Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Kerala is the home of a number of styles of dance, theater and music. The most famous of these is probably Kathakali, a highly stylized theater performance involving very elaborate costumes and makeup. Facial expressions and detailed body movements are very important in Kathakali, and performers apparently spend years perfecting these. The actors do not speak, but are accompanied by singers and musicians. While in Cochin we went to a show which included some Kathakali, as well as some classical south Indian dancing and some Kalari payattu fighting (a type of martial arts originating in Kerala). Here are some photos from the show...

Monday, February 9, 2009

On to Kerala

Santa Cruz Basilica
Grandpa (and parasol) outside the house where Vasco lived.
in front of Vasco de Gama's tombstone
Pardesi Synagogue
At the spice shop
See Grandpa help raising the net!
What Ashwin caught in the Chinese Net
After Jaipur we headed south for warmer weather in the state of Kerala, which is to the west of Tamil Nadu and borders the Indian Ocean. We first flew to Cochin, where we spent a couple of days touring the historic old port of Fort Cochin. It was primarily a spice trading and fishing port and has been occupied by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English. Vasco de Gama lived there until his death in 1524. There are numerous historic churches and one synagogue - one of the oldest in India, with a small but still active congregation. We enjoyed strolling through the quaint streets, trying out the "chinese" fishing nets, and shopping for spices.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Did we mention the food?

We haven't really spoken much about food on the blog, but I thought we should mention some of the great meals we had while travelling. The photo of Prabhu above shows him and his Rajasthani thali. A thali is a typical Indian lunch meal, usually served on a banana leaf with rice and other carbs (chapati, poori, parotha, etc) at it's center, and many side dishes surrounding. Vegetarian is most typical, but some places serve a 'non-veg' option. Pickles, yogurt and of course a sweet are mandatory. The type of side dishes vary from region to region, so here in Chennai we get the typical 'south Indian' thali, whereas in Jaipur you get the 'Rajasthani' thali. By the way thali's typically run from 50-120 rupees, depending on size (or $1-2.50).
In addition to this, on our trip we enjoyed Italian and Chinese food in Delhi, typical north Indian fare in Jaipur, and fantastic fish and coconut based curries in Kerala. Nana especially liked appam in Kerala - rice based crepe type affairs. The first two photos above were taken at lunchtime on our houseboat trip in Kerala.
As in many cultures, life seems to revolve around food here, with conversation at the meal that you're eating often including the plan for the next meal!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Scenes from Jaipur

Entering the City Palace, Jaipur
Nana, Priya and a friend who wanted her photo taken
Ashwin and the world's largest silver urn (and it's protector)
Salmon City
Next to the worlds largest sundial.
Jaipur is a fascinating city, romantically termed "the pink city" in guidebooks due to being constructed primarily of red sandstone. The 'salmon city' would seem to be a more accurate, if less romantic, description. The mughals had a big presence there, and built walled forts, palaces and one very interesting 17th century astronomical observatory (somewhat reminiscent of a de Chirico painting). Here are some photos...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

All This and Kite Flying Too

While we were in Jaipur, there was a kite festival. The sky was abloom with kites of every bright color imaginable. (Apparently there were many power outages through the city as kites became entangled with power lines, but that's another story...). Some of you who know Prabhu well know of his prowess with kite flying, so of course we quickly had to repair to a kite shop for a couple of kites and some string. An enjoyable afternoon was then spent flying the kites from the roof of our inn.