XX: Hi Payel, hope you are doing well and getting prepared for your Kerala trip. Can you please let us know your approximate date and time of arrival?? There is another booking request. Just wanted to make sure with you before that. Thank you…
[Another booking request?? I have my booking confirmed!! Is this new request for longer stay?? What if they cancel my booking?? Again finding a new place? Hope they don’t do this!! I’m half way through my trip; can’t take this hassle now!! Jeez!!]
This was exactly the way, my communication started with my host. I was more than half way done with my Kerala trip and this was that painfully last stretch of my journey, from where I received this message. Startled I was for few moments, but, as the act of communication demands a meaningful exchange of information, I took it forward from my brain to fingers and wrote back…
Me: Hi, How are you doing? I’m already in Kerala, enjoying my trip. I confirm my stay at your place as booked. (I also shared my arrival and departure details with her and patiently waited for her response) ** Patiently because I was having a great time in Kerala and though there has been one or two here and there holy molly episodes, things were still going superb..
Before I get into the story, a little more details on this particular stay I am gargling of, my last stretch of this Kerala trip was Thiruvananthapuram, and I had booked this home-stay which is hosted by 2 young working ladies and they only allow women to book a stay at their apartment. Though new at that time, the reviews were tempting to book a stay there.
The reply came a day after and was something like this:
XX: Okay then see you soon.. do give me a call while you are on your way..
[Phew!! That was just fine, and I don’t know why my brain over-charged like this!!]
The journey from train station to destination went pretty smooth as my host gave exact direction to the auto driver and what surprised me (one of the first of many surprises actually), she was waiting at the apartment gate to receive me as she didn’t want me to get lost at all..
From showing me the apartment to helping me with the location of the place over a glass of chilled juice I was delighted to see her. Such a beauty she is, a cute cuddly teddy with brilliant eyes and later I got to know even more that how talented a person she is.
My Brilliant Host: So what’s the plan? What do you want to do?
Me: I have lots in mind, but let’s see how long I can go! For this evening I was thinking to go to take a bus and go to Kovalam. Do I get a bus from here?
My Brilliant Host: There are actually, but do you want to go right now? You just came and it’s quite hot outside, may be you take some rest? About the bus, you will a get bus but you may have problem while coming back, why not trying something local?
Me: local? What do you suggest? I can change my mind..
My Brilliant Host: Why don’t you go to Shanghumukham beach, that’s close by, you can easily get an auto and that’s actually a good option for evening stroll. I go there a lot.
Me: In that case, I trust you and I am open to that change then.
My Brilliant Host: Ok may be you take a bit of rest and once you are ready, I give you more information? By the way do you like cultural shows? Like classical music, dance and all?
Me: If it’s classical dance, I love it.
My Brilliant Host: There’s some festival is going on, may be I can get more information for you then?
Me: That would be amazing, please do.
My Brilliant Host: Great then, and if you need anything, please let me know, I’m at the room next to yours..
The room I was given could not have happier vibes. It was the sun’s abode; a bright as yellow a spacious room, with a balcony allures you to be lazy and with so many small thoughtful touches. I could have spent my two nights inside this room, doing nothing and not getting bored. Oh yes, I can always find a reason to let’s-just-lie-down!
My Brilliant Host: Payel, did you take rest? Are you comfortable in your room?
Me: Oh yes, this is so far my best stay. Nothing can be better than this.
My Brilliant Host: thank you.. I called few friends, and there is a musical festival going on close by, my friends are also performing. Would you like to go there?
Me: Sure I will, where is it? Hey.. did you say your friends performing? So do you also perform?
My Brilliant Host: Yes, I am a classical singer, but I haven’t taken part in this festival. I will be performing at another program which is on next week. The venue of the festival is walking distance from the house.
Me: Oh wow.. Why don’t you also come with me? I mean if you don’t mind? (I have never been so easy with a stranger so soon.. I am growing up, I see!)
My Brilliant Host: Actually I won’t mind coming with you. You are sure you will be ok with this?
Me: why I should not be? I will be very happy..
My Brilliant Host: Ok then let’s have some tea and then go? My friends say I make a good tea.
Me: I should by all means, believe your friends then. Let have some tea first..
The ginger tea was so refreshing, and while on conversation at her kitchen (I got access there as well!) we found out, we share the same zodiac sign and guess what.. it’s just a difference of 4 days between our birthdays!! It’s just that one is 2 years ahead and the other is following, I am the earlier. There’s more.. The day before my arrival here was her birthday, so the tea was completed with a mighty portion from her birthday cake.
My Brilliant Host: You know Payel, you are the very first host with whom I’m talking so much and going out.
Oh, she is speaking my thoughts..
Me: Me too, and don’t take me otherwise, It’s strange as I am not an easy going person. But with you it didn’t take any time to get along!!
My Brilliant Host: I know, I am sure we are going to have a great time!!
True she was, what a time we had together. From walking to the venue to seeing her friends perform we talked so much. And all thanks to her, for which my picture came to the next day’s Time of India. So she went to the backstage to meet her friends and took me along with her, while a photographer took our picture, though by always-disposed to-awkward-nature, I was trying to sidetrack myself; but the photographer had an eagle eye and dragged me to the frame! Anyway, My humble gratitude to them..
We were not just done there, she insisted that we go to the Shanghumukham beach and spend some time there. So we went, we enjoyed the chaats, spicy corns sold by the beach. Even we were dinner mates for next two nights.
** I did mention of two hosts, but so far this one girl was my all time guide. She is a professor at a college in Tiruvananthapurm, and also she is perusing her PHD. Her overall educational degree made me feel like only a master of alphabets but no more and I was in awe. As for the other lady, she is a full time working woman, and preparing for some exam, hence I would only meet her at night.
The next morning was my full day out, while she helped me with all the necessary direction, she also made sure that I wake up on time (not that I asked her, but that’s her, caring by nature and lovely as always). She wanted me to have breakfast and go but as i wanted to go to the temple, she couldn’t insist.
When I was lost in my touring, shopping, eating, she made a point to call me and check on my where about few times. We did spend the evening together, as I wanted to spend more time in that happy apartment. I did surprise her when I told her about my solo travel dementia, but I am familiar to that expression!!
My flight from Tiruvananthapuram was early in the morning, so I had to leave the house by 4 am. To my surprise, My Brilliant Host was adamant to wake up that early and see me off. I was feeling so guilty to this but I couldn’t have thanked her more for doing this. I had a major problem with the app cab drivers, where I had re-book four times and not to mention the language barrier.
She stayed the entire time with me, helped me communicating with the drivers and once the car finally came she was at peace. Though I had to promise her with a call back once I reached the airport..
It’s been sometime that I went for the Kerala trip, but it’s still leafy fresh in my mind, Keralites are truly cordial and hearty people (there’s more stories to tell). There’s always learning from a journey right? I learnt ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ and how to better my hosting skill if I have any!!