A dichotomy of Malayalees from North America who are attending the homeland convention of Fokana made a nostalgic cruise around Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala.
“This is far better than a cruise in Venice,“ mused John Perzel, former Speaker of Pennsylvania House, who is in Alappuzha to attend the Fokana convention. Accompanied by a host of fifty friends from different parts of the US, Mr. Perzel enjoyed his trip to Kerala for the first time.
Fokana president Thampi Chacko, General Secretary Philipose Philip, Trustee Board Chairman Georgi Varghese, Kerala Convention Chairman Paul Karukapallil, National Convention Chairman Madhavan B. Nair and Kerala Convention co-ordinator Alex Thomas were among those who took part in the six-hour long cruise.
The 5-room fully air-conditioned houseboat, Blue Rain with a staff of six, meandered through the lush green paddy fields on lakes and lagoons that interlock Kuttanad. Hundreds of some 2000 houseboats of different sizes and hues, criss-crossed the canals giving a thrilling experience to the visitors.
For many of them, the trip was a maiden one. Some others re-lived memories of their maiden trips on Kettuvallams when they were young when houseboats were unheard of. The houseboat owners celebrated the silver jubilee of their advent only in 2016.
The sumptuous lunch included prize catch from the lake including pearl spot and prawns. Light intoxicant toddy freshly tapped from the coconut trees was an added attraction. Mr. Perzel enjoyed the hot curries accompanied the toddy.
The Fokana Convention winds to it climax on Saturday when former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy inaugurates the events. Minister Thomas Chandy will make the keynote address. Various sessions on literature, media, tourism, business, etc will follow.
Public meeting in the afternoon will be inaugurated by Rajya Sabha Speaker Prof. PJ Kurian. Marthoma Valia Metropolitan Mar Chrysostum will be accorded a reception on his attaining the age of 101. Prof. MK Sanu will release a few new works that will include a Souvenir incorporating choice articles from Fokana’s chequered history right from its inception in 1983.