12 Jul 2013

Catching Up: A Keralan Adventure Part 2 Art and Elephants!

This is part 2 of the blog post we previously sent out by email in January 2013. 

So we stayed for a couple more days in Fort Kochi, where we visited a contemporary art exhibition, India's first Biennale, a showcase of where India sees itself in the world of modern art, something that, to be honest, wasn't really on our radar when we left the UK. 
However, at 50 rupees to get out of the furnace that is an Indian afternoon in January, it is money well spent. 

There were some random and pretty cool exhibits, and not because you were simply out of the sun, but were simply interesting such as putting spice on speakers and watching them vibrate in different frequencies, the projection of an old man yawning onto a giant pipe, images of butterflies and naked women cut together, floating above a mess of water pipes with stiletto shoes stuck in the end, and a musical room with coloured fairy lights (Maddy's favourite) where you could make different music depending on whether you tapped a Coke can, a statue of a Hindu god, or a tin plate. 

Floating anchor
White violins from the Middle East

A very interesting version of the Last Supper

The Music Room!
Different spices vibrate into patterns when a sound is played...or something 
Moths and naked women. An installation called Dirty Women

At the entrance to this exhibition there was an old rickshaw playing "Bye Bye Baby" from the Marilyn Monroe musical, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Maddy sang along loudly of course. This woke some of the locals who were asleep under a tree nearby.

We then travelled down to Varkala, where we have been a few times before, but not for a couple of years. The cliff side is beautiful, with a very clean beach and big waves that can be fun to go swimming in. The downside is that the top of the cliff is a concertina of restaurants flogging tourist grub (if you come to India, do not have the lasagne), as well as an amazing array of "same, same but different" tourist bits and bobs, the kind of stuff that goes straight into the cupboard when you get home, even before you've put the kettle on for a cup of tea, as well as a line of ayurvedic massage huts, where you can have someone pour a half litre of sunflower oil over you and then do a laughable imitation of someone washing the dishes on your back. Not bad for a tenner. We passed on this opportunity, saving our rupees for the real deal in Goa. We were there to have some beach time…

For our final day in Kerala we went to a local elephant festival with 25 elephants. The ladies walk in a line with trays of candles in coconuts (lovely bunch of coconuts diddly dee), jasmine garlands and limes, whilst the men led the way playing drums, and dancing. The elephant were adorned with garlands of jasmine and sparkly things, and coaxed with sugar cane, they paraded along the road through a village, then waded across the river, coming out the other side to walk in a circle round a temple where many Hindus were offering blessings, and then giggling at the Westerners trying to make head or tail of what was going on (the ceremony was held entirely in Malayalam, the local language). Although the elephants were sadly chained, they were clearly loved and respected, each elephant had three men who gently coaxed them along with palm leaves and sugar cane, whilst two men rode on each animal. A wonderful spectacle.

Having a munch...om nom nom


Beautiful girls showing me the jasmine and coconut offering to the gods.

Deafening drumming 
Hard not to start singing "Left right left right" a la Jungle Book elephant song
And so it is that we head back to Goa. We will catch up with Balanced View friends, and prepare the house as our friend L is coming in a few days' time.

Much love
M and P xxx

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