This morning I woke up to the sounds of the birds chirping and the distant sounds of waves crashing. I am in Kerala, South India, staying with my goldsmith teacher and his family.
Over the years, it has been my mission, my passion and my dream to bring together the East and the West, connect people and places through my jewelry. Today, I want to bring you closer to a day in the life of Balan and his family.
They live in Kannur district of N. Kerala, very close to the Arabian Sea. Although many large homes and guesthouses are popping up around them, they are still living their simple, yet complex life in the jungle. Each morning they wake early, Balan walks to the sea to get some exercise, talk to the fishermen and brush his teeth. Pankacha, his wife, starts boiling water and sweeping the house.. You see, they have an open water well. They get water from a bucket and put it in a pot and throughout the day boil water over a fire outside to always have clean water. They are very kind and treat me like a bit of a princess and even boil water for me to take my shower, from a bucket..
Yesterday, Pankacha made tali for me.. a mix of hibiscus leaves and flowers and water. It is the natural shampoo they have been using in Kerala for ages.. It feels like aloe, a bit slimy, but it is refreshing for the scalp and then they apply coconut oil and all is well… Pankacha does this once a week and says she has not used shampoo… she is in her late 50’s and looks like 30.. Not one wrinkle and the most smooth beautiful skin.
Their days are very routine.. waking early cleaning, boiling water.. chai break.. breakfast at 9:30 and I’m not talking a cereal breakfast, I’m talking from scratch (literally grating fresh coconut, they got from their backyard) chutney’s, curries, chapati etc.. Divya their daughter and beautiful sister friend is busy making breakfast while Pankacha is hand washing all the clothes. Balan is sitting over a fire with a blowpipe making gold jewelry and I am sitting there feeling like a bit of a burden.. My own feeling of course. They do not make me feel that way…
Now it is 10am. Time to do dishes and start making curries for lunch, the biggest meal of the day. Balan is still working on jewelry and Pankacha is finishing the wash, whacking it against a stone.
Around 11:30 we have a fresh juice break. Pankacha and Divya sit and relax for a bit and chat with Balan while he is working. 1:30 is lunch.. Always extravagant and always amazing!! Then dishes again, cleaning the kitchen again and then time to relax for a bit or work on other ongoing projects around the house. Yesterday, they had visitors and we walked to the Sea, it was very nice.. around 4pm another (homemade) snack and chai… now it is nap time for about 20min.. at 6 it is time to pray and do prayers at their family temple.. and then last night we sat around and picked pepper off the vine.. they have a pepper vine here and had it harvested the other day, but it was time to take the small peppers from the individual stocks and we sat and did that for a couple of hours.. they put the pepper in the sun for about one week and have over years worth of black pepper from their tree…
9:30 is dinner, a bit of left over lunch and fresh dosas and then sleep at 11… up at 6 the next day to start all over again…
|tali to make natural shampoo|
|picking peppercorns off the vine|
|Balan working on their veranda|
|with my ladies at the beach|
|making a fire to make jewelry..|