BASIS REISEN - Indien sehen, erleben und geniessen

Winter Blues? Come Grab a Pocketful of Sunshine!

A warm slice of sunshine in the deepest, darkest, coldest, dead of winter. Wouldn’t we just KILL for that! Well, before we get into the nitty gritty of How to get away with Murder, let’s explore a saner option – step into some sunshine!! Hold on to your horses, I ain’t telling you to go around the city with a thermometer either!

OK let me get straight to the point before you go off on a quest for Little Miss Sunshine. Introducing your very own Place Under the Sun to get a the pocketful of sunshine –  sunny, sunny Kerala.

Why Kerala?


The warm sun on your face, green lusciousness as far as the eye can see, wind in your hair, just the right doze of sea breezes to do wonders for your health (the glow on your skin, I tell you!), and all-natural food fresh off nature’s basket of bounties.

Need I say more? Probably not, but let’s hear it from the experts. The National Geographic magazine listed Kerala among the top ten travel destinations under its “Paradise Found” list. Doesn’t get more authentic than Nat Geo on travel, does it?

Kerala has always been known for its beauty and as a retreat from this Mad World. Winter here is the most pleasant time of the year. It is the perfect weather to get in your dose of Vitamin D and take in all those happy enzymes that only sunshine and nature can bring.

Precious Vitamin D

We aren’t just shooting out a feel-good tale of sun and sand and rainbows and unicorns here. Good old common sense and no-nonsense science agrees – you do need some sunshine in your life!

The NHS lays it down: “We need vitamin D to help the body absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet. These minerals are important for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. A lack of vitamin D – known as vitamin D deficiency – can cause bones to become soft and weak, which can lead to bone deformities. In children, for example, a lack of vitamin D can lead to rickets. In adults, it can lead to osteomalacia, which causes bone pain and tenderness.”

The same article talks about the lack of this vital nutrient in cold climes like the UK: “In the UK, sunlight doesn’t contain enough UVB radiation in winter (October to early March) for our skin to be able to make vitamin D.”

The verdict: Chase the Sun!

Chasing the Sun at BASIS

At BASIS, we have noticed that winter is a popular time for our guests to come a calling. Many of our customers love the beautiful weather here and schedule a 2-3 week stay with us. There’s a host of things that are on offer (apart from the very alluring prospect of sitting Under the Kerala Sun). We have specialists in Ayurveda who you can consult and have an ayurvedic treatment started off with. 100% natural organic home cooked meals, tours that show you the best portions of Kerala, and the opportunity to get up, close and personal with Nature – this is what we have to offer. Here are some wonderful comments from our guests who have stayed the winter and have loved it!


“Vielen lieben Dank an alle, die diesen wundervollen Ort zu dem machen, was er ist. Diese spezielle Energie hat mir sehr sehr gut getan. Jeder Einzelne hat dazu beigetragen, dass ich tiefgreifend verstehen, fühlen und von innen heraus Heilung erfahren durfte. Dafür bin ich sehr dankbar. Vieles kam auf, hat sich präsentiert und verabschiedet, sodass ich mit weniger Last weiter fliegen und tanzen kann.” – ALEXANDRA

[Translation: Many thanks to all who make this wonderful place the place it is. This special energy did me a world of good. Every single person did his/her bit to ensure that I could deeply understand, feel and be healed from inside. I am very grateful for that. Many things came up, presented themselves and said goodbye, so that I can fly and dance on with less weight. – ALEXANDRA]

“Danke für euer herzliches, liebevolles, fürsörgliches sich Kümmern vor und während meiner Ayurvedakur. Ihr habt mich ruhen, schlafen, lesen lassen, wenn ich es brauchte. Danke auch für die spontane Rundreise und alle anderen Ausflüge.” –NADJA

[Translation: Thanks for your warm, loving and attentive care before and during my Ayurveda-treatment. You gave me the time to rest, sleep, read, when I needed it. Thanks also for the spontaneous round-trip and all the other tours. -NADJA]

Hope to see you soon too! Call us to book your next winter stay right now and get incredible deals.

Here are some pictures from some of our guests who enjoyed this winter with us.


An Ordinary Woman; An Extraordinary Life – Leelamony

Standing tall as a woman in a conservative society, leaving her home to travel to distant shores and make a name for herself at the tender age of 17, defying society’s norms and marrying the man she loved, empowering women to break out of rigid customs that held them to the ground and teaching them to soar above prejudices and find their wings – I give you Leelamony Moozhiyil.

Leelamony Moozhiyil

Leelamony Moozhiyil

When I met Leelamony for the first time, she was all hustle bustle, getting us settled in our rooms at BASIS and ensuring that we had all we need. That was after she welcomed me with a big hug and asked me if I had a comfortable journey and expressed concern that I was looking tired (This is what I surmised by her heartfelt gestures); and then she paused mid breath with “Ach-so she doesn’t understand German!” She then proceeded to give me another big hug and start over in English. I fell in love with the woman right there!

Anna of Global Gallivanting

I fell in love!

Through my stay at BASIS, I was quite enamored by Leelamony to be honest. As an Indian woman and having had many friends from Kerala, I can say that Leelamony is unique in many, many ways. Women in urban India have come a long way from what they were a few years ago. Strong, independent and sure of themselves, they have broken the traditional bonds that kept them down all those years. But this was different; it was deep in the heart of Kerala and this was a woman donned in the traditional mundum neriyathum (a two-piece sari) – you don’t expect her to be the bustling, enterprising partner of a resort chain and an advocate of local women in the area.

But there she was and I was intrigued. I wanted to know her story and I am sure you will enjoy it too.

Leaving the nest

Leelamony sailed to Germany to train as a nurse when she was 17. Now in this time and age, it isn’t a big deal really. But this was in the 60s and she was a young, village girl from Kerala.

Alleppey – Then

Image Source

She was born in Alleppey, a quaint little village in the heart of the backwaters of Kerala. Born into a Brahmin Catholic family, it was as traditional as traditional can get (I was intrigued about this one. Brahmins are a caste system rooted in the Hindu tradition, which begged a probe into what it meant that Catholics were Brahmin … here is an interesting take on Wiki:

It was unusual (if not taboo) for a young woman to venture out and seek work. It isn’t that women were treated badly. In fact, Kerala was a matrilineal society until the mid-twentieth century. Under this system, known as Marumakkathayam, descent and the inheritance of property was traced through females. Even today, in many families, children carry their mother’s last name and not that of their father. Leelamony’s husband Mathew Moozhiyil, told me that the doors of traditional Kerala houses were often very low, which was to ensure that a man entering the house would have to bow low in respect to the women within.

Low doorposts in traditional Kerala Homes

Image Source

Women held an important position in the family yes, but that position was strictly confined to the home. Leelamony disagreed. She wanted to make something of herself. “There was no scope for growth here for a woman,” she says; so when an opportunity presented itself, she grabbed it with both hands. “The priest in our church told my aunt about an opportunity for work in Germany. My parents weren’t too happy, but I thought it must be better to leave this place if I have to make something of myself!”

And so she set sail on a journey that would carry her and 3 other girls from Kerala to Germany. I can imagine the trepidation of a 17 year old whose life had hitherto been confined to a small village in Kerala; off she went to Cochin-Pune-Bombay-Paris-Athens- and finally Germany.

She signed up for a 3 year nursing course and lived on the premises with the other girls. “One year I spent learning German!” she says. It was difficult no doubt, but this was one determined young girl reaching for her dreams and nothing could stop her!

Falling in love

 “4 years after I came to Germany, I met Mathew,” she says with a smile in her voice.

Knowing that a love marriage is still frowned upon in the conservative culture of Kerala, I asked her how her family took the news.

“They were not very happy,” she says with a faraway look. “Nowadays, society is more open to a love marriage, but back then marriages were arranged. We married in Germany, and returned. But it was very difficult when we came here. Matthew’s family were not very happy with me initially, but it became better gradually.”

Finding love on distant shores

Finding love on distant shores

Back Home

21 years in Germany and three kids later, Leelamony and Mathew decided to come back to Kerala. “We wanted to do something for our people,” she says; and “do something” they did!

Among the many things that Leelamony and Mathew did for the people of Sreekandamangalam, which they made their base, they concentrated on bettering the lives of women and the lower castes.

“We started a number of workshops, training units and work opportunities. 18-30 year olds were given the opportunity to take part in cultural programs, cooking, and art. A lot of them were women. At one time, we had about a hundred girls and women working here,” she says with obvious pride in her voice, “Some of them found it difficult to come; their parents didn’t give them permission but I told them– we have power as a woman in the community we are equal to men, we women are not backward, that’s why we have to come forward.” I could hear steel in her voice.

Helping women find their wings

Helping women find their wings

They were over 18, so why were they not permitted to work there, I wondered aloud.

“The man of the family; the father, brother, or husband did not want the women of the house to go out and see the world. The women had a designated role in the family – cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the home. Not many parents wanted their girl child to be exposed to the world,” she says with a note of anger creeping in her voice.

She then explained how the women benefitted from the programs at BASIS. Through the course of their work at BASIS, local women were given the opportunity to associate with Germans, and experience a part of another world and culture from them.

I asked her more about the opportunities given to women; I wanted to know which of the units in BASIS were most women inclined towards.

“Tailoring, art and household,” she is quick to answer. “We helped them buy sewing machines and get their own tailoring units set up. We also helped nursing students with funding for their education”

Teaching them life skills

Teaching them life skills


Many of the women who sprouted their wings at BASIS have started tailoring shops in their houses – small scale entrepreneurs now! Some of them work in big tailoring firms. Other women have benefited from the other little things that Leelamony and Mathew painstakingly helped them with – they were taught hygiene, setting up kitchens, and building toilets.

Was it all smooth sailing? Did she face challenges in adapting to the society here after so many years in Germany?

“Yes,” she nods, “the community here is run by man. As a woman, you are placed at the lowest strata of society. People would come to BASIS for favours, but they would completely sidestep me and ask ‘Where is Sir?’ They weren’t too happy that we were getting their girls to get out and work.”

What helped her overcome the situation here?

“We were lucky since we came from a Brahmin Christian society, which is a little higher than the other castes. They were tolerant because we were of a higher caste. They wouldn’t have allowed their children to come work with us otherwise. I kept at it; I did not back down,” she pauses for a beat and adds fondly, “My husband really helped me too. He would push me in the forefront and direct people to me. They soon stopped asking ‘Where is Sir?’ The twinkle in her eye is unmistakable.


When a woman is loved correctly, she becomes 10 times the woman she was.

“I want to dance!”

I want to dance - so why not?

I want to dance – so why not?

She had to face a lot of challenges changing long held societal norms.

Brahmin Christians weren’t allowed to take part in folk dances or Indian Classical dances. But “I wanted to dance!” she says expressing her indignation.  Well that was enough for the determined little lady, as she gathered a few tailoring students and choreographed a dance that they decided to present in a cultural show at the Panchayat.

There was resounding opposition. “Many girls had to face a lot of opposition in their homes because of this. Men did not like it; they asked the women not to come back to BASIS as they thought we were causing them to rebel,” she shakes her head, “Many left, but a few women risked the displeasure of their men and came back.”

There is much more to Do!

I was overwhelmed with the extraordinary work that they had done for the people in Sreekandamangalam and expressed as much. “Ach-so, but there is so much more to do!” she exclaims. “Yes, it is better in Sreekandamangalam but now we have to help others, we are starting workshops in our resort in Kumily,” the evergreen, ever enterprising Leelamony Moozhiyil adds.

I ask her if she has any parting words for women here.

She sits up a little straighter as the words spill out from the depths of her heart: “Man and woman are both God’s own creation so we have the same level in society. I think man and woman belong to one another, nothing can happen with one alone; they are equally important. Only if they work together in respect will they accomplish anything.”

True that and she has lived her life helping women believe in themselves. She has nurtured that spirit of freedom and self-respect in her daughters too. One of her two daughters, Theresa Moozhiyil, has become a very dear friend and is one of the strongest women I have had the pleasure to know. Anuradha, the older daughter is raising a lovely family in Germany. Leelamony’s dedication to righting the wrong against women doesn’t stop with raising strong daughters; she has raised an excellent son – Christopher – who is kind, caring, and has a deeply ingrained respect for women. She wasn’t alone in this accomplishment though; I can’t wait to write about the lovely, ebullient and positive Mathew Moozhiyil … stay tuned!





Would you travel alone to India?

Safety as a woman traveller

Is it safe for a woman to travel alone in India?

Would you travel alone to India?

Would you travel alone to India?

Well, that is the million dollar question on everybody’s mind. And it is a sad day that beautiful, gorgeous India has to answer for it.

Keith Bellows, of the National Geographic Society, said of India “I was stunned by the richness of the land, by its lush beauty and exotic architecture, by its ability to overload the senses with the pure, concentrated intensity of its colors, smells, tastes, and sounds… I had been seeing the world in black & white and, when brought face-to-face with India, experienced everything re-rendered in brilliant Technicolor.

As an Indian woman, it breaks my heart to know that my sisters from around the world may be missing the wonderful and completely irreplaceable experience that is India because of the fear that it isn’t a safe place for women. Yes, there have been horrific incidents that warrant the fear; but there are also beautiful safe havens that can make travelling that much more safe and wonderful. I found such a haven in the BASIS resort.

A Haven - the BASIS resort

A Haven – the BASIS resort

One reason why the BASIS resort is safe is because the program is a far cry from the gimmicks of mass tourism. The honest endeavour of the program is to portray the real India in all her glory, so the places you visit are not those that are bombarded with tourists or overrun by locals trying to sell you something or the other. All the destinations incorporated in the program are authentically Indian sans the mad rush and harassment that has become synonymous with travel here.

Safety in numbers - Group Tours

Safety in numbers – Group Tours

Another reason is that most tours are planned as a group, so you won’t have to risk travelling alone. The locals are very well acquainted with the Moozhiyils and extend their guests the same respect and courtesy. You will have them looking out for you and giving you a hand with anything you need. As a lone traveller to Kerala, I was a bit wary. I am Indian, but an Indian woman travelling alone is strange a sight for locals; and I am usually never spared the stares in my other travels. This wasn’t the case here. People were very respectful and kind.

The Moozhiyil family and its troupe of helpers

The Moozhiyil family and its troupe of helpers

Above all else, is the sense of security you feel with the Moozhiyil family. The gracious hosts Matthew and Leelamony Moozhiyil are the most loving and caring hosts you will ever find. BASIS truly becomes your home as they extend the hospitality that India is known for. The kind of adopted me I think! They never intrude and let us enjoy ourselves and the beauty of the place; but when you sit down with them for a meal or cook or travel with them, you instantly feel at home.


Anna of Global Gallivanting

Anna, a British blogger and travel enthusiast, has traveled extensively in India speaks about her travels: “While I agree that India can be a difficult country to travel in, and that you need to be cautious when traveling in India, please don’t let fear stop you from experiencing the most amazing, mind blowing, magical and life changing travel destination there is – it really is Incredible India and the rewards certainly outweigh the challenges!”

I couldn’t have said it better myself! So please do visit India; it’s a truly beautiful place. You can get more information about the BASIS resort here:

Some helpful links that share some good safety tips: