Romance the rains on a boat ride from Kumarakom to Muhamma

Vembanad Lake

Skim the lake from Kumarakom to Muhamma in a boat run by the Kerala State Water Transport Department. Each trip will leave you yearning for more. So much serenity, so many sights, each new each time. The trip is an invigorating experience.

Pay a mere Rs 10 for a one-way trip. Once you’re in, there’s the entire expanse of the lake all around with the boat bobbing up and down as it cuts across the waters. It’s a splendiferous sight that unfolds. Country boats are out for the daily catch, tiny birds glide over the waters hoping for a fish or two and the luxury houseboats line up to take tourists out for a ride.

A ride in the service boat offers a peep into the life of folks who live by the lake. It’s quite unlike a sail in a houseboat where you are cut off from the grind of daily life.

Here on the boat are fisher folk, toddy tappers, daily commuters, and an occasional tourist. There’s life inside. People chat and get close. Nothing is strange or alien to them. And out on the vast sheet of water come the ripples made by a flotilla of ducks quacking their way from one shore to the other.

Mid-noon perhaps would be the best time to land ashore. One needs to be a part of the local meal to get a hang of the place. Head straight to Smitha Hotel, which apparently is a common destination. The hotel is popularly known as “Vaidyarude kada”. There are no city lights here. It’s the lake and its smells that greet visitors. There’s usually a state transport bus waiting at the jetty to carry people to their respective destinations, the hotel Smitha being one such spot at Kaippuram Kavala.

One has to see the crowd here to believe it. The one-room Smitha Hotel is choking of food and folks. Customers who patronize the place are obviously no country bumpkins, going by the Volvos and Mercedez Benz cars parked by the eatery. The “Vaidyar” evidently has a magic touch. What he has on offer is deadly delicious. The spread is proof enough of the hotel’s hot status. There’s rice, kappa, meenthla curry, konju varuthathu, varal curry, njandu and vaala curry. The list goes on with people extolling the virtues of Vaidyar’s Kuttanadan culinary expertise.

A meal here is an experience, a feeling of fullness, not heaviness.

The boat is back, onward to Kumarakom. The feel is totally different now. Gone is the serenity. You are riding with the monsoon. The skies are a gloomy dark and the winds are strong. There’s a chill and the rain comes pounding down. It’s an indescribable feel of water, water everywhere. This could be what the dream-sellers call romancing the rain!

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