Mumbai puri and Kathakali

Trip Start Jan 14, 2007
Trip End Mar 15, 2007

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Flag of India  ,
Friday, February 9, 2007

Ernakulam is bigger than expected but I decide to stay overnight as the Shiva temple launches its week festival tonight.As I arrive a crowd of worshippers is watching elephants being pampered for the parade they re going to perform.two or three men jump on thewir back ,with one leading and two lifting some sort of flag.They start moving around the inner temple followed by a strong base of percussionnists and brass band who constantly hold the beat and the tension slowly rise over a two hours procession up to a climax.People are animated .Afterwards ,a kid's choir sing a mantra chant and offerings of rice and prayers are done.I drift outside and  walk along a central alley where stalls of food and religious merchandises are set until I reach a huge playground,already in action with dancers and music on a stage.Late I return to my bunk near the ferry pier and need a bit quietness.
The next morning I take  a ferry to Fort Kochi which last 20 minutes across the bay.
The town is the tip of an headland and reminds me of Penang and Melaka in Malaysia.Though no chinese in sight;only the big fishnet that local fishermen use show their legacy.Many housses of colonial portuguese and dutch style are ligned up in rows but wealth is not the day's order and some some restoration would be needed.Only few Mansions turn Hotels and cafe have saved some splendour.There was even a strong jewish community that lead the spice trade but vanished to oblivion or Israel.Only the jew street and synagogue remain,muslims have taken over.
One evening I go to the "Kathakali art centre" to see their show.There's a pre-show with the main actors putting make up on and some introduction about the story and the tradition.Each character is played by men who need a painstakely daily hour to disguise themself and put an outfit.Through a sinuous eyes and hands dance the plot unfolds as the young guy try to protect his virtues away from the incessant fledges of the young lady who hides her dark scheme behind an angelic face.Every step is followed by acrobatic carnatic music with percussionnists and a singer who punctuates each dramatic moment.I'm quite impressed by his versatile falsetto  that sounds like the late "Fateh ali kahn",with an harmnium in one hand and chimes in the other.He also introduces every character and I know he teaches singing apart from that(my friend Sophie-dulle spent a month trying to decipher the maze of Ragas.
Even with no specific sightseeing I wander around ,ride bycicle along the coast or linger on at the "Dravidian art cafe" nfor their good organic coffee ,cakes and tranquility .They display contemporary paintings above and I can also play with a guitar.
It help rest  from busy and ever-energetic flow of indian stream.
Mosquitoes attacks and heat don't stop my morning yoga and Raheem the porter from the "Live Inn",tries to sell me package tours and shows and wonder what I' doing in my room.Ther's an Icelandic man,in his sixties,who stays few months for ayurvedic treatments.He's got his laptop and his room is set as if he 's gonna spend the rest of his life there.
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