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Monday, 25 May 2015

God's own country?

Yet another road trip to Kerala. And yet again surprised to see the speed with which the Palakkad-Thrissur highway is being completed. And yet again disappointed with the Coimbatore-Palakkad stretch where the work is at a standstill. Suffices to say that while the Walayar-Thrissur stretch (barring a few measly kilometers) is ready enough for the Toll Booths to be under trials, the TN portion is possibly awaiting the post release attention of Amma! Yet again Kerala 1, Tamilnadu 0!


While it engulfs most of the country can Kerala remain untouched by it? The overstretched Aluva-Kochi highway, thanks to the Kochi Metro Rail under construction, presents a double whammy with what I think is the most successful Mall in India, Lulu Mall. The overcrowded choc-a-bloc Mall on a weekday afternoon suggests not so Achche Din for the friendly neighbourhood mom-n-pop stores!


At Rs.500.00 for 12 hours, Kochi must be the city with the cheapest Driver-On-Hire rates!


The Business Hotel I check into in Kochi doesn't subscribe for the channels broadcasting the IPL. The Adidas stores here don't sell RCB jerseys nor do the Reebok stores the CSK ones. God's own football country?


Hunt for Puttu Kadala Curry!
 My adventures in Kochi included a hunt for puttu-kadala curry breakfast. Most restaurants either don't serve them at all or they make sooooo little quantities leading to stockout before the breakfast hour. No takers for what is the traditional breakfast says the F&B Manager of a leading restaurant on the tony M G Road, Ernakulam. Finally it takes a 'thattukkada' run by Tamils from Tirunelveli, on one of the bye lanes to dish out this divine delicacy!


Heritage experience @ budget prices!

Next time you are in Thrissur for a stay, check out the Guruprasad Heritage Hotel just off the Swaraj Round. Tastefully done facade and equally ethnic decor of the rooms give you the feeling of living in one of those not so opulent but yet dripping with history palaces of the Kerala Kings. And they subscribe to channels broadcasting IPL too! However be ready to pay cash only. "We have opened this hotel 'just' a few month ago and are yet to sign up with credit card companies informs the front office manager. And he was serious!


Pooram Festival @ Vadakkumnathan Temple!

A few hundred meters away from the hotel is the ancient and majestic Vadakkumnathan Temple. The same temple, famous world over and not so famous all over India, for the Thrissur Pooram. (For those who came in late, famous world over enough to prompt an uninformed/part informed Pamela Andersson to tweet accusing the temple authorities of causing torture to elephants. Welcome!) The annual festival of the temple renowned for the Chenda Melam/Chenda Vadhyam and the herds of majestic elephants decorated with the wondrous Sriveli! My visit a week post the Pooram celebrations this year suggests that the event was an extremely successful one and the 'Swachch Bharat Abhiyan' is yet to take roots in Thirussur!

Chenda Melam/Vadhyam


Post clearing up my work for the day by early evening, I decide to take a leisurely walk across to the Temple. And I witness a series of small gatherings in the park that circles the temple. Curiosity makes me take a look. And I see sets of people playing and the circle of crowd making up the spectators. What IPL, even football has severe competition coming its way from people playing rummy under the early evening sky! 

Queue outside Bevco!

Darshan of the God done, a tremendous downpour stops me from walking back to my hotel. After waiting it out for close to an hour and with the rain showing no signs of easing, I decide to hire an auto for the 500 odd meters distance. Autorickshaw after autorickshaw refused the ride. Even an offer to pay "whatever money you want" doesn't enthuse one person to accept. Finally I decide to risk catching a cold and decide to walk the distance. A few meters done, I notice a queue of autorickshaws sans the drivers lined up. Closer scrutiny shows the drivers are all lined up at the counter of the friendly neighbourhood BEVCO outlet!


For a state which heavily depends for revenues from tourism (repatriation of petro $ from 'Gelf' apart), striking is the quality or the lack of service. Exceptions of the expensive variety apart Kerala has given 'Athithi Devo Bhava' a miss too! For a state where just getting out of your room/house takes you to a veritable picnic spot, if only its people delivered a service which its tourism development promos promised............sigh!


And speaking of service, one set of people in Kerala who give you the best-in-the-world variety of it are the lottery ticket vendors. They are everywhere, everytime, anytime. At your throats. Delivering service even when you don't need it!!!


Move over FritoLays!
One Kerala specialty which has now been usurped and improved upon is the 'Nendranga Chips'. By the people of Coimbatore no less! Kerala 0, TN 1!


PS: Unlike Kerala and indeed rest of India, the autowallahs of Tamilnadu never refuse a ride. They just quote their price which gives you the pleasure of saying no instead!


Amma : Nickname of the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu
Achche Din : 'Good Days'. A popular electoral slogan of the incumbent Govt of India
puttu-kadala : Traditional breakfast of Kerala of steamed rice cakes and Horse gram gravy
thattukkada: Roadside eatery
Swachch Bharat Abhiyan: Clean India Campaign
Autorickshaw: Three wheeled 'for hire' public transport
BEVCO : Govt of Kerala enterprise who is a monopoly retailer of liquor
Gelf : Malayalese for 'Gulf'
Athithi Devo Bhava : A Guest is God
Nendranga: A popular local variety of banana.
Sriveli : Decorations on and atop the temple elephants


  1. Excellent !
    God knows, when shall I get to visit his own country...

  2. Very nice post. Thrissur is known as the cultural and spiritual capital of Kerala, with a number of well-known temples and art academies gracing its cultural and religious terrains. The lush green meadows and the fascinating hillocks add to the scenic beauty of this town, that more or less sees the tourism industry as its life-line. Explore all best hotels in Thrissur.