India : Kochi, Pune
3.3 - 7.3.2017
Our first city in India was Cochin/Kochi, Kerala! It was an easy direct flight from KL. I knew it as the city where some dear friends since high school were born. It has been a major trading port since ancient times with influences from the Romans and Greeks, Arabs, Portuguese, Dutch, Jews, Chinese and of course, British. It is also a very naturesque part of the south. A perfect first intro to India!
Dhobi khana "Community laundry space" began in the 1920's by the British. They brought Tamils from Sri Lanka over for the specific job of laundry. Traditionally, men washed and women dried and ironed. Washing includes soaking, beating clothing on rocks, double rinsing and starching with rice water. Today, it is the older generation still doing the work. The young are able to pursue schooling and outside work.
We were so fortunate to be there at the time of Kochi Biennale, an international exhibition of contemporary art with pop up galleries and installations throughout town.
We also spent one day doing the backwater tour. Slowly, very slowly meandering through a network of rivers and canals. The morning was good with visits to 2 industries along the route but the afternoon was quite boring. When that happened, as in Halong Bay, we were grateful for the good company of fellow travelers.
7.3 - 19.3.2017 Pune
At the airport, our long anticipated flight to Pune to visit Anita, Sanjay and Eann Sojwal!
Twelve laid back days hanging out at the Sojwal's home. Eating amazing Indian cuisine 3 times a day. Back to a more consistent schedule of schoolwork. Taking walks to a nearby club with paths and greeneries. Enjoying little Eann's cuteness and the homey feel of settling in with friends.
13.3 Holi Festival of Colors. It is a Hindu spring festival that goes crazy with colored powder and water! We went into town quite late in the day not knowing what to expect. Well, pretty much right when we got into the city, we were drawn in by friendly locals ready to share their fun!
During our stay, Anita's auntie and uncle from west India came to visit for a few days. Sanjay planned a full day's outing for our group to the Maharashtra mountain ranges. After a few hours drive, our first stop was at Tableland - Second largest mountain plateau in Asia. The British established resorts and schools in this area. Throughout the day, we drove to various scenic points - most with historic significance.
It came the time to say Goodbye. Goodbye to dear friends. Goodbye to not having to search out food but fed with a feast every time. Goodbye to sweet families who live in humble settings building for rich patrons. With one week left on our visa, we took the train to the famous Golden Triangle - Jaipur, Agra & Delhi.