Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Life in a NON-Metro!

I am a Delhi girl, born and brought up in the capital city... i have always been surrounded with people, cars, people, buses, people, rickshaws, auto wallahs and more people. in my 25 years on earth, that is the only place i have ever called home. i was used to the traffic that made me take 2 hours to cover a distance that could on a traffic-less day could be covered in 20 min!! (i kid not). i was used to the staring and the comments and the jostling and the taunts and the inadvertent brushing of the hand in crowded buses or metros and/or area. i was comfortable with the bargaining that i had to do everyday with the auto wallah who for some reason never used the fancy metres in their autos. i was perfectly fine with all kinds of pollution harming my body, mind and soul. you must think i hated that place, well, i didn't... Delhi was not so bad, after all it had all the luxuries i could want. malls, multiplexes, food courts, shopping arcades, eating joints, the metro etc etc... i love the convenience all of them offer. but still, sometimes, Delhi tends to get to you with the horns blaring all the time, the endless traffic jams, the sick mentality of the male population (OK before you jump down my throat, you have got to agree that with the rising cases of rapes in the city i am not wrong and i also know that all the men are not sick, just a very large percentage of them), the show-off culture, the weather oh the weather! it seems like the knob is broken and the weather is permanently set on extreme mode be it boiling hot in summer, freezing cold in winters or raining cats and dogs during monsoons... (ah but i love the rains which make everything so fresh, even for a city like Delhi, it washes away all the dust and the dirt and the grime of the seasons gone by so you can smell the wet earth and see the greenery all around you (it's another thing that it also exposes what a bad state the city's roads are in and oh it means those loooooooong traffic jams too but nevertheless...!)) so, when i got to know that my future husband lives in God's own country, i was more than happy to shift bag and baggage to the eternal honeymoon land :) let the adventure begin...
my first image of Kerala was from the aircraft... me, all sleepy-eyed, looked out and i saw a green area, dotted sometimes with small water bodies and sometimes with clusters of huts, surrounded by miles and miles of water... but surprisingly the water was not blue, sea green or even turquoise it was muddy brown. husband dear replied to my quizzical expression, "guess kerala is a little bit polluted too, but you will like it here..." hmm...comforting.
once i landed, i could feel the difference,the weather was pleasant. in the middle of June it was cool, a light drizzle was falling, the air was crisper, fresher... the place was a lot greener and quiet. it was peaceful. the drivers were not falling over each other so you sit in their cab, the horns were not blaring, there was no honking, yelling, just a quiet swoosh of the trees swaying to the wind. it felt good, i could get used to a place like this. i immediately had a flash of sitting by the sea, preferably in a hammock sipping on a refreshing tender coconut drink with a sun hat and writing that great Indian novel...finally! but alas... reality bit me...hard and soon. it was not all rosy. my picture perfect dream had a twist. first...because i was asked, instructed and advised by well wishers not to roam around alone especially after dark as it is not as safe as it is made out to be. a lot safer than Delhi but still not completely. second... language, i don't speak Malayalam and most of the population doesn't speak Hindi or English so i could not explain to the driver where i want to go and ended up stranded on the road. kind of a discouragement. well i should have anticipated that after playing dumb charades with the maid every morning.

anyway, as soon as i got used to the lack of noise pollution, there was another surprise waiting for me... the lack of pants! in kerala, because of humidity, the male population prefers to roam around in lungis which they wrap around their knees! so as i looked around to take in the scenic beauty of the place what i got to see instead were men... in lungis... everywhere! in the streets, on the roads, in the shops, on the beach... i mean everywhere! now i am not being judgemental and i firmly believe in the saying, to each his own, but no pants!! that could take some getting used to.

where i live is closer to my husband's beach resort (where he works not what he owns, yet ;) and not where he stays :P), so it is near the beach and is a little out of the city. the house has a sloping driveway, is surrounded by trees, has a farm nearby and is quite cosy. the place is like what dwarka is to delhi, with delhi being trivandrum. after growing up in a place where you are surrounded by concrete, it is a little unnerving at first to be surrounded by trees and shrubs instead. but this was a good change. the healthy atmosphere... i mean. now as you know nature is synonymous with flora and fauna... that was not good. don't get me wrong i like flora and fauna. but being enveloped by them all the time is another matter. for example having a farm nearby means a lot of animal noises... all round the clock including the cock's crow at sunrise. and flora is accompanied by lots and lots of insects... all 1000 different species of them! so me, a woman who never used to set foot in that room where a lone chotu spider had been glimpsed once upon a time, now i had to learn how to squash small, medium sized, and as big as my palm sized ones too. i had to learn how to make lizards (small or big, light coloured or dark) run off including many other such exotic insects whose names also i don't know ;). but as husband dearest says, "you'll get used to it, it's nothing, you'll survive..." god i hope so!

still life's good... agreed there are no multiplexes, only those old world style theatres where popcorn is still sold in plastic packaging, where the seats sometimes have bugs in them, where there are fans to provide cooling effect, where tickets are for 40 rs and seating is on first come first serve basis! (that was an experience... made me quite nostalgic, took me back to those childhood days) the biggest mall here is big bazaar... there is sadly no home delivery (which was the biggest shock for a foodie like me!) :( and all food is cooked in coconut oil ;) but still as i said, it's a welcome change from the bhagti-daudti zindagi of dilli, life here is more laid back, people here are more... well can't comment, have not interacted with many of them except the lone shopkeeper and the maid because language poses a big problem as i have mentioned earlier. whoever said Hindi is a national language that unites the country needs to come and live in the hinterlands.

All said and done about kovalam, i would still never forget the breathtaking view of the ocean all glistening and calm while i took a moonlight stroll or the view of the lake surrounded on all four sides by coconut trees or the boat ride meandering through the backwaters, the long drive on the highways, sipping hot tea at a tea stall near the beach... it's a small city, a peaceful city, a content city.

but as i said i am a delhi girl, and sometimes i do miss the fast-paced, metropolitan city lifestyle that i have left behind, for me adjusting here is a big task but i am trying... i have only been here a month and i am getting to know the place, there is a lot more to kerala that i am waiting to explore, the landscapes, the mountains, the waterfalls... but i have figured out that this easy going sleepy little city has a certain charm, a beauty that delhi doesn't have... and delhi has the convenience, the development, that drive that kovalam lacks... and what do i have? a chance to explore the best of both the worlds...

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