3 Reasons to visit Kerala

 

© City Image / Alamy

Lighthouse Beach, Kerala.

    1. THE SUNSHINE

Who can resist 30C every day? In monsoon (June/July) the temperature ‘drops’ to 29C. You may hear our local staff remarking that it’s ‘cool’. If you’re a westerner you won’t agree and we don’t expect you to! This tropical climate is such a welcome escape from the dark cold days of a western winter. Dining al fresco, sunbathing by the pool, walking the beach, punting down the waterways – it’s all waiting for you in Kerala.

     2. THE PEOPLE

Malayalees (the people of Kerala whose language is Malayalam) are well-known for their friendliness and gentleness. You can speak to our staff, all of whom are native to Kerala, and you are guaranteed a friendly response. But even a short walk outside our property will give you ample opportunity to befriend locals – many of whom will speak some English. And you won’t be disappointed. In fact you may end up with an invitation home which will give you an even deeper understanding of the local way of life. Don’t miss it!

   3. THE BACKWATERS

Our area of Kerala, the Alleppey area, is renown for its wide expanse of waterways, an exquisite mish-mash of lakes, rivers and canals. You won’t want to miss a cruise or a punt amidst this serene scenery, showcasing local life on the river banks. The women doing their laundry, the men gliding past in small boats. As the saying goes, all human life is there. And it’s there for you to witness at first hand.

kerala-houseboats-alleppey-backwaters

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Laid-back Kerala.

Kerala bliss

Kerala bliss

Laid-back Kerala indeed! Well, that’s how holidays should be.

But we often notice in Raheem Residency that hard-working guests often bring their age-old patterns of living with them.  Rushing there, arriving early, clock-watching. You know it. You’ve done it.

What a pity!

You don’t actually see a Keralan (Malayalee) rush.  You don’t see one run. And these aficionados of an easy-going life-style never panic.

Is there something worth copying here? There certainly is when it comes to holidaying.

It has been difficult to explain to local staff that if a guest books, say, an Ayurvedic massage for 2pm, then the therapist should be at her station by 1.45. Why? Well, it’s not just to prepare. It’s because invariably the western guest will NOT arrive on time. He/she will arrive early. A concept that nobody in laid-back Kerala can fathom!

Relaxing Ayurveda

Relaxing Ayurveda

Here’s a story from a fellow Hotel owner in Kerala that illustrates a related point:

A group of British tourists came to stay. At dinner it was decided that they would all go to the beach the next morning at ten o’clock. The owner got wind of it. Now the beach was literally across the road from the hotel. No transportation required. And so like clockwork on the dot of ten the next morning the entire group traipsed out of the hotel. Nobody was ‘late’.

Which prompted the very jolly Keralan owner to shout after them, ‘Have you come on holiday to practise punctuality?!’

They took it as the great sports that they were.

But it’s worth another thought. You pay all that money to relax – mind, body and soul. Then you superimpose clock-watching on top of the goal.

To kick-start the new truly-relaxed you, do a course in Ayurveda at your hotel. And book Shirodhara in particular (3 consecutive treatments give the best result). That specific treatment is for the mind that continually races, shooting backwards to ‘If only I had done…’, shooting forwards to ‘I must remember to do that’. And in the process the mellifluous birdsong and the scent of roses of the moment are but a puff of smoke that nobody notices.

Is that you? If so, come to laid-back Kerala for the best laid-back holiday in India.

Happy Harvest Fest, Kerala.

Posted by RR Staff

Aria at RR's Onam floral display

Aria at RR’s Onam floral display

It’s a very exciting weekend here in Kerala. Onam, a harvest festival, is celebrated all over the state regardless of caste & creed during the month of Chingam (01st month of the year in the Malayalam calendar).

In our homes, we Indians (Keralites) have a great feast like westerners have on Christmas day.  But the feast is different, as we have all vegetarian dishes rather than turkey.  The feast is called ‘Sadhya’, with a variety of about 16 dishes and then to top it all, we have the signature dish – the dessert called ‘payasam’ (3 types) also.

Most of the people (Hindus) go to the temple in the morning.  The kids go to pluck flowers from the surrounding areas near their homes and they make a flower carpet (Atthapookalam).  Children are very happy because they are the ones that benefit a lot by getting new clothes & gifts.

In Raheem Residency, we also celebrate Onam. The staff make the flower carpet & also a great feast is prepared with a variety of vegetarian dishes & payasam also. All the staff sit together, and enjoys the feast.

We include guests too in Chagara Restaurant but there is one golden rule : guests must eat like we do – that is, with no cutlery! We believe that the food tastes better when we quietly use our fingers. Our guests always enjoy the challenge.

So we take this opportunity to wish all our readers a Happy & Prosperous Onam wherever you are in the world.

Onam decorations in an Alleppey shop

Onam decorations in an Alleppey shop

 

 

 

I Love Kerala

 

Kerala in the red!

Kerala in the red!

I get so disgruntled reading all the negative stuff about India in the western press. It’s as if nothing good as ever come out of that wonderful land. Our Front Office compiled this short set of Trivia facts about our beloved Kerala. You can almost smell the patriotism!

  • Women outnumber men in Kerala, a rarity in India.
  • Kerala has a higher rate of literacy than the USA.
    Kerala is the first place in the world to elect a Communist government
  • Kerala has every religion known to man and God except Shinto.
  • A Malayalee (Kerala person) was the first in the world to work out that the earth is round and rotates on its own axis (Aryabhatha in 5 A.D.).
  • The same lad was the first to work out the value of pi (3.1614). It must have driven him nuts!

Chats Under the Coconut Trees No. 2

Superior Twin Room in RR

Superior Twin Room in RR

So a guest arrived for a first visit to India. We are fortunate in Raheem Residency that guests often choose us as a first-stop on their Indian odyssey. We think it’s because we are small, intimate but not intrusive, and with western-eastern owners we feel (and hope) that we are sensitive to both cultures.

Anyway Susan (not her real name) was tired from her three-flight trip and in truth more than a bit overwhelmed by the enormity and intensity of everything in India from people to rickshaws to colours and even smells.

So we did the usual RR ‘treatment’. Suggested a relaxing Ayurvedic massage to chill out the mind and body, got a cleansing fresh cucumber soda from the kitchen, and sat under a coconut tree for a chat.

Susan asked what was there to love about Kerala. I think at this stage she was wondering if she’d made the right holiday choice. But tiredness can make the mind go whacky, can it not? Anyway, in case you are wondering too here’s a short list of just 5.

1. The People. It has to be number one. So full of gentleness, kindness and patience. (No, we don’t include the crooks in that but guests are unlikely to meet them anyway).

2. The Food. Not like Indian food in the west. Fresh food, very local ingredients indeed, south Indian recipes (most western Indian menus are north Indian) that include a lot of delicate coconut milk and sometimes a few fireballs of spices!

3. The Sun. Can’t get away from it. Even in the rainy season it puts on a shining face most days.

4. The Scenery. First stop has to be the amalgam of rivers, canals and lakes known as the Backwaters. Cruise at leisure in your private houseboat and drink in the stillness and serenity. Then hike up by taxi to the tea and spice plantations in the hill stations. Take in a beach as well.

5. Ayurveda. Top-class massage to relax and rejuvenate body and mind. And at a fraction of the cost in the west (how about a Facial for a tenner?!).

Susan was visibly relaxing. The worried look in her face had been replaced with a tired but genuine smile. With that she took off in the direction of the Ayurvedic Suite. When she emerged, slathered in natural oils, she looked like her worries had faded and somehow you knew she would sleep like a baby that night.
Apparently she did.

Kerala Backwaters

Kerala Backwaters

This entry was first posted in on July 1, 2014.