Saturday, May 26, 2012

Back to India!


Afew weeks ago, I found out I was going to India for a short work assignment. I'm always excited about going back to India, one of my favorite travel destinations.  This time, I'll be in Kerala - mainly in Kochi.  On the way, I'm taking a two day layover in Mumbai.

After work is over, I will spend a few days in Kochi itself and then meet up with my colleague and friend, Smitha and her family.  They are from the Kerala area and I'm thrilled to be spending time with someone who really knows their way around the area. Smitha is planning my visit so I'm leaving everything up to her.  I did tell her that I wanted to do some shopping - I want to pick up some thin cotton shirts for both work and travel.


So far, all the travel and hotel arrangements have been made.  I'm just now doing some last minute reading on things to do and see in both Mumbai and Kochi.

My time in Mumbai will be short and so I have to really carefully pick and choose what I want to do and see.  I've signed up for a conducted city tour that is a full day affair which leaves me a day to go about on my own.  I booked myself into a hotel that is very centrally located and I am hoping (fingers crossed) that I can walk to all the major sites.

Yesterday, I read about Elephanta Island and I've put that on to-see list.  The island is well known for its cave temples that date back to the 5th century.  The cave complex is a collection of shrines, courtyards, inner cells, grand halls and porticos  filled with stone sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses.  Should be interesting. Getting to Elephanta will require a ferry ride from India Gate and that should be easily doable.

I have three days of work in Kochi. After that, I will spend one day with my colleague, Mai, just hanging around town. I'm going to put together a short list of the things for us to see and do and then run it by our Indian colleagues to see what's the best to do in day.

After Mai leaves, I'm moving to a luxury hotel on Willingdon Island. I know, so not like me to stay anywhere fancy but I thought I would give it a shot. I just hope I don't get too bored. I know I will need some entertainment so I have already made a reservation to catch a kathakali performance at the Kerala Kathakali Centre.

Kerala’s best known art form, kathakali is a unique blend of dance, drama, music, literature and also painting.  At the center, you can go early to watch the performers apply their makeup which is very elaborate.  I'm definitely going to check that out!
Of course, I am looking to forward to eating a lot of wonderful Indian meals - I already know there are my favorite masala dosas waiting for me!  But this will be the first time that I will be in the southern part of the country and though the cuisine is very different from that in the north, it will be familiar to me as so many of my Indian friends and colleagues are from Kerala.  I do want to learn how to make the meals so I'm again on the hunt for a good cooking class in Kochi.

I'm thrilled to be going back to India and with less than a week to go before I board the plane, I have a bit of reading yet to do as well as packing.