Contemplating our Navels

Trip Start Jan 14, 2009
Trip End Mar 26, 2009

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Flag of India  , Kerala,
Friday, February 6, 2009

We haven't moved very far in the last week, never mind Travel Pod this is our Staying Put Pod.  It's very relaxing here in Fort Cochin and we are staying with such a lovely family in a great spot and we've decided to stay put for a while.  We looked into the possibility of renting a flat for a while but couldn't find anything suitable so we've reached an agreement with Alex, our landlord, to reduce the price and include breakfast. 

Another bonus is that Alex's good friend, Francis, has practised yoga for 25 years and is giving us informal lessons on the flat roof every morning at 7.30 before it gets too hot.  Perfect.  Francis has been living in Sweden for the last five years with his Swedish partner but has returned to his home town for 6 months to do an Ayervedic massage course.  He has good English with a Swedish/Keralan accent.

Weve found some great non tourist places to eat.  Just had a wonderful vegetable biriyani at New Anantha Bhevan.  It was served with a sharp tangy raita (yoghurt, red onion, green chilli & lemon juice).  The fried rice was fragrant and delicately spiced with cardamon, cloves, fennel seeds, saffron & cumin.  It had raisins, cashew nuts, onion, garlic, carrot & corriander.  Delicious and certainly one to try when we get home.  We've also been to Ganesh Cafe on Palace Road for great Masala Dosas and Uttapam. Last night we stumbled across a small hindu festival.  A group of men & musicians were walking a decorated elephant along the road.  It stopped at the roadside for about an hour and one very patient elephant stood with his legs chained while the band played & buses and rickshaws blasted past. We took a ferry trip across to Ernakulam the main city of Kerala.  It was a bit of a shock after being in quiet Kochi as it's a typical Indian city, very noisy & dusty.  Not a huge amount to see but good for shopping and markets.  Lots of fabric shops but most are whoelsale.

We've done a one day backwater trip which we arranged through our homestay.  A mini bus took us about 40k out of Kochi into Kottayam district where we were picked up in a small boat with a man punting it through the narrow canals.  Very beautiful and plenty of bird and wild life.  We saw a water snake, & amazing kingfishers & fish.  We stopped at a coir matting making village which is run as a co-operative, we're in Communist country here. We also visited a spice garden and it was great to see pepper, coffee and cinamon growing.  We stopped and luched from banana leaf plates before taking our houseboat for the afternoon which was gently punted across a big lake.  No one spoke we all enjoyed the tranquility.

We've got a Kathakali theatre close by and we've been to one Kathakali performance (taditional folk dancing with lots of face make up) and two lovely classical music concerts, one with flute and tabla and the other with Veena & Tabla.  The Veena is an old traditional 7 stringed instrument made from the jackfruit tree.

We've met Sohpie Debieve, a French artist married to a Keralan Yogi. They spend 6 months in the Dordogne and 6 months in Kerala.  She employs several local women making patchworks from beautiful Indian fabrics, and other needlework projects to sell to tourists.  It's a fair trade business with her profits helping the poor. She has already built one basic house for a homeless woman at a cost of about 2k Sterling. 

We have a balcony overlooking a sports field shaded by huge rain trees.  On Saturday morning there were 5 crickets games and one football match al going on at the same time and all overlapping with each other.  Indian people are generally very good at sharing space! 

We went to an elephant festival at a Hindu temple in Ernakulam.  As we're on our way there, Salu, our rickshaw driver, tells us that a woman had been killed during the morning by a rampaging elephant!  When we arrived the elephants were tethered up feeding and the killer elephant had been separated from the rest and was drawing a lot of attention.  He had gone a bit mad after being poked in the eye by one of the big umberella handles.  He'd picked up a woman standing near by and thrown her to the ground.  This was all quite unsettling and needless to say we didn't stay too long.  We read in the papers the following day that this is quite a common occurence in Kerala and the authorities are trying to tighten up on safety measures.

Our stay at Hebron Inn with Alex and Geeda has been amazing.  Their gentle hospitality has made it very special. We have been treated to special food, a Sunday lunch with the family & friends and many pots of tea and breakfasts on the balcony.  We were also invited to Francis' family home for an evening meal.  It's been great and we are sure to return one day.
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Where I stayed
Hebron Home Stay
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