That Unsettled Feeling in Kerala

I’m on the road again and this time, I am in Cherai, Kerala. Although I’m here for work, it really doesn’t feel like it. How can it? With the tall green coconut trees, spicy fish curry, the sound of the crickets and the sun setting over the ocean, it feels like I am on vacation.

Then why do I feel so unsettled?

I wonder if this has happened to you before: you reach a new place, you’re all excited and then all of a sudden, a sense of apprehension kicks in and your heart sinks. It’s like you’re overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time. I’ve travelled solo plenty of times before and yet, here I am in my own country, not being able to feel entirely comfortable.

I tried to comprehend these mixed emotions and pinpoint what was bothering me. I think the answer was always right there and I was just choosing not to see it. It’s quite simple, I don’t feel safe. At first, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of Cherai but then I was underwhelmed after being stared at all the time. I tweeted a little while earlier saying how much I’m loving the views and how I could easily live this way.Well, not anymore. I’ve barely been here a day and someone almost flashed me, I managed to walk past just in time. I had written a post about Morocco recently and in that, I talked about how tiring it was to have my guard up all the time in Marrakech and now, I feel the same way all over again. Only it feels a lot worse because this is where I am from, it’s home and feeling safe on the streets of my own country should be a given. I’d heard Kerala was different to the rest of India, so far it hasn’t felt that way. The caretaker of my home stay, Le Mansion, has assured me a few times that Cherai is absolutely safe but the car that followed me down the road while I was walking back this evening made me feel otherwise. I also realised I’ve never actually travelled solo in India before and Day 1 has definitely not been easy. Hopefully, I’ll get into the swing of things soon and lose this feeling because it is no fun at all.

To make myself feel better, I’m sharing some snapshots of my day here today. The photos reflect the picturesque views I’ve seen all day but not the mixed emotions this place has made me feel. I’m hoping it’s also a bit of first-day blues and by tomorrow I’ll be back to my usual self. Till then, here’s a bit of Cherai for you.

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