One week into the New Year, I regretfully say farewell to Ratnadeep, his amazing family and the unprecedented hospitality they blessed me with. It has been a spectacular few weeks that will never fade from memory, but also a wake up call that life is meant to be lived. So without glancing back, I board another epic thirty-hour train bound for the southern state of Kerala.
Completely immersed in Haruki Murakami’s ‘Kafka on the Shore’, time flies by and before I know it, I am standing on the platform looking for a way to contact Kanako, a friend I made working at the farm near Mt. Fuji. In another of India’s mysterious coincidences, she finds me while disembarking from the same train, only a coach back! We catch up on the way to Fort Kochin, eventually settling into this relaxed travelers hub where the following lazy days wandering the small city are only punctured by a couple evenings of traditional cultural entertainment.
The first show we attend is the bizarre regional Kathakali dance, which translates to story-play. During the first hour, performance artists casually linger on stage while meticulously applying vivid face paints and slowly making the transition into their characters. A brief explanation of the unusual art form we are about to witness is given before they plunge into a surreal story told only via movements of their body, eyes and elaborate hand gestures. No color of the rainbow is spared in their vibrant and flamboyant costumes. It is nothing like I’ve ever seen, and provides more of the artistic cultural experience that I’ve been craving since the start of my travels. However, it is also uncharacteristic of the stereotypical image of this country. I have always understood there would be a great diversity here, but a side from a few common factors found in all Asian cultures, Kerala completely feels like a separate country than India.
The second evening in town, we attend a traditional music concert and I feel much more of a connection with the entertainment than the previous night’s exotic spectacle. Three musicians perform an improve set using a Ganchira drum, Tabla, and a Veena, which resembles the sitar. These guys are seriously talented, composing their jam session with elements of meticulous skill, quality showmanship and unbridled creativity and passion! The unique music intrigues until the end, but the night eventually comes to an early close in anticipation for tomorrow’s journey to Alleppey, and closer to the beautiful backwaters that this state is famous for.
Tags: - Music, - Photography, - Transport & Travel, - Transport: Train, Asia, India, India: Southern States, Kerala