I discovered this special place through Internet, but I wouldnt have said that "virtuality would have been so near to reality". At the first glance, at home in front of my computer, I felt it could be a good place for me. It did, but much more than that. I enjoyed the atmosphere, which takes-as always-a certain time to discover in all their elements. I had some problems to sleep here, and I understood also through this problems, how, here, you are not protected (like star hotels do) from Indian customs. You are quite exposed and immersed (and this can include a lack of silence, which in my culture has its importance), but always helped to cope with.
Paola Dallora - Student
I have learned so much here, not only in the lessons themselves, but from the warm and generous staff, about India and her traditions, her culture, her people, and a brief insight into the way of life here. So much more interesting and valuable to me than if I had traveled around spending a couple of days here and there. This place has a good rhythm of life and a spirit of respectfulness and acceptance that makes it easy to settle into.
Jacqui Gibbons - Student
Having been in India for three months prior to coming to VKV, I had learned to expect the unexpected, so I wasn't sure what I would find at the centre! Upon my arrival, I discovered beautifully clean rooms, exceptionally friendly staff and gorgeous food! As for my classes, I have learned more than I thought possible in 4 weeks, and definitley want to continue with Kathakali in the future! Thanks so much to Pradeep and Dhanya for their excellent, fun and friendly teaching!! I promise you to keep practising!!! I would reccommend my courses to anyone (but be warned that your thigh muscles will suffer at first), and have had so much fun stamping the floor and wiggling my eyebrows! Thank you Louba
and all staff for all your kindness and the opportunity to perform in a Kathakali production.
Charlotte Jolly - Student
Genuine Indian Experience
I came here wishing to learn a little about Keralan food. I thought that 2 weeks would be a good period for that. And it
was indeed. But as I'm packing my things and preparing to leave, I cannot help feeling like I'm leaving my family. I wish I could stay longer and enjoy what I'll remember
like my place in India. Hence I've had a genuine Indian experience, really worth of being off the beaten track.
Joao Carlos - Student
I 've had a great stay here. All the staff is so kind and helpful, the teachers are skilled and kind too. It's a great chance to experience one to one classes. That makes them very intensive and you really feel that the teacher's pay a great attention to your progress. Besides, the surroundings are beautiful, it's amazing that you could dance past a few metres from an elephant! Staying in a small village allows you to learn a little about the everyday life of people too. Finally the food is good and the accommodation is very clean.
Sophie Senicourt - Student
I cannot possibly express all that has been immensely special and wonderful about my experience at VKV over these 4 months. I learned so much, from my teachers, from the fellow students, from the atmosphere of Kerala and its culture, and also just from being on my own in a place so unique and different from my home. I felt like staying at VKV was an ideal way to explore this place and reflect on the rich cultural environment of Kerala - in my classes and through events like Kathakali performances and Kolams, I came to learn about Hindu mythology and doctrines, through the teaching English programme and in my day to day ativities I got to know the routines of Keralan life and many local people, and now I feel a part of the communityhere, and talking with the other students has been so interesting and fun, and provided me with the comfort of sharing my experiences and attitudes about cultural differences with people who, for the most part, know what I'm talking about "
The food was everything that I hoped it would be and I will miss it and so many other things around the village that I could not possibly name. I have treasured every bit of my time here and I know I will never forget it.
Tamar Leffert - working
San Fransisco - USA
I came to VKV beacuse of the teacing Programme - the chance to teach English to Kerala children was a fantastic opportunity for me, given that I had been a teacher in London for 12 years. It was wonderful to watch the children grow in confidence and ability; to move from shy, quiet responses to being certain of themselves and positive that they could be understood and did have the language tools to communicate well with a native English speaker. My last lesson with them was very sad - but I will take their smiles and good wishes back to England and remember them always. I thank Rajesh for his incredible optimism and hard work in ensuring the programme was a success. "
My learning: - Hindi - I leave with an excellent grounding in Hindi grammar and a lot of vocabulary to learn! I had a superb teacher in Subhaji who gave me confidence, encouragement and friendship through out. I feel able to use what I have learnt back in my job in the U.K and am certain that I will continue studying and one day may be even be fluent.
Cooking:-Learning the art of Keralan cooking and laughter was a great experience and it was a bonus to discover North Indian recipes from Manesh - both he+Kurupji taught me well and were excellent teachers.
Mohiniattam:- Learning a traditional Indian dance form was an unforgettable experience. The slow but very rigorous training ensured that I understood the basics, but unfortunately I was unable to progress as I have arthritis and couldnt cope with the half-squat basic position! It is a very physically demanding subject, but I thank Dhanya for trying the impossible.
Kathakali Mudras n Make up:- Sadly I only studied these for two weeks, but I enjoyed every minute of every lesson. The teachers have incredible skill, ability and patience and managed to teach me so much in so little time. I hope I am able to do the subjects justice at school in VKV. Seeing them perform in 5 Kathakali plays was a fantastic bonus to being at VKV. The talent and energy of Pradeep and Kesavan is wonderful to watch and I leave with vivid memories of the wonderful performances they gave. It was particularly good to watch Corinne, a VKV student, perform with such flair, confidence and ability as well.
The rest of my life at VKV was enriched by the many members of staff who gave endless amounts of time, support and energy to make sure that everything ran well. To all the staff who took time to visit me after my accident and to those who cared for me (Hari - nurse), my thanks are immeasurable - Dhanya's dancing in my bed room and Shaji's walking stick were unforgettable highlights. As is Atma's wonderful giggle. I will miss many many things and plan one day to return to study Kathakali (although I need to get fit first). Thank you Louba for founding such a vibrant important place. It is a heaven in the troubled world in which we find ourselves living.
Joanne Field - Teacher
London - UK
came with empty hands to this place and I leave, my heart filled with music, arts, the Indian culture.... It is unbelievable how these 4 weeks changed my life, I found my way back to what I really want to do, I did many steps on my personal way, towards the person I really am. Many many thanks to all you wonderful teachers and the people from the centre. I will always remember my time here which changed my life forever. This is a very special school and I could stay for so much longer, just to learn, learn and to learn
Yahel Tuffer - student
Before I came here, I couldn't believe my eyes while reading the guest remarks in the VKV web site .. can all this be true, too many nice words about a place .. cooked up???, but having spend one month in this place, I feel bad and am embarrassed to have thought like that. I will just join all those ex students and will say that my experience here was beyond all my imaginations and what not.. I don't have words for explaining this feeling. I will remember the kindness of VKV always
Beth Walker - Medical Professional
Sydney - Australia
It seems surreal that I had to travel all the way to South India to study the north Indian language Hindi, but it's a choice I'll never regret. In such a short time, I have learnt so much from VKV and its another experience to add to a graving list of my love affair with India. After spending four months in Mumbai, life here is a welcome relief from the city, and VKV and all the people in it do everything possible to make you feel at home. The classes were, bahut achha, + whilst I renamed the martial art class - one hour of torture! It was well worth doing. I can't wait to be let loose in the nearest kitchen to try out all of Kurup's recipes, and I hope his laugh will continue to consistently put a big smile on your face. I will miss you, but leave with strength and happiness from this fantastic experience, and hopefully get around a bit easier with my new Hindi skills
Lisa Mallet - student
London - UK
I salute w/friendship all those who have developed w/efficiency this place, whose contribution to this wonderful country is extreme. The kindness and high sense of responsibility of the office, staff and teachers was unbelievable. Personally I have travelled into an "inner me" and rediscovered myself. I have relieved a part of my past and I leave the centre physically and emotionally more prepared to face future challenges, with what I've learned in this country that I've learned to love. May the Gods protect Bharata mata and its noble people, thats all I pray for
Ruben Capela - Retired Professor
Lisbon - Portugal
2 month's .. Wow.. I dont have words to say.. How much being here have been to my life.. I dont have words to say thank you for each one from the centre.. But how can I not say anything, especially to Swami my Yoga teacher .. with his simple words, how much he shown to me, How easy it is to be happy...I feel proud about my yoga level now. I wish all the best for the centre and hope You will carry on with your Intense Yoga programme .. This programme can really help and change the lifes of many people especially Western to understand better their lifes. I hope I can come back and learn under Swami again
Pedro Lobo - Fitness trainer
SaoPaulo - Brazil
Where to begin…. Hmm! One month is most definitely not enough time here at VKV. More reason to come I suppose. Being one of the native Malayalee's (American born) to take classes here at VKV, I did have some initial scepticism. Much of my family wondered, "why would you go spend money at a place in Kerala, when you have a family in Kerala that could do the same thing for free!" and the reality is that could have never done as good a job as the folks here at VKV do. I came here to refresh myself on mother tongue, but what I got in one months time will last me a life time. I've always believed that the best way to learn about a new culture is through their music, art, dance and languages. These folks here at VKV do exactly this and only so much more. Through my language classes, I learned so much about my culture. And if you are one that believes that you can learn much about a culture through their food, then VKV is your place! The food here is amazing…I dare say the food here is better than my mom's or grandma's, but it actually is. Big ups to Kurup and the whole kitchen staff. Rajesh, thanks for the insightful political discussions. You've forced me to look at myself and my country in a whole new way. Atma , I definitely wont forget your laugh! Thanks for all the help and wonderful discussions about being an American Malayalee to eccentric Knanaya community. Your genuine nature and wonderful sense of humour will be greatly missed. Last, but not least, Subha. Where do I begin? Thank you for everything! I've learned so much about myself through our lanuage classes and our memorable conversations. Thank you for being patient with my "refreshing" of Malayalam, but most of all, thanks for becoming a new friend. In general, thanks to all the staff here at VKV for your enduring smiles, generous hearts and your ability to make my one month here at VKV a month that I will never forget. Be well I will see you all in
Cecil Thomas - Student
As has been said many times today "There are not words to express" - and it remains true. I arrived with tears in my eyes, homesick and tired - and I leave feeling homesick already - for the Centre. Every day was a pure joy and inspiration. To be able to do artwork so deeply rooted in such a beautiful culture and interact with teachers, students, travellers, children random cows and goats - is beyond what I could have dreamed. Quickly, my sadness reversed into wonder at the place I found myself - not merely a tiny village far from western comforts (which I quickly learned I didn't miss) but a place brimming with a culture and people I have come to love dearly and will travel with in my heart in all my future adventures. Everyone has something to offer here - and I've absorbed so much I can't even begin to process it all. But before I go, nothing can truly be said enough about the teachers - all are amazingly talented, extremely caring, tremendous fun, always helpful, and never have I found an equal in all my studies. My deepest and sincerest gratitude to Shaji and Suresh who opened my eyes to beauty, my heart to India, my smile to laughter, and my mind to limitless possibilities. An experience that I never dreamed possible - but feel so fortunate that it is my reality."
Susanna Kuehl - Artist
I enjoyed so many things about this place - the exquisite meals, friendly staff, excellent teachers and the opportunity to soak up Indian culture in a Keralan village. After wanting to visit India for more than 10 years, my dream has come true. It was a bit overwhelming at first landing in the chaos of Chennai, but then a few days later we found ourselves in this nurturing, beautiful place. As time went by and the culture shock wore off, we began to absorb, appreciate and really love being in this small village in Kerala. We leave with new friends, more knowledge in cooking and Ayurveda and very fond memories.
Dan and Molly Sadowsky
During my stay of 2 months, I could discover very skillful and knowledgeable teachers. All honours and respect to them! They are the heart of the school - specially thanks to Swami, his clear teaching and marvellous guidance has had a big influence on me. Within 2 months, I could feel changes in body, mind and on spiritual level. It was my luck to find such a great knowledge of Indian philosophy in this school of art.
Anita Sanders - Student
What a marvelous cultural shock! Elephant walking down the street, a neighborhood temple a few steps from Revathi house, a snake boat and river in another direction and sun down music from the Aranmula temple. The staff was totally delightful with kindness at every turn. What a pleasure it was to be introduced to Malayalam by a 22 year old girl, almost 50 years my junior, she became a Keralan grand daughter to me. Observing Mr. Kurup, Keralan chef, in his kitchen for days gave me respect for the intricacies of Kerala dishes. But most impressive were the Keralan people, gentle, graceful, helpful and kindly. Their movements doing their daily work lent a special dignity. Children stopped me often to practice their English asking my name and where I was from. Their sincerity for a bit of communication was gratifying. It was all great fun and demanded an early return. Even as the spicy delights at every meal leave me asking "what next" , every experience here, mundane though it might appear provokes that same curiosity. Ah India! what greetings Kerala offers this hungry soul, this first-time traveller to your shores!!!
I came here to stay just 2 weeks, but within 2 days I extended my stay to a month. And I dont regret it!Yes what can I say - I have been really happy to be here.
Sanna Schlieve - Student
After being here for a little over 4 months, one would think I could come up with something profound to say.. well
I am speechless. I have learned things here that I will keep with me forever. This place is more than a school, it turned into a place that felt like home. And - if anyone figures out what the procedure is for passing an elephant while riding a bicycle, let me know, I am still at a loss.
Mary Mallicote - Student
I am at a loss for words to explain what a profound impact my time here has had in my life. The teachers and staff I have met here are some of the most beautiful, phenomenal, talented, kind, generous and warm people I have ever met in my life. They have all touched my heart and graced me with their gifts of knowledge. They have shared the magic of India with me and there is no question that Kerala lives in my heart and may I have the good fortune to return and see you all again.
Jennifer Walden - Student