vacated the cottage and settled, the last listed item of the package. Engaged in the group snaps in front of the jetty while the boat was getting ready, crossed the stream, the gathering became smaller as our cars started leaving the compound one by one, confirming to meet in next trip. I switched on the FM while driving though the discussion was active about the joyful trip, yes a wonderful day trip.

sunnair@hotmail.com

Kochachan - Father's brother Shikkara - another and smaller model of House Boat. Poothootta - in Ernakulam District, Kerala State, India


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