After our drive through the villages into the city of Kochi (formerly Cochin), we arrived at our very urban hotel (which was decorated with a blue theme) and were welcomed with blue “Welcome Drinks”:
We thought we’d try out the hotel’s restaurant (Keshai at Hotel Dream) for an easy lunch, and I am oh-so-glad we did. The food was some of the best on our whole trip!
We started with crispy papadums served with fiery hot sauce:
And then were treated to rice and veggie curries:
My favourite was the South Indian specialty dish: Avial— a veggie curry made with yogurt curd, coconut, and curry leaves:
The long green vegetables are known as “drumsticks” (Muringakkaya). I was so glad to find out what they were, as throughout South India they kept popping up in my sambar! They are woody and delicious, and you can eat the pulp out of them. Mmmm.
The other curry was made with tomatoes and okra, and also divine:
The rice was a local red rice, that is produced only for eating within the country and not exported:
And lunch was served with some of the best flatbreads I’ve ever had:
The winner — a slightly spicy onion kulcha:
After lunch we went out for an afternoon of sightseeing. We started out at the Paradesi Synagogue, built in 1568. As it was the Sabbath we only got to see it from the outside:
So we wandered the streets in the surrounding area:
Found the spice shop (yum):
And checked out all the colourful souvenir stands:
We then headed down to the harbour to see the traditional fishing:
Which was such a neat juxtaposition against the very modern city:
It was such a perfect Saturday — everyone was out and about by the harbour, enjoying a relax:
Sitting under a big tree:
And getting snacks to share:
We also visited the lovely St. Francis Church:
Which also had gorgeous mandalas on the floor tiles:
And a beautiful green garden:
Outside of the church, a vendor was selling local puppets:
And off we went to the Cochin Cultural Centre to see a Kathakali show. Kathakali is the traditional dance of India, and tells the stories of the epics. Usually Kathakali dances last all night, and take place at the temples for religious festivals. The cultural centre has set up a show perfect for tourists: you get to see the dancers put on their makeup, they explain the traditions, give a little demo, and then do excerpts of a dance.
We arrived to see the first male dancer demonstrating putting on his makeup:
They add on paste to hold the 3D pieces of the costume that add such depth to the male character:
And the male dancer on the right then did his own makeup to transform into the female character:
We were lucky to be treated to live musicians:
And one of the masters of the dance form, who showed us some of the stock gestures & facial expressions they use in the storytelling:
He had simply the most amazing and interpretive eyeballs I’ve ever seen:
Then the two dancers whom we had seen earlier applying makeup did excerpts of one dance for us:
It was amazing, and moving, and such a wonderful experience!!! What a perfect way to end our tour of South India!