Buffalo in Benares
Part 6

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to INDIA, click on the Image!


In Fort Kochin there are several venues with professional artists performing Kat- hakali  dancing.

On our first day in Kochin there immediately arose a  lot of misunderstandings between us and the local rickshaw drivers simply because we couldn't tell one from the other!  At one point it all got so crazy that Carina spontaneously exclaimed "But you're not you" which set off laughter from everyone on the street.

Here is a huge male elephant which was said to be very angry or frustrated as this was right in the middle of  the mating season and so being chained up as he was, couldn' t perform his task to any degree what so ever.

In Kerala there are many places with beautiful tropical flowers nurtured by the heavy precipitation and the ext- reme humidity of this region.

We were stranded for nearly two weeks in Kochin sweating it out with the flue which we had caught on the train coming down. At one point we even had to get medical care by visiting the local hospital and then purchasing lots of multicolored pills to be devoured regularly on doctor's orders. During our weeks of "lie down" we saw several beautiful birds perched on the leaves of banana and palm trees outside while usually in the night time there would be violent rain storms, some times accom- panied by intense lightening.

An ominously hazy sunset announcing yet another night of fire and rain as the late monsoon slowly subsides from the coast of Kerala.

Dockyards, ships and a solitary thundercloud in all its glory, for any amateur meteorologist a moment of awe
inspiring beauty!

With the sun fading fast during this tropical evening in Kochin, its rays percolated through the moist air turning the clouds and the surface of the river estuary into ruddy gold.

Finally after nearly two weeks in Kochin we managed to get rid of our cold and ordered a taxi taking us all the way down to the town of Kollam at the far end of the Backwaters, which is a system of canals, lakes and rivers stretching along the inside of  Kerala's coast line for a hundred miles or more.  The place where we stayed was a severely run down hotel owned by the government, but because of having such an excellent location, it gave us its moneys worth and more.

This  was the view  we enjoyed from our hotel room in  Kollam overlooking the lake with houseboats and ferries and the larger part of town with its noise and traffic plus many minaret  towers in the distance.

In front of Taj Mahal

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You may think that this man is flirting though this is not at all the case! His mimic simply shows off his ability to control every muscle of not only his body but also his face. In this smaller image to the left you can see the two opponents of this ancient, theatrical play dancing and gesticulating wildly as the drumming in the background reaches an ear deafening crescendo. Towards the end of the act it was one great big swirling frenzy of flashy, poly- chromatic colors and frocks spread out like crinolines and fumes of sandalwood  in the air making both the mosquitos and us giddy!

The best places to listen to classical Indian music, as in this case a performance featuring the Indian sitar and tabla, is at locations where there is some sort of communal service  working for  the preservation of ethnic Indian culture, often in conjunction with touristic areas like those around Kerala.

This is Krishna, a domesticated sea eagle living in the out door restaurant which at the time of our stay in Kochin was the one most frequented by backpackers.

By the harbor of Kochin there were undoubtedly more crows tip- toeing around the nets than fish caught inside them. The fishermen claimed that the great tsunami of 2004 had wiped out most of the marine populations along the coast and so now they were all having great difficulties in making a living.

 Click on lightening for   a tropical downpour!

Towering cumulous clouds over Eurnakulam, the neighboring twin city over on the mainland.

There were rumors about a general strike closing in on the next day so in spite of my rapidly becoming ill from the first onslaught of viruses, we felt it was best to play it safe and take the ferry (while it was still running) across to the mainland and buy tickets at Eurnakulam's railway station. However, had we known how difficult it would be, we would never have gone! For as ever so often in India, we had to spend hours on end cueing up, filling in little pieces of paper and documents and even trying to convince the local  station master that we really were tourists and that as such we were entitled to so called tourist quota, meaning they had to provide us with a couple of seats (with berths) in a regular second class sleeper. Or else it could very well have upset our scheduled plans and have us risk missing our plane at the end of the journey.

Everything was embellished for twenty minutes or so before darkness fell and all but the flic- kering forked lightening remained in the thun- der heads across the bay.

Our room was, as opposed to the high standard of our living quarters in Kochin, a rather shabby looking place with cobwebs in the  bathroom, sand and dirt on the floor and basically not much working. The eating facilities around this sec- luded part of Kollam were limited to an equally squalid out door restaurant on the bottom floor where on the last night of our stay, after seeing a huge rat come out of the kitchen greeting the cats and the guests "bon appetite", I got  readily food poisoned, which was enough to put me in a much lower gear for the next two days as we rattled along the main road bundled up with our load of luggage inside of a rickshaw to finally reach the ocean resort of Varkala. In retrospect, it's those things that happen when you're in India and something everyone has to be prepared for. At least one "Delhi belly" for the road is part of the Hindu experience, to put it a bit bluntly!

Nandi the bull with Ganapati's great ancestor, the Indian elephant. Both part of an exhibition marketing sculptures and statues for retailing abroad.