Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gigi's Trip to South India - Part I

I returned from a trip to India earlier this week.

I took too many photos and filled a notebook with notes -- partly for research for my latest mystery novel, and partly because India is so vibrant and intense that I couldn't help scribbling thoughts -- so I'm going to split this into two posts.

Today: The peaceful backwaters of Kerala.

Next time: The colorful, chaotic streets that transport the 1.1 billion people who live in India.

I've done some traveling in India before, but this time I got to see more of the places where my dad grew up in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

That's him in this photo -- the guy in the very front row with his hands on his hips -- in the 1950s before he left India for the United States.

Right now I'm recovering from the trip (covering 2,000 kilometers in 2 weeks and leaving me with a nasty airplane cold), so I'm starting with some of the more tranquil moments here:

Sunrise in Kochi.
There's nothing like jet lag to wake one up at 5 a.m. each morning. But in this historic trading city, I wasn't complaining. Not long after this photo was taken, monsoon rains poured down for a single hour, then left as abruptly as they started.

Looking out at the Arabian Sea from Kochi.
Walking along the coastal path at Fort Kochi, I spotted this lone man was standing at the water as a bird few by. If it hadn't been so muggy and hot, I would have been tempted to stop and write a scene in addition to snapping a photo.

Ashtamudi Lake.
We got horribly lost getting here, taking many wrong turns down small winding roads, but in the end it was worth it. The ride getting there was entertaining, too, stopping to ask directions of friendly people -- whose answer was always "straight" as they gesticulated toward a microscopic road. The lake is in Kollam, a couple hours north of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) along the coast of Kerala.

Locals boating.
The coast of Kerala is full of waterways, called the backwaters. After driving on the crowded roads (which I'll post photos of next time), I can see why boating from place to place is such a common choice.

Canoes along the shore.

A painting of a Kathakali dancer on a wall at the side of a canal.
When I was a kid we had a huge statue of one of these classical Indian performers at my house -- well, now it doesn't seem to big, but I swear it was gigantic at the time.

The southern tip of India.
Here we are in Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin). I'm told this used to be a peaceful beach with multicolored sands stretching as far as the eye could see. Today, it's a crowded destination with development stretching almost to the shoreline. But with a little imagination, you can get caught up in the majestic oceans all the same.


Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Gigi! Travel is one of my addictions too!!!!

Martha Flynn said...

Your pictures are always so amazing! Thank you!

L.G.C. Smith said...

Love the photos, Gigi. Especially the one of your dad as a young man. He's so handsome and full of life. Thanks for posting this. I can't wait to hear and see more.

Juliet Blackwell said...

Love this! So sorry you're under the weather, but I'm glad you weren't sick in India, at the very least. Get better soon,and post more pics!

Gigi Pandian said...

Mysti - Yes, travel is what I think of as my healthy addiction -- it's video games that are my downfall. I can't start playing them or I become an unstoppable zombie. That's what I was going to write about before this week's post coincided with me returning from my trip ;)

I'm still going through my photos (there are far too many) so I'll post many more next time!

Lisa Hughey said...

oh Gigi--thank you so much for sharing the photographs (which are, as always, amazing and wonderful) and the fascinating commentary. I'm so glad you got to take this trip with your father. Feel better!!

Rachael Herron said...

Ahhhhh. Amazing. Thanks for these. And get better soon! Hope to see you on Sat!

Supriya Savkoor said...

What beautiful pics, Gigi, and such lovely locations. My favorite is that remote, idyllic shot followed by, "We got horribly lost getting here..." Isn't that always the way? Looking forward reading and seeing more about your fun adventure.

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