It was November, and 20 days of nothingness. I had planned my first ever solo trip to Kerala and Pondicherry on a whim, to say the least. The background story is long, but to give you some context, my very first international vacation plan had gone down the drain in a sudden turn of events. Hence, Kerala and Pondicherry came to the rescue. Little did I know what was to follow.

A couple of days before the plan was slated, I found myself anxiously texting my old friend about my fears. For an Indian girl who had been brought up in a very protective environment, the idea of a solo trip was not all excitement and happiness. Nevertheless, I wanted to do it. Partly to feed my wanderlust and mostly for being on my own in an alien world (somewhat).

“I packed my bags and reached Alleppey fine and unscathed”

I packed my bags and reached Alleppey fine and unscathed (phew!). I soon found my home for the next three days at the backwaters- Goku’s Homestay via Airbnb, which did not disappoint me at all. Since I was travelling solo, I told my host that I didn’t feel I could bear the expense of the popular houseboat cruise. Being wonderful hosts, Goku and his wife took care of all my needs and even arranged for a morning Shikara around backwaters. Well, it fit my budget.

The next morning I set out for a  very serene boat ride around the backwaters of Kerala. It was a small boat that could accommodate four riders and the boatman. Every turn seemed to offer a picturesque frame as the water lilies glazed in the sun.

“Every turn seemed to offer a picturesque frame as the water lilies glazed in the sun”

I couldn’t have felt more connected to my senses- surrounded by quietness, with only the paddle of the boat being heard- when I heard a voice “So, where are you from”. I turned to look at a white woman in her sixties sitting beside me. As I answered her question we went into a deep conversation about many-a-things. She hailed from Montreal, Canada and our discussions varied from her children and grandchildren to the Indian conservatism to how mobile phones never penetrated Canada much till half a decade earlier.

Much to our dismay, our conversations had to stop as we halted for a home-cooked traditional Kerala food at a village, in one of the natives’ home. It was a short walk from the shore, and while the food was sumptuous, the high point of the lunch was a small kid in the host’s home entertaining us with her magic tactics and “knowledge” about various country capitals. No wonder she wanted to be a model! *wink wink*

We got back to our boat and covered the rest of the errand in much quietness. A couple of hours and a few more beautiful clicks later, the day

“We got back to our boat and covered the rest of the errand in much quietness”

had to come to an end, and I bade my goodbye to Chontal, the Canadian woman. As I sadly sat in the auto to take me back to Goku’s, I couldn’t help but smile at what all transpired. Surely, a houseboat ride would have been a different experience, but it would not have been this.