The first time for anything is usually very memorable, for they are moments we can’t recreate, and even if we do, it’ll never be the first time. As a child, the best memories are made during the two months of summer vacation, when we go exploring new or familiar places with our parents again. My summer vacations were mostly spent in sultry Kerala, my native place with its many shades of beautiful green, which became my favorite color. I still remember those trips in the overnight train, most of the time afraid to even sleep on the middle berth because of the fear of falling down.
The trips never used to change, till one day, my parents, my uncle and aunt decided that it was time we had a new experience, and for the first time, I was going to Kerala by flight. My excitement had known no bounds. While my parents were busy checking the Flight Schedules, I had run around telling all my neighbors as if it was the biggest accomplishment in the world. The tickets were booked. The days felt longer with the anticipation. Soon after, the bags were packed, the tags attached and waiting to be loaded into the taxi when it came. On the way there, I was at the window seat, waiting to catch the first glimpse of the airplane that would take me to my native place. We reached well ahead of time. In those days, there was no Air India Web check-in available, so we checked in at the counter, and boarded. I wanted the window seat, and almost threw a tantrum when mom sat there instead. She laughed and got up, and I sat looking out the closed window, at the airport, and then the sky with the clouds floating by. The only thing I wished I had done was put the cotton in my ear, for when we disembarked at Nedumbassery Airport, I had a constant buzzing in my ear.
We had already ordered our cab in advance. We collected our bags, and headed to the parking lot, where our usual driver awaited us. It was my first time in Kochi. The trip from there to my native place was a first time as well, taking a completely different route from what we would take from Thrissur railway station usually. I sat at the window again, a little subdued because of the ear pain, but jumping up in excitement when we would cross over a river, or see an elephant working at a lumber yard. The green backwaters were a treat as well. After a two hour trip, I found myself at the steps of the familiar home, in the arms of my darling grandmother. For a couple of days, we’re at home, in the known memories of her happiness, her delicious cooking, and her nostalgia too. Then we go for the vacation.
The trip itinerary was something I didn’t know completely. I knew we would visit one of the most famous temple towns in the state, Guruvayur. The ambience of that place is something I still remember happily. For the first time, on that visit, I let an elephant touch my head with its trunk. It felt warmly moist. From Guruvayur, we went back to Kochi, which was a surprise. I visited places whose name I would only come to know later – The Dutch Palace, The Jewish Synagogue, The Bolgatty Palace. We even go boating. A lot of memories made over a very small time. Soon after, it was time to head back to the city I called as my home.
Looking back, I realize that the ideal yatra is not necessarily one that brings a new place, but one that made memories for me to cherish for a lifetime.
(© 8th June 2016)