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The French Connection July 4, 2007

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in India, Indian Railways, Travel.

One of the reasons I love traveling is that I love to meet people. When you are on the road, you can’t help but meet interesting people, share enriching experiences with them and then let those memories become a treasured part of your life.

I met this awesome French couple from Toulouse on board the 6345 Lokmanya Tilak – Trivandrum Netravati Express on my way from Mumbai to Kollam, Kerala. They had boarded from Madgaon and were headed to Kollam as well.

Guillaume, Julie & I soon hit it off, and I volunteered to show them around Kollam. Guillaume is a Commercial Art student who would like to join an advertising agency some day, while Julie is majoring in Sociology. Guillaume’s blog features some of his work. What I liked most about them was their very endearing nature & openness to savor travel experiences of all kinds. I took them to Ashtamudi Lake at Kollam, which is among my most favorite spots on Earth. Every vacation, I take a rejuvenating boat ride on this lake and click snaps of the railway bridge over it.

Ashtamudi Lake is where one of the most tragic railway accidents in India occurred in 1988, when 8 coaches of an Express train fell off the bridge into the lake killing close to 100 people.

After the boat ride over the rainswept lake where Guillaume & Julie took to the oars while I clicked snaps, we took the long ferry back to Kollam town. After the exciting but tiring ride, we went drinking into late evening and had a great time. Next day, we went to Allapuzha (Alleppey), where G&J had to take a backwater cruise on a traditional Kerala houseboat to Kollam. G&J got a houseboat on the Alleppey – Kollam cruise for just Rs 4500 ($109), which was an unbelievable bargain – the usual going rate starts from Rs 7500 ($182). The 83km scenic ride along Kerala’s backwaters is reputed to be among the world’s greatest travel experiences and lasts a day & night. I dropped them at Alleppey and met them the next day at Kollam, from where they took off to Kottayam to visit Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. It was quite painful bidding adieu to them. Hopefully, we will all get to meet each other someday.

Here are two videos:
The first one’s got us going on a boatride on Ashtamudi Lake… there are 3 languages spoken in the clip (English, Malayalam & French… have fun!)

And here’s one where they take off on their backwater cruise from Alleppey to Kollam…

And here are some snaps from our adventures…

A train gets on the Perumon bridge as G&J give the oars all they got…

A duo of fishermen sail by after waving us adieu….

The Govt Ferry on its way to pick us from Perumon…

Vehicle Ferry at Kollam…

Kids returning from school use the Perumon Bridge to get home, they were waving us goodbye…

G&J on the bridge…

They are having an argument about taking the boat out in the rains

The starting point for the backwater cruise to Kollam at Alleppey, note the toddy (Kallu) shop….

The Goddess of Light (Vilakamma) Statue at a family house on the lake, Kollam

The Goddess of Light (Vilakamma) Statue at a family house on the lake, Kollam

The Goddess of Light (Vilakamma) Statue at a family house on the lake, Kollam

Heya Guys….

G&J on the houseboat with the driver

G snappin me…

Chinese Fishing Nets on the lake, Kollam

G&J getting drenched by the light drizzle

Ferry on the way!

This creature at the bus stop was the object of G’s attention

Bishop Jerome Nagar Complex, where we hung out for a while…

G is fascinated by this lovely autorickshaw

G loved this outdoor ad in Kollam for a ceiling fan… that cools the coolest!


1. Lewis Green - July 5, 2007


You never cease to amaze me. What a wonderful person you are. Like you, I love travel and for all the same reasons. I was fortunate to make my living as a travel writer for six years and then as a travel magazine executive editor for another four years. I have been blessed. I hope very much we meet someday.

2. arunrajagopal - July 6, 2007

WOW Lewis… lucky you!!! Travel writing for a decade… I can hardly imagine the fun you must have had visiting wonderful places & people and then writing about them!!! You are truly a role model. Hopefully somebody will see this post & offer me a travel writing position. Wink.

3. Ellen Weber - July 8, 2007

Wow — what an amazing visual keeper to find on a weekend. Thanks for the views that inspired me to write today!

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