Suitcase and World: Memories of India 2012.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Memories of India 2012.

Getting to go back to one of my favorite destinations, on company expense, was an unexpected gift. The moment I got the final word that I was going to India, the planning began but the trip activities turned out to be more "on the spur of the moment" than my usual trips.  I have to admit that it took me a bit to let go and just relax.  It also ended up being more a trip about nature than culture which was a nice change for me.  My only regret was that I missed out on one day in Mumbai which means I didn't get to go to Elephanta Island as I had hoped to.  Guess that means I have to go back :-)

I tried to make the most of what I could with my one day in Mumbai.  I had booked a walking tour and luckily, I ended up with Abhishek as my guide.  His English was perfect and he knew his city well.   Unfortunately, between the jet lag and the heat and humidity of Mumbai, I wilted by early afternoon.   The other unfortunate thing was that a lot of the major attractions are closed on Monday of all days so I could only see stuff from the outside.  I now know where I want to go back to on my next trip.

It was also a trip filled with being in the company of familiar faces.  Of course, this did start out as a work trip and when the assignment ended. a small group of us went on a cruise of the backwaters, organized by our gracious hosts - Sandeep Sreekumar and Omprakash Narayanan.  It was a wonderful way to pass the time.

After that, I got the chance to spend the day with my colleague Mai.  This was the first time we've ever spent anytime together and she's wonderful to be with - very easy going and always up for trying something different.   We had hired a car and driver to take us around Fort Kochi to see the sights including the Chinese fishing nets which were a bit of a curious oddity though I have to say, they didn't quite live up to the hype for me.

Mai also came along with me for a cooking class that I had signed up for in Fort Kochi.  That was a lot of fun.  Of course, the best part was that we got to eat what we cooked!

After Mai left, I had one more day in Kochi before moving on.  As as happened in the past, disaster struck one day and I lost my glasses to the backwaters and had to go to an eye care hospital in Kochi for an eye exam and to buy a replacement set of glasses.  There's never a dull moment with me! :-)

I also went to a Kathakali performance but without my glasses, it was a bit to see everything.  Thankfully, I had my camera to see through.  It was definitely an interesting performance.   I don't know that I would voluntarily go and see another performance but I'm glad I had the experience. 

After Kochi, I got to spend a few days with my friend and colleague Smitha and her family at their home in Thodupuzha.  It was nice to see them in their home and after my days in hotels, it was nice to be in one.  I got a chance to really see how a local family lives.  Seeing her family and their home brought back memories of my childhood in Malaysia - it all looked and felt so familiar.

I was also lucky enough to go with Smitha and her family to visit the hill side station of Munnar.  As with so many hill stations in India, Munnar is known for its tea.  It was such pretty landscape and after days of being in hot, humid locations, the cool air of Munnar was a welcomed change.

Smitha and her family had planned a one day trip to Chennai so while they were gone, they had thoughtfully arranged for a car and driver to take me wherever I wanted to go.  They suggested Kovalam Beach which is located a short distance away from Thiruvananthapuram (formerly Trivandrum), the state capital of Kerala.

Though it was just a short one day trip, I had a wonderful time relaxing in Kovalam and even had time to do another backwater cruise....this time down the Neyyar River.  I only got to see a little bit of Thiruvananthapuram and I definitely want to go back on a future trip to see more - I missed out on visiting the palaces of the Travancore era which are "must-sees" for a culture vulture like me.

It was much too short a trip but I can't complain as it gave me the chance to go back to a place that I don't think I will ever get tired of visiting. 

This travelogue details my trip and includes a selection of the photos and videos that I took along the way.   Thanks also go to Om for his photos of our Alleppey boat cruise - I have incorporated several of them into my blog posting. 

I hope you enjoy reading about my travels as much as I did experiencing them!

Table of Contents

Pre-trip Planning & Research