<<  Cochin, 29-Jan-2013  >>

Ex-Portuguese colony

House where Vasco da Gama died, Chinese fishing nets and Kathakali performance

Cochin - yet another colonial town. It used to be (and still is) really important South Indian port, because the ocean meets here Keralan backwaters and together they create an enormous protected bay. These colonial towns, or Europe-influenced towns in Asia (Hoi An in Vietnam, Luang Prabang in Laos, Galle in Sri Lanka, Siem Reap in Cambodia, …) always look almost beautiful, but at the same time are somehow lifeless, unauthentic, like if someone turned down the volume. I say almost beautiful, because they boast wonderful colonial buildings, but they just don’t fit with the rickshaw filled streets and they have that museum-like feeling (not all, Siem Reap was pretty alive, but thanks to nearness of Angkor Wat). The real, authentic Rameshwaram or Madurai simply have something that these towns don’t. But Portuguese and English mansions and old pepper trading buildings of Cochin are truly wonderful. Too bad, that most of them were turned into luxury hotels. They even have the house, where Vasco Da Gama lived and died in 1524, I smoked a beedee in front of it, trying to imagine dying Vasco Da Gama inside it :-) And guess what? They have Jew town in Cohin. So today I completed my around-the-world’s-religions trip in Kerala, by visiting Jew town and a synagogue. Shalom.

In the evening I went to see a performance of traditional Keralan dance/theater Kathakali. It was interesting, because it was similar to Balinese dances – no spoken word, just dancing, gestures and eye movements – but unlike in Bali, where all dancers are female (even male figures), here, all dancers were male (even female figures). The make-up of the actors took 2 hours and it was indeed fascinating to see them doing the women-like dancing. Thanks to constant drumming, it was quite trans inducing.

Goodbye to the Arabian Sea, I’m heading inland to the mountains, to cool down a little bit and then back to Tamil Nadu and Bay of Bengal.

Click for photo gallery

     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak