Finding Peace in Silent Empty Hours

It’s a four hour drive to Kumarakom, a sleepy little town by the backwaters, dominated by resorts. Kottayam is a short distance away, and there is apparently some sightseeing to be done there.

The roads of Kottayam remind me of Goa, low-rise colourful houses, with wide fields lined with rice patties, and peppered with clumps of coconut and palm trees. Gates are flat, as security is not a concern here.

There are small eateries lining marketplaces, with mom and pop shops of all varieties.

Thursday January 11, 2018 is going to be forever etched in my mind, as the way I got rid of my driver.

That’s right. Finally.

Having had one day completely free, because I moved around Thekkady on foot, I had asked him to be ready at 8 am, but I ran late, and at 8:40 am, as soon as he saw me, he went for breakfast.

I’m annoyed because I had told him to be ready. 5-10 minutes is fine, but I wait almost 20 minutes for him to return.

As a result, I finally request them to change it, and they do. By the end of the day, my angry driver is back in Kochi, and a new one will arrive Saturday morning to take me on the final leg of my journey.

Kumarakom is super relaxing. In fact: it’s too relaxing. I try to see if I can use the afternoon productively, but apparently it is too late to do any tours, and too hot to walk anywhere outside, and the only activity, besides a free boat ride at 5pm, is Ayurvedic massage. It’s too bad because the grounds are beautiful.

I am hyper to do something to make the most of my time here, so I make an appointment for the shortest massage – so that I have time to make it to the free boat cruise later.

The masseuse has no bedside manners. She looks at me with almost contempt, as she makes me undress in front of her and insists on putting on the temporary underwear herself, almost violating me in the process.

I close my eyes and squeeze them shut while she kneads my skin so roughly, I’m afraid it might chafe right off. It is a tense, and angst-inducing experience, nothing in comparison to what I think a massage should be.

As someone who already is not a huge fan of massages, I think to myself there must be health benefits, and to be honest yes by the end, I do feel slightly more relaxed, though arguably this could be because the ordeal is over.

I make my way towards the dock for the hotel boat cruise. It is while on the water, that I really start to appreciate traveling solo. All the groups on board are running from one end to the other in order to catch the perfect selfie.

It sounds like a very stressful way to spend the cruise, looking for the perfect angle, the perfect shot. Instead, I lean against the railing, and stare out at the water and the setting sun.

In spite of my feeble attempt above, no camera, no paintbrush, no pen, can capture this beauty. It is beyond human expression or creativity, and the best way to enjoy it is in silence. And I certainly don’t want to ruin a photograph of such perfection with my own image superimposed.

There is a contentment here that I can’t explain, it’s like it’s just me, and miles and miles of water, and the silence that exists between us. For now I’m okay to slow it down, and accept the emptiness of my hours. For now, I let go of the hang up of being productive. For now, far away from strange Ayurvedic masseuses, angry drivers and slow customer service, I find peace.


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