The Glass Bangle

Being a Woman

The Rainbow Houses Of Kerala

Whenever I travel I take a couple of books with me to stave away the boredom. However I’ve realised that when I travel by road across Kerala not a single page gets read. Kerala, the southernmost tip of India, a little strip of green with a magnificent  landscape. The term ‘God’s Own country’ is much bandied about in relation to this place and I’ve no quarrel with that. God has certainly been liberal when it came to adorning this part of the country. But what delights me and makes my heart sing, is the touch of absolute whimsy that I see in the colour schemes used on houses across the length and breadth of this State. I’ve not seen this kind of insanity any where else in the country, at least not in the parts I’ve been to.

While tootling along the roads of Kerala, one is lulled into a sense of peace and languor by the lush greenery, the crisp whites desultorily sunning themselves on washing lines and bougainvilleas lazily draped over walls. Suddenly out pops a house painted a bright indigo with a red trim all around. The first time this happened I thought it must’ve been a figment of my imagination and shook myself awake with a wry smile at my fanciful thoughts. But then another colour bomb drifted into my vision, this time a particularly strong shade of green with red and white stripes on the lower half. I had to forcibly shut my jaw which had almost dropped to my knees ! My interest was piqued and I sat up with anticipation and a sense of wonder. I was not disappointed when I passed in front of a light pink creation with a trim of magenta. The next abode was purple with a roof of brown terracotta tiles. A creeper with deep red flowers climbing up the side added a strange beauty to the whole crazy colour scheme.  The mad jumble of colours escape being an assault on the senses since they’re set wide apart. Interspersed among them are beautiful whitewashed houses which stand proudly like matriarchs looking down on the minions. These stately homes are beautiful with their white walls,  brown roofs and huge trees adding to the magnificence. Here and there I did glimpse copses of crotons( a colourful shrub)  valiantly trying to make their presence felt but failing miserably due to the technicolour vista which I privately feel can only be the handiwork of a particularly delirious artist. Moving on, I spy a bright green house which coincidentally had a shop next to it selling brightly coloured statues of animals. I was struck by the thought of the animals coming alive and wandering into the house mistaking it for a jungle. Totally preposterous idea but the houses were starting to take a toll on my equilibrium which is not very balanced in the best of times anyway !

My sense of balance and stability were slightly restored when we passed over a bridge and I spied cosy little houses  on the riverbank with immaculate courtyards and steps leading down to the water.At that moment I wished that my grandparents lived in one of these houses so that I could spend my vacations frolicking in the water from dawn to dusk. The interesting point here is that I would never wish for my parents to own such a house cos I know that parental controls would come into play and any ideas of fun would be diluted by rules and regulations. Riverbanks always have a strange alluring charm of their own which the seaside cannot replicate. The water seems more playful and the trees bend down in places to whisper new mischief to the river.  Moving on, and away from thoughts of cool waters, I feel a sense of melancholy when I see abandoned residences with large cracks running down walls, peeling paint, overgrown gardens, broken windows and a general sense of neglect seeping in everywhere. Sometimes, an imposing column untouched by decay or a beautifully wrought grill on a window are the sole indications that they might’ve been grand dames in their heydays. Their walls would’ve been privy to many a secret, whispers of longing and sighs of loneliness.

However, the rainbow hued houses intrude and do not allow me to indulge in any melancholic ramblings. For a minute I get the feeling that I’ve wandered into a child’s painting . I’m confronted by a dazzling yellow abode with two colourful beach umbrellas set out in the tiny courtyard(I’m being quite magnanimous when I say tiny) in perfect symmetry. Out goes melancholy through the window and I start grinning from ear to ear. There’s more to come. The neighbouring house determined not to be left behind in the shock factor, has a couple of red pagodas tacked on with no rhyme or reason for their existence. The parade continues as we proceed t our destination. There’re dashing oranges vying with pleasing creams, virulent blues thumbing their noses at the pastel pinks and all shades of green trying to keep up with the lush greenery all around.

When I see houses with fantastical colour schemes, I wonder whether the people living there have a touch of delicious madness in their character or will they be ordinary  people without an ounce of fun in them. Would their lives be full of drama and adventure or would it be a bland existence ? Would they feel happy and energised when they came out and saw the glorious colours ? These questions might never be answered but I’m sure of one thing. I just love to look at these brilliant splashes of colour sprinkled around among the spectacular greenery of Kerala. They add a touch of fun to an otherwise sane and sedate journey. I don’t think I’ll be brave enough to try out any of these colour combos but I’ll always remain an ardent fan of the rainbow houses of Kerala 🙂

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20 comments on “The Rainbow Houses Of Kerala

  1. Percy Miller
    December 16, 2014

    Wonderful…………

    Like

  2. Rajesh Jose
    June 26, 2014

    Btw apparently one of the reasons for the rainbow colours — and if I am not mistaken you mostly get to see these in the smaller villages and towns — is that there are huge discounts given on these colours by the paint companies — makes economic sense as well ensuring that the house stands out 🙂
    Always enjoyed your writing. Keep going.

    Like

    • The Glass Bangle
      June 26, 2014

      RJ, thnx for the encouragement. Really keeps me on track . I’m sure the discount factor plays a role, but I admire that unique combination of thrift and quirkiness which makes the scenery so colourful for travellers like us 🙂

      Like

  3. Saachi Agarwal
    June 19, 2014

    Ya,I agree with you. Almost every (small or big) house in Kerala is well built and maintained. A Malayali friend told me that everybody in Kerala dreams to have a “beautiful” house with gardens and backyard. Great post, I enjoyed reading it.

    Like

    • The Glass Bangle
      June 19, 2014

      Saachi, Thanks for stopping by.
      You should make a trip to this part of the country and see the splashes of colour for yourself 🙂

      Like

  4. Broody Moody Mind
    June 4, 2014

    I am from Kerala. I have found these idiosyncrasies, when it comes to painting houses, in other parts of the country too. These are somethings that came into existence (in Kerala…that too in my opinion) very recently…when i say very recently…take it as 10 or 15 yrs. At least, it wasnt there when I grew up. Most of the houses had bland shades like the ones in the third picture. I liked your post and it made me think about it…rainbow colored houses…next time, i see such houses i wouldnt look down upon them as bad taste..but rainbow colored houses 🙂

    Like

    • The Glass Bangle
      June 8, 2014

      Hey ! good to see you here 🙂
      I too grew up in a Kerala devoid of colourful houses. Initially the colourful houses made me crinkle my nose in disapproval . Then I got off my high horse and realised how interesting my journey was because of them. Then there was no looking back. Now when I hear negative comments about the loud colours I try to make them think of how adventurous a person has to be, to venture into ‘rainbow colours’ 🙂

      Like

  5. sandradan1
    May 19, 2014

    I’ve never been to Kerala, but love Goa. The Portugese influence there produces colonial-style villas in wonderful purples, aubergine, mustard yellow. Beautiful! SD

    Like

    • The Glass Bangle
      May 20, 2014

      Sandra, the topography of Goa is a lot like Kerala. But the culture and way of life is very different. Next time ditch Goa and come to Kerala 😊

      Like

  6. LynAn
    May 17, 2014

    Oh my gosh!! That’s a lot of colours. In my place, I’ve spotted a couple of such houses which me and my mom playfully call the “icecream parlour houses” 😉 But this right here surpasses everything!!! I bet rainbows don’t come up in Kerala because they are going to be ashamed anyway!!! 😉 😀

    Like

    • The Glass Bangle
      May 19, 2014

      LynAn, the ‘ice-cream parlour houses’ sound delicious ! But the ones here are more like a box of candy and that too made by a slightly mad baker 🙂

      Like

      • LynAn
        May 19, 2014

        haha!! Agreed 😉

        Like

  7. Madhu Swaroop
    May 16, 2014

    It would be nice if someone bothers to educate people to use colours blending with nature…

    Like

    • The Glass Bangle
      May 17, 2014

      Madhu, Thanks for dropping by ! Colours blending with nature are definitely soothing to the eye, but these splashes of colour lend a certain zest and zing to the scenery 🙂

      Like

  8. Destination Infinity
    May 16, 2014

    I once went to Palakkad and found such colorful houses there also. The contrast between the beige and light Coimbatore and the boldly colored houses of Palakkad was startling!

    Like

  9. dreamzandclouds
    May 16, 2014

    you will see these pop-color painted houses in my part of the country too 😛

    Like

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This entry was posted on May 15, 2014 by in Home, Houses, Kerala, life, Travel, World and tagged , , , , , , .
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