Everybody woke up quite early. But I was earlier than the rest. I was waiting in the mouth of the boat with the camera in hand to capture the sunrise. I was sitting in the edge of the boat, trying to touch the water with my feet. I saw an orange reflection in the waters. I didnt really want to lift my head and spoil the magic. I was taking it all in. For some unnaturally long minutes the orange reflection stayed in the water. I thought it was my lucky day. I slowly took my camera and focused it on the clouds. I was not able to see the orange ball, which I wanted to see. Nature is really a wonder, I thought. The clouds had hidden the sun yet it reflects in the backwater. A few moments later, I found my back sweating like falls. Was the sun up?
Vidhya was watching this for sometime. Then she said, “Dude! Are you not out of your hangover yet? The sun rises behind you. We are in Kerala remember?” I felt really stupid. Then what was that orange reflection? It was the neon lighting of Ramada Inn resort in the other side of the backwaters. By this time, all were ready for breakfast. So was I. We packed our bags and started eating our breakfast. Our boatman was pointing the stadiums that were newly erected for Nehru Boat Race. We were talking to him about how things happen there and about the race. He was in the team which one the trophy three times. “Njaan Kumarakom Team”. I could sense the pride in his voice. Later he showed a boat used for the race. The boats are made up of iron and really really long. I don’t know how it doesn’t sink with so many people on board. We bid farewell to him by 9.00 AM and came down to the land where our driver Shijit was waiting.
“Cheta! How long will it take to reach Kondai Lip?”
“One and half hours” he said, like he always did.
We got into the cab. The route was very scenic. We stopped midway to have some tender coconut. Tender coconut seems to be costlier in Kerala than Bangalore. But the taste was really good and since I came to Chennai, I haven’t had such sweet tender coconuts. The surprise came when we parked our car in front of the resort.
You cannot approach the entrance of Kondai Lip resort through land. A boat was ready to pick us up. We climbed in the vallam and after a five minutes journey in the boat we reached the land part of the resort. There were two rooms opposite to the big pond and Siva wanted to stay in those. But we didn’t know what Paradise Holidays booked for us. We went to the reception to check in. We were asked to order our food at the check-in time itself. They really take a long time to cook their delicious spread. We checked in at our rooms. It was more than we asked for. It was the same room which Siva wanted to stay. The toilets were quite spacious, you can easily do small sprints if you would like to. The room was neat and cozy. As soon as I entered the room, I picked up the TV remote and searched for Sony Six channel. It was CSK day. The others in the group were kinda pissed off but still it was OK.
After we freshened up, we just walked to the reception to know the activities available in the resort. Few of us did fishing while Siva and I took the boat to get good snaps of our room. The girls caught two or three fishes and after all the pedaling in the boat, I was so hungry. We went to the ‘Ootusala’ as they had named it and finished our lunch. After the heavy lunch, I wanted to nap for a while. Sarayu, Shruthi’s sister also felt the same. She is a blessed soul, she slept off in no time. But right at the moment when I thought I fell asleep, a knock in the door woke me up. The room service person had come to take order for evening snacks and dinner. He also informed us, that their boat will be taking us to near by Mararikulam beach to see sunset. All my sleep went away. The only put down was it was very humid that day. Except Sarayu, all of us went to the Mararikulam beach through backwaters passing by those big Chinese fishing nets.
Mararikulam beach is one of the cleanest Indian beaches I have ever seen. The sand was soft and white and it didnt feel like I was in India at all. Few foreigners were swimming in the beach. The water wasn’t that harsh. Shruti had great time in water. After some time in the sea and photo ops we returned to the boat. The humidity turned to cool wind and suddenly there was drizzle. And in no time it was raining cats and dogs. I feared that the water level in the backwaters would increase because of the sudden rain. But the others in the boat had great time enjoying in rain. Right at the moment, Sarayu called from the resort to say us, that we are missing something wonderful. We knew watching the rain from that old Kerala house would have been great, but we were in the middle of all the action.
To get drenched in the middle of the backwaters, though sitting in a boat brought the true sense of vacation to me. Yeah! We visited beach and relaxed in the resort but the truest essence of getting lost at the moment without a sense of past or the next minute and living in that particular minute trying to catch all the drops in my face was refreshing. As they say the best things in life comes for free. That moment felt divine. We came back to our resort and was greeted with hot coffee and pazhampori. What more could I ask for. I forgot to buy a pack of smoke when we went to the beach. I was skeptical to ask the people because there was no bar in the restaurant. Also one has to take a boat to get out of the resort and then take a cycle or car to reach the civilization. As Chennai taught me, I asked. And in another thirty minutes the pack was delivered in my room with a smile. I was not able to believe they actually took the pain to travel at least 5 kms in two different modes of transport to get me a pack of smoke. And that is why I always believe, great properties or location doesn’t make great resort. It is the service.
We sat chatting, waiting for the dinner and the match to start. The rain gods were kind enough to delay the match so we(I) had distraction free dinner and came back to our room. The conversation went from sun signs to secrets to 500 days of summer to lot of other things. But we didn’t sleep till early morning. It was nice to walk barefoot in the puddle along the pool, rest my back in a coconut tree that came in the way, without a sense of time. In fact the time stood still there. I cannot single out what made that night work. It may be the weather or the company or the resort itself. But something was magical about that night which wouldn’t leave my mind for quite some time to come. Though we didn’t have a wink of sleep, I felt really refreshed when I woke up two hours later.
We had to check out. But we didn’t want to. The breakfast buffet was quite good. The girls were playing with a kid they met in the resort the day before, while I was idly strolling around the resort. But it was time to go and we checked out in a while to take the boat again. We bade farewell to Kondai Lip from the boat and loaded our bags to the car. Shijit was very cheerful that day and soon the mood caught up with me too.
“Shijith Etta! Cherai beach”
“One and half hours”
I never thought I would be sitting almost naked in next three hours. Read about it in next part.
If you had missed the first part, here it is