Seinfeld’s theme played for one last time, and I closed the laptop. I had been watching it non-stop for the past five hours and hadn’t noticed the time fly by. The lockdown has left my time cycle in complete disarray. The clock ticked at 3, and I looked around for Loki. He was sitting on his couch, as still as a log. Perhaps he didn’t find Seinfeld funny enough. He had been lying there for hours. I thought we could both use a much-needed break instead of being locked up at home.
It had been 112 days to be precise, that Loki and I had been on a road trip to someplace besides the hospital, or the supermarket.
After some thought, I decided on a drive to the Venice of the east, Alappuzha. It lay about 55 km away, from my house in Kochi.
I picked up the car keys, and the next thing I knew, Loki was at the door. And just like that, we were on the road.
One could take the NH 66 that connects Kochi to Alappuzha, however, I decided on the longer route. We cut into Kumbalangi (known for being India’s first tourism village) and drove along the narrow but picturesque lanes amidst the backwaters there. And about 20 minutes into the drive, we were out of the city and on to the long and empty coastal stretch.
We drove by the suburbs of Chellanam where men worked on the ancient Chinese fishing nets. I wondered if they missed having their photos taken by foreigners. A side of the road was laid out with prawns that had been spread there to dry.
These roads help you travel back in time to when mobile phones weren’t a thing.
Loki peeped out of the window, smiling at all the masked pedestrians and drooling all over the car’s door in the process. He was having the time of his life. And he’s used to masked people now. He thinks I am Bane and he’s Bruce Wayne.
Soon enough, it started to drizzle, the area receives heavy rainfall during July and August. That brought Loki’s mood down a notch. He likes this route during spring when the weather is near to perfect.
We drove by the multiple beaches that lie on this route. A stop at any of these promised a good dip in the calm waters. The coconut tree-laden lagoon at Mararikulam was a refreshing sight. The small beach here hosts several resorts. The long line of fishing boats tied along the shore made for some stunning pictures.
An hour later, we drove into the sandy trails of the Alappuzha beach. On any normal weekend, the beach would be filled with families on a picnic, couples taking photographs by the old sea-bridge and dogs running behind kites and frisbees. Today, we could spot just a few people, and fewer kite-sellers. We sat in the car and enjoyed the waves from a distance. After a while, we headed on to the highway. We drove past multiple eateries near the beach. These serve some of the best, freshest seafood in Kerala.
As we drove onto the NH 66, we could see the orange sun slowly dipping towards the sea. The highway that connects Kanyakumari to Panvel is always filled with goods trucks. We passed several ‘chaya-kadas’, a miniature Malayali version of the North Indian dhabas. A stop at the Indian Coffee House at Pathirappally is a must on this trip – we had a coffee and four of their special veg cutlets to go.
We entered the city roads again around dusk, as the coastal line of Kochi began to get lit up, and drove by the otherwise busy streets.
Taking a drive is always refreshing and it felt more so after months of lockdown.Small day drives could become a part of the ‘new normal’. I am already planning my next road trip, perhaps a longer one this time.