Messing about on the river! 

Sometimes, and it’s very rare, my mind goes quiet. 

For the briefest of moments time stands still. 

There’s a space in time which only I inhabit and which brings upon the most wonderful aura of tranquillity. 

Such times are rare. But they are to be treasured. 

This is Kerala. Gods own country. A slice of western India populated by backwaters of the most sublime and romantic nature. 

I’m on a houseboat. The temperature is in the mid 90s yet the fierce heat is mollified by the cool breeze that ruffles my hair. 

This is paradise. 

Houseboats ply their trade up and down the backwaters. Modified rice barges housing between 4-12 guests. Lush waterside greenery caresses the eyeline as I drift along, for once, without a care in the world. 

Oh to be in this heavenly place forever. 

From the backwaters spring narrow canals. Here the scenery is more urban as the canals are lined with houses and daily life is laid bare before us. 

The housewife rhythmically beats her husbands longyi upon a rock. Schoolchildren, all smartly dressed in their uniforms, hurry to and from school. Colourful washing flutters in the breeze. 


A man is bathing in the canal. His head, disembodied, nods to us as we drift past trailing his soap suds in our wake. A water snake, head raised proudly in the air, gives us not a glance as it surges thrillingly close to our boat. 

Everyone smiles. 

Dusk settles on the backwater. Dinner is served by our marvellous crew. Three fine Indians, stout of body and warm of heart, good humoured, welcoming and generous. Their dark eyes follow us everywhere, ensuring we are safe and catered to. 


I sleep a deep dreamless sleep rocked by the gentle sway of our boat. 

We have but one night here in this idyllic place and morning comes too soon. 

Breakfast is served by our attentive crew and all too quickly our captain, his steady hand on the wheel, is taking us back. 

Morning in gods own country. 

Drifting through paradise. 

For that briefest moment I’ve felt real joy. But more than that, I’ve felt peace. Serenity. That my mind and body are as one. Finally in tune. 

True there is much beauty in the landscape. The weather is fine. Birds cartwheel in the bluest sky and the only sound I can hear is the soft lapping of the water as it breaks against our bow. 

Ah the sheer joy. 

Messing about on the river. 

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