Friday, February 10, 2012

A Full Day in Kochi

We're back on line!

I wrote this in the backwaters of Kerala not knowing when I’d be posting.  We left Kochi Sunday morning in a taxi for Allepey and caught the public ferry (a noisy diesel boat with bench seats) for a trip up river to Green Palm Homestay.  There was no internet access in the backwaters so I didn’t think too much about the computer.  So some catching up…

Saturday February 4:  We spent a full day exploring Kochi.   Our hotel was right in the middle of Fort Kochi and about 200 metres from the harbour of the Chinese fishing nets. 
The net is being raised

The net is being lowered...note the 2 men out front walking along the poles to help the net down, and the stone weights that have come out of the water on the left.

And another fisherman was standing on the shore and casting a net:

We walked along the harbour, enjoying the colonial Portuguese and Dutch warehouses which are still used to sort, dry and store spices and rice, the big agricultural products of this area:
Ginger--in the foreground it's coated in clay to preserve it, and the stuff in the background is not coated.

Men carrying sacks of ginger

Women measuring out black pepper corns

The many different kinds of rice available

One fortuitous sight was a short street of Hindu houses, where the women had painted designs in front of their steps.  We were told by a passerby that February is an auspicious month, and these designs are painted every Friday using a white paste made from rice that is soaked in water for one hour then ground.
At the entrance to the street--no cars or tuk tuks allowed.

The artists
We bought some bananas as a snack, and then didn’t know what to do with the peel…we couldn’t bring ourselves to just throw it on the ground like everyone else does!  And then along came a goat…

Note that the goat is surrounded by litter!

Later in the afternoon, we asked a tuk tuk driver to take us to the elephant festival at the Shiva Temple.  We could hear the drums, cymbals, and horns before we arrived.  
The band

The elephants were dressed up with brass face plates and garlands of flowers around their necks and shackles around their ankles. They seemed to be mostly focussed on eating the vegetation at their feet than the singing and drumming that was going on in front of them.  Meanwhile, on each elephant were three young men dressed in traditional attire and at certain points in the music (when the horns were played particularly) would stand up and wave their fans, pompoms and umbrellas. 

 Quite frankly it was all very loud and mysterious, and the longer we stayed the more uncomfortable I felt about the elephants being shackled. 

The driver then showed us the central laundry for the city—established over a hundred years ago. 

Preparing to wash a load of sheets

The drying area--long stretches of coconut fibre ropes

The final stages--ironing and bagging for return to customers.  

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