A Travellerspoint blog

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Onaashmsakal

Happy Onam :)

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We had today off work as it is the main day of Onam. We all dressed in our traditional Indian outfits and looked very Indian! Destin was spending time at home with her family today so George took us on a trip to three different waterfalls along a river; Athirappilly, Charpa and Vazhachal.

It was only Rs. 9 to get into the waterfalls for locals – so our token Indian, Shreena, was okay as they assumed she was a local! However, as tourists we were charged Rs.30. We had an awesome trek down to the waterfalls – I stayed at the back with Shreena clinging on to me – she’s not really used to hiking. The views were spectacular, and the falls had a healthy flow from the monsoon rains.

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After this we stopped for a traditional Onam lunch. George dropped us back at home at 4pm and we all fell asleep straight away! He came to pick us up again at 6pm to go to see some traditional Onam festivities. We saw some wild elephants in the middle of the round...

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...and then watched some traditional dance and singing performances on the stage in the middle of the round. There are three types of traditional Keralan dance we saw; Mohiniyattam, Koodiyattam and Kathakali the dances tell a story and the music is sung with the help of musical instruments.

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We arrived home to find the cockroach issue is becoming worse. Must buy some pesticide spray tomorrow! For now we are just keeping them shut in the kitchen. I’m also starting to think that bringing some water purification tablets would have come in useful at times like this when we have run out of bottled water and tap water is not drinkable!

Somehow it’s now 2:30am and we are getting picked up by Destin at 9:30am so i best get some sleep! Xxx

Posted by laurandtheworld 15:00 Archived in India Comments (0)

The luxury of a warm shower...

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First warm shower today :D turns out we did actually have hot water and we just had to flick a switch to get it. Wasn't expecting that in India!

Destin came to pick us up this morning and we went straight to our first interview which was at the home of a current women representative. This was our first interview with a current rep, she seemed very positive overall. We also interviewed her daughter who was our age (21) and married.

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We then went to Destin’s church to pick up her daughter Christina. We went inside the church and saw lots of the Onam flowers which the children had spent hours making; they were very pretty. The children all seemed interested in us and liked having their photos taken – I don’t think they see white people like us often!

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Our last interview was with a former women’s rep at the hospital. We conducted the interview outside the hospital so didn’t get opportunity to see the conditions inside the hospital. From seeing the outside though it makes me grateful for our healthcare services back home.

After our last interview Destin dropped us off at the round where George met us and took us to the zoo. I was initially really excited about this, until we got there and I saw what poor conditions the animals are kept in. The cages are smaller than in England. Tigers and leopards in cages where there’s hardly any room to walk, let alone run. This made us all feel quite sad and depressed so we left the zoo at the first available opportunity. I didn’t take many photos due to how sad it was but here is one picture just to illustrate the awful conditions…

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We left the zoo and were quickly drawn towards the loud music and commotion on the street outside. There was a parade going on with lots of music and drums, people dressed up in magnificent outfits and floats. We stopped and watched the parade pass down the street.

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Although we seemed to be just as much of an attraction as the parade! We then went to the middle of the round to watch some more traditional Indian dancing and afterwards George took us to talk to one of the dancers who was lovely.

Posted by laurandtheworld 09:46 Archived in India Comments (0)

Elephants

...but not what I expected

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This morning we had a lie in as George didn't pick us up until 1pm. We went to see elephants at Punathurkotta elephant yard. The elephant yard is about 45 mins away at Guruvayur. We got slightly lost on the way so George had to ask for directions... after asking about 10 different Indians and as usual being told different directions, we finally arrived at the elephant yard.

There were around 50-60 elephants of all different shapes and sizes. To my disappointment though we couldn’t ride the elephants here or touch them. After visiting the zoo I should have known what to expect… the elephants were chained to trees and didn’t have much freedom to move, but at least they weren’t in cages, and they aren’t chained up all the time. Also I suppose they are in more of a home environment than they would have in a zoo in England.

After this we stopped at the beach at Thalikum on the way home. This was a bizarre experience for me. Crowds and crowds of Indians not sitting, but standing around, chatting, playing sports and bathing in the sea... in their clothes. This is definately not the place to sunbathe in your bikini! We were getting enough attention just from being British. Lots of children approached us talking to us in English, they were all very sweet and friendly and interested in our names and where we are from and wanted photos with us!

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We then went to a restaurant on the beach and tried some Tapioca (which is the Indian’s equivalent to potato) and some rice wraps– these were quite dry as we didn’t have them with anything as they normally eat them with chicken or fish and we are all still quite reluctant to eat meat! We then headed home, there was torrential rain on the way home – Indian driving in the dark and rain is pretty scary! So I just fell asleep.

Tonight is chilled as we don’t have to write up our interviews, so just going to read and maybe get an early ish night for once! xxx

Posted by laurandtheworld 10:11 Archived in India Comments (0)

Pulikkali

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We went straight to the courts/corporation buildings this morning where the members of the district Panchayat work. Upon entering the building we saw some barristers dressed in suits on a motorbike! (not seen anyone wearing suits yet in India). We met the current Vice President of the District Panchayat, a District Panchayat Secretary, a former President of the Grama Panchayat and a District office official. Subha Kumar who was the secretary spoke English well and therefore asked the women our questions for us and translated their answers.

The male secretary, made an impact upon me as he seemed very open, however I wondered whether in fact he was being 'politically correct' due to the change in the Law in 2010, in order to receive good public relations for the situation of women in Kerala. He was positive that women will bring about revolution in changing Kerala, with the view that this was because of the differences that lie between knowledge and wisdom. He believed that “ladies maintain wisdom, never blow up their face, they are able to smile”. This quote prompted much discussion between our team after the interviews.

Following this we were dropped in the round to meet George at 2pm so we could find a good position to watch the Pulikkali ‘Puli’ means tiger and ‘Kali’ means play. The Pulikkali is a street festival where men brightly painted as green, yellow, orange, and red striped tigers come to the streets. Nine teams are judged on their outfits and dances.. It was supposed to start at 4pm..but typical of the Indian culture after about 4 hours waiting it finally started at 6pm! We only stayed for 2 teams as after waiting for so long we were tired, hungry and not so enthusiastic anymore! The teams we saw were people painted as tigers dancing in the street and there were brightly decorated floats with people on in various costumes.. the streets were completely packed and everyone was pushing to get photos and a good view. The people were all really kind and friendly though and some helped us get through to the front to take photos. We decided to leave the festival around 7pm – I think George was happy about this!

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Its almost 1am and we have only just finished typing up our work from today. We are starting yoga class tomorrow and have to get up at 5:15am~! Best go to bed!!x

Posted by laurandtheworld 10:38 Archived in India Comments (0)

First experience on an Indian bus...

crazyyyy!

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Still half asleep at 5am this morning, it was an effort to drag myself out of bed to attend our first yoga class 5:30-7:30am. It was really enjoyable though and I left feeling awake, refreshed and ready to start the day. I’m more flexible than I thought I would be after quite a few months of not doing cheerleading. I’m hoping that if I go everyday for the next 3 weeks I will get my flexibility back and become even more flexible.

The rain was torrential when we left the flat this morning and we had to catch a bus to the bus station. This was our first experience on an Indian bus, and it was CRAZY! After managing to jump on whilst the bus was pulling away we squeezed our way on into the crowd of wet, smelly people packed like sardines, but the atmosphere with the loud Indian music and the buzz of the people was immense. The bus drivers rule the roads, they drive anywhere and overtake anything so all other vehicles have to get out of the way!

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Once we met Destin (who had been waiting for us for 30 minutes, as the time had been miscommunicated!) we had another hour and a half bus journey, it stopped raining during this journey so we could see the beautiful views and rural villages we passed through. We then had to catch another bus to Destin’s friends house who we were interviewing. She was a very intelligent and friendly lady and she gave us tea, vegetable puffs and other nice foods.

After this we got another bus to the Grama Panchayat Building for more interviews. These interviews were slightly awkward; one male government official we interviewed seemed not to approve of some of the questions we asked the women and kept interrupting during their interviews. I left these interviews with mixed thoughts and we all felt like we needed to do more research on the Political system in Kerala since we were not briefed on this and did not know the details of our project until we got to Jananeethi, this was nobody’s fault , just the way it worked out.

Therefore this evening we went to the internet café to research Kerala’s politics. After doing this research I feel I understand the project a lot more and what we are trying to achieve from it, so hopefully we should get more from future interviews and be able to ask more detailed questions. I really enjoyed writing todays journal about the interviews as we all had quite a detailed discussion on our views.

Anyway.. it’s almost 1am again which means I only have 4 hours sleep before yoga! Nighttt!!! xxx

Posted by laurandtheworld 10:48 Archived in India Comments (0)

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