Friday, September 16, 2005

My Kerala and Tamilnadu

Leaving to Kerala. Skipping a few school days in the process. I promised one of my Indian friends I would visit him (and his family) for the Onam festival.

Onam is a time for sports, festivities, and ritual celebrations in Kerala. The Keralites celebrate this festival in memory of the golden era of King Mahabali whose spirit is said to visit the state at the time of Onam. Colorful aquatic festivals are organized along the sacred rive Pampa as part of the celebrations. After three months of heavy rains, the sky becomes a clear blue and the forests a deep green. The brooks and streams come alive, spouting a gentle white foam, the lakes and rivers overflow and lotuses and lilies are in full bloom as if to welcome the spirit of the King. It is time to reap the harvest, to celebrate and to rejoice (...)"

We missed the 4pm bus and had a hard time finding a seat in the 9.45pm train. At last, we bought two emergency tickets, hoping they would be confirmed in the train. Conclusion, the two of us on the same 50cm seat for a 15hour night journey. Fun!

We finally reached my friend's family house and we were wonderfully welcomed by the parents. Also met the neighbours and friends.

In Kerala, learning English is strongly encouraged in the education system. It was unfortunately not the case before. The dad knows a bit of English but I had to use the sign language with the mum.

We had special dishes for the Onam festival, served on banana leaves. Eating with fingers? Let's try. Mixed the rice and the sauces with the right hand, took the food with my fingers, opened my mouth… I obviously need a bit of practice. Slow process. Decided to use a spoon. The food was extremely good but Keralite people must have a disproportionate stomach. I was so full after the third round.

At night, we visited the city. There were so many places to see. Ran out of batteries for my digital camera.

Went back home.. where 3 more rounds of food were waiting for us. Cant move anymore. Loved my first day in Kerala!

Our next stop (by bike) was Kanniyakumari (Tamilnadu) which is the place where the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean meet. Despite being hit by the tsunami last year, the coast remains beautiful. The waves were as high as the Thiruvalluvar Statue (the combined height of the statue and pedestal is 133 feet denoting the 133 chapters in the Thirukkural).

“Described as the southernmost end of Tamil Nadu, the land’s end of India or the point where the three seas meet, enchanting Kanniyakumari or Cape Comorin is one of the most popular tourist spots in the state. Part of the fascination is of course due to the fact that it is the very tip of the Indian peninsula. Nature is so spectacular at Kanniyakumari that several other Indian beaches pale by comparison. Cape Comorin is at its best during Chitra Pournami (the full moon day in April) when the sun and moon are face to face on the same horizon but other full moon days are also special and you can see the sun set and the moon rise almost simultaneously.”

At night, we had a few drinks on the beach. My paranoiac friend didn’t want us to go there too late in the evening. Nothing happened but I was glad not to understand Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam.

We woke up at 6am to see the sunrise. Climbed on the hotel roof, half sleepy. The view was amazing. We then headed to the island to visit the Thiruvalluvar Statue.

3 hours by bike later, we were back at my friend's place. My skin had turned completely red because of the sun. We were late and his parents were waiting at the door. Worried…

I wore the saree that my friend's mum had bought me. Red hair, red face, orange and goldish saree. Perfect match!

Back on the bike. This time with heels, flowers in my hair and saree (not really stable!). The first temple didn't allow foreigners to enter. We went to another temple, much smaller but extremely peaceful.

Went to a beach. A foreigner one as it wouldn’t have been much fun to wear a saree where wearing such clothes is so common. Had our dinner in front of the sea.

On my last morning in Kerala, my pant's button broke (too much food?).

We were in a rush. My friend's friends had been trying to find train tickets for the past few days. A big thank to them for their time!

15 of us on 8 seats. If you buy your ticket too late, you might have to sleep on the floor. I was glad to know that one of the seats was going to be mine at night. I woke up at 4am, a stranger lying next to me in my bed! Didn’t feel like pushing him on the floor.

Feel free to visit Kerala! Wonderful people, great food and stunning landscapes! Thank you!


Pap said...

Mais non, mais non, tu ne fait pas encore rani en couleur locale.
Le teint cuivré, portant sari. Chevauchant une Royal Enfield au charme d'antant ou lévitant en compagnie des fakirs (celà se fait il encore ?).
Il n'empèche voilà un texte intéressant, une photo nous mettant en appétit,... a te lire donc... avec intérêt.
Mon bonjour à tous les Indiens....

mamouchka said...

Super la photo de toi en sari. Quelle classe... dommage qu'on ne puisse pas l'agrandir.Fais-tu des progrès en dialecte local? A+ au plaisir de te lire

Liju said...

hey Elise,
Wow, looks like you had quite an eventful Onam in Kerala/Kanyakumari!

Take care!

Raj said...

Hi Elyse,i am soo happy that u were there with me to celebrate Onam,and friends who know elyse can just imagine how wonderful my Onam was with her,even for my parents. I guess I am not having such wonderful time in the near future. I had promised her to get her back in time b4 8:00am on monday,so that she can attend the class.I was afraid that the train might b late.i had my breath only when we reached in front of IIMB at 7:45am..
thats all elyse..
bye and take care.
with luv

jean-paul said...

Super les vêtements que tu as là!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey! Sympa la maman… Tu es adorable en saree ;o)

nico said...

Coucou! Des photos… Enfin! Pas mal, le saree ;-) Ramène le en Belgique. Je veux du « live »…

Kanyakumari said...

Wow! it's very nice. Thanks for sharing!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sight Seeing in Kanyakumari said...

I love India because tamilnadu is here.

Kanyakumari Sunrise and Sunset said...

south India is best place in all over India.