The lazy tiger, God's own country, Kathakali and much more...

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April 24th 2008
Published: April 24th 2008
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Sorry everybody for not writing for a long time. We have been travelling a lot...maybe too much.
But the good thing is we have lots to say now!

We left you in Udaipur, a romantic city on lake Pichola with a wonderful white Lake Palace and a City Palace which once belonged to the Merwar dynasty. Beautiful mosaics and rooms painted with scenes from daily life in the Palace and surroundings.

We then headed towards Ranthambore National Park, on the north-east of Rajasthan. Our travel guide and the people in the hotel suggested to choose a jeep to visit the park, we went for the canter and were glad. After seeing literally hundreds of deers and boars near a lake we started the search for the elusive tiger.

We stopped where there were 4 more canters (open trucks with seats) with people staring inside a small abandoned arched building. The tiger was there but was sleeping. Our guide decided to move near a small river just 100 meters away from the tiger as he thought when she would wake up she would probably come to the river to drink. We waited and waited for the lazy tiger to wake up. After 2 hours some noise came from the canters ahead of us...the tiger had finally got up. We moved up to see her closer. She was huge. She was staring lazilyat us seemingly unconcerned by all the fuss. We had 2 or 3 minutes, just enough time to take some pictures and then she fell asleep again.

Our next stop was the Taj Mahal. One of the symbols of India. The great monument to love. It was a bit disappointing for us, maybe it was the heat (43 degrees), maybe the huge number of tourists, maybe the tiredness. But it left us quite cold. We have been much more impressed by other tombs, like Humayum in Delhi, or palaces like the one in Udaipur or forts such as the Meherangarh Fort in Jodhpur. Or maybe we have seen too many???

We are now in Kerala - local tourist board motto "God's own country". We took a flight from Delhi 3 days ago. We landed in Cochin where we stayed 2 nights. Kerala is another face of India from what we had seen so far. Backwaters, lots of green vegetation, more prosperity and of course a completely different climate, wet and less hot. Fort Cochin, the old city centre, still presents aspects of the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonizations. The streets on either side, a sequence of merchant shops. Spices, rice, tea and most names sound European. There are still bungalows which once belonged to the British and also the house where Vasco da Gama lived. We visited the Dutch palace with beautiful paintings of Hindu deities made by locals three hundreds years ago. There is a Jewish quarter with arts and crafts shops and jewelery. On the beach there are the characteristic Chinese nets which look spectacular and are operated by levers and weights.

In the evening we enjoyed a show of Kathakali made by the students of the Kathakali School. Kathakali is a traditional art form of Kerala, which contains mime, drama music and dance. The stories are mainly taken from Hindu mithology and puranas. We learned that a very important aspect of kathakali is the make up. We watched for more than a hour the make up for each character which they did in front of us. It was fascinating to see them mix the natural colors with coconut oil and apply it with small brushes. The make up was followed by a brief introduction to Kathakali characters and mime meanings. The green character is the good characater, red signifies passion and aggression, black negativity and demons. It was fascinating and magical to witness this old ritual art form. Once again India has surprised us. A.

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24th April 2008

brutta l'ignoranza, ma ancora di più l'invidia
Carissimi Alice e Paul, sono quella che farà sicuramente abbassare l'alto livello internazionale del blog. Leggo l'inglese (e un po' mi faccio aiutare da Marco), ma non se ne parla proprio di scriverlo e questo mi ha un po' inibito finora. Ma non posso rinunciare a far sentire alla cara cuginetta che è quotidianamente pensata e amata e quindi il problema sarà di chi non legge l'italiano. Vi seguo su una carta geografica e so dove vi trovate e lo spiego poi a mia mamma. Ho sempre pensato di non conoscere l'invidia ma devo ricredermi. E poi, sapere che siete piacevolmente lontani dal 'nano nazionale' mi rende felice per voi. Un strettissimo abbraccio.
27th April 2008

Good laugh...
Hey you Alice and Paul, it’s great to hear ya are having such a great time on your journey. Really enjoyed reading your blog bout doing it like original tourists and waiting for hours to take one shot of a sleepyhead. Take care and beware of Indian monkeys! ;-) LG from Berlin
30th April 2008

feeling chilly in grey skibbereen
Hi guys - all sounds fabby! You're certainly not missing anything here. Was listening to Ray Darcy on my way to work this morning and they were talking about couples who go traveling together - supposedly they tend to live happily ever after - your thoughts?

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