Postscript: Pse pardon Harsh's ignorance. A dear friend Amina George, who read the blog has sent the following illuminating note.
Amina-- many thanks. Amina's words follow:
"Christianity came to Kerala in 42 A.D. At that time there was no western influence. All that is followed as part of religious customs and rituals are integral part of Kerala culture and ethnicity. Religion in Kerala remained a personal thing and had very little to do with the cultural psyche of the state. All old churches have stampams and stone/brass lamps. In Kottayam there is a church which has motifs of Hindu deities.
As we set sail, all Naval buddies and spouses got so excited that they almost cast off and left the photographer (me) ashore!
Amina adds "Alleppy and Kumarakom are on two sides of the same back waters. I am writing this from my memory so could be wrong. It is called the Vembanad kayal. Most backwaters are interconnected and during my parents generation travel through waterways in Kettu vallam house boats was part of visiting grand parents."
Village life along the backwaters appeared so peaceful and calm. Man and Nature coexist in perfect harmony.
Even the empty rice fields after harvesting look so inviting in God's Own Country!
We noticed that the rice harvesting machines are ferried by boat. See the picture.
Amina's words "Your two pictures of paddy cultivation and transportation of machines on boats got my attention. One of the great Malayalam writers Thakazhy of Chemmeen fame wrote a short story of how the bond between land and man was mercilessly ruined by such machines and the greed for more and more money/ profit.
The houseboat was equipped with fans and lights, a music system and mike. We did some group singing using the song sheets that Champion had brought for the occasion, and playing the guitar that Champ had organised for us through a local sailor, thanks to his son Thambu's contacts. (Champ had even got a fresh set of strings and fixed them, and re-tuned the guitar to keep it ready. Thanks Champ!)
Amina's commentary follows:
We saw the stands along the backwaters where the Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held in the Punnamada Lake near Alappuzha (Alleppey) Kerala, India. It is a popular Vallam Kali event watched by huge numbers of tourists and people cheering their respective villages.
We also saw the famous Chinese fishing nets or Cheena vala. These are shore operated lift nets (20 metres wide, 10 metres high), stretched out on wooden beams. The weight of a man walking on the main beam is enough to lower the net into the water. The net is raised by pulling on ropes while a number of large rocks tied with rope on the other end act as counterweights to keep everything in balance. The net is lowered into shallow water where a catch of a few fish and crustaceans is sold to passing tourists, to be cooked and served up by the various street vendors nearby. GR's writeup says that you can't find these nets anywhere else in the world apart from China and Kerala!
As we cruised along, D.Kumar and Anthony got a game of Tambola going on our houseboat, and everyone competed for the various prizes with frequent requests to D. Kumar to "shake it up please"!
The meal was topped off with fruit salad.
Ramya organised a game of Dumb Charades and it was entertaining to see the two teams acting and vying for points!
Time passed by so fast and soon we were served up some piping hot banana bajjis (fritters) made from the local Nendranga bananas - terrific!
This was followed by tea.
On the homeward leg, Harsh took the wheel-- with many hearts skipping a beat as he navigated the houseboat through narrow passages and crossing house boats! He did steer us back safely!
Govindan and Kausi had to leave after the houseboat cruise but not before GR passed on the baton for the next get-together to Govindan. All too soon we were wending our way back to shore.
We expressed our appreciation and thanks to the chef and the crew of our boat Gambit (Trixie had their names written down on a napkin but seem to have lost it)
Harsh managed to get some choice shots of the houseboat while fitting us and the crew into the picture.
Anthony livened up the evening with his old Hindi songs and Harsh got us all involved in an Anthakshari out of Valsura lingo - an entertaining game!
Hope you enjoyed the picture story written by Trixie.
Bye till the next outing with Ghumakkad!
- Harsh/18th April 2014
________________ End of FFA Reunion Part-2 ______________