When the conversation about bringing the Xandari concept to India was in the early stages, Milo was in the early stages of mastering the camera. We spent a large percentage of our time in the backwaters in those days, working with our team at River Escapes, and this gave Milo time with his craft in an astounding setting. My father was a photographer, and his father painted landscapes, but for some reason their visual acuity skipped a generation and Milo got it. He saw in composition and captured with camera what escaped me. A collection of these photographs has adorned our office walls since they were taken in 2011. And they have influenced our thinking about what is now called Xandari Riverscapes.
The houseboat operation has been written about many times in these pages over the years, but in the archival diving of the last week I discovered some fascinating correspondence related to my first visit to Kerala.
George M George had taken me to the backwaters and showed me the first houseboat under construction. The craftsmen were doing something I had no idea was possible, stitching together a hull with no nails; and then afterwards the artistry of the upper deck, and all that we have written about elsewhere.
I have just reread a letter I wrote to Sherrill Broudy after that first visit to Kerala a dozen years ago, and had shared my snapshots with him, saying that what I saw reminded me of Xandari with the curvaceous, organic feel.
So today my dozen daily reflections on Xandari are affectionately connected to my earliest recollections of Kerala’s backwaters, combined with Milo’s earliest photography, combined with a premonition of what would become Xandari Riverscapes.
Today we visited the team at Xandari Riverscapes to say our farewells, and we reflected on our six years together.
The team made a heartfelt set of comments and one of the crewmen noted that he and his mates knew that duck was my favorite dish on the houseboat menu, and looked forward to serving it to me again one day, next time as a guest.
Milo’s photograph to the right, capturing the ducks belonging to a farmer who supplies Xandari Riverscapes, will keep me looking forward to that day. So will the photo below, taken just a few moments ago.