he language barrier melts as I explain the speed of my kayak to a fisherman in his colourful boat.
If I stand still, the sea wind blowing the cloud dissipates the heat of 12km of kayaking up river. Palm trees rustle in the wind and sway shadows in the water. I am kayaking in the Chaliyar River in Kerala and everything here is crimson, green, blue and yellow. As I explore Kerala, the way I know best, I ponder on my love for things swift. Racing, with the wind in your face, is my rush. Still and I aren’t found in the same pin code. And yet, Kerala has brought that out in me. Locals call you over to their boat, or the riverside to simply chat with you. The language barrier melts as I explain the speed of my kayak to a fisherman in his colourful boat.
Another 3 km on, and a man and his son are standing still in the middle of the river. The young one translates for us when his father enquires about the price of my kayak. He seems unfazed by the cost, but the fact that you can only fit one person in it puts him off the purchase. After a fair back-and-forth, he reaches into a plastic bag and holds up a green back crab. His son smiles. Dinner.
I realise soon that it’s a busy river. I meet children jumping off of rock cliffs. I spot elders smoking on the side of a river, fishing lines out, underneath a billboard ushering in new-age products these people never asked for. Everything is in juxtaposition here. I turn around and head back, picking up the pace. I’m cruising when I spot a youth nestled in shrubbery, his house hidden from clear view. I smile thinking, at least the young ones are the same; busy texting a girl far from the prying eyes of a conservative family. Before the smile reaches its edges, he looks up, and with one swift motion flings out the bait he’s been meticulously rigging on the end of a thing fishing line.
It is evening in Kerala. And I am standing still.
(Kaustubh Khade is an IITian, Asian Silver Medallist in kayaking and a Limca Book Record holder. He has kayaked the 3,000km west coast of India solo)