Inside the Tiny Lamp

You never forget your first. Never. Because, it leaves such a profound impact on you, an emotional mark that you always look back on.

I’ll never forget my first experience on an Indian train or where it led me. My friends and I hopped on a train from Trivandrum to Kasaragod, and it was a long journey. We started late in the evening and arrived the next morning. Kerala is massive, and India itself is just unbelievably vast.

We grabbed breakfast from the local eateries in Kasaragod, and then someone picked us up and drove us to our actual destination – Chimminikood. As soon as we arrived, I felt this overwhelming sense of being at home. Even though I was a stranger in a strange land, the place just felt so welcoming and familiar. The community there calls themselves the Fireflies, like the little glowing insects that light up your path and spread a touch of magic wherever they go. That’s exactly the vibe Chimminikood gave off – full of light, charm, and an infectious energy that made you want to soar.

When we got there, they greeted us with these tiny glasses of chilled juice. The glasses were miniature, but I quickly learned it was part of their culture. The juice was deliciously sweet, quenching my thirst but also making me crave more. There was this beautiful treehouse that immediately caught my eye. As an introvert who loves solitude, that peaceful little nook looked like the perfect spot to curl up with a book or take an afternoon nap, away from the harsh sun.

One thing that really struck me was when we all gathered in one room and sat down on the floor together. Where I’m from, most folks would expect chairs for guests. But our hosts embraced the same humble sitting position, some even on their knees. It was such a display of humility that instantly made me feel connected to their humanity. Oh, and they taught us the funny chicken dance! I loved listening to them speak Malayalam too – it sounded almost like one was either complaining or crying, but their faces were all smiles. Such an endearing contrast.

But this was my best part – the art zone. There was this amazing artist who took on a 100-day challenge, creating a new painting every single day for 100 days straight. Her subjects spanned the entire universe – from cosmic scenes to cultural jewels to intricate jewelry designs. I even spotted a Maasai painting in the mix! They let me leave my own little artistic mark at the entrance gallery, too. It was such a breathtaking outdoor exhibition. Whenever I go back, I absolutely have to revisit that art zone – it resonated so deeply with my soul. Art is life. 

And of course, being there during Onam season meant we were treated like royalty! They served us food on banana leaf plates, and we all ate with our hands like kings and queens. I’m not used to super spicy food, but that’s just their culture – it’s either blazing hot or saccharine-sweet. So I suffered through the heat, tears in my eyes, but the flavors were just so authentic and delicious. The pickles especially tasted so fresh and organic compared to what I usually eat.

After all the feasting and merriment, they put on this amazing entertainment showcase for us. We danced, I tried singing along in gibberish since I didn’t know the language, and we played all these fun games that brought out the inner child in everyone. Loosening up and tapping into that playful spirit felt so liberating. We did silly things like trying to eat hanging snacks with our hands tied behind our backs or fishing coins out of bowls without using our hands – the exact activities escaped me now, but the joyful sensations remain vibrant in my heart.

Chimminikood is a truly magical place, a community centered around warmth, light, and love. They had just launched when I visited, but they made every effort to welcome us and make us feel so special. I’m dying to go back and see how it’s grown because, at its core, Chimminikood awakens that deep connection we all crave – with ourselves, with nature, with humanity. It’s a portal to healing and an escape from the mundane into a realm of enchantment. The people there radiate such genuine kindness and vibrance. I’ll forever cherish my time in that blissful sanctuary.

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