KALA RAMESH reminisces on her unforgettable trip to the idyllic city of Manado in Indonesia

About seven years ago, in the year 2013, I had the good fortune to visit Manado, which is the capital city of the Indonesian province of North Sulawesi. Manado is a cosy little city and famous for fresh water fish ― yes you heard it right; though it’s a sea side ‘town’, fish are bred in fresh water. It’s a city with inactive volcanoes. Where the city ends, thick tropical forests begin. 

My daughter was a member of a choir group which was competing in the South East Asian choir games. Though I have lived in Chennai all my life and that too only two kms from the beach, I am not very keen on sea side places, but since the competition was held in Manado, we needed to go there; and am I glad that I didn’t miss going there.

We explored the city and other places on the days when there was no event. The ashes from the inactive volcano is perfect fertiliser for the flora there. This was borne out by the fact that the fruit there were amazingly huge and tasted very good as well.

The Indian choir performing at the South East Asian choir games

The resort where we stayed was close to the pristine sea. It was in Manado that I felt the first spark of love for the sea. Hence, it was a joy to go for early morning walks to the beach.

But it was not only the beach that attracted us, for the whole of the city seemed so paradisiacal. In one of our explorations, we trekked into the deep forest.  On the way back, we heard the sound of waves, which seemed so fascinating in that environment.

We were thrilled to see the waves trying to hit the gnarled feet of huge trees. I felt mesmerised and great awe at the sight of  the amazing forest and an exquisite coastline running along it, like two loving companions.

The author Kala Ramesh (Inactive volcanoes are in the background)

Before the visit to Manado we had gone through a rough patch in our lives and this trip was taken with great trepidation. We didn’t want our daughter to miss the golden opportunity of taking part in an international competition. The trip turned out to be a welcome change after we had sailed through the challenges.

The excitement of the competition, the parade of the Indian team holding the national flag, singing the national anthem, the grandeur of the function kept us enthralled.

The crowning glory of the trip was when the Indian team won the bronze. The team had to compete with excellent professionals from China, Philippines and other countries.

Though small in number, the zest and passion with which  the team rendered the songs must have got them the third place.

Celebrating Victory

The camaraderie that was in the air after the prize distribution was wonderful. Our colourful saris caught the attention of all.

We moved about taking pictures and exchanging our national flag with others.

Manado welcomes everyone with the caption “Swaying Coconuts and Smiling Faces” and we ended our trip with a smile and a piece of Manado etched in our memory. 

Manado, indeed, proves the truth of the poet John Keats’ immortal line, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”

Kala Ramesh has worked with children who have learning difficulties; she also counsels parents on handling challenges faced by such children. Kala has great interest in Carnatic music and likes reading. She is a homemaker and lives in Chennai.