Sunday, November 16, 2008


I wonder when the world will finally stop talking and start doing something about Climate change, surely the biggest threat to mankind's existence.
We have huge media coverage on it, so awareness or lack of it is not the problem. But collective effort and the sacrifices necessary to arrest detiorating abnormal weather patterns is a problem.
Instead of shifting our focus to the world financial meltdown, shouldn't our politicians, writers, thinkers, economists, and others who can make a difference pay more atteention to the Polar glacier meltdown. Better, still, they could solve both problems with an interactive solution, as, after all, climate change is the freak off-spring of unbridled capitalism.
Now that capitalism has failed, a newer path to a fairer world financial system not dependant on oil and coal but to instead encourage and develop alternate greener fuel /energy solutions can emerge if the right people have the necessary will. A new world order is overdue anyway, one which brings about change for the better to all people of all nations.
At Johnson's and on our houseboat, we have CFl bulbs now, and hygenic drinking water available in cans so that tourists can refill their plastic drinking bottles. So, I've done a little bit, wish I was knowledgable enough to do more.
Dec27th 2009 - Day after 5ht anniversary of Asian Tsunami.
Kyoto to Copenhagen- they're still talking and nothing's getting done. Seems to me, it's only the media who's highlighting climate change now. But, where are all the young people, who will be the most affected? They're the ones who should be leading the protests, forcing governments to take the drastic steps necessary for them to survive a few years from now on. FROM WHAT I'VE SEEN OF THE YOUNG TOURISTS WHO VISIT US, NONE OF THEM SEEM TO BE EVEN AWARE OF THE CRISIS. SIGN O' THE TIMES, I RECKON.

If I or anyone in Kerala needed proof of global warming, it came to us in the form of the hottest summer this year. I never usually sweat in the guesthouse - our house has a lot of greenery and thick walls plus high ceilings which keeps everything quite cool in the worst sumer days, but not this season. I sweated plenty. Glad it's over. Along with the highest temperatures ever, Kerala also recorded the highest ever beer sales this season. So I guess, we've found a way to beat global warming. Drink more beer! 3/11/2012 When a natural disaster hits USA or Europe it's declared Climate change. When bigger climate change disorders hits elsewhere like Asia, nobody bothers. Guess it will take a rally big one like the Tsunami that hit Asia, to happen in the western world before someone will finally do something. Till then', whatever happens in the developing world, it ain't Climate change, stupid.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

About my new Houseboat


The Pride is doing wonderfully well now, the general opinion of the guests who are taking it is that it is the best in Kerala, and the options that I've introduced for the boat makes it easier for all tourist of all budgets to take the boat as per their budget and requirement. My only problem is that guests do not know how lucky they are to take our boat - the 3 options, the service and the friendliness of the staff are unlike what many tourists experience on other boats and in that I guess I'm pretty lucky with getting the right crew. Yes, my men on the boat are just perfect. Nice people for the Best Houseboat In Kerala.



It's finsished, done, whew. Did a couple of daytrips and one overnight trip already.


I started building my new houseboat Johnson's 'The Pride', last August 2007, to be exact, and it's due to be finished sometime in December 2008 this year.

What an experience, building a new houseboat is. I started building the new one right from scratch, right from sourcing the wood off the trees of an estate of this fine Kottayam gentleman. So, I struck a price for 7 trees, huge 'Anjili' or jackwood trees, some as wide as 100 inches wide. Then we got down to the business of cutting down these trees and unlike in the west, here everything's done by human power (getting a crane into the estates was impossible , 'cause of the terrain). Once the cutting and felling of these trees were over, I had to get elephants, yes, elephants to move the fallen logs to the edge of the estate, where the elephants placed them onto a lorry and took them to the mill, where it was cut into planks. This whole proces itself took about 5 months, and then we transported the planks to the houseboat building dock in Alleppey, or Alappuzha as I am supposed to call my town now. Here, they put the hull of the boat together, another 4 or 5 months, and on May 4th 2008, we finally rolled it into the water, and yippee, it floated. I took a break for the next few months on account of the monsoon and we've just started work again, on the top portion of the boat. This was one hell of an experience, dealing with different types of people, labour problems, at one time the mill where I was cutting the planks in Kottayam, caught fire and I thought, there goes my wood and investment. Luckily, they brought the fire under control and I could continue . Almost every tourist who stays with us does the houseboat trip and one FAQ from them is how much it costs to build a boat. So let me tell u , it costs anything between 1.8 million (which is what I expect my final expense to be) to 5 or 6 million that some people put into boats these days in Alleppey. It's now become almost like a status symbol, the houseboat, and everyone wants to make their boat more expensive, if not better, than the next guy's. I am not joining the rat race though, I know exactly what my customers want, and it is designed by myself for that purpose, I'm making it as eco-friendly as possible and as puting in as much of nature produce in it as I can. On my new boat, the luxury is in it's nature eco-friendliness. International tourists would have seen enough luxury, state of the art gadgets and gizmos, and the latest of them in yachts or boats that already plies in Europe, America, or elsewhere in the western world. Oh, and another FAQ is how long it takes to build one - well, you can make a houseboat in Alleppey in as little as 4 or 5 months, there are a lot of contractors out there who just makes the hull, or the whole thing in maybe even less time. But, that's just business, they do it for money and God knows how long the boat's going to last. I've already spent more than a year on mine, and I'm still not in a hurry to finish it even though the season is fast getting to peak. I want mine exactly the way I visualize it, and I want to do it in my own time. So there. But back to the actual making, the one thing that I've done is to take the entire thing , right from cutting the trees, to the elephant moving the logs part, the making of the hull, getting the engine off a dilapidated old bus and converting it into the engine for the boat, everything else of the making of the boat , I've captured it on video. And at the end, I'll be releasing a making of the houseboat video. I'm the only person who's taken the whole thing, captured the entire process of making a houseboat on video.

I'll keep u guys posted on how it goes with the boat.


It's Feb 2009 and I still haven't finisihed theboat. Thought it would be done by Dec 2008. But, no worries, I think I'm closing the deal very soon. We just had the first trial and I felt real proud( and relieved) when the babe moved into the backwaters. Doing the interiors now, and I'm driving the head carpenter and his workers nuts. They just can't understand why someone should want the whole room on the upper deck and just 2 bathrooms and loads of space below. But, when it's finsihed, I think the design is going to surprise a lot of people and some may want to copy the design. I might very well start a new trend in houseboat design.

Keep every one posted on how it goes.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


There's this debate I had with a friend a few years back in Cochin- and it was about which was the greatest song (pop) ever written. The two choices were Bob Dylan's 'Blowing in the wind',my friend's choice and John Lennon's "Imagine", mine. So, after innumerable arguments, we decided to take a poll among music buffsin Kochin. This was during my DJ ing days, and when I was running my music shop there, so it was'nt a problem to find music fans.The poll results came to about 20 each or so, when I decided enough is enough - and cheated. We had this housemate who had a lot of friends thru her boyfriend and they frequented my parites as well. So, it was inevitable that they would be polled soon. And I asked her to spread the word among her clique that should this question come to them , which song to pick. Sure enough, 'Imagine' soon ran away with the "Best song ever written" polls, leaving my friend frustrated with the lack of intellect among Cochin's music buffs. And I was like, who needs intellect and a nasal voice in a song anyway. I did eventually admit to him about the set-up and he was furious.
It was all good fun.
But, which is the better song, anyway?
3 musicians, all of whom could sing, 2 guitars, a whole lot of beer, lots of encouragement from the other non musician guests and a couple of my mates, who happened to be there made yesterday one terrific jam session of music and partying. Paul -Canadian/British, a French lady - Carat and her sound engineer husband and my man Stephan who was Italian. We sang, played guitar, drank beer and had some good healthy fun well into the night. It was great, almost like my DJ days in Kochin.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Updates On Johnson's Alleppey Kerala India


This is Johnson Gilbert, owner/proprietor of Johnson's guesthouse, a homestay hotel for International tourists/travellers based in Alleppey. This is my first blog and I'll like to start with posting updates on my guesthouse rents. Since September 2008, the rents have been established as Rs.750/- for the 3 rooms in the main house, and Rs.500/- for the Eco-art theme room in the backyard. I have also got a new room now, the Cricket theme room which is smaller in size but no less cleaner @Rs.400/-.


We're finally sign-posted. After resisting forever to put up a sign, on account that I thought it would like more like a hotel than a homestay and a couple of more practical considerations like a hike in taxes and electricty tariffs I've finally put a Johnson's board up in front of the house

Houseboat Rates

We have now introduced 3 Options for our customers who want to hire out our houseboats for an overnight trip. The rates given below are for the same boat - the best one bedroom houseboat in Kerala - "The Pride" with the room, the deck and the master bathroom on the upper deck. This 3 optional rate system is to make the boats affordable for all people of all budgets.

Option A - PREMIUM - Rs.9000/-/- (For 2 People)

24 hours trip -12.00 noon to 12.00 noon with 2 hours of canoeing.

1/2 an hour lunch break. 6.00 p.m. evening stop.

9 course Lunch includes Fish & veggies. And Ice-cream for dessert.

7 course dinner with chicken, veggies, etc. .

Indian/Continental Breakfast.

Additional lunch before check-out includes roast duck and tapioca.

1 Complimentary Beer per person.

Village walk. Fishing.

And with this option, the Rs.750/- room at Johnson's comes free for a night for two people.

Option 2 - Mid-range -Rs.8250/- for 2 people

22 hours trip - 12.00 noon to 10.00 a.m. -

1/2 hour lunch break. 5.30 p.m. evening stop.

7 course lunch includes Fish. 5 course dinner includes chicken. B'fast Indian/continental.

Village walk.Fishing.

And on this option, you are now entitled to one night's free stay at the Eco-art theme room.

Option 3 - Budget - Rs.6500/- for 2

21 hours - 12.00 noon to 9.00 a.m.

1 hour Lunch break. 5.00 p.m.evening stop.

6 course vegetarian lunch. 4 course dinner including Fish or Chicken. Indian B'fast.

Fishing. Village walk.

Choosing this option gets two people a free night's stay at the New Cricket theme room at Johnson's.

All Options include Free To and Fro Transport. Hygienic drinking water, fruits, complimentary welcome drink(non-alcoholic) provided for all options as well.

Extra person @1250/- per person. (More people can make the amount less as you pan it around per person) Free room offer is for one room only regardless of the number of guests who may take the boat. When guests from different rooms at the homestay join up to take the boat, the free room amount is reduced from the total of the houseboat charges, and then split up per person.

The boat has 3 staff - Captain, cook and an assistant. English speaking guide provided @Rs.

500/- per hour for a couple of hours, on request.

Pls add 20% to the houseboat rates for peak season. During this period, we take only Option 1 tours, and the time is reduced by half an hour. Check-out 11.30 a.m. (Dec.20th to Jan 20th)

Johnson's guesthouse rates do not change during the season.

Secret beach guesthouse

Guesthouse near the Secret beach is promoted by myself and the rates here are Rs.1200/- and Rs.1350/- with air-con. Peak time rates (Dec.20th to Jan.30th) are Rs.1350/- and Rs.1500/- air-con. The guesthouse is a quiet homestay with 8 ensuite rooms and dining facilites. The secret beach is 20 minutes drive from Johnson's.

The secret beach guesthouse is not on the beach - it's 9 minutes walk from the beach itself is quiet, secluded, by a fishing village, totally non-touritsy. Food and beverages available inhouse. In house laundry. Internet, banks , shops within walking distance of guesthouse. An ayurveda center is nearby. The perfect Holiday.


Rooms at my family firend's farmhouse is Rs.2000/- with food, and during peak season Rs.2500/- with food (Dec20th to Jan30th)


Only 2 rooms in this fantastic, completely cut-off from the world dream place costs Rs.6000/- for two per room includes all food. 3 and a half hour's dirve from Alleppey or Kochin.