Edamala, Kerala

February 9, 2011

I was a bit apprehensive about going with Sali, having met him only hours before. But then I scolded myself for missing the point, and climbed up after him onto the bus to Pala. Over the course of an hour an a half, I watched the world shift from a chaotic and dirty landscape to a serene and natural one. Set on the edge of the Western Ghats, Edamala is is not on any maps and is only a simple road with a handful of houses strung along the sides. But its not the scale that gets you, it’s the people. I was immediately greeted by smiles and waves all around. In about a half hour, I had already met some of Sali’s friends and had been instructed on the correct way to drink alcohol in Edamala: half alcohol, half water, all in one swig.

The next morning, as the early sun was shining through the kitchen smoke in Sali’s Dad’s tea shop, I was treated to some of the best chai I have ever had. We then set out to pick up Sali’s wife and kids on the other side of the mountain. This was my first real chance to see the landscape around Edamala, and I was not disappointed. The views of the Ghats, covered in mist and purple in the morning sun were breathtaking, and meeting his family was just as special. We returned home and after some relaxing, set out to visit Sali’s friend Benny’s rubber farm to pick some jackfruit, which is not as easy as it sounds. Lets just say I got to see some of Sali’s mountain climbing skills (and subsequently pick loads of fire ants off his back), and then pull apart and harvest the jackfruit, which is a very messy process but loads of fun. The rest of the afternoon was spent cleaning the jackfruit with the wives and then surrendering my camera to the kids, who probably took as many photos as I did the whole trip.

The pace of life in Edamala is different than anywhere else I have been. Its slower, more relaxed. The people seem to be more in touch, and there is a true sense of community. It was a time that I will never forget.

If you are in India, make a trip to Kerala and visit Sali. He is starting a farmstay at his house and always wants guests. I cannot encourage it enough. Edamala is a beautiful place, and Sali makes it feel like it is your own.

Email me and Sali (he only checks it every week or two when he goes to Erattupetta) and we will make it happen.

Sali: otmg43 [at] yahoo [dot] com

John: johngmartin [at] gmail [dot] com

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