5th April 2014
When Alleppey backwaters cradled our little soda boat down its gentle waters, we had only been observers of the village life around the riverbanks. From distance it all seemed so peaceful and simple. Almost magical in my eyes. Like they’ve taken out pages from a children’s book and placed them along the riverbanks for passerbyers to enjoy. In the backwaters of Kumarakom we got a little closer to the people, who were the smiling and friendly characters of this imaginary book. But they weren’t just characters, they were real people. We spent a short afternoon in the little village of Kumarakom, where farmers showed us a glimpse of their daily life.
Our journey began in small country boats that took us down the lake to the village, where we were greeted with flower garlands by a group of local women. Gowri, a kind tiny old lady, took us through the art of weaving coconut leaves. Her hands were moving fast, taking one leaf over and under another. Not speed lightning fast but fast in a way that only skilled and experienced folks would be able to keep up with her. Let me just say it like this… if I was stranded on an island with this entire group of people, and we had to build our own shelter, and a rainstorm was minutes away. Heck yeah, I would put her in charge of making the coconut leaf roof!Dina was not shy so she gave it a go and tried to copy the master. Perhaps not as elegantly executed and with a helping hand from Gowri and a cheering crowd in front of her, Dina managed to pull through and displayed her hard work with a huge smile.
Near the paddy fields we joined a local man, who had found his way up in a coconut tree to demonstrate how toddy tapping can be achieved. I have to be completely honest here. I had no idea that coconut trees were a source for palm wine. My my, and here I thought that the coconut itself was the tree’s true treasure. We moved on and came across another man climbing a coconut tree in a highly advanced way. He was using this modern device, this ridiculously strange looking but yet cool metal device to help him reach the top (see video below!). My two fellow KBX’rs, Vijay and Edgar, were brave enough to strap themselves to this device as they took a few clumbsy steps from the ground. It didn’t look easy nor comfortable without the correct technique in hands. With that said, IT WAS SO HILARIOUS TO WATCH THEM!
Unfortunately, our visit was cut short and we had to rush our walk through the village. More time would have been great as we barely arrived at a scene before we had to turn around again. However, it was a nice change to actually walk between the houses and the people on the riverbank instead of just viewing everything from the middle of the lake.