Down to Bayou Country
Trip Start Feb 23, 2009
29Trip End Mar 18, 2009
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Where I stayed
Checking out of the Rain Tree Hotel in Chennai, I finally snapped. "This is a really nice hotel," I told the clerk. "We had good service, the restaurants are nice. But this music is really horrible." She looked confused. "The music we're hearing right now! The saxophone jazz. It's in every one of your restaurants! It's always the same ten songs!" She promised to mention it to the manager. (But maybe the manager is actually Kenny G.)
The music aboard Kingfisher Airlines is also always the same ten songs, but they're different from the ten that the hotel plays. On the plane you always hear Muzak versions of Abba, Elton John, and the Beatles. On every flight I fill out a complaint form, because they always assure me that the CEO of Kingfisher is personally interested in my feedback
We were flying to our last location in India, the backwaters of Kerala on the Southwest coast. The main recreation in that area is spending time on houseboats, but we were going to get there too late in the day to get on a boat, so we went to an old colonial building called the Koder House to stay for the night. It had HUGE rooms. We had half a floor of the building to ourselves, with simple furniture, a couple four-poster beds, wooden floors that bounced like a trampoline when you walked across them, very high ceilings, and some Geckos. The geckos like the bugs, because this is a humid, swampy Louisiana-like area. It took some time to figure out how to negotiate the many power switches on the wall that controlled the ceiling fans and ancient air conditioners, but we were comfortable for one night.
We attended a performance of the local dance style called Kathekali, which appeared to be mandatory for visitors. In a tiny theater that was very hot and buggy, we watched actors in elaborate makeup and outlandish costumes re-enact a scene from the Ramayana using their hyperactive eyebrows.
Afterwards, we ignored the dinner advice we had been given, and found the History restaurant at the Brunton Boatyard Hotel. Easy to find, because I heard Indian music that sounded like it was real, and followed it to the restaurant. Our meal was very good, and was accompanied by the violin, mrudangam, and tabla players, who seemed to be grateful to have someone listening to them, and they were wonderful. There was also a camera crew shooting something that looking like a profile of the restaurant, with a model posing as if she were listening to the music. But when the camera wasn't rolling, it was clear she wasn't interested in the music at all.