Appam and Stew on the mind | Holiday in Kerala

Suitcase loads of clothes washed, folded and arranged in cupboards, suitcases shoved back on to the paranai (loft), tired and exhausted but looking forward to the grind, to thinking of what to cook tomorrow. Can you say I’ve just been on a holiday?
After a week of winding through Kerala’s highways, up mountains, down gravelly goat tracks, getting stuck on muddy, slippery paths and having a large group of toddy high Malayalee chettas heave the XUV forward, staring at google maps all day, legs cramped and butt sore, crashing on to the hotel bed every night dreaming of Puttu, egg curry, Fish moilee, Appam and vegetable stew…

All I want to do now is stretch my legs and then make some Appam and vegetable stew.

coconut lagoon kumarakom

I lost one and gained 2 (kilos of course). I painstakingly lost one kilo after weeks of heavy restraint and mild exercise and then I went on this holiday. I ate my way through kootu curry, puttu, egg curry, karimeen pollichathu (spiced fried whole fish), Kerala chicken roast, Malabar biryani, Chemmeen Ularthiyathu (prawn roast), Fish Moilee, Appam, vegetable stew and unlimited papadams. Appam and Vegetable stew Everyday! Oh My, I love Kerala food. I am hopelessly smitten. I can’t get over the delicious food. I am going to have to make all of these at home.

I got in the swimming pool and unsuccessfully tried to invoke my muscle memory and realized my muscles are as absent minded as me. I don’t know how I swam as a little girl. Did I? I am beginning to doubt. I can’t get my head into the water without flaying my arms, gasping and freaking out.

I just can’t swim. But I can get tanned. I returned home cast ironed (not bronzed).

chembera peak wayanad

Wayanad was one of our destinations. It is a nice, quiet place, beautiful when rainy and pleasant otherwise but a bit of a bore for me. It has the usual touristy spots that plague most hill stations – lots of view points – different angles of the same mountains – maybe of interest if you are the selfie type and you want to choose the best selfie from the different angles or  if you are nature person and if you are not afraid of heights. I am selfie challenged and shit scared of heights. There are a couple of waterfalls (some of them closed to public), an old temple at Thirunelly, one very tiny museum and a wildlife sanctuary in nearby Tholpetty where you can take a jungle safari.

flower like mushroom
Jagan loves nature and wildlife. He patiently stood in queue to book a jeep for the jungle safari braving the rain, bearing the queue hoppers while people behind him got into jumps and drove away. He was still where he was. I sat in a shack across the road watching, slurping hot maggi. That was pretty cool. I mean the maggi. Hot maggi on a rainy day in the woods! Sublime. Not the queues. Jagan gave up finally but likes to maintain that rainy days are not good for sighting animals.

plant in cracks of stone walls

 Then Off to Kumarakom. Highways inside kerala run right through towns and cities (no bypasses and such) and are just like driving through city roads. So be warned. Something you expect to cross in 5 hours could take the whole day. It did for us. We spent one whole day of our holiday driving from Wayanad to Kumarakom. The kids slept, woke up, giggled, fought, listened to all their favourite music albums 6 times, slept, woke up and still found themselves in the back seat. It was late, dark by the time we finally made it to the hotel which happens to be in the middle of a lake.

coconute lagoon kumarakom

We were heading to Coconut Lagoon (part of CGI Earth group). We got on a motor boat that tut tutted through the darkness to a beautifully lit place, complete with canals that run through the entire property, coconut trees all over, lovely Kerala style cottages (ours overlooked the backwaters), magnificent restored structures, little bridges to hop over the canals, antique black electrical switches, brass urulis, ceramic lamp shades from a bygone era and absolutely glorious furniture. 

ceramic tile in headboard

Oh the furniture! Our bed had the prettiest ceramic tile adorned headboard. At the foot of the bed was a stately dressing-cum-writing desk that beckoned me to write that book I’ve always wanted to write. Instead I wrote down to-do’s and priorities.

vintage ceramic lamp shade

antique electrical switches

And the bathroom was a beauty. Finally we have a compromise between Vidya Balan’s in-house toilet and the wide open. The bathroom opens out to the sky but not all the way. It is roofed partially which provides a sense of privacy but still lets you shower while looking up at the coconut trees. Little sparrows perch themselves on the walls and peek in. Strangely I felt totally at home in that bathroom.

semi open air bathroom

You can learn to de-husk a coconut the traditional way (I know of no other way actually. But it is not meant for me.), take a canoe ride if you like to take it slow, a motor-boat ride if you like to feel the wind in your hair, try fishing, visit the Ayurveda centre or sit on cane chairs on the verandah and watch the house boats glide by on the backwaters.

semi open air bathroom

And they have a pretty little shop where you can buy cotton kurtas, scarves, embroidered bags, brass lamps at much higher prices than anywhere else, mostly targeted at foreign tourists I’d believe. I still bought a couple of enamelware bowls. They’ll soon make an appearance on the blog.


I really like the CGI group properties (most of them are called heritage hotels). Earlier this year we happened to stay at their heritage hotel Palais de Mahe in Pondicherry and I loved that place too. They spell vintage charm.

If you love antique furniture, if typewriters, high ceilings, wooden almirahs and aged writing desks excite you, you are like me. We can be friends.

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