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101 exciting things to do in Kerala
1. Rise up to a sumptuous breakfast
The world’s best breakfast as rated by the Travel and Leisure magazine belongs to God’s Own Country. Kerala‘s rich platter of morning dishes that include Appams, Masala dosa, Puttu, Vellayappam, Uppma, Idli etc. is relished by tourists from the world over. The soft, lacy Appam served with non-veg/veg stew is a definite menu inclusion.
2. Leisurely stroll through paddy fields
An evening venture into the heart of the paddy fields is a walking experience with a difference. Walking tactfully on the narrow dyke with stretches of green velvet all around and intermittent water passages that sometimes cross the mud path is a unique experience.
3. Balance walk across a coconut trunk bridge
Those parts of Kerala that are away from the city have numerous small water bodies that can be crossed by walking on these coconut trunk bridges. Though the natives walk across with ease, it can be quite a task for the not so familiar. But not to worry because further along the water’s edge, one can find a more accessible bridge.
4. Sip tender coconut
Sipping the sweet and cool tender coconut water is so refreshing on a hot, humid day. A taste of its rejuvenating nectar and a scoop of its snow white flesh is definitely nutrition at its natural best.
5. A heady swig of toddy
The tour organizers can make arrangements for the locally infamous ‘madhura kallu’ which is the sweet toddy extracted from the coconut palm. Its tangy taste together with the Kerala combination of ‘karimeen pollichathu’ (baked fresh water fish) or spicy pickles make a heady combination.
6. Laze on an exquisite houseboat
Undertake a magical journey across sun-kissed backwaters on a kettuvallom which is actually a fully furnished rice boat. While one is enchanted by the rustic scenes on either side, the backwater delicacies prepared by the personal chef is truly divine.
7. Ride on a canoe
With the soft breeze in your hair, drift along the calm waterways on a country craft. Watch the birds, wave at the friendly village crowd on the banks and invite the curious kids to hop on. Enjoy the wholesome entertainment all through the way.
8. Keeping fit on a treadmill
Traditional treadmills are used to irrigate the paddy fields in Kerala. Befriend a local farmer and experience a whole new workout by pedaling one.
9. Get to see the actual Chinese fishing nets
The Chinese fishing nets that hang heavily from huge bamboo poles were brought in by traders from the court of Kublai Khan, a Mongolian King. These large nets when pulled in by fishermen with their rich haul make a glorious sight. Their dark silhouette against the evening sky is a photographer’s delight.
10. Pick your sea food straight from the fisherman’s net
You can select your favorite sea food from an inviting choice of fresh sardines, prawns, red snappers, juicy sear fish etc. Ask the friendly fishermen especially along the banks of the Malabar Coast and the Vasco da Gama Square in Fort Kochi to fry it the local lip-licking way.
11. Feast on kappa and meen curry
Kerala’s spicy red fish curry, teamed with either steamed tapioca or boiled rice is a treat to the taste buds. It will not only make your mouth and your eyes water, it will also make you ask for more.
12. Savour a Sadhya
Sit cross-legged on the floor and get ready for the king of feasts. Served on a clean, green plantain leaf, this multi-course meal consists of rice, 12-15 vegetable dishes, hot pickles, crispy banana chips, fried pappads and ripe bananas rounded off with the lip smacking payasam.
13. Drape a Kerala saree
Ladies, surprise your dear ones by wearing a Kerala Saree! This five-metre wonder with a golden zari bordering the off-white cotton lends extraordinary charm to the person wearing it. Each and every Saree is specially woven on a traditional hand loom and finished to perfection by hand.
14. Wear jasmine in your hair
A sting of the sweet smelling jasmine flowers is a natural adornment for any woman’s hair. One can get experimental by picking them garden fresh and string them together.
15. Spice up your existence
Known as the Spice Coast of India, Kerala is renowned for its exotic collection of the finest spices. Also available in special gift packs, these spices not only complement your cooking, they also help you win compliments for aromatic cooking.
16. Ride on a wheel-less 8 tonner
You can ride majestically into the scenic jungle along with your friends on a mammoth elephant. An experienced mahout will guide you throughout this exciting endeavor at the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Thekkady.
17. Watch birds
Kerala’s amazing bird sanctuaries offer a stunning scenario of birds like ergets, Siberian stork, darters, herons, teals and hundreds of other migratory birds. Listen to their pleasing song and click snaps of their family bonding. Their aerobic stunts are sure to keep you entertained!
18. Follow the tiger’s trail
Embark on the Thekkady tiger trail – a real adventure trek into the deep jungle complete with expert guides and equipments. The excitement of cooking in the jungle, sleeping in tents and waking up to the music of the wilderness is immensely magnified by the spotting of an occasional tiger.
19. Design a floral pattern
Colorful flowers, leaves, talent and skill go into the making of floral patterns during the harvest festival of Onam. These designs are a part of every Kerala home’s courtyard in the month of August/September. Be it the common spherical patterns or the more complicated images, try designing one with your family and friends.
20. Encourage a snake boat race
Watch the otherwise sleepy backwaters of Kerala come alive during this event. Feel the excitement reach a fiery crescendo as many teams of 100 oarsmen row their snake boats, swaying in unison to the fast rhythm in one of the most thrilling water sport competitions. The full throated chanting of the boatsmen together with the cheering by the onlookers is an exhilarating experience.
21. Feel the rain
Kerala’s wet, wet Monsoon will refresh your body and rejuvenate your soul. Drench in the invigorating rains and let the heavy showers wash the stress away. So, don’t just watch the raindrops-step out and catch it in your palms.
22. Munch an Uppumanga
A meal that has uppumanga as an accompaniment is truly delightful. These tender mangoes are picked when raw and preserved in brine for many months – the longer, the tastier!!
23. Get an Ayurveda Massage
Surrender yourself to the magic of Ayurveda and the expertise of special masseurs. From medicated baths that will refresh you, herbal diets that will replenish you, Yoga that will revitalize you and meditation that will recharge you, experience rejuvenation in its most natural form.
24. Say hello to the Nilgiri Tahr
The Eravikulam National Park at Munnar houses half the world’s population of the endangered Nilgiri Tahr. You can pose with these friendly creatures and also pat them. They will surely give you plenty to boast about when you reach back home.
25. Drink fine tea
A walk through the vast green tea plantations of Kerala and the strong aromas circulating in the clean, crisp air will lead you into the centuries-old tea factories. Here, you can taste as well as select the finest tea in the country.
26. Marvel at elephant pageants
The sight of 30-60 caparisoned elephants moving majestically in a long procession to the frantic blowing of trumpets and the frenzied beats of drums is mesmerizing. The best of these spectacles is seen during the Thrissur Pooram in Kerala.
27. Listen to temple music
The traditional temple music accompanying the elephant pageants increases the festive fervor and captivates the listener. This Panchavadyam is an orchestra of 5 native instruments namely – suddha-maddalam, kombu, edakka, elathalam and timila. Audio renditions of the Panchavadyam are available in the form of cassettes.
28. Visit the local markets
The local markets are a bunch of small stalls selling fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, meat etc. The bargains offered by the high-pithched vendors are alluring. These bustling markets or chandas can be visited for farm fresh buys.
29. Go bananas
These digestives that come in various colours- red, green, yellow and different shapes-long, small, sleek, stout are synonymous with the interesting varieties of the fruit. And while you tastefully tuck in banana chips, raw banana dishes, banana milk shake, banana ice cream, dried bananas, fried bananas and many more delicacies, it will leave you speculating if there’s any other fruit that is more versatile.
30. Try your skill at percussion
The state’s rich collection of percussion instruments and music is well known. Go ahead, brush your passion for good music and try your hand at whatever your holiday allows you to.
31. Cheer the racing oxen
Watch the local traditional bullock race of Kasaragod called Kumbala or entertain yourself at the agrarian sport of Palakkad called Kaalapoottu. Both of these events are entertainment redefined!
32. Shop for souvenirs
Souvenirs, trinkets, jewellery and other items made of wood or sandalwood, coir or fibre, shell or coconut shell are available in Kerala’s handicraft centers. Choose from an extraordinary collection of woodcarved Kathakali masks, snake boats, elephants, jewellery boxes and the like. They will make the perfect showpieces for your house and the ideal gifts your friends will cherish.
33. Stay in a tree house
Dazed in the sweet scent of the forest flowers and the music of the forest, spend dreamy nights in the exotic tree houses of Palakkad.
34. Enjoy a mud bath
Experience the healing powers of the mud therapy at the Kavil Bhavan Yoga and Cultural Centre in Nileswaram, Kasaragod district.
35. Bask on sunny beaches
Beautiful, blissful and breath-taking, Kerala has stretches of the best beaches in the world. Be it surfing, sun bathing, building sand castles or simply sifting sand and water through your toes, anything and everything about the sun kissed beaches impart perpetual pleasure.
36. View a Malayalam movie
Most Malayalam movies have been internationally acclaimed because of their interesting portrayals and engrossing story lines. During the State Film Festival, some of the best movies with English subtitles can be seen and enjoyed.
37. Bathe in healing waters
Be it the waters of the Nelliyampathy forests in Palakkad or the mineral springs of Varkala, a dip in the healing waters of these medicinal water bodies are sure to heal you and cleanse you. Indulge in the divine splash and experience bliss.
38. Invest in gold
Kerala’s gold jewellery – delicate or grand, sophisticated or traditional – is designed to steal any woman’s heart. Ensure that you have enough money before going gold shopping because whatever be your taste, you will definitely find that exquisite piece that you always wished for!
39. Look into that special mirror
Four metals – copper, silver, bronze and lead are finely polished to a mirror finish. This mirror called Aramula mirror, once a closely guarded possession of the royalty is exceedingly rare. Only two master craftsmen and their families still make these expensive ornamental mirrors.
40. Feel the presence of God
The largest Christian convention of Asia is held at Maramon, near Kozhenchery. Mysteriously, the waters of the Pamba River dry up every year to expose the sandy river bed that serve as the venue for this holy event.
41. Travel in an auto rickshaw
Ride through the lanes of Kerala in the three-wheeled ‘autoricksha’. This black and yellow taxi is maneuvered by expert drivers who sometimes surprise you with fairly fluent English.
42. Glimpse into your future
The occasional fortune teller beside the street has your future written on his cards. Information about your career, your life, your life partner – you ask and he tells. Or you could just show him your hand and wait while his parrot decides to pick a card that suits you best.
43. Spin coir
Try your hand at spinning coir with the experienced artisans in the suburbs of Kollam. Watch the nimble fingers as they spin water treated coconut fibre into long ropes with the traditional hand spindle. The stalls that dot the roadside sell brightly coloured coir door mats, wall hangings and carpets.
44. Learn unique art forms
Closely observe Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Theyyam and Thiruvathira and pursue the art that is most appealing. Learn the art mode of unveiling a story through the eyes, fingers, feet and the ever changing expressions of the artist.
45. Rock about in a bullock cart
Travel through the muddy lanes of the village at a slow pace on a bullock cart. The evening breeze together with the tinkling bells and the rock-roll motion of the cart will lull you into a lazy spell.
46. Get familiar with the lanes of Fort Kochi
Embark on a walking tour of Fort Kochi where you will be greeted by the bastions, cathedrals and mansions built by the British, Dutch and Portuguese around 500 years ago. Vasco Da Gama, one of the world’s greatest explorers was buried here.
47. Order a ‘metre’ of tea
The roadside thattukada, a small kiosk, whips up the best cup of strong tea. The expert stall-keepers stretch the glasses a metre apart and then pour the tea, blending it smoothly and building up a tempting froth in the process.
48. Climb rugged heights
Some of the amazing places in Kerala cannot be accessed by roadways at all. A hike through the rocky terrains of Munnar, Wayanad and Kakkayam(Kozhikode) rewards you with unforgettable memories and unbelievable sights. For those inexperienced volunteers, the experts will teach you the tricks.
49. Engage in water sports
The adventurous water sports lover will hardly find the time to stay idle in this amazing state. The inviting beaches and blue stretches of water provide unlimited options for wind surfing, rafting, sailing or even a simple catamaran ride.
50. Take a train through Paradise
The most interesting way to experience Kerala is by train travel. Sit at a comfortable window seat and watch the scenery unfold like the pages of a colourful picture book. Also get friendly with fellow travellers who give interesting profiles about the object of interest.
51. Treat your sweet tooth
From heavenly halwas, juicy jilebis and creamy milk sweets, the renowned Mithai Street of Kozhikode has everything to cater to your sweet tooth. Relish the melting moments of these fine sweets.
52. Study rare flora
Exotic orchids, elegant anthuria and other rare flowers form a colourful package of the forests. One of these, the rare Neelakurinji bathes the mountains of Munnar in spectacular blue once every 12 years. Nature lovers have much to take home to.
53. Romance the spice hill stations
Embrace the beauty of sprawling plantations that lead to Kerala’s misty hill stations – a world where tranquility and bliss abounds. A journey into the jungles of these hill stations reveals exotic wildlife and rare birds.
54. Watch the making of an Arabian dhow
This 1500 year old tradition can be witnessed at Beypore. It requires 15-30 strongmen about 2 years to shape the vessel in wood. Uru, as it is locally called is an Arabian trading vessel which is fast fading from the shipping scenario.
55. Bathe in crystal waterfalls
Nowhere on earth can the water be so pleasing, so pure and so pacifying. The cool and clear waters tumble through the mountains of Kerala, dancing, gushing, gurgling, whispering and laughing all the way down. Observe the magnificent manner in which they wake serene river waters with a stunning splash.
56. Go arty
You can lose all track of time while browsing through art galleries and museums. The collection of the world famous works of Raja Ravi Varma, Raja Raja Varma, Svetlova and Nicholas Roerich are truly captivating. Rare murals and masterpieces from China, Japan, Tibet, Bali and other parts of India make interesting displays.
57. Visit scenic Kuttanad
Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala, is the only place in the world where farming is done 1.5 or 2m below sea level. With its lush green paddy fields, Kuttanad is beautifully surrounded by the serene backwater district of Alappuzha.
58. Taste Payasam
The most common dessert of Kerala, the payasam is a rich milk delicacy. Made in scores of flavours with vermicelli, gram or rice, it is the palate’s delight. This extremely sweet dish is garnished with raisins and nuts fried in pure ghee and can be eaten in combination with savouries.
59. Feast your eyes on the largest mural
Ancient murals are a part of every palace and museum in Kerala. The Krishnapuram museum at Kayamkulam displays the largest mural amongst these – Gajendramoksham. This belongs to the 18th century and the carving depicts an event from mythology.
60. Watch Theyyam
The oldest ritual art form of Kerala is the Theyyam. The Theyyam performers invoking the temple deity Bhagavathy with their frenzied dancing and throbbing music in the courtyards of village temples is a bewildering sight.
61. Use coconut hair oil
Pure coconut oil is the best nourishment for hair and a natural coolant for the head. The secret behind a Malayali woman’s long, thick, black tresses could be yours too. Just massage this magic potion on your head and experience total relaxation after a hot bath.
62. Visit a ‘tharavad’
Travel back in time and envision the olden days through the antique furniture and elaborate woodwork in each of Kerala’s heritage holiday homes. The ancestral nalukettu houses (quadrangular mansions with a courtyard in the centre) which are more than 50 years old are an integral part of the State’s heritage.
63. Learn Malayalam
Malayalam, the mother tongue of every proud Keralite has 56 letters in its alphabet. Pick up the basics and let the sweet toned words just roll off your tongue.
64. Star gaze
Kerala’s well maintained planetariums will telescope more than just Mercury, Venus or Mars. Book a ticket to the evening star gazing shows and experience all the astronomical wonders of the Universe.
65. Holiday on an island
The blue lagoons or the green islands – a holiday weekend on either of these is simply irresistible. Bolghatty, Pathiramanal, Poovar…. these heavenly spots offer all the right ingredients for a perfect getaway. Hop onto a ferry or boat and indulge yourself in spectacular sunsets, blissful backwaters, succulent seafood and chic cottages.
66. Picnic at virgin lakes
The cool climate combined with crystal clear lakes is the perfect way to spend a romantic evening. Pack a picnic basket and head to Munnar with your loved ones. Couples can go for long, undisturbed walks hand-in-hand and lie on the soft carpet grass while the singles can try their luck at fishing and feasting on the fresh catch.
67. Go paragliding
Soar over the misty green hills of Munnar on a paraglider and enjoy the scenic beauty below. Glide over the soothing blues and greens of nature with the ease of an eagle. Fly high and feel on top of the world.
68. Step into a palace
Other than the exquisitely carved wooden architecture, Kerala’s ancient palaces also flaunt the finest floors in the world. These unique floors made of crushed coconut shell charcoal, egg whites and the milky sap of plants is surprisingly maintenance free. Added attractions are the antique sculptures, paintings and bronze artifacts.
69. Muse in a museum
The Pazhasiraja Museum at Kozhikode and some other museums of Kerala pay full tribute to outstanding crafts, ornaments of historical and contemporary importance, grand temple carts and life sized ivory carvings of Kathakali figures in full costume.
70. Watch thullal
Formulated almost overnight by the famous poet Kunjan Nambiar, this exotic art form has humour and social criticism as its trademarks. The energetic performance along with the rhythmic sounds of the accompanying orchestra will engulf you in constant merriment.
71. Visit the zoo
The animal lover in you gets ignited at the immaculate zoological parks which are pivotal for any outing. The Trivandrum zoo one of the best designed in Asia is a must see with its lakes and lawns set among
72. Wash away your sins
Mythology says that sage Narda was approached by mendicants who confessed to their sins. He created a place called Papanasham beach for them to pray and offer penance. Take a dip and clean your heart at Papanasham, meaning redemption from sins.
73. Go nuts
Munch on raw, fried, grilled, salted or spicy cashew nuts which can be bought at surprisingly affordable rates. The most famous of these outlets are at Kollam where cashew plantations and industries are found in plenty.
74. Bite into a juice mussel
These fresh water shelled creatures are brought up basketful by collectors who anchor their boats and dive down expertly. They are shelled skillfully and later cooked into one of the most tongue tingling delicacies you can ever bite into. The discarded shells are then burnt in kilns to make lime.
75. Take a close look at wildlife
Watch herds of elephants bathing in the lake, Indian bison digging their horns into the trunk of huge trees and the occasional cormorant diving gracefully into the waters, all in the safety of your boat. Wildlife at such close quarters is a treat for any amateur photographer.
76. Learn yoga
Special ashrams in Trivandrum and certain centres at Nileshwar conduct yoga sessions under the expert guidance of spiritual gurus. Meditation, relaxation and detoxification – go for it!!
77. Walk along the historic Kappad shores
The historic beach where Vasco Da Gama landed in 1948 with his men boasts of an 800 year old temple. Here, the rocks along the shoreline sprawl right into the blue sea.
78. Munch on crunchy snacks
Kerala is ever famous for its crispy snacks such as ethakka (Kerala banana) chips, chakka (jackfruit) chips, pappadam, kuzhalappam, achappam, cheeda and churuttu. These any-occasion snacks are worth every penny you spend on them.
79. Face-to-face with martial art experts
The well acknowledged martial art of Kerala called Kalaripayattu is the oldest and most scientific defense form in the world. The agile experts armed with weapons practice their feats such as – chattam (jumping), ottam (running), marichil (somersault) to amazing precision. Their fit, gleaming bodies made flexible with oil and their majestic stance is a sight to behold.
80. Explore the largest fort of Kerala
The Bekal fort of Kasaragod that stands on a 35 acre headland runs right into the Arabian Sea. Its imposing red laterite structure that rises 130 ft. above sea level makes it the largest as well as the best preserved fort in Kerala.
81. Behold the queen of the Arabian Sea
Kochi, the Queen of the Arabian Sea, boasts of one of the finest natural harbours of the world. Besides being a beautiful city, Kochi is also the commercial capital and the most cosmopolitan city of Kerala. Come and behold the fusion of tradition with sophistication in this endearing city.
82. Discover prehistoric settlements
Interesting symbolic writings and figure drawings of the ancient Stone Age can be discovered at the Edakkal caves at Wayanad and the caves at the mouth of the Shenduruny River. An uphill trek amidst scenic surroundings will take you to these marvellous prehistoric settlements.
83. Say a prayer at the synagogue
The synagogue at Kochi has Hebrew inscriptions on stone slabs, biblical scripts on copper plates and lengthy scrolls of the Old Testament which are carefully preserved. Adorned with mid 18th century hand painted Cantonese tiles, this 500 year old synagogue also flaunts an age-old clock tower nearby.
84. Let a mohini entrance you
The dance of the enchantress in the form of the graceful Mohiniyattam reflects the passion of the land. Clad in grand costumes of gold and off white, the sensuous, ravishing movements of the dancer will surely remind you of the swaying palms or the gentle waves.
85. Watch a Kathakali concert
Kathakali, with its glittering ornaments and elaborate costumes lights up the stage at night. The four centuries old classical dance form is well known for its multi-coloured facial make-up that imparts to the artists a super human appearance. The various facial expressions inspite of the heavy make-up and the graceful dance steps inspite of the layered clothes is sure to leave you spellbound.
86. Cook in earthenware
Women from the ancestral homes of Kerala still follow the tradition of cooking food in earthen vessels. The common belief is that food cooked in these pots and pans renders a special taste to the dish.
87. Collect antiques
The Jew Street in fort Kochi is the right place for interesting finds like periodic furniture, ancient coins, exquisitely carved pens, ornamental brass latches, traditional jewellery, vintage grandfather clocks and timepieces. Stroll down the street and take your pick.
88. Cruise the backwaters of Alappuzha
Embroidered with an intricate maze of waterways, Alappuzha is labeled as the Venice of the East. Experience the thrill of stepping into the water right from the gate of the house. Step into this unique land where the skiff is the family vehicle, the ducks outnumber the chicks, the folks fish from their courtyard and the kids learn to swim even before they try to walk!
89. Meet smart fishermen
Kerala’s expert fishermen race against the crashing waves of the sea by maneuvering their boats into the sea from a pier beyond wave point. They jump in simultaneously with perfect coordination as surge ahead as the boat gains momentum. This is a spectacular sight indeed.
90. See extravagant fireworks
Brilliant fireworks mark the culmination of festivals in Kerala. As you stand under the shimmering umbrella of colourful radiance, you’ll wish for the spectacle to go on and on. Witness this absolutely divine sight festival after festival in this festive land.
91. Watch a puppet show
The art form of Kasaragode is the Yakshagana Bombeyattu meaning puppetry. These colourful puppets complete with heavy headgear, elaborate facial make-up and gaudy attire prance about to the throbbing music. This unique dance on strings will keep you well engrossed.
92. Bloom at a flower show
Spend a colourful evening amongst flower blooms. Brush against pretty asters, glossy anthuria, rare orchids, vibrant roses, elegant lilies and also taste a bloom of pink cotton candy at the local flower show.
93. Smash the elusive pot
An enthusiastic sport connected with some festivals in Kerala is called Uriyadi (smashing the pot). The decorated festive earthen pot is hung from a tall pole. All you have to do is to aim and break it with a rod as the crowd moves it up and down.
94. Spot a dolphin
The Cherai beach is famous for its grand dolphin act. If you are lucky, you can watch them spring out of the waters with a magnificent burst and dive back in with a marvelous splash.
95. Buy a Palmyra fan
Handicraft stalls in Kerala often stock the small, handy fans made of medicinal roots, palm fronds, bamboo splits and herbal grass. This portable, compact little fan is handy at anytime of the day. Some of these could also adorn the walls of your living room.
96. Stay in exotic resorts
Kerala, the paragon of hotel innovation offers amazing experiences that linger forever. The imaginative hoteliers conduct Theme evenings at which you can behold some of the finest Kathakali and Mohiniyattam performances.
97. Savour nectar
Imitate the bees and the butterflies at a banana plantation. Suck the sweet nectar from a succulent banana flower and enjoy its natural flavor.
98. Visit a Snake Park
The Snake Park at Parassinikadavu, Kannur, boasts of being the only one of its kind in the whole of India. The park has three snake pits and fifteen glass cases filled with various species of snakes on display. There are two large glass houses for King Cobras. The snake show conducted every hour is a major attraction.
99. Watch Thiruvathira
Thiruvathira, is a traditional dance performed by women. The steps are simple and the dancers sing and move elegantly around a ceremonial lamp (vilakku) or a floral decoration (pookalam). So, wear a Kerala saree and join in this graceful dance.
100. Bring swing to your life at Onam
Onam is the season for fun and games. Visit Kerala during August /September and the friendly folks will only be happy to let you join in their celebrations.
101. Try out new fishing techniques
Hang a fishing rod into the shallow waters, sweep a thin cloth across the waters, tempt them to a trap with fish feed or simply grab the small fish with your hands. Whatever the method, you will never return empty handed.
Originally posted 2004-11-30 12:54:13.