Land of spices. Part one

Don’t know how long I sit like this next to the Vembanad lake, because the sense of time is completely gone. Motion has slowed down, my life has sort of froze. In front of me there’s a majestic Chinese architecture installation damaged by the tooth of time. Bleached white wooden constructions have warped and turned rusty brown. Legend says it was brought here in the fourteenth century by the famous Mongolian royal court itself. Local fishermen use this bizarre construction even today. In the morning You can watch different size fish being pulled out as yet another catch.

wembenand lake photo

Lake wind slowly blows flowers closer to the shore. They float like tiny island, gradually forming an unite, lush green and bright purple carpet. It moves rhythmically, as if breathing. Kerala people natural sense of colors may be envied by any designer – their dark, muscular silhouettes are covered in white, sand, cinnamon, pepper, cardamon and saffron-colored clothing. In contrary to celebrations like wedding or funeral, they neither have a stylish haircut nor wear gold and diamond jewelry.

Fishing boats arrive in the harbor, halfway loaded with shrimps and clams. Minutes later they are being sorted and boiled; for export. Surrounding palms are full of crows; sitting in their nests and screeching like they’ve lost their mind. Especially when seeing the fishermen catch.

You’ve guessed it correctly, I’ve fulfilled one of my childhoods dreams – to once again visit my country and see Kerala my own eyes. It’s already the third morning here; without any rush I’m enjoying the beautiful landscape and still can’t get enough of it. The only thing that sometimes bothers me is how my kids are doing back in the US…

Locals say that Kerala is another India; one of it’s most colorful states. 30 million people live here, more than 90% of them have an education. On one side there’s evergreen mountains, on the other side – everblue (Arabian) sea. Geography and history is what makes Kerala unique. There’s always been what the rest of the world has been craving for – spices. Kerala accounts for 90% of world’s spices output; it’s their gold. First it was discovered by Arabs; followed by Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, Portuguese, French, Danes and finally Brits. And all of them have left footprints. Kerala is somewhat like a curry – mix of many ingredients like cultures, traditions, religions and habits; flavor is so strong that you simply get dazzled by it.

cochin

Arabs once helped Kerala to set up spices, coffee and tea plantations up in the mountains. And later, in exchange for gold and silver, brought spices to Venice which was the spice market monopoly for many years. Then this golden path was noticed by Portuguese which began to fight for the influence. City of Cochin and its port is still a great mix of Portuguese, Arabic, Dutch and British styles.

Kerala is truly God’s land! I will continue to search new acknowledgments not only in architecture and nature, but also in people. To be continued…