Two weekends ago, Harmony, Isaiah, Evie and I journeyed to the state of Kerala, in Southern India. Kerala goes by the moniker of God's own country, as it is known for its serene backwaters, and vast lush green landscape.
We arrived Thursday morning, July 10th, and spent much of the day touring downtown Kochi, and the Jewish community there. Kochi is home to the Paradesi Synagogue, which was built in 1567 by Iraqi Jews. Ironically, the town in which the Synagogue and the Judaic shop are located in is called Jew Town, on Jew Street. There are only seven Jews left in Jew Town, and we met one of them, Senile Sarah. Sarah is 92 years old, but thought she was 97. A very nice lady, Sarah welcomed us into her home and store, and talked to us for several minutes. She repeated herself at least a few times. After we had finished our tour of downtown Kochi and its Jewish community, we had dinner at the Menorah House, a Jewish restaurant in name only.
Friday morning we took a bus to the city of Aleppi, which is home to the tranquil backwaters of Kerala. There the four of us had our own houseboat from noon Friday until 9am the following morning. It was truly a sublime experience- absolute calmness slowly venturing past the vast palm trees, small villages and deep blue waters there while listening to the Beatles, Marvin Gaye, and other music from the 60's and 70's played softly. I had truly forgotten that I was in India. (Or maybe I was incredulous to believe that we still were- as we have spent much time I conditions resembling a landfill) We also had our own private chef on the boat who prepared three fresh meals. Two of which comprised freshly caught and fried fish served with steamed rice, fresh vegetables, and curry. It was one of the best meals that I have had in India so far. We spent Shabbat on our boat's deck talking late into the night and gazing at the moon and sky, which coming from Mumbai is a luxury, as the sky is almost never clear there. We truly did not want to leave when we had docked early the next morning, but I suppose life would get kind of boring always moving 7 miles an hour on a river.
After we got off the boat on Saturday we went to the Ramada Inn, where we lounged for most of the day. I laid out by the pool for a bit too long, and received a sunburn, which combined with my blue bathing suit was nothing short of patriotic. I also read some Buddhist philosophy, which so eloquently reminded me that everything is transient- including my sunburn which has now turned into a tan!
Sunday was a rather futile day, as we so desperately wanted to see elephants, but after driving for three and a half hours we only saw a river with no elephants and a sign that comprised elephants in it. Thankfully, a week later in Jaipur, Harmony, Evie and I got our chance to see, and ride an elephant!
* Please note: I will be providing a couple more updates within the coming days from our trip to the Taj Mahal and Northern India, and our continued work volunteering in the slums and the local Jewish community.*