a few random thoughts and observations
1. I read a newspaper article about a man yesterday who claims he has the smallest coconut ever (seriously, that is what the article said). He is trying to get in the guiness book of world records. The article went on to say that he collects miniature items. and that he is single. the unintentional (or intentional?!) comedy factor killed me.
2. Indian men touch – a lot. They hold hands. they put their arms around each other (and not just around their shoulders, but around their waists and chests). But indian men and women? nope, barely touch. sometimes they hold hands, if they are feeling really frisky. still interesting to watch – especially coming from the US culture of touching (which is pretty much the opposite).
3. i tried to go to the festival today. I took a few buses – it took an hour + to get there…. and then, I discovered that it will not really start until night time. but they were putting out the oil lamps on the temple — which will look amazing. There were suppose to be elephants – 20 of them all dressed up – but I did not see them. 🙁 I decided that I did not want to risk the bus at night, even if I tried to get help. It seemed too confusing or maybe I am just feeling weary from all the staring and questions about where I am from and if I am traveling alone.
4. I get stared at a lot. And by a lot, I mean constantly. All the time. Indian seems to have 18x more men than women. And they all stare, all the time. And it seems that me being alone is particularly interesting. And I dress way more conservatively then some of the other tourists. The last two days it has gotten old. Oh, and they love to ask me if I am traveling alone. which just feels sketch to me. sure, maybe they are just being friendly but…. i have had a few interactions that have felt less than savory (one was from a 15 year old boy – made me want to bring some of my favorite students here to have a little conversation with him).
5. Indians with their children are pretty much adorable. The kids tend to be very dressed up (kohl around the eyes and eyebrows is fairly common) and fancy dresses are de rigeur. They are so cute. And they seem to be very well taken care of and adored by their parents. I love watching the little kids – which gets me lots of appreciative looks from adoring parents (which is a nice alternative to the staring!)
6. I love southern indian food. I have gone to the same place for lunch the last 3 days – i have gotten a thali which is just a lunch dish with a potpourri of samples. With a chai, it costs me 85 rupees — that is a little less than a $1.50. And the place I have gone for dinner — I get a masala dosa and the guy says all sorts of things to me and i just say yes and get pleasantly surprised when a chai shows up or some fried banana thing. And that dinner? it costs me less than a dollar. love it. I have yet to go to a tourist place for dinner (where I would pay 6x as much – and the food would not be as good). My breakfast costs a whole lot more (more than lunch and dinner combined!) – but I love the fresh fruit assortment and the press coffee.
7. tomorrow i will either head inland to mysore or south to allepey. I cannot decide. Kerala is a place where I could spend a LOT of time. I see why people come just here. In fact, I already know I want to come back and splurge on getting a houseboat in the backwaters — which definitely does not fit my 30$/day budget, but would be pretty amazing to do some day.
8. Today it rained again. which only made the temperature and the humidity pretty much insane. I went for a run this morning and I think i spent the next 3 hours dripping sweat trying to cool off. Oh, and I cannot remember the last time I had hot water for a shower. Which is fine – given these temps. but i just don’t get how come other people don’t sweat in this heat.
9. i am staying in a homestay – basically a house that is a restaurant/hotel/home. I am downstairs so i am pretty much in with the famly. And I cannot figure out the family dynamics (i.e. who is married to whom and who’s kids is who’s….) – but last night i had an interesting conservation with the woman who is probably a few years younger than me. We talked about arranged marriage (India) versus marrying for love (western). She told me that by the time a woman is 22-24, if she hasn’t found anyone (meaning, a love relationship) then her parents will step in and arrange something (with her ok, of course). I said that it was different in the US and told her that many of my friends are not married into their 30s, even late 30s. But she remarked that there is a higher divorce rate here. It was interesting to talk about the differences in culture.
10. cricket is very popular here. I cannot figure it out. but then again, i have not stayed to watch much of a game (and there are playing fields everywhere — i see men out playing when I go running early in the morning) – as… well, see #4. I think that would only encourage more staring. you should see when i run by. the game just about stops. Seriously. I cannot imagine what it would be like if I was blond.
Ok — that is enough from me tonight. I am headed out tomorrow – not sure where I will end up. Maybe I will just see where the next bus is headed to! I just got a recommendation to head to Varkala so maybe that will be it. Who knows…. I just know that southern india is definitely pretty amazing. I maybe setting myself up for one hell of a train ride north, but it seems worth it….
take care, keep emailing and posting comments.
much love — aurora