For my summer vacations, we went to Kerala, a small state in the southern tip of India, my birth state and motherland. Known as God’s own Country, Kerala is famous for its backwaters and greenery. Most NRIs (Non Resident Indians) come from Kerala and many inhabitants come from the Gulf or as they call it here, ‘Dubai’. For Malayalees (The residents of Kerala speak Malayalam, hence Malayalees), the Gulf region is Dubai. Whether you live in Dubai, Sharjah, Muscat, Riyadh or even Bahrain, you are from Dubai (Though Muscat, Riyadh and Bahrain are in different countries, and Dubai isn’t even a country.). When I was smaller, I used to love spending my time in Kerala and looked forward to every vacation just so I could see Kerala and swim in the little pond we had near our house. Then I grew up. Don’t get me wrong, I still like Kerala, but there are some down points which bother me to a certain extent. I thought of putting those points in this post. When you’re homesick you do tend to get a little cranky.
The rain falling on the rooftop in the night when you’re trying to get sleep. In the morning it’s nice, relaxing even. But when you are trying to sleep and the raindrops fall on the metal sheet attached to the roof it sounds like ice cubes falling from the sky and the sound hammering your head. It makes me miss staying in our apartment where the ‘roof’ above you is another apartment or a pool or a plain corridor.
Family members debating on the perfect sleeping positions (should that uncle sleep in the living room or should you sleep in the bedroom?) and blankets, making me begin thinking about my cozy bed and my soft toys that I still childishly hang on to and love to cuddle. Oh, and also my floral printed comforter with stripes on the other side.
The overstuffed car on the way to a relative’s house or a place of worship. It’s not the car’s fault or the driver’s. It’s not even the people who caused it to fill the car more than it’s capacity. It’s me and my spoilt mind that longs to sit all by myself in the backseat of my dad’s Toyota and listen to all the nice stuff on the radio.
Then there are the dairy products. I don’t exactly like milk, but if given a choice in beverages, I would prefer if it was milk. Most people say that the dairy products here are the purest and the tastiest it gets. You get butter right from the milk that has been milked from the cow in the morning. How pure, how delicious. On the contrary, I prefer the packaged Al Marai yoghurt thah the natural, fresh and pure yoghurt. The fresh yoghurt doesn’t taste like home to me! Even the ice creams have only two flavours! Oh London Dairy! Oh Baskin Robins! Oh Coldstone!
No WiFi! I have to admit it, life without WiFi is difficult, and nearly impossible to imagine in today’s world. But hey, if I could survive a month without WiFi, I’m sure you could too! I miss having long conversations on WhatsApp with my friends in the night under the sheets. I miss googling any small thing whenever I wanted to. I miss typing up posts on the WordPress App and it getting uploaded as soon as I reached home. Life without WiFi is weird, new, but manageable. It’s life without internet that’s even more scarier.
The overdose of greenery. The weather is good, the wind making your hair whip your face is energizing and refreshing. It makes you feel like you can do anything, write a song or a twenty part series. But the trees- at first they’re refreshing too, full and green, young, old and pristine. The green soothes one to a great extent and relieves you considerably. The cement and glass and the ample number of restaurants in the city gives me a sense of security that I don’t find in the open with trees all around me.
No good restaurants. To eat out is a hazard in Kerala. Hygiene problems in the restaurants make you think atleast a hundred times before you even take a sip of water. I miss the clean and hygienic food and the safe fast food or restaurant food. However, if you do happen to eat in a restaurant, all you can eat are idlis (steamed rice cakes), vadas (Black Lentil dumplings deep fried in oil), and Dosa (rice pancakes).
Meeting strangers who you’re supposed to remember when the last time they saw you was when you were two. And then the phrase ‘Oh! She grew up! You were only so much when we last met!’, showing how tall I was thirteen years ago. Also biting back a response to them-‘Well, kids grow up, don’t they?’.
Traditional clothing is the only way through. Comfort is not key when it comes to clothing for women. You have to wear either a pattu pavada (silk skirt and blouse), Saree (a six meter long cloth you have to drape in a particular way) or as a last option being the Salwar Kameez (a long top with a bottom with a contrasting pattern, and a long but thin cloth to drape on the neck, this called a dupatta). Men, on the other hand, need to drape a long, white cotton cloth around their waists, this cloth is called a Mundu. Things would’ve been so much more easier if we wore whatever was comfortable.
An abundance of coconuts. Kerala is also known for its coconut trees and the coconuts. But the drawback of living in a coconut abundant country is that every second dish contains coconut. One can only have so many coconuts.
The ever increasing number of mosquitoes. The mosquitoes come in different sizes and post biting irritation levels depending on the breeding ground. In the monsoon season, mosquitoes breed and multiply in the stagnant water that are from puddles on the roads that seem to be on the verge of caving in. A mosquito just bit me while writing this. Urgh. I miss the mosquito less Dubai.
Things like these make me appreciate Dubai more and more and increase my yearning to go back home.