Sunday 31 August 2014

#81 India

When Rich met Lisha three years ago in London, I wonder if he started to imagine what the marriage ceremony might be like. It's entirely possible that he did. Still, for all of us that flew to the south Indian state of Kerala for the wedding this weekend, it was a special event.

We arrived several days before the weekend and spent a day and a half shopping for clothing, including a trip to the city of Kochi's largest and finest silk store. Scores of brightly coloured maidens and young men flocked to assist and tailor our garments, which we chose from the many bright and golden materials adorning the walls of the store.

Before shopping, we ate at a restaurant next to the silk store. Fish curry is popular in Kerala and the chefs like to use a lot of coconut in their dishes. The locals eat with their right hand, which we did later during our stay. For now, we tentatively requested forks.

The wedding itself took place over a day and a half, in the jungle town of Muvattupazha. It was monsoon season, so umbrellas were provided, even when walking to the coaches that ferries us between between the hotel, the church and the bride's parents' house. They had been there for a month already, decorating their home and arranging for the two hundred guests several three course meals and many ceremonies and entertainments. There were dancers, singers, musicians and fire jugglers. At the church, we were greeted by rows of drummers and a large decorated elephant.

Some of the local customs were unusual. The hotel waiters sometimes only took orders from the men at the table and even when asked for things by the women, brought them to the men. The rice pudding dessert was spicy. The hotel elevator contained a light switch, so you could ascend the floors in total darkness. That last one was kinda cool.

India is a dirty, smelly, over-populated and materialistic country. It is also beautiful and raw. The people are sincere, polite, hard-working and have an admirable appreciation of family and spirit. Kochi is a growing city and hopefully in the next five to ten years, development of its massive above-ground metro will be complete.

This week, I have enjoyed being wealthy (a decent restaurant meal costs between £2 and £4) and stared at like a celebrity as I walk around (I saw two other white people in the city this week outside of the wedding guests). Most of the locals were very friendly. The city, particularly the mainland, is pretty much untouched by tourism and is a very safe place to visit.

1 comment

Running on empty said...

I felt like I was there, very descriptive.