One random day I sent a message to a friend of mine, Hareesh, “I wanted to invite me to your house in Kerala in January for the Pooram festival”. I bet he would’ve wanted to reply “Wrong number” and block my number, instead he replied ” OK! I will check with my mom and let you know!” And then forgot all about it until I received the ticket details from Hareesh to Thrissur. I was ecstatic! Growing up, I’d always heard about this Pooram festival and all I knew about it was that there were a lot of beautifully decorated elephants involved. And as petrified as I am of them, they’re a very interesting species.
A month later our day of travel arrived and we all wrapped up our work earlier than any other Friday, packed our bags, and 6 of us got into the bus in Bangalore and were on our way. The pictures of fully decked elephants were so stuck in my head that I didn’t realize that I was in for a treat bigger than that.
Located about 27 kms from the city of Thrissur, Anjoor is a small village that belongs to Thrissur district, Kerala. Although spelt as Anjoor(also Anjur) it is pronounced as Ani-Yur. We got down from our buses in Thrissur and took local buses to reach Anjoor. Hareesh’s house is a 10 minute walk from the bus stop and a peaceful one through narrow but clean roads. His aunt staying in the house adjacent to his was smiling ear to ear upon seeing us which woke all us sleepy heads right up! Standing at the doorstep of his house was a really pretty lady draped in a traditional Kerala Saree with a tinge of nervousness on her face. She was Hareesh’s mom.
While everyone were busy unloading their luggage and exchanging pleasantries, I was busy elsewhere. I was lost in this place. The place was so quiet and serene that I could hear the dried leaves crushing under my feet. The chirping of birds, the mewing of the neighborhood cat, the sound of my breathing – I could hear all of this without any interrupting noises from man made machines.
Aunty had a wonderful spread of authentic Kerala breakfast of appams and curry all ready for us. Once our tummies were full I just grabbed a bean bag plonked it outside the door and threw myself in it with a copy of Sudha Murthy’s “The Old Man and His God” in my hand. Sitting there, I could actually smell the peppers that were set to dry in the sun, the curry leaves being fried inside in the kitchen and the petrichor! There was not one bit of pollution in the atmosphere. And the best part about the place is that there are no compound walls dividing homes there. There are just small farms/gardens and beautiful houses in them. No fences, no divisions! All of this was too much for us to fathom. For the first time while traveling we didn’t want to go sight seeing, we just wanted to relax in the front yard and absorb as much as we could.
Halfheartedly we got ready and left to an elephant sanctuary that was close to his house, called “Anakotta”. What used to be a palace in the olden days, the 11.5 acres of land now houses about 59 elephants, all maintained by the Guruvayoor Temple authorities. The elephants here are participants of many festivities throughout the year locally. After paying an entry fee of rupees 10/= we walked amidst these tall pachyderms, watching them being cleaned, fed and trained.
From there we headed to Chavakkad beach. This lies on the Arabian sea coast and is by far one of the cleanest beaches I have visited. With not too many people around us, peace and tranquility was in abundance. Again with no background noise of vehicles, or people, we could hear the sound of waves, with no plastic strewn everywhere, we could walk feel the unadulterated sand under our feet. We just watched the sun set while letting the waves come and steal the sand from underneath us.
We’ve been to many beaches, played in many waves, but here we were in a trance!
Next day was the day of the Pooram festival and we were to visit the Parkaadi temple in the morning. Me and Boomika went all “Be a Roman while in Rome” and shamelessly borrowed the Kerala Saree from our courteous host, Hareesh’s mother. His relatives helped us both clumsy girls into their traditional attire and we were all ready to leave with a gang of his cousins. Draped in “Mundum Neriyathum”, and riding in a fleet of Royal Enfields on those roads had a different level of Swag to it. The whole day was consumed in the elaborately celebrated Pooram festival.
After a tiring day the following day was a breather before we got back to sitting at the desks, staring at the LCD screens ,inhaling the puffs from one too many automobiles, and trying to fit into our corporate lives. This day tickled the religious nerves in us and had us on the way to one of the most religious temple towns in South India- Guruvayur! It was a mere 8 Km ride and with these bunch of stud machas, it took a couple of blinks to get there. This town houses the famous Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple. If rumours are to be believes, this temple has its origin because Lord Krishna had asked 2 sages to bring his idol from the temple in Dwaraka to Kerala. This temple is centuries old and unfortunately allows entry to only Hindus. With the conflicting thoughts we stepped out and headed home to pack our bags and bid good bye to the Lady of the house who had been such a great host to us all!
“Waves are like relationships. Some come hard lashing at you and leave faster than they came, leaving you hurting. Some come close to you but are too scared to approach and retreat. And some come slow and nice, touch you tenderly and sweep the ground from under your feet!”