ah Kerala…

by Jeanne

Part 1

I have two more days in Kerala.  At this point every day and event is seen as singular but of the same time.  I have been less than honest with the travel journal in that I have not been paying it much attention. I can say that I am relying on my Canon G9 to document where I have been and what I have seen.  It’s day 8 and I am have taken nearly 2300 images. And I have more than a week remaining.   Internet connections have been erratic and unreliable. Working USB ports a surprise. I am hoping Delhi and Mumbai are more wired.

Kerala is a green, beautiful, welcoming place. It’s the perfect passport to experiencing India.  The air is filled with frankincense, curry and the sounds jingle-jangling anklet bells.  I always thought travel writers made that part up. In the group, we have taken to saying, "Holy Cow. We’re in India." 

This morning (Sunday) after a homemade breakfast of poori, alloo and fried plantains the women were all measured for saris.  We will receive them tomorrow, with a lesson on how to wrap that yardage of textile around ourselves.  Monday will be our last full day together as a group. Some will travel to Mumbai, others North such as myself to see the Golden Triangle.  I am so glad I hired a driver and a guide.  If it makes me appear as the Raj so be it!  The drivers here make Bostonians seem meek!

Part 2

Religion in India is part of everyday life here.  Wherever you go there are images of Genesh, Vishnu, and Jesus–in tea shops,  in hotels, and also in the auto rickshaws.  Every morning wherever we may be at 5am I am awakened by the call to prayers.  Many times, depending on where you are in Kerala you will also here similar prayer calls for Muslims.

In order to reach the village church this morning for Mass I needed to take a dugout–a type of wide wooden boat where movement is generated by punting with a long bamboo pole.  After a short walk, and many waves and smiles from and to locals, I reached the 600-year church established by the Portuguese.

After leaving behind my shoes on the steps, I covered my head with the shawl that has become permanently attached to me here. Men were to the left and the women, wrapped in a pastiche of saris with heads covered to the right.

The gathering of worshipers, Syrian Christians, is similar to Roman Catholic.  There was such energy in the room.  The majority stood or knelled for the duration.  While spoken in the local dialect I could make out many of the prayers based on intonation and from the common structure.  Communion was tasted the same as always but the wafer was thinner, almost transparent.

Now, you should know, for whatever reason I do get emotional in Church.  Maybe it’s the being present to faith and belief.  It could also be the energy and how much this Mass was spoken by the congregation.   It was inspiring to see everyone’s faith illustrated–there were no hymn books, no Mass books to recite the prayers from–it all came from the heart. And it was loud inside that church–nothing like Masses I’ve been to outside of Easter and Christmas.

Closing

The air is now filled with the smells of a vegetable curry lesson going on in Anu’s kitchen so I must close.  The next post will most likely be Tuesday or Wednesday from Delhi.  If anyone knows where to find fresh curry leaves in the Bay Area I need a source! 

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