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Archive for January, 2018

I’m taking a break from Kerala posts but just for today 🙂

Last night, I found myself pulled into a debate about the Aziz Ansari episode, as a friend of mine related a personal anecdote of mine on a group forum.

“Why didn’t she just do x?” “Why didn’t she just do y?” “Why didn’t she just say no?” The ladies on the thread wondered, questioning the legitimacy of my experience: one that many women have had.

So I took it upon myself to get on the thread and explain. I didn’t accuse, I didn’t get angry, I didn’t hurl around labels. At the end, the ladies came around and understood. It is sadly one of the only times that has ever happened to me.

The problem with labels we use today is that they’re loaded. Rapist, abuser, sexual predator: all these are very powerful and heavy-handed words.  (more…)

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It’s a four hour drive to Kumarakom, a sleepy little town by the backwaters, dominated by resorts. Kottayam is a short distance away, and there is apparently some sightseeing to be done there.

The roads of Kottayam remind me of Goa, low-rise colourful houses, with wide fields lined with rice patties, and peppered with clumps of coconut and palm trees. Gates are flat, as security is not a concern here.

There are small eateries lining marketplaces, with mom and pop shops of all varieties.

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I hear a lot about a Thekkady-based joint called Grandma’s Cafe, so on my second (and last) evening there, I finally decide to give it a try.

This place is an institution, and is known for it’s mix of Continental, non-Kerala Indian, and Kerala cuisine, and being a favourite of travellers. I found it in my Lonely Planet guide book and on Tripadvisor, where there seemed to be a rather lively debate on whether they serve beer.

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The kalaripayattu performance that follows the kathakali is nothing short of spectacular. The practitioners move like dancers, their bodies a combination of ridiculous strength and flexibility.

Kalaripayattu is an ancient martial art that originated in Kerala, with roots that date back to the Sangam period literature (3rd century BC – 2nd century AD). Every soldier during this period received regular military training. It takes elements from yoga, dance and performing arts, which are visible in today’s performance. (more…)

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Although I had originally planned to see the Kathakali performance in Kumarakom, I find out that it’s difficult to organise, or at least my hotel says so. Fortunately I have the evening free in Thekkady, so I decide that I might as well.

I glance in my guide book, and it recommends the Mudra Cultural Centre. I type in the URL and check – the show timings are still 5pm and 7:15 for Kathakali, and 6pm and 7:15 for kalarippayat, the traditional Kerala martial art.  (more…)

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The Thekkady tribal dance performance takes place in a small auditorium, not far from the Periyar Reserve bus stand, across from the Bamboo Grove.

I walk into a dusty darkened room, with a few rows of wooden chairs. The door is open, and people are either fanning themselves or swatting at mosquitoes, or in some cases both. A red light glows behind the curtain.  (more…)

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I arrive at the ecotourism office just before 1:30 pm, much to the chagrin of my driver, who makes it clear that he disapproves of my sightseeing priorities.

It has been a bumpy morning for us, as I have taken to ignoring his destination suggestions. A short while later he tells me that the two British friends who had come sightseeing with me the day before, were not allowed in the car. Nobody was allowed in the car except me.

I have realized by this point, that my driver is somewhat controlling, and while there may be such a rule, he is exaggerating it.

In response, I get on the phone and loudly tell my travel agent that if nobody else is allowed in the car I may cancel the cab early. This silences him for the moment. (more…)

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