This feature appeared in issue 8 of Journeys magazine.
We arrived in Kerala on one of those bleary-eyed night flights, the kind when you’re so tired you no longer know or care what day it is, bumping off the airport highway onto endless dirt roads, the silhouettes of coconut palms shadows in the moonlight. We stole into Purity, our lakeside villa, in the darkness, like thieves, greeted by a sleepy night watchman.
I woke to bright sunlight streaming through the window and stood on my balcony blinking the brilliant colours of rural India: scarlet flame trees, red and yellow hibiscus, pinky-white frangipani. At the end of the villa’s garden, the vast expanse of Lake Vembanad, India’s longest lake, shimmered metallic grey in the morning heat. Fishermen in loincloths, nets heaped high on their dugouts, were returning with the morning’s catch. Great rafts of purple water hyacinth formed islands on the lake. Kerala dubs itself ‘God’s own country’ – and I could see why.
Shaking off the journey and the stress of London life was no trouble in this exquisite spot. We flopped around in the infinity pool and dozed in the shade. I had an ayurvedic massage which I can only describe as extreme; no whale music and Western spa modesty here. I slithered out, dazed and still drenched in oil, a bindi on my forehead and curry powder in my hair.
Later that evening, we toasted the sunset with an excellent Indian rosé while some of our fellow guests went out with a fisherman in his dugout to admire the Chinese fishing nets, complex wooden structures characteristic of this area, cantilevered over the water’s edge.
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