Tag Archives: South India

Back to Kerala

More from the Holiday Snaps and Sunsets Department… Its nearly two months now, but I paid a quick visit to Kerala to catch up with some friends who were visiting back before Christmas.

First it was a couple of days in Varkala – a popular hang resort amongst backpackers – and then it was on to a boat trip through the Kerala backwaters.

The backwaters are a network of brackish lagoons, lakes and canals on which you can potter about in a converted rice barges. With rice farming, fishing and some tourism, there’s actually quiet a population living out amongst the lakes. Might have to get myself a canoe, but expect I’ll be back to explore.

As it happened, before heading back to Madurai from Kochin (Kerala’s largest city) I managed to catch an air & sea show by the Southern Command of the Indian Navy. No sign of India’s newest aircraft carrier, but they still managed to blow stuff up and show off some of India’s finest military aircraft (with names I don’t remember of course – apologies plane-spotters).

Wikipedia on Varkala
Wikipedia on the Kerala backwaters
Wikipedia on Kochi
Info on the Indian Navy Southern Command
India’s newest aircraft carrier (ZeeNews)

Rise and Shine!

It’s going to be a long month… With the full moon, December 16th marked the beginning of the Tamil month Mārkazhi (*1) – one of the most inauspicious in the Tamil calendar (*2).

There are different ways of dealing with a problem month like this, and the most common is to head to the temple extra early in the morning when the earth is closer to the heavens (as I understand it). In the case of my next door neighbour temple, that means kicking off the ghetto blasters at 6 am – just as well I’m such a morning person… Turns out that even 4 am starts aren’t all that uncommon.

On the flip side, households this month usually make an extra effort to have particularly decorative kolams – the doorstep floor paintings common across South India.

I snapped a few on my way to and from class today…

Someone was particularly busy at the roadside mini-temple around the corner – this one is about two metres across.

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*1 – the ‘z’ in Mārkazhi doesn’t actually sound like a zee – but then the ழ character doesn’t sound like anything in any European language, so it’s probably as close as any Roman letter.

*2 – Yes, Tamils use a slightly different calendar from the rest of the Hindu world – Wikipedia has the details, but they have the same months occurring at different times.

Wikipedia article on Kolams
Wikipedia on the Tamil calendar
The Notorious Z

Why Tamil?

Language classes you say?!? But English is widely spoken and used in Southern India… Unless of course you’re desperate for your Sandra Bullock fix, want to get a Vodafone top-up or just plain hungry. Sometimes Roman characters aren’t always there to save the day…

Luckily there are text books… for five year olds…

Don’t worry – back to regular travel pics in my next post – just as soon as I’ve done my homework…