Author’s Note: As an adoptee, I am free to invent my own family tree, even if that tree is an entire country. Spending much of last month in Southern India, I discovered a new way of being authentic. My novel-in-progress, Arundati, is set in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, and these travels allowed me to symbolically live inside my protagonist’s skin. Today’s post continues an ongoing travelogue about the sojourn that touched me to the core. The beauty and chaos, the people, the land itself will provide fuel for all my future creations…
Wednesday, December 25. Along with Charles, Rebecca, Daphne. Phil and Lynne, went
to a Christmas service at St. Francis Church. We returned to our hotel to gather the others and went en masse to the Mattancherry Palace, also known as the Dutch Palace. Tiled roof, whitewashed walls, an interior filled with colorful murals and Hindu temple art. The Mattancherry is a potent reminder of Cochin’s long history of outside influences and melting pot culture. Lunch at the Grand Hotel, an upscale dining establishment decorated in white, tan and gold.
The afternoon and evening were spent on an evening cruise on the Kerala backwaters. We enjoyed a Kathakali performance, the two male dancers depicting a tale from the Mahabarata. Prelude before the dance: A recorded overvoice explained the facial expressions (rolling eyes, twitching brows, sniggering mouth, wiggling noses etc.) that depicted desire, compassion, anger, valor, fear, disgust, wonder, and tranquillity. It was a display of veritable facial aerobics! This was followed by a demonstration of 23 different mudras (hand positions), after which the fight between the demon and the god ensued. Live sitar music and singing accompanied the story-telling dance, and in the end, good triumphed. Of course!
An interlude of peaceful sunset floating by Cochin’s shores. Lovely views of Chinese fishing nets, sounds of birds welcoming the descending night. The day ended with our best meal to date at Oceanos Restaurant. It began with
pumpkin soup, included four kinds of seafood, and ended with ice cream. It’s not stretching the truth to say that I’ve “adopted” India for my novel-in-progress and that this was A CHRISTMAS DAY I’LL ALWAYS REMEMBER!