My standard recipe for a trip home with my family looks like this: Wake up at the crack of dawn (read 6:00 am)/ Sip on a cup of hot Bournvita while nibbling on a piece of bread slathered with a thick layer of homemade butter/ Shower and wear my most comfortable clothes (advice for any long drive on Kerala roads)/ Watch mum pack nibbles for the drive, which includes fruits, chocolates, snacks like murukku, unniyappam, ethakyappam, and cushions/ Watch dad clean the car, align the rear-view mirrors and check the tire pressure/ Open the gates wide, load our pet hatchback/ Hug grandparents and reassure them that we will be back soon! Get comfortable in the car, tune the radio and the air conditioner/ Make mandatory rest-stops at roadside KTDC or Indian Coffee House for the best masala dosa and filter coffee/ Take in as many shades of green I can on the way…..and we are home!
Phew! Quite the journey.
What made the trip in December of 2019 particularly memorable was the detour to the backwaters behind our house. We parked our car by a bridge and walked around, taking in the sights of life by the river. Lush green paddy fields flanked either side of the tributary, mothers bathed giggling children in the water, sinewy boatsmen steered snakeboats, flocks of ducks waded purposefully through the waters and, a sense of calm reverberated through the air. A little later, dad requested a boatsman to give us a tour of the backwaters, and just when I thought the day could not get any better, we had another hour of light-hearted conversations, brilliantly changing skies, and gentle gurgling of the water.
While in lockdown, I often go back to that time through my mind’s eye. This watercolor rendition of the most beautiful scene from that day is a product of my musings.