Viewers find it hard to identify Padmavathyamma, the larger than life ma-in-law of popular Malayalam TV serial Parasparam with her real persona. So impressive is her performance that Rekha Ratheesh, the actor in real life has all but faded. A much-seen face on mini screen, the actor is also seen in an equally powerful role in Mazhavil Manorama's serial Manjil Virinja Poovu. A consummate artiste, her emoting skills and natural flair for the dramatic have won for her a wide fan following.
Whenever free, she finds time to scout round with son Ayaan, especially to cold climes. In a cosy chat with Manorama, Rekha Ratheesh spells out her travel preferences.
Rekha admits she's no avid traveler. Nor was she ever bitten by the travel bug. But when Ayaan came along, his priorities became hers too. The little lad loves to travel and see sights unseen. That’s why she packs her bags and takes off with her son and at times, her cousins. But she takes upon herself the responsibility of taking care of the team while they are away from home. The gang of cousins has gone all over India.
Kodai, the favourite
Rekha loves Kodaikanal, more so for its perpetually chill. She finds a certain warmth in Kodai’s cold. It refreshes both mind and body, she says. The place is kind on the pocket and that's certainly cause enough for comfort. Good for going around on sight-seeing sprees, Kodai never brings on the satiety factor.
The waterfalls and the museum are the first points of Kodaikanal's USP. What makes Kodai a memorable experience is the visual image of matchbox-like houses dotting the hills, tall pines swaying in the cold breeze and the scenic beauty around. Once they touch down the place, they head straight to the hotel atop the hill. From that vantage point, one can see the beauty of Kodaikanal spread down below. Ooty too is just as special as Kodai. Cold and inviting, the main attraction in Ooty is boating on the sprawling lake.
On a Goan trip
Rekha talks of a recent Goan trip and the scenic beaches of the state. One of India's finest tourist destinations, Goa would top all other places in welcoming tourists. As for night life, there's nothing as enlivening as Goa. A fine blend of the traditional and the modern, the place has history written all around with Portuguese, Dutch and English forts, houses and churches dressing up the place. Goa, in many ways is very much like Kerala with its tall coconut palms and lush greenery. Life here is a reflection of several cultures and histories bonding together. There's music, dance and celebration. Goans love to romance life and it's this joie de vivre that attracted the actor to the place.
A bet in Mumbai
Rekha recalls an interesting episode while in Mumbai. "I can never forget my first ever Mumbai trip," says the screen matron. Her aunt and kids were all in Mumbai and they threw her a challenge which Rekha was quick to accept.
The challenge was to board one of Mumbai's local trains and get off at a designated station and take the train back and alight where she was asked to. "Oh, is that all?" was the first thought that crossed her mind. An unfazed Rekha went to the station where the milling crowds were elbowing one another to board the already jam-packed train. The journey itself was an experience in that one could not even let out a sigh. So crowded it was. The train was a social leveller. The rich and the poor were all equals in the train.
Unless one is extra alert, there's always the danger of missing one's stop and getting down at the next to take the train back again, she says. But Rekha took the challenge and won the bet. She alighted safely at the station she was asked to.
The Marudeswar temple is one holy place which houses the idol of Lord Shiva, apparently, the second largest in the world. This is one trip she has always enjoyed. An ardent devotee of the lord, she says, the idol, the temple, the sea and the sprawling land around are sights of such beauty. Marudeshwar is 65 km away from Mookambika. Apart from its attraction as a tourist temple, the holy place has several other significances.
The largest pilgrimage centre in South India, it’s not just tourist who flock to Marudeswar in Karnataka’s Bhatkal district. "There's a sort of undefined peace here and I could spend hours in meditation here," she adds.
Looking at the places mother and son have been to, there's one common thread running through all tours. All the places they have been to are cold. Though they have been to cool places like Kodai, Wayanad and Ooty, she'd love to go to Kashmir one day. "Let things settle down there. Once the place turns calm, we’ll head to Kashmir and that's a promise I’ve given to my son," says Rekha.
Food is another factor she enjoys. "I'm a foodie and I love to taste what's special to the places I visit." She loved the Goan fare. A lover of street food, she's one for non-veg dishes.
Rekha has a list of places she calls her dream destinations. She'd love to go to Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, and Australia. These are her son's special places too. Where to, next? Rekha has her fingers crossed. She is willing to wait.