India is the most fascinating yet chaotic place we have ever been fortunate to travel. It has a fortunes worth of hidden treasures around each corner with the stench and filth to accompany it. Looking back on our time in Sri Lanka I can defiantly see similarities between the two countries, yet the best way to describe the difference between both is that India is like the big brother on steroids! Travelling from the south through the peaceful back waters of Kerala to the mountainous natural beauty of the Himalayas; India is rich with culture and has so much to offer but demands just as much in return. It has been a constant roller coaster over nearly five months, which has taught us a great deal that we will never forget. By allowing ourselves to be consumed by its day to day madness and its relentless demands we have embraced its quirks and respected its values. It truly is a place that tests your morals and forces you to stretch yourself outside your comfort zone. India takes time to adjust to its customs so the best way to enjoy its delights is to give it the time it deserves!
When arriving at Kochi airport one of the first things we did was pick up a sim card. We didn’t realise how integral this opportunity was at the time as its quite difficult to get one without filling in lots of paperwork and presenting a local address outside an airport. We ended up buying only one sim for ₹500 which had a small amount of credit to buy internet. A guy took one profile photograph and passport picture on his phone and sent them through WhatsApp to the mobile company Airtel. The sim was fully active in roughly an hour and the transfer bus was directly outside of arrivals for ₹80 each which took us directly to Fort Kochi.
We found a great little guesthouse not far from the old fort for ₹500 a night. The owner was really helpful and accommodating, he even recommended a local Kathakali performance to watch. This was a surprising gem as we had zero expectations for what we were about to encounter. The performance was incredibly detailed and was based upon a historical myth which was handed out to read before the show began.
The performers were incredibly concise with their facial movements as each represented an indepth expression void of a vocal language. Sounds were created and instruments were used to accompany the narrative, yet what was most bizarre was not only the peculiar facial muscles in motion but their eyes appeared to rule themselves, twitching and lurching inside their sockets.
This performance was amazing value for money costing only ₹300 each and was a completely unique experience. Being sat on the front row allowed us to closely watch the artistry of the performers applying one another’s complex facial makeup which was made up of natural substances and herbs, this included paper shapes that were attached with a thick rice paste. It was defiantly a performance we were glad we didn’t miss whilst in the Kerela region.
Fort Kochi itself is a popular area for tourists with quaint guesthouses and restaurants. The Chinese fishing nets are interesting to watch as fishermen haul the nets using a unique method which is unusual to see in India. We took some time to visit LuLu mall, India’s largest shopping centre. It was nice to just take refuge there for an afternoon and indulge in some Indian fashion. Not far away is the Folklore Museum which is privately owned by an affluent collector and is unique because of its architecture and antiques. The museum has an extensive collection of regional and traditional artifacts which are quirkily displayed on several floors to accommodate them. It’s a good place to visit if you want to grasp a detailed insight of the local culture costing ₹200 per person.
Arriving at the beginning of the monsoon we thought there'd be no better time to experience an outdoor theme/water park called Wonder La. It cost ₹700 per person and an electronic money band was provided to make it easy to buy snacks and drinks inside the park. It was really quiet the entire time we were there which was a bonus as we didn't have to que for any rides! We had a fab time mingling with many Indian tourists but we were a little shocked by the segregation in the swimming pool between males and females. This segregation was quiet a regular sight in Kerala especially on buses as there are many designated just for ladies and on the majority of public buses women have seats labeled just for them to ensure they have a safe and comfortable journey. I thought this was brilliant to see as unfortunately it’s a common place for women to be harassed.