This is what I woke up to on my first day in Kochi. A glowering sun trying to burn through looming monsoon clouds which threatened to unload any minute. Luckily for me, the sunshine won out.
I wouldn't normally say 'luckily' about rain not showing up but it applied here because I had a long drive ahead of me from Kochi (formerly called Cochin) to Trivandrum (well, it's called 'Thiruvananthapuram' now but its too much of a tongue-twister for me and just about everyone else, I think).
The General Election results had just been announced and everywhere I looked,
I saw jubilant people riding in all kinds of vehicles,
waving their flags and celebrating .
The others were sulking at home, I suppose.
Just about the first word I think you would use to describe Kerala is 'green' .
Rambling, clambering... luxuriantly, verdantly, jade-moss-emerald-forest and every shade in between ... unabashedly GREEN!
And the pre-monsoon showers were definitely helping things along !
See what I mean?
And if it isn't the greenery, what really catches your eye and pulls at your heart-strings are the soothing stretches of water!
Glimpses of the sea,
vast palm-fringed serenely beautiful backwaters,
little streams and rivers running to the sea,
paddy-fields in-waiting filling up with rain,
quaint little temple-ponds ...
Kerala is all about the melding and merging of earth and water in myriad impossibly beautiful ways.
And all along the way, the highway is dotted with tiny little shops, often filled with the produce of the land.
Simple and unassuming they might be but they're definitely colourful!
Some of them, usually the little tea-shops, even seem to double up as the local meeting-place. A place to hail old friends and, maybe, yarn awhile or tut-tut about the state of politics and the world in general.
Kerala isn't the country's first state with 100% literacy for nothing. Everyone always has an opinion about everything and they're not shy about voicing it.
I wonder if this is how it has always been ... when King Solomon sent his ships to Kerala to buy some 'black gold' ( pepper ), or when the ancient Romans sailed in for precious cardamom and timber, did they hang around with the locals and chat like this?
(Most of these photos were taken from a fast-moving car. So if they appear a bit fuzzy or splotchy, you know why)