India / Other / Southeast Asia

Tilligan’s Island: Adventures in Kerala

After our stay in Bangalore, three of us boarded a plane to Kerala where we met up with three other ACM students for a houseboat cruise. Few places in the world can boast the perfect temperature and Bangalore was definitely one of them. Just a little breezy, warm enough to wear a sleeveless kurta but cool enough for a sweatshirt. Stepping off the plane into Kerala was like stepping into a sauna compared to Bangalore. Muggy, sticky and warm with a beautifully bright sun beating down on us.

We stopped along the side of the road for coconuts halfway through our two-hour drive to the boat and once we got onboard we were met with another fresh batch of coconuts with colorful straws stuck into the center.


We spent the next three days napping, reading, talking, playing games, watching movies, eating delicious Keralan food and just enjoying the lovely scenery.


At least once a day we would stop en route and have a moment to go ashore into the small villages lining the backwaters. One day we pulled up to an emu (or ostrich?) farm.

DSC_6286“We call these fire chickens,” one of the crew happily told us, nodding towards the giant birds with crazed eyes.

Another day we checked out some of the shops and visited a Roman Catholic Church just set back from the shore. The people in Kerala speak an entirely different language than the one we’ve been learning and even the script is different so we were left to communicate in English–not a huge problem since Kerala is a major center for tourism.

Throughout the day we were served incredible food and tea and coffee at least twice, if not three times, a day.

Waking up in the morning, Keyshore would bring us our tea while we enjoyed the views from wherever we had docked for the night. By 8 or 9 we would eat breakfast–something different every day–rice noodle patties one day, omlettes another and rice pancakes wrapped around some sort of sweet jaggery and coconut mix.

After breakfast we sailed for a few hours each day and docked for lunch. Lunch always included delicious Keralan rice (perhaps called “Matta Rice”?) which is much bigger than ordinary white rice. A creamy, tangy dal topped the dish and different kinds of fish and chicken were served alongside.

Then as if we weren’t full enough from the lunch we struggled to finish every day, not wanting to waste any good food, snacks and more tea were served in the afternoon mid-way through our sail.

I was glad the whole week for the late Indian dinner time and, thankfully, we wouldn’t eat until 8 or 9 when we finally started to get hungry again.


It was a very relaxing three days with Tilligan (our captain) at the wheel, napping and eating our way through the backwaters of Kerala.

Now we’re back at ACM after our Diwali vacation week with only 2 and a half weeks left of the program. We’re finally buckling down to get some work done for the end of the semester.


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