#kerala, food, Life, Personal, Places

Beach and Baji

We, in India, following the COVID19 pandemic, are being slowly conditioned into an ‘unlock’ plan by the government. On November 1st, which incidentally is Kerala Piravi or Kerala Day, was also the day our beaches were opened to the public after eight months of restrictions.

Sunset ‘boulevard’ Photo courtesy:Hormese Joseph

Alappuzha beach , with its picturesque stretch of coastline has a magnetic force that draws locals and passers-by in droves.

Alappuzha is a well planned city that lies between Vembanad Lake and the Arabian Sea. It was economically significant in the spice trade for a long time. A port was founded in 1762 for the export of coir-matting and coir-yarn. Alleppey coir yarn has been GI certified since 2007.

The lighthouse built on the coast of the city is the first of its kind along the Laccadive Sea coast. It was first lit in 1862 and is still a manned station! Surprisingly, Alappuzha beach hosts a beach festival and sand art festival. (Surprising cause it isn’t considered the most progressive of cities). A canal system helped bring in goods to port from the backwaters and encouraged an entourage of traders from Surat, Mumbai and Kutch, who eventually, chose to make Alleppey home.

The lighthouse at Alappuzha

The beach here is always teeming with people. For an Alleppey native, it is the go-to place that provides free entry, a meeting ground for friends, more-than-friends, souls on the path of enlightenment and general tomfoolery.

Meet-up place Photo courtesy: Hormese Joseph

In the evenings , when the light starts to dim and the sun starts to set, an artist’s palette creates a riot of colours; a whirlwind of consciousness. The gas fires from the ‘undhu vandi‘ (carts), the calls of the ice cream vendors and the king of Alappuzha beach snacks ( yes, such a snack exists) the glorious, humungously satisfying “Baji“. This coated-in-batter, deep-fried street food is at the zenith of recreational activities in this setting.

Egg baji

It is a truth universally acknowledged (or a truth that the whole of Alleppey knows), that even if burgers & fries and Arabian delicacies are mushrooming in every nook and cranny, the baji guy😎 is the ever-present ,doller-out of the best snack for introspective sunset vibes.

A cup of chai ( not coffee) is the final touch. My friend @aparnasramblings may graciously disagree (but we all know which is better 😜).

The tea is of various kinds: black tea with ‘karipetti‘, the sweet milky one and even a ‘sulaimani‘. But the baji, oh the baji ! Cauliflower, banana peppers (baji chilly), thinly sliced raw banana, eggs- we are spoilt for choices. A tomato chutney (that seems a mite confusing to replicate) is poured on top and voila! A feast for the taste buds. Sophisticated it’s not, but definitely touches all the right places of my tummy!

Banana Chilly Fritters

I’m wondering if any you are now waiting for a recipe? Not coming! This baji has to come with beach. That tea has to accompany it. The setting is the hero in this one. So, what’s your favourite snack setting?

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#personal, Life

Monsoon @home

It’s raining! Well, it’s June and I live in Kerala- rains should be expected. If it doesn’t rain we panic and if it rains too heavily, we panic.

The first rain of the monsoon season thankfully clicks the minimize button on the sweltering and oppressive heat that starts mid-February.

The courtyard at home

Blue skies look as if they’ve been hip-checked by grey and somber clouds.The season of mangoes, jackfruit, guavas and chambakka have closed shop in the incessant rain.

As kids (which was quite some time ago) we had to pack away our summer games of cricket, football, ‘SAT'(not the exam but the Malayalee game of hide and seek) for raincoats and book bags. From memory, June 1st was the harbinger of the season and, mostly always, the first day of school.( It was a given that we’d enter our new class with squelch-y feet).

The sky at the start of the monsoon

The onset of the monsoons also brought with it a whole load of extra work for each of us (as if there wasn’t enough already). The buckets and ‘kalams’ needed to be brought out to catch the water that dripped between loose roof tiles. The sun peeking out meant you made a mad dash to get the clothes on the line and somewhat dry before the next shower(all this in a span of 15mins😬).

Invariably, for the duration of this season, the umbrella, (the most loved prop in the life of a malayee) ,was either misplaced, flicked or flounced with gusto all over God’s own country.

2018 floods

Although the last two years saw unprecedented destruction caused by floods- the effect of extreme rainfall the State received in 2018 and 2019- we overcame the worst of times and inevitably learnt new lessons along the way. One being: don’t throw plastic into the river, she’s just gonna throw it right back at you! The vulnerability and resilience of the people came to the fore even as tears mingled with the flood waters.


But yet, what is Kerala without her monsoon? The joy that that first rain brings is soul-stirring . The green becomes greener; the ponds, rivers and lakes seem to cleanse themselves, beginning a rhythm that is bewitching and mesmerizing.

On a more personal note, when it rains , all I want to do I sit on my verandah with a cup of tea, lay down my burdens and forget the cares of the world. Recalibrating, as the GPS lady calls it. The beauty of that rainfall may be captured by a camera but that ease of soul, less likely. It reminds me that the beauty the Lord has created is…shalom. Indeed, “it is good!”.