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Old 1st October 2018, 12:30   #1
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Default A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!

Golden beaches, emerald backwaters, lofty mountain ranges, powerful art forms... the choices are many and so are the wonders that await you in Kerala. Come and take home what they call ‘memories’, the kind that makes life worth living.

Above statement is written on Keralatourism.org's homepage.
We accepted this invitation, visited Kerala and brought back amazing "memories".

Let me start my story with some teasers.


Meditation at Munnar.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-t1.jpg

Majestic Munnar.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-t2.jpg

Tea Plantations.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-t3.jpg

Serpentine Roads.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-t4.jpg

Tremendous Tea Gardens.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-t5.jpg

Once in a blue moon, but it blooms.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-t6.jpg


A Flower Garden.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-t7.jpg

Kundala Dam
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-t8.jpg

Phenomenal Periyar.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-t9.jpg

Awesome Alappuzha.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-t10.jpg

A Houseboat.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-t11.jpg

Beautiful Kovalam.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-t12.jpg

Fishermen.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-t13.jpg

A view from the Sky.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-t14.jpg

A view from the Sky.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-t15.jpg

We Enjoyed.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-t16.jpg

Last edited by SJM1214 : 6th October 2018 at 14:38.
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Old 1st October 2018, 13:33   #2
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Default re: A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!

Déjà vu

Quote:
A French expression that means "already seen." It is a feeling described as an overwhelming sense of familiarity with something, or that you have already experienced the same thing.
This "Déjà vu" or whatever it is called actually happened with me last May(2018). I was back from Ladakh (Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500) . We were watching the photographs of my Leh trip at my home.

Once again wife asked... “aap toh ghum ke aye (You did your trip), what about us?”.

This kind of conversation happened once back in Dec 2017. Our trip to Manali (A 2.5 year old's first encounter with the Himalayas) was born out of that conversation.

Some Extract of my Manali travelogue.
Quote:
My Leh trip was successful.
We were watching my Leh trip’s photograph, & my wife asked...
“aap toh ghum ke aye (You did your trip), what about us?”.

Now, remember, this is a dangerous situation. You have to answer this question, you have to answer this question positively. You cannot say... “ sochenge”. You call yourself a traveller and your answer should be “ha chalo”, with a specific location. If you fail at this critical situation, your future travellers will have no future.


I said…
“ thick hai ! chalo Manali ghum ke aye” (let's go to Manali).
Quote:
Once again wife asked.. “aap toh ghum ke aye (You did your trip), what about us?”.
Before I answer her question( for which I was not ready at all), she came up with an answer to her own question. She asked me to plan a family trip in September. I tried to be sarcastic and said yes, let's plan a trip without a destination. To my surprise, She was ready to tackle my sarcasm with the destination.

She said let's go somewhere down to South like Kerala or Ooty or Kodaikanal. I like to call myself traveller or travel-buff but I didn't have much knowledge about South India. I Promised her that let me think about it and closed the topic. However, the idea of a trip to the South started getting in shape in my mind.

I researched around and I proposed to have a road trip to Kerala during last week of September. Wife denied the idea of the road trip by own car. We asked my parents to join us. They said yes.

I started planning our trip. I studied some of the popular packages for Kerala in MakeMyTrip. I don't like to buy package trips for my travels. However, MMT helped me to shortlist famous locations and trip's route. I studied almost all the Travelogues related to my shortlisted locations. I asked one of my Cochin based friends to arrange(on rent, with driver) an Innova for a week. I read all the reviews at trip advisors and shortlisted some hotels/ resorts at Munnar, Thekkady, Alleppy and Kovalam. I booked our stay options by personally calling these hotels and transferring advance amount to their bank accounts. I was about to book my Ahmedabad to Cochin & Trivandrum to Ahmedabad flights and I got a call from my dad.

As per Dad, some of his friends wanted to join the trip. They were comfortable with our dates. We were four + one ( my 3.6 years of daughter) and my Dad's friends were two elderly couples. We were total nine persons. I changed my hotel booking accordingly and hired a Tempo Traveller 12 seater. We finished our all bookings( including flights) during the first week of June.

After getting our driver's Inputs, We finalized below plan.

Day1: 24-09-2018
Arrive at Kochi and proceed to Munnar. Night stay at Munnar.
Day2: 25-09-2018
Munnar Sight-Seeing. Night Stay at Munnar.
Day3: 26/09/2018
Proceed to Thekkady. Night Stay at Thekkady.
Day4: 27-09-20118
Proceed to Alleppey. Night Stay(House Boat) at Alleppey.
Day5: 28-09-2018
Proceed to Kovalam. Night Stay at Kovalam.
Day6: 29-09-2018
Kovalam Sight-Seeing, a Visit to Kanyakumari. Night stay at Kovalam.
Day7: 30-09-2018
Proceed to Trivandrum. Sight-Seeing at Trivandrum and fly back to Ahmedabad.

Last edited by SJM1214 : 6th October 2018 at 14:45.
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Old 1st October 2018, 15:31   #3
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Default re: A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!

Kerala Flood 2018.

I shared the booking details with all the travel-mates. It was the last week of June. Our trip to Kerala was after three months, so all of us temporarily forgot it and got busy in our routine lives. May- June-July-Aug is practically a Ladakh season. One of the big group from my home city was riding to Ladakh during July end. I was helping them to plan their trip. Moreover, Summer months are technically low productivity months in Dairy Industry. My organisation is associated with Amul. Thus during entire July month, I was busy with Ladakh and Amul.

So after booking our trip to Kerala, I was not able to study anything about the shortlisted Locations.

During the first week of August, my dad told me that there was heavy rain in Kerala. I told him that heavy rain in Kerala is always normal and nothing to worry about it. Dad agreed with me but still asked me to keep an eye on news of Kerela.

I started keeping a close eye on the news of Kerala. As per news, Rains were increasing day by day. Some of the water reservoirs opened their shutters to let go the access water. It was a dangerous situation in North Kerala. I was keeping a close eye on below kind of scary headlines.

Quote:
Kerala is currently experiencing its worst floods since 1924 due to an overactive South West Monsoon season, says chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Quote:
Flash floods in Kerala have killed 37 people and displaced around 36,000 according to Indian officials after heavy monsoons led to landslides and overflowing reservoirs across the southern state.
Quote:
Kerala is witnessing its worst flood crisis in a century as 164 people have died according to the state government.
Quote:
At last count, 357 people lost their lives, and the floods destroyed roughly 906,400 hectares worth of crops. The cost to the state and its people stands at a staggering Rs 19,512 crore.
Yes, Initially I was worried about our trip. The situation in Kerala was getting worse day by day. The count of casualties was increasing on daily basis. Entire India was thinking about Kerala and extending helping hand to Kerala in that bad situation.

Quote:
It affected the south Indian state of Kerala, due to unusually high rainfall during the monsoon season. It was the worst flooding in Kerala in nearly a century. Over 483 people died, and 15 are missing. At least a million people were evacuated. All 14 districts of the state were placed on red alert. According to the Kerala government, one-sixth of the total population of Kerala had been directly affected by the floods and related incidents. It is the worst flood in Kerala after the great flood of 99 that happened in 1924.

Thirty-five out of the fifty-four dams within the state were opened. All five overflow gates of the Idukki Dam were opened at the same time. Heavy rains in Wayanad and Idukki have caused severe landslides and have left the hilly districts isolated.
We kept hearing disturbing news from Kerela. Out trip was out of scope now. Munnar was not accessible, Alleppey backwater's level was increased by three feet. At home, we used to discuss Kerala flood but no one was talking anything about our trip. All of us were mentally prepared to cancel our trip to Kerala. I decided to cancel our flight booking and get the refund. All of us were agreed not to ask for the refund of the advance amount paid to driver and hotels. We considered that as our contributions to Kerala Flood victims.

On 27th August, we received the news that Kochi International Airport will resume operations on 29th. Wow, It was fast.

Quote:
Kochi airport resumes operations on Wednesday(29th Aug) after two weeks closure.

Closed for a few hours on August 9 after the torrential rains began on August 8, and then from August 18 after runaways and terminals were inundated, the airport was scheduled to reopen on August 26. Cochin International Airport Limited later extended the date by three days.
I was about to cancel our flight booking and I received a call from our tempo traveller's driver. He told us that thing are improving. He asked us to wait till 10th Sept. as per him, Allepy Houseboats will start functioning after 10th sep. 10th Sep was under our cancellations period. I confirmed with other travel mates and decided to wait till 10th September.

We received a call from our drive on 11th September saying that all the shortlisted places area back to normal and there is no need to cancel the trip. It was strange, just 20 days back Kerala was facing the worst flood of the century and now everything was back to normal. I confirmed with some locals and hotel owners. All of them confirmed that all are back to normal and tourist are highly encouraged to visit Kerala.

It was a good news for us. I shared that good news with all the travel-mates. My Dad's friends were sceptical about the trip. I informed that I wanted to go ahead with the trip, in that way we would be contributing in a small way to the revival of tourism in Kerala and thus provide impetus to the people getting back to leading normal lives.

My 3.6 year old Daughter Ziva was exciting for the trip to Kerala.

Last edited by SJM1214 : 6th October 2018 at 14:49.
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Old 1st October 2018, 16:35   #4
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PS: Ours(Team-BHP) is an open forum and keeping the privacy of other travel-mates in mind, I "ll try to focus on my(and my family's) experience only.

Day 1: Ahmedabad to Cochin to Munnar

As per our plan, we had to catch a flight to Cochin from Ahmedabad. We stuffed our bags in my MS Brezza and drove to Ahmedabad(Anand to Ahmedabad 70Km). We have many relatives in Ahmedabad with a large parking space. I asked one of my cousins to drop us at the Airport and park my car in their basement parking for a week.

Due to Ziva, we had to carry too many things. We had to keep lots of clothes and food items for her with us.

Our Luggage.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-1.jpg

For Ziva, this was her first experience of flying. She was excited to experience the ride of an "Aeroplane". We spend more than one hour at waiting-lounge watching landing and take-offs of planes.

At waiting-Lounge.
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After a while, We boarded in the flight. We made ourselves comfortable in flight. Ziva was excited. She was not ready to fasten the safety belt. I assured her that dad would not force her to keep wearing a seat belt like the car. It is ok to remove it after the plane takes off.

Ready to fly.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-3.jpg


We took off, Ziva removed her belt. She started roaming in aircraft. She was the only kid in the entire cabin. Other passengers started playing with her. After a while, she slept.

Exploring Aircraft.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-4.jpg

At front seats.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-4.1.jpg

Air travel is the fastest way to travel over long distances. However, I always find the plane journey boring. Yes, its exciting during taking off and landing or with a clear sky. I normally try to sleep or keep myself busy with my Kindle. I tried to keep myself busy reading "Sacred Games ". This book is not that exciting as Netflix web series. Rest of the time I spent observing Jet Engine just next to my seat.

Jet Engine.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-5.jpg

After one hour and fifty minute's journey(at 1345), we landed at Cochin Internation Airport. I have seen water logged airport's photographs. It was nice to see a neat and clean airport without any traces of flood.

Welcome to Cochin.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-6.jpg

Last edited by SJM1214 : 6th October 2018 at 14:52.
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Old 3rd October 2018, 10:47   #5
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Our Tempo Traveller driver was waiting for us at arrival. We didn't waste any time and got in the Vehicle. I tried to be friendly with the driver but he didn't know Hindi or English.

In my opinion, a Tempo Travellers gives bus like feeling. However, a 12 Seater Tempo Traveller for nine persons and their luggage was a perfect fit. I wanted to sit at the front seat and observe the roads but one of the uncles had some motion sickness, so I offered him to sit at the front seat with the driver. After a quick lunch, We started our Journey to Munnar. We were in the great moods. We were excited to see one of the well-known hill stations of Kerala. (Cochin to Munnar 130km)

Ziva all set for Munnar.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-7.jpg

After some 25km of the journey, the driver was feeling uncomfortable. I asked him the reason. He was not able to communicate properly. From his expressions, I understood that there was some issue in the front tyre. We stopped at small Dhaba and observed the front tyre. The rim of front tyre was hot. I sprinkled some water on it and it vaporised. The brake pads were jammed. As per my understanding, it was just a one hour job. But the driver didn't have any tools with him. Moreover, we were out of the city without any mechanic around.

A stop at Dhaba.
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Drive called up someone and asked him to arrange another vehicle for us. As per Driver, another Tempo traveller will take us to Munnar. Other Tempo Traveller came after three hours (at 1630). We shifted our luggage to the new vehicle and asked the new driver to make it fast.

We started for Munnar at 1645 and heavy rain started. We were 90 km far from Munnar. Heavy rain was killing the visibility, so we had to drive the vehicle slowly. I was thinking to get some two hours daylight at Munnar, that was out of scope now. The rain was fierce. Finally, we got the taste of Kerala Rain. We kept moving at a slow pace.

Kerala Rain.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-9.jpg

We kept moving. We were not able to see anything outside of the windows. It was boring. We stopped at a small bridge to allow the downgoing vehicle to cross the bridge. We were 60 km far from Munnar.

We noticed many places where the road was completely washed away. Fifteen days back, this region was completely isolated from Kerala due to the destruction of some bridges. Authorities have done an amazing job to restore this route in little time.

Approaching Munnar.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-10.jpg

We crossed that bridge. It was getting dark. We reached a beautiful waterfall named Cheeyappara Waterfalls. After four hours of waiting, we were tired. However, we stopped for a while at that waterfall and enjoyed it. It was a beautiful tall waterfall. The Cheeyappara Waterfall cascades down in seven steps. There was a dense growth of trees all around.

Approaching Cheeyappara Waterfall.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-11.jpg

At Cheeyappara Waterfall.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-12.jpg

Cheeyappara Waterfall.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-13.jpg

We...
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-14.jpg

We moved ahead and started for Munnar. It was 1930, it was almost dark. There was one more waterfall en route Munnar. We had to ignore it due to low light.

The Last light.
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Finally, at 2100, we reached Munnar.

Welcome to Munnar.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-16.jpg

Last edited by SJM1214 : 6th October 2018 at 15:00.
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Old 4th October 2018, 09:53   #6
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Day 2: Munnar Sight- Seeing.

We reached Munnar at 2100. We were tired after a slow and boring journey. We had a quick dinner and checked in at Spice country Resort.

Spice Country Resort.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-17.jpg

After a nice sound sleep, we woke up at 0630. Amazing views from the balcony and chilly mountain air welcomed us with open arms. We checked in at night, so we were not aware of the geographic location of the resort. The view from the balcony was a pleasant surprise for us. Wife got in her teacher's mode and started teaching yoga to our 3.6 years old daughter.

View from Our room.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-18.jpg

Yoga Session.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-19.jpg

After their quick yoga session, we got ready and went for breakfast. They had a nice arrangement for breakfast in one of their balconies. I always insist my travel-mates to grab a heavy breakfast so lunch can be delayed during sightseeing. I completely follow Comedian Atul Khatri's tip from his stand-up routine named "India Travelling to America" about breakfast.

The Resort.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-20.jpg

Breakfast with a view.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-21.jpg

Happy Parents.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-22.jpg

We finished our breakfast. Other travel-mates were not ready, so we took a chance to have a walk around the resort. Spice Country Resort is situated before 11km from Munnar town. We tried to talk with some locals but the language was the biggest barrier. However, Ziva made a friend. One local girl was waiting for her school bus. Ziva went ahead and started talking with her.

to Munnar town
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-23.jpg

Views Outside the Resort.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-24.jpg

a walk with locals.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-25.jpg

Ziva's new friend.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-26.jpg

Last edited by SJM1214 : 6th October 2018 at 15:03.
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Old 4th October 2018, 11:23   #7
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We were ready to move at 0800. We boarded our Tempo Traveller and started towards Eravikumal Wildlife Sanctuary.

Eravikulam National Park situated along the summit of the Western Ghats in the high ranges of Idduki district of Kerala. Accidentally we choose a perfect timing to visit this place. This park is land of "Neelakurinji", a flower that blooms once in twelve years. Flower blooming season is from August 2018 to October 2018. How could we miss these once in a 12 years event? Moreover, the park holds the maximum viable population of the endangered Nilgiri Tahr.

Eravikulam is nearly 15 Km north of Munnar. Munnar wildlife division and the Forest and wildlife division of Kerala run it. The park is a heritage site. An online registration is required to reach this park. We reached the starting point of Eravikulam National Park.

Private Vehicle Parking.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-27.jpg

Private Vehicle Parking.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-28.jpg

Our registration was done and tickets were bought. We were waiting for Park operated minibus to take us to the national park. Private vehicles are not allowed inside the park. Visitors, who visit Eravikulam National Park are taken inside the park in Kerala Forest Department Vehicles. We waited for one hour clicking around.

Tea Gardens.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-29.jpg

Ziva excited to see a tea "garden"
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-30.jpg

New kind of Carrot
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-31.jpg

Waiting for Minibus.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-32.jpg

After one hour's wait, the minibus arrived. The mini-bus took us on a half an hour ride up the hills along a scenic view. It was a beautiful journey. The road was surrounded by beautiful tea gardens.

Minibus.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-33.jpg

Tea Garden.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-34.jpg

The road to National Park.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-35.jpg

The bus ride ended at the last point. From there, We trekked to see the Neelakurinji flowers. It was roughly one km trek with splendid views of the nearby hills, which gave us chance to observe the steep face of the mountains. We witnessed the Neelakurinji flowers. The density/quantity of flowers was low. The marketing brochure of Kerala Tourism talks something else. However, it was beautiful. After all, we were witnessing an event which happens only once in 12 long years. Neelakurinji flower has no smell or any medicinal value and the attraction is the blue mountains which you can't see anywhere in the world other than the Western Ghats.

Let's walk.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-36.jpg

With Neelakurinji...
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-37.1.jpg

Neelakurinji Flowers.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-37.jpg

Neelakurinji Flowers.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-38.jpg

Neelakurinji Flowers.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-39.jpg

Neelakurinji Flowers.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-40.jpg

An Extrem Closeup.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-41.jpg

We trekked all the way up to the end of the park. We spent some time clicking around. It was a 1.5km walk. Carrying Ziva was my duty, so I was exhausted. We took some rest and headed down. That area was overflowing with tourists.

Here is the limit.
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Let's get back.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-43.jpg

let's run
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-44.jpg

While we were returning back, we spotted one Nilgiri Tahr. The Nilgiri Tahr is an endangered mountain goat species. Their numbers have dwindled over the years due to poaching and a lack of natural habitats for them. Eravikulam hosts about 300 of the species and it is from here that the fight for their survival is being spearheaded.

Nilgiri Tahr.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-45.jpg

Nilgiri Tahr.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-46.jpg

A close-up.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-47.jpg

Curious Ziva wanted to touch Nilgiri Tahr. I didn't allow her to do so. However, that goat wasn't shy of humans. It joined us with her girlfriend for a walk. Some of the tourists tried to touch them. The guards warned them and reminded them of the penalty of 2000/-. That warning worked.

A walk with us.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-48.jpg

Eravikulam National Park is home to the highest peak in south India with a height of 2695m named Anaimudi. We were not able to see this peak due to clouds. Here is a glimpse of Anaimudi peak.

Anaimudi peak.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-49.jpg

Thanks to the team of these guards, who remain on their toes to maintain the decorum of Eravikulam National Park.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-50.jpg

We caught a downgoing minibus. This time, I was able to grab a nice window seat. We got some breathtaking views of mountains and tea gardens.

Minibus.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-51.jpg

Mountains.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-52.jpg

Tea Gardens.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-53.jpg

Tea Gardens
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-54.jpg

Last edited by SJM1214 : 6th October 2018 at 15:08.
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Old 4th October 2018, 13:54   #8
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Our next destination was a Flower Garden. As per our driver, it is well-known as The Rose Garden. Even though the garden is known as the 'Rose Garden', a variety of other plants and trees can also be found here. Tourist can also buy seeds of flowering plants from the Rose Garden.

I didn't want to waste our time visiting a flower Garden. However, wife and parents wanted to have a look, so we went ahead.

The Rose Garden.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-55.jpg

The Rose Garden.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-56.jpg

The Rose Garden.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-57.jpg

The Rose Garden.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-58.jpg

We spent more than two hours at The Rose Garden. Rose Garden was our driver's suggestion, which wasted( yes!IMO wasted) our two hours. It was 1630 and started raining mildly. The driver came up with one more suggestion to skip Top Station, which was 35km far from Munnar. Top station is the highest point in Munnar. How could we skip it? However, we had to skip it keeping rain and other travel-mates in mind.

After Rose Gaden, Driver took us to Echo Point. Echo Point is popular for its natural echo phenomenon. There was nothing exciting about Echo Point. Moreover, the decision of skipping Top station ruined my mood.

Echo Point.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-59.1.jpg

Echo Point.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-59.jpg

Echo Point.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-60.jpg

After Echo Point, the driver took us to Kundala dam. Yes, it was "driver took us" only. I was very much irritated because we missed one of the well-known sights in Munnar.

This is one major reason that I hate package tours and that too without a self-driven vehicle. However, I was with the family. I couldn't show my irritation to anyone except the driver. He understood my mood. He assured me that it was just a first day of our trip and there's more to come.

Kundala Dam was small but beautiful dam. We spent half an hour at dam clicking photos and walking on the dam.

Kundala Dam.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-61.jpg

Irritated man.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-62.jpg

wife trying to cheer me up.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-63.jpg

Happy family.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-64.jpg

Water Reservoir.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-65.jpg

After Kundala, we rushed back to Munnar. We had dinner at one of the restaurants in Munnar and called it a day. We reached our resort at 2100. It started raining heavily.

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Day 3: Munnar to Thekkady.

Next day morning we wake up early, finished our breakfast and proceed for Thekkady. Munnar to Thekkady is 95 km. I forgot my last day's irritation. All of us were in good mood. It was a nice sunny day. However, I was not in the front seats, so overall it was boring for me. First time in my life, I started reading Kindle on a road journey and had a long nap in the vehicle.

Road to Thekkady
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-66.jpg

We stopped for bio break at one of the small Dhabas. There was a Cardamom farm just behind that dhaba. Wife and parents wanted to see the plants of Cardamom. We took the permission of the farm owner and visited that farm. Farm owner gifted some Cardamom to Ziva.

Cardamom Plant.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-67.jpg

We reached Thekkady at 1330. Thekkady is placed at an altitude of 700m above the sea level. Thekkady offers a very peaceful and calm atmosphere. The forest areas around Thekkady is strictly uninhabited by the Forest Department to preserve the Mother Nature.

We stopped for lunch at one of the restaurants. We finished our lunch and immediately rushed to resort.

Thekkady.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-68.jpg

Some church in Thekkady.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-69.jpg

Lunch Break.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-70.jpg

Our rooms were booked in Jungle Park Resorts. We checked in, dumped our luggage, got freshened up and got ready to go for Periyar lake.

Jungle Park Resorts.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-71.jpg

Waiting for the Luggage.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-72.jpg

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Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and Periyar Lake.

We boarded our vehicle and headed for Periyar lake.

The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park are situated in the banks of Periyar lake. The wildlife sanctuary is also famous for its tiger reserve and elephant reserve. The construction of the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar River led to the formation of Periyar Lake.

The boat safari through Periyar lake provides amusing boat ride experience. A boat cruise on the Lake is perhaps the best way to watch the wildlife in the reserve.

We reached Periyar lake and welcomed by a beautiful lake.

Periyar Lake.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-73.2.jpg

Periyar lake with boats.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-73.1.jpg

We bought the tickets. There was a long queue. We waited more than an hour at their waiting lounge. There were lots of Monkeys in the waiting area.

Ziva and a baby Monkey.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-73.jpg

Walk to the boats.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-74.jpg

We boarded on the boat. We got the lower deck seats. For every person on the boat, it is mandatory to wear life-jackets. Once all the people wore safety harness the boat started cruising on the calm water of the lake.

Ziva with her life jacket.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-75.jpg

Mom & Dad.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-76.jpg

Boat on the lake.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-77.jpg

Calm water.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-add.jpg

We were not that optimistic to spot any wildlife. The weather was cold and black clouds were looming on the horizon. However, the boat ride in itself was very a pleasant experience. I noticed many passengers literally sleeping on their seats.

Cruising on the Lake.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-78.jpg

Black Clouds.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-79.jpg

And some more clouds.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-80.jpg

After a while, it started raining. Wildlife spotting was out of scope during the rain. However, we were enjoying the boat ride. The lake was beautiful. The rain was making the lake more beautiful. The two great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain and the sound of the wind. We were witnessing both of them.

Rain.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-81.jpg

Rain and the Lake.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-82.jpg

The sound of rain
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-83.jpg

I was feeling sleepy. Ziva was already sleeping in her mother's lap. The Rain increased. Kerala rain was in its full swing. Our boat took a big U-turn and headed back to its source destination.

A U-turn.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-84.jpg

The sound of Wind.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-85.jpg

The Sound of Rain.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-86.jpg

Back to base.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-87.jpg

We had to run back to our vehicle in heavy rain. Before getting into the bus I took one last photograph and bid farewell to Periyar lake by giving a promise to come back.

Goodbye Periyar.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-88.jpg

We reached our resort and the rain stopped. We had more than one hour of daylight at our disposal. I wanted to go for relaxing Aryuvedic Massage or if possible Bamboo Rafting but wife and parents had other plans.

Thekkady is the spice hub of Kerala and Kumily is at the centre of this. As per my parents, It would have been a sin to return home without a suitcase filled with spices. Our resort was in Kumily and Spice market was just 10 minutes walk away from our resort. We asked our driver to drop us at one of the well-known spice shops. Mom, Dad and wife started buying different spices for home as well as relatives.

Me and Ziva? We roamed around in the market, it was full of Spice shops. We bought some homemade white Chocolates, got settled on the steps of spice shop and started playing selfie games.

Me & Ziva...
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-89.jpg

Parents and wife took three long hours for their shopping. They came out with a big bag full of spices. We had our dinner at one of the local restaurants, got back to the resort and called it a day.

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Day 4: Thekkady to Alleppey

So far, my experience said that the journey in the Tempo Traveller was boring for me. There were several reasons like, I wasn't driving, I was not in the front seat and I was not able to click photographs during the journey.

We were going to Alleppey (Alappuzha) from Thekkady. It was a 130km drive. We were going to spend one day and a night in those famous houseboats on Alleppey Backwaters. I proposed to have an early start in the morning so we could spend maximum time in the houseboat.

But, when you are with your family and especially with a kid, early would never be early. We started at 0830 from Thekkady. After one hour of the journey, Ziva was feeling sleepy. Both of us got on the last seat of the vehicle and slept. Wife woke us up when she had the first glimpse of a houseboat.

HouseBoat.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-90.jpg

HouseBoat.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-91.jpg

Alappuzha (AKA Alleppey) is known as ‘the Venice of the East’. Alleppey is the hub of Kerala’s backwaters and home to a huge network of backwaters and more than thousand houseboats. The modern houseboats are equipped with all the comforts of a good hotel room like air conditioners, modern toilets, cosy living rooms, a kitchen and a balcony.

Houseboat guys shifted our luggage in one of the houseboats. We kept most of our luggage in our vehicle and kept only necessary things with us.

Ziva was surprised to see an entire house floating in the water.

Our houseboat.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-92.jpg

Our houseboat.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-93.jpg


We boarded the houseboat. It was a small houseboat with four rooms on the ground floor and a big dining hall on the first floor with a balcony. It was perfect for 9 people. They asked us to remove our shoes at the front area of the houseboat.

Ship's Wheel.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-94.jpg

Narrow Passage.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-95.jpg

Our room.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-96.jpg

Our room.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-97.jpg

We had our lunch in the boat's dining area. It was a simple but tasty south Indian meal. We finished our lunch and boat started cruising. Many houseboats were anchored at the starting point. As per the houseboat owner, there are more than 900 houseboats in Alleppey backwaters.

Cruising.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-98.jpg

Houseboats.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-99.jpg

We rushed to boat's balcony and settled there. Ziva was running around in the entire boat. It was dangerous, some of the areas of the boat didn't have the railing.

Ziva.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-100.jpg

At Balcony
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-101.jpg

At Balcony
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-102.1.jpg

We were enjoying the ride. It was tranquil and relaxing. We didn't have anything to do. The boat cruised along narrow canals where we saw the full glory of village life. People travelled in canoes to reach the mainland as many houses there do not have an approach road.

Villagers...
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-102.jpg

...going to the mainland
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-103.jpg

...in their canoe
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-104.jpg

& Kayak...
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-105.jpg

It was amazing! We passed by other boats Ziva started waving to each and every boat. It was one lazy afternoon. I was observing the different kinds of houseboats.

The boat gradually moved towards the lake and it was a completely different experience. We felt lost in the wide expanse, while also feeling like royalty.

Approaching a big lake.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-106.jpg

To lake.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-107.jpg

Other Boats.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-108.jpg

Other Boats.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-109.jpg

Other Boats.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-110.jpg

Other Boats.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-111.jpg

After a while, I rushed to downstairs to the captain's chair. Somehow I convinced him to try my hand on Ship's wheel. The captain allowed me to sail the boat for five minutes. It was fun. Captain uncle bought ice-cream for Ziva. Both of us got what we wanted. Ice cream for Ziva and steering wheel for me.

Ship's Wheel.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-112.jpg

Sailing the Boat.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-113.jpg

Ziva...
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-114.jpg

& her Ice cream
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-115.jpg

The boat remained anchored in the lake for some time. After it was anchored, the boat started slowly rotating on its own. It rotated 360degree by its own. At 1700, we started cruising back to the web of canals from that big lake.

Anchored Boats.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-116.jpg

Anchored Boats.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-117.jpg

Some Church.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-118.jpg

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By 1730, the boat was docked near a small village. The boats usually have their own regular parking slots. They connected the boat with power supply and put on the AC in rooms.

Wife wanted to visit a nearby church. We hired a canoe and visited the church. We had a small walk in the nearby village.

Nearby village.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-119.jpg

Nearby village.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-120.jpg

We spent half hour roaming around. By 2000, dinner was served, and we hit the bed by 2200. Ziva didn't want to sleep. She invented her own game with paper cups. Finally, at 2230 we called it a day. Boat staff specifically asked us to make sure the boat’s door and windows are closed by 1800. Sleeping on a floating boat was a different experience!

Ziva's new game.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-121.jpg

We got up in the morning to sounds from the village. Villagers were busy in their daily activities. Ziva rushed to the balcony to see kids going to school in canoes and boats. We told her that after some time we need to get out this boat and board in our Tempo Traveller. She started crying, she wanted to take the houseboat to Anand (my hometown). After my promise that I"ll buy her a small houseboat at home, she got convinced.

Good Morning.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-122.jpg

Ziva rushed to Balcony.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-123.jpg

Breakfast.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-124.jpg

Ready to Move.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-125.jpg

Jetty.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-126.jpg

By 0800, we were done with our breakfast. We started cruising back to the jetty. We bid farewell to all the staff of houseboat. We left the boat by 0930.

Our Tempo Traveller was waiting for us at Jetty.

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Day 5: Alleppey to Kovalam

We left the houseboat and boarded in our Tempo Traveller at 0930. Our next destination was Kovalam. Alleppey to Kovalam is 165km. So far, that was the highest distance in our trip.

Kovalam is a small beach town located 16 km from Thiruvananthapuram city, the capital of Kerala. It's a magnificent beach supported by sharply mounting headlands and enclosed by fertile coconut palms. It offers the best facilities to its beach lovers like swimming, Ayurvedic massages, sunbathing, and many other options.

All of us were under the intoxication of Alleppey backwaters. We started our journey sharp at 0945 to Kovalam. As per google baba, Alleppey to Kovalam distance could be covered in four hours. However, I knew it would take more than six hours. I was mentally ready for it. After a while, I opened my kindle and got busy with Ganesh Gaitonde and SartajSingh.

We reached Kovalam at 1700. We were welcomed by a crescent beach of Arabain Sea. It was Hawa beach. It was overcrowded with lots of tourists. Our driver explained to us that Hawa beach is overcrowded by day trippers heading straight from the taxi stand to the sand.

Hawa Beach.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-127.jpg

Hawa Beach.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-128.jpg

Our Resort, Neelakanta Resort was located on another beach named Lighthouse beach, which was just 100 mt away from Hawa beach. We walked to our resort and resort staff took care of our luggage.

Light House beach.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-129.jpg

Light House beach.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-130.jpg

NeelaKanta Resort.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-131.jpg

Lighthouse beach was like a private beach without much rush. We finished the check-in formalities and rushed to the beach. We were tired after six hours of the journey. A bath/swim at the beautiful beach could be refreshing for us.

Lighthouse Beach.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-132.jpg

We got in.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-133.jpg

Ziva loved it.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-134.jpg

So we.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-135.jpg

We were having fun at the beach and within half hour a siren buzzed. Lifeguards asked all the tourists to get out of the sea. It was not fair. We just started playing at the beach. However, we had to get out of the beach.

Ziva wanted to play in the sea. We immediately ran back to our resort and got in the Swimming pool.

I got in.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-136.jpg

Ziva Joined.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-138.jpg

We had fun.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-139.jpg

with her mom.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-140.jpg

Ziva mad some new friends.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-141.jpg

We had a refreshing swim in the swimming pool. We got freshened up at our room and hit the street. Kovalam is heaven for the seafood lover. Some of the friends asked me to visit Malabar Restaurant at Kovalam for live Lobster.

We headed straight to Malabar restaurant and had amazing seafood.

Seafood
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-143.jpg

Dinner.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-144.jpg

After dinner, we had a walk on the sand and called it a day.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-142.jpg

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Day 6: Kovalam

We were tired after the entire day's journey and swimming in the beach and pool. We had a nice sleep in the cosy room of NeelaKanta Resort.

Good Morning
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-145.jpg

Our plan was to visit Kanyakumari on Day 6. It was a 90km drive from Kovalam. Wife was not feeling well, so we dropped the Idea of Kanyakumari. Parents and other travel-mates went ahead as per initial plan. Me, wife and Ziva stayed back to enjoy a lazy day on the beach.

We woke up at 0800 and got out to have a walk on the beach. We witnessed traditional fishing at the Beach. I tried to understand it and clicked a lot of photographs.

The fishermen would head out in a couple of wooden boats, put the net in the water a few hundred meters off the shore. They float the net and head back to the beach, each boat hauling a long rope from each end of the net.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-146.1.jpg


They pull the fishing nets that had been in the ocean overnight, out of the water.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-146.jpg

These nets are so large that it takes about 30 fishermen to get them on the shore in a joint effort!
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-148.jpg

Two groups, one for each end of the net.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-147.jpg

With rhythmic chanting, the men pull the nets in, moving closer to each other.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-149.jpg

Toward the end they pull the heaviest part of the net, holding all the fish.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-150.jpg

After the hard work of more than 2 hours, the nets were completely back on the sore.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-151.1.jpg

Sorting and removing the fish from the nets.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-152.1.jpg

We moved closer to see the catch.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-151.jpg

It was a tough and hard job. We noticed all these fishermen were well built and physically fit due to the routine hard work of pulling the nets out of the sea. During the Kerala Flood 2018, the Fishermen community carried their boats onto trucks to get there and braved the filthy, swirling waters before most other rescuers arrived.

Standing Ovation to these SuperMen.

Quote:
The fishermen of Kerala joined hands in the rescue operations in several parts of Kerala, along with the Navy and the rescue team. The fishermen braved through areas where the naval commandos could not reach. 18,000 people were rescued by the fishermen who deployed 240 boats. The fishermen arranged their fuel and food expenses themselves before the state stepped in. Acknowledging the fishermen's' service, Kerala Chief Minister announced a felicitation ceremony for all the fishermen who were a part of the rescue. A boat would be given Rs 3,000 a day and the state would meet the fuel expenses. This success could be an important case study disaster management worldwide.

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I had many things in my mind for the entire day in Kovalam, like going for Scuba diving and Visiting Poovar Island. However, wife and Ziva were feeling lazy. They just wanted to sit at the beach and enjoy the day.

Somehow, I convinced them to visit Light House. Lighthouse was just 200mt walk away from our resort.

To LightHouse.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-152.jpg

At Lighthouse premises.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-153.jpg

Elevator inside the Lighthouse.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-154.jpg

Last steps to the top.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-155.jpg

Top of the world.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-156.jpg

Enjoying the view.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-157.jpg

A Brid's eye view.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-158.jpg

A Brid's eye view.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-159.jpg

LightHouse.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-160.jpg

We got down from the lighthouse and walked back to our resort. The Lighthouse beach was empty and inviting us. It was our only reason to stay back and skip Kanyakumari. We wanted to let Ziva play in the beach and sands. Ziva enjoyed more than two hours at the beach.

At Beach.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-161.jpg

Playing with waves.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-162.jpg

Running around.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-163.jpg

Lighthouse Beach.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-164.jpg

Ziva and sand.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-165.jpg

Ziva.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-166.jpg

I asked: What Should we do now?

Ziva's answer:
Go back to resort, wash legs, remove sand and get in the swimming pool.

Ziva and her Daddy got into the swimming pool and her mother went for a costly Ayurvedic Massage.

Back to the pool.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-167.jpg

Once Again.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-169.jpg

Ziva's one more new friend.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-168.jpg

After our Swimming pool session and wife's massage session, we got back to our room, changed and hit the street in search of seafood and beer combination.

Street Experience.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-170.jpg

Street Experience.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-171.jpg

Bored? At least not during the trip.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-172.jpg

We had our late lunch at one of the seafood joints. We spent more than 2 hours eating our lunch of Crabs and Tiger Prawns. I was searching for Oysters but we didn't find it at any of the food joints.

Lunch.
A 3.6 year old in God's own country - Kerala!-173.jpg

Later that evening, Ziva was down with the fever. Parents came back from Kanyakumari in the evening. They along with wife started scolding me for Ziva's fever. I anticipated it, We(me & Ziva) spent more than 5 hours in the sea and swimming pool. I was in no condition to defend myself from the attacking team of my wife and parents. However, I had all the medicines. I gave medicine to Ziva. She was back to normal by midnight.

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