The road from Palakkad to Thottapally took us past Shagzil's home so we stopped and had lunch with his family: his beautiful wife Shareen, his two darling daughters, his mother and father, his wife's sister and brothers, and there may have been others as well. Shareen's sister henna'd my hand and those of a couple of others, thus I have a reminder of India to bring home, at least for a couple of weeks.
It was very kind of Shareen and Shagzil to have all 21 of us for lunch, and we were delighted to meet their family.
We arrived at Thottapally in the late afternoon and boarded our air-conditioned Kerala houseboats.
Three married couples took one, a married couple and a single man took another, and the riff raff - the three single women (including me), the three single men, the mother and daughter and father and son pairs, one married couple and Shagzil - took the third.
There are ten small cabins on my houseboat each with two twin beds - even the cabins with single occupants like me - a small wardrobe and a bathroom with a shower. The bedroom windows are almost level with the water; since we are on inland waterways high waves are not a concern.
Our captain was also the incredibly good cook, and at least three helpers literally waited on us hand and foot as we lounged around watching the Kerala countryside pass by. People on the shore and in other boats waved and called out to us; we waved and called back ta-ta ta-ta (goodbye goodbye). Children especially were pleased when we took their pictures.
We saw lots of birds, too many to name except for the lovely kingfishers that we were always excited to see. There were large flocks of ducks that were herded by a man in a canoe up and down the waterway. They are delivered to rice paddies during the day to feast on bugs and herded back again in the eveing to lay their eggs or whatever else they are expected to do..
This two-night break has been a wonderful antidote to our hectic schedule. We have all become good friends. This peaceful interlude has given us more time to talk and laugh and exchange stories and laugh and take pictures and laugh some more. It has been a truly magical two days!