November 12, 2009

kerala trip day 2: cochin

on our drive in the night before, i'd noticed many trucks parked along the side of the road.

in daylight, we learned that the port of cochin is india's first e-port with quicker turnaround and handling time than other ports in the country. the trucks were lined up, in order, preparing to haul to and from the port.

first we went to old town fort cochin, home to st. francis CSI church. built in 1503, it's the oldest church in india.

vasco de gama was buried there upon his death but was later taken back to lisbon. we couldn't go into the main chamber because it was a sunday morning, but i did snap a photo (below). the strips of fabric hanging from the ceiling used to be connected to ropes that ran outside the church. slaves would pull the ropes from outside the building to fan the upper-class worshippers inside. super interesting.

as we walked down the street, we passed several shops featuring the bright colors i love so much…

...and a snake charmer. what?! i didn't know modern india still had snake charmers, but this guy's cobras were very much alive. although defanged, the snakes darted and hissed aggressively.

it was a short walk to the water's edge where fishermen are still using the fishing nets introduced by the chinese centuries ago.

the fish market along the water was the first place i saw cats in india. street dogs are very common, but i was surprised to see the cats who feast on discarded fish heads run rampant in old cochin.

the fish market was also home to interesting fauna like the mini hammerhead shark and the blue scampi.

our next stop was described by our tour guide as "jew town." no joke.

"jew town" is home to the only active synagogue in india. the tiles on the floor are each completely unique.

there were lots of great shops near the synagogue, so our estrogen-dominated group (10 of 12 were women) was pretty excited to do some retailing. i also got a coconut water snack.

next we visited an old dutch palace where interior photos were prohibited.

i wish i could have taken some photos because the fixtures were gorgeous: teak floors, original wall paintings, and some gorgeous hand-carved ceilings. i "accidentally" snapped this shot of the ceiling to capture what it looked like.

lunch was at the private home of local cooking celebrity nimmy paul. she did live demos for three traditional kerala dishes and then served us, hands down, the best meal of the entire trip. dessert was crepes filled with sugar and coconut, drizzled with creme anglaise and fresh strawberry sauce, served with mangos in natural syrup -- definitely something i'd like to try to recreate at home.

our final activity of the day was an evening at amaara, a cultural studio in cochin featuring performances of the traditional dance kathakali. before the show started, our hostess used me as a model to demonstrate how to put on a saree.

male kathakali dancers cover themselves in elaborate make up and are outfitted in ornate (and quite heavy!) costumes and headdresses.


Emily said...

I loved the cat pictures! On the Infosys campus last week, another TEDster and I spotted one little cat near Food Court 2 -- probably the cleanest stray cat in the whole world.

Rejina Prashanth said...

I cant say which picture i liked most... I am from Kerala, and i know travelers to kerala, used to post the most beautiful pictures, backwaters, houseboats, fishing nets etc. But your pictures are very close to Kerala life.. We know this is not a perfect state or a country, may be i wish to say I love this imperfection.. And i think all these different experiences, and imperfections made your Kerala Holidays Perfect!!! Thanks for Sharing..