Wednesday, August 16, 2006

My Cochin Diary

As some of you will know, we recently visited Kerala, also known as, "God's Own Country". Its lush greenery and beautiful backwaters inspires this very fit epithet. The landing into Kerala provided some of the most breathtaking aerial scenery I have ever seen - I wanted it to go on and on, but sadly, after 10 mins we made our landing into Cochin airport which is the city we chose to spend our Kerala time.

Cochin has many things to recommend it: the scenery (which I have already spoken of), its synagogue (the oldest synagogue this side of the Atlantic), "Jew Street" or better known by its cute monicker "Loafer's Corner" - a beautiful narrow street with small antique shops lining both sides of the street. Cochin is also known for its glorious food, especially sea food, but, best of all, Cochin/Kerala is best known for "Kathakali" (there is a small mention of it in Arundathi Roy's ("God of Small Things") and Mohini Attam, dance traditions.

We were so privileged to be able to view these dance performances and I was especially taken up with "Kathakali" which involves an elaborate "dressing-up" procedure. It takes close to 3 hours just to apply the dancer's make-up and when the dancers came on stage I could see why the make-up is all important, after all, it is mainly through a whole host of facial expressions that the dancer conveys the story. (There is no speech or any other props in Kathakali). According to the compere of the show, Kathakali trainees need to practice their facial exercises for close to 12 hours a day! ( I guess this means they go to a special school) . The students also receive a special "Ayurvedic" massage which makes their limbs supple and flexible.

Kathakali is almost always performed by men, with men even taking on the roles of women in the dances. The picture below shows my daughter and myself with one of the Kathakali dancers (dressed as a woman). He (dressed as a She) was a young and extremely good-looking man (not that you can tell from the picture) *wink* and he gave us a spellbinding performance! Most of the Kathakali dances are based on Indian mythological stories.

Some of the pictures:

One of the numerous coconut palm trees in and around our hotel

Chinese Fishing Nets hung from teakwood and bamboo poles. It is said that Kublai Khan's traders introduced these nets to the local fisherfolk sometimes between 1350AD and 1450AD

View of the Hotel (Taj Malabar) pool that opens into the backwaters

A Kathakali Dancer applying his make-up before the performance (pic. courtesy Alan Little).

A Mohini Attam dancer.


Grumpy said...

You have really been giving us an education. The pix are great. And beautiful. Yor daughter is getting taller than you. Thanx again.

Guinness_Girl said...

Oh! I love these pictures! LOVE the pool, too.

sruthi said...

wow lotus cohin is so beautiful! G is originally from kerala (he moved here when he was 2) but went back recently and said how it's soso nice. I gotta go there next summer when i take my vacation before grad skool!:)

hellomelissa said...

gorgeous. thank you for making me feel as though i am travelling when i am woefully not!

Angela in Europe said...

What fantastic pictures! I am so glad you had a safe and beautiful trip!

Susan Abraham said...

Hi Lotus,
My impression is that you're on holiday. I have no idea when you post stories. So please forgive me if I'm late with the comments. Anyway, have a lovely time.

Lotus Reads said...

Yes, Grumpy, she is taller than me by an inch or two! :)))

Guiness Girl: Thanks! The pool was stunning. I have pictures of it from every angle - too many to post here, however.

sruthi: Please tell G.I am compltely in love with his birthplace! And yes, you must visit Cochin! Hope I'm this side of the world next summer - maybe we could meet up?

Melissa Thanks! It sure feels good to be on holiday, but alas, it is quickly coming to an end! :(

Angela Thank you! Yes, the trip was all I expected and more!

Susan Not to worry, sweetie! I am on holiday and I don't get as much time as I would like on the 'puter, but anytime I do, I try to post something. Due to a lack of PC time, I have been very irregular as a reader on my friends' blogs, but I know they understand. Thanks so much for stopping by.

booklogged said...

Such wonderful experiences. Thanks for sharing them with us.

Beloved dreamer said...

Oh, wish I was there with you

That silly poem was not this weeks PT. It always takes so long for the poem to appear. Sometimes it's not posted till Fri.

Lotus Reads said...

You're welcome, booklogged!

Hi, Beloved! Like your new profile pic! ;)

Simran said...

Gorgeous pics Lotus. It's nice to put a face to a name. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments. Hope to see you again soon.


aneeta said...

wonderful pictures! The one of the Taj Malabar pool's the best! Someday ...