Land of spices. Part three

Traditions and modern design. Discovery

Read Land of spices. Part two here

Last year for the first time in Kerala waters appeared the first boat with an electric motor Discovery. It belongs to Malabar Escape accommodation chain owner Joerg Drezel. He is one of the most respected Europeans here and an active promoter of socially responsible tourism.

picture of discovery

Discovery is kind a combination of traditional and modern design. It was an ambitious project, 18 tons of wood costing more than $25,000 were necessary to craft the boat hull alone. It’s the only boat in Kerala with a deck; and the only moving quietly without vibration. From a local guide I hear a random fact that here, unlike neighboring Tamil Nadu village, here has been no industrial development at all. Money is spent mostly on education and health care. No wonder Discovery has no competition…

Electric engine powered boat is the fifth project of Joerg in Kerala, for the first time he arrived here 35 years ago. He tells me he have always had friends all over the world and that he has always wanted to do something different than what is traditionally accepted. Fifteen years ago he felt that the time is now. Together with wife he bought Malabar House (FYI where currently I’m staying); the Dutch build colonial style manor which had stood there empty for more than a decade. As of today, it’s the leading Kerala style accommodation in the region. It’s the first hotel in Kerala that has been awarded for tradition and culture heritage preservation.

Interior author is Joerg himself. Back in the day his professional segment was art and exhibition placement design. When creating the Malabar House, he had an idea to make it a cultural mirror of Cochin city. As a place where anyone could feel the actual life here. The interior is full of antiques such as the ancient Maharaja tables, chairs and beds. He had looked for them all across Kerala and combined with modern design. Cochin was once the oldest European city in India, outside which the realm of Maharaja began. Historically here has been peace in all times. 150 years under Portuguese ruling, another 150 under Dutch and another 150 under British.

Is Kerala the mirror of India? Asking this question to Joerg I see a small irony in his eyes; perhaps he has been asked this question for too many times. He starts telling me, that not long ago he was visited by an Italian girlfriend. One day she was looking at postcards to send to her friends back in Rome. None of them revealed what I see day to day living here… Most of tourists who travel to India are looking for ethnic India. Traditions and culture is one things, but looking at things that does not change or develop is something completely different. Last few years India has changed a lot; it’s developing very fast. Super fast. So fast, he gets scared of it. For instance, hotel room price in Banglore on average is much higher than elsewhere in the world, $275 per night. When he needs to do business there, he does not stay for the night there because it’s too expensive.