Kerala, the Land of Smiles

Planning our trip from Rishikesh to Kozhikode (Calicut) went only as far as purchasing three internal flights and betting whether our backpacks would meet the baggage limits on this lengthy journey from the North to the South.

They thankfully did, despite rediscovering Mayka’s old shopoholic tendencies in Rishikesh, and from that moment on, the days in a small village Thapovanam, 12 km away from Kozhikode, became one surprise after another, giving the term an Experiential Travel, a real practical meaning.

It happened for the first time that we were traveling without sufficient practical information beforehand. Visiting Mayka’s Yoga Guruji gave a comforting feeling, hence the laziness to research. And although we wish to had known a few key things before setting onto a retreat in the jungle (don’t take a toilet paper for granted..), no research could uncover enough about experiencing the authenticity of local living.

This lush green land of exotic fauna and flora provides an abundance of nutritious fruits and veggies, contributing in achieving one of the longest life spams. Elderly people really don’t look their age. And it is eventually not only the super foods, such as jackfruits and coconuts, but their happiness in simplicity that allow enjoying a long, healthy life.

You might be the first foreigner, whom the locals have ever met, but their exceptional hospitality, curiosity and friendliness is welcoming enough to overcome any cultural or language barrier. In the end, the hearts speak through the eyes in silence. The invitation to their circles were plentiful and so we shared Dosa and Sambar (a typical South Indian breakfast – salty pancake dipped into a spicy veggie soup) with the neighbors and conversed with their grandchildren about our countries, finding out how greatly they enjoy reading the Greek mythology stories, while we admire the Hindu ones.

During the evenings, we sang Bhajans together (collective devotional singing) in a joyful cultural exchange, feeling honored and humble when playing the harmonium and singing their songs. They followed with sharing temperament folk melodies, showing us a part of their rich traditions, so fully alive here even among the young generation.

The teaching profession is very popular here and so are the invitations to visit schools. One of such occasions is strongly instilled in my heart. The moment we stepped in the premises of a remote yet very progressive village school, and met hundreds of astonished, excited eyes, not turning away from the first foreign visitors, the whole journey here got a deeper meaning (and thankfully also the shock from traveling by local buses subsided). Back to the traditions, we wished Mayka remembered more songs from her folklore-shaped childhood, because the response to their request to sing in Slovak language was an improvised Christian Christmas song, luckily meaning nothing to their minds and received with clapping and laughter. Their innocent, curious and clever questions, endless handshakes and high-fives, shy looks, smiles and giggles melted every heart and brought us all to the same space of the inner child, sharing genuine joy and happiness in this meeting.

Although our stay in the God’s Own Country was concluded much earlier than expected (maybe better research next time?), we feel fulfilled, wiser and very grateful to all beings, who have crossed our paths on this timeless journey and made me wish to return to this land of smile in the next divine timing. May we keep meeting in the space of the heart and celebrate each moment in this precious human life as One.

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