Until this spring we haven’t had much precipitation in Toronto. In fact, it’s been several years with hardly any snow or rain. But although we had another mild winter this year, we have had more than our fair share of rain — too much, in fact; and it’s caused havoc. Not good.
Just the other day, though, I looked around and realized how gorgeous and healthy the trees, flowers and grass are looking. So clearly Mother Nature has enjoyed the dousing, even if the rest of us have not.
All our luxuriant foliage made me think back to my trip to India — and Kerala, in particular. Kerala is in the South, on India’s tropical Malabar Coast. It’s been nicknamed God’s Own Country and if you’re ever lucky enough to go, you’ll understand why.
Home to rice paddies, magnificent flowers of every description and coffee, tea, spice, coconut, cashew and rubber plantations Kerala is beautiful, lush, colourful and also boasts the highest literacy rate in all of India.
Sorry if my photo of a woman picking tea leaves is out of focus — I took it as we were whizing by in a car. It’s quite a sight to behold — all the brightly-colored saris and head coverings among the hundreds and hundreds of rows of bright green tea leaves.
Now that I think about it, I never saw a man doing this job. You also see a lot of women doing road construction work everywhere in India. Certainly not what we’re used to. A story for another blog post perhaps.
While in the South, in addition to spending one night in a fabulous hotel on Willingdon Island, we also stayed at both a spice plantation and a tea plantation. All the natural beauty that surrounded us had me reaching for my camera constantly.
The food is spectacular and also quite different from the rest of the country. Curries include coconut and pineapple and for fish and seafood lovers, like me, it’s paradise. On our first day there we took an overnight cruise of the backwaters and, at lunch, we ate the largest prawn I’ve ever seen. They were the size of a lobster, I kid you not.
What I also noticed was how different the pace is, in the South. Everywhere else we visited was frenetic. Huge crowds, noise, dust, an almost blinding array of colours, textures and patterns, traffic jams, honking horns — it’s a fabulous, mind-numbing, life-affirming assault on your senses.
And abruptly, the minute you arrive in Kerala, all that activity and craziness comes to a grinding halt. Life becomes slow and languorous. Calm and serene. Everything sparkles and it’s as if the entire country suddenly stands still, takes a much-needed breath and utters a collective “Ahhhhhhh …”
It is definitely the pause that refreshes.