Kochi with Wilderness Travel


Wilderness Travel Crew:  Hashmat and Onmi


Sorry about the lack of posts the last two days.  We were out of wifi territory yesterday and the day before (and today) were so full of activities that I barely had time to rehydrate let along blog.

And rehydrating is extremely important in this miserably hot, humid weather.  And this is the “cool” season.  Although the weather has been oppressive, the stuff that we are seeing and experiencing makes the moist condition in which we constantly find ourselves worthwhile.

Our first full WT day was loaded.  We began with a walk along the water to see the Chinese nets in action (I was wrong about the reason for calling them Chinese nets . . . it seems that it is just a name that someone stuck to them rather arbitrarily).  Fishing is big here and we have been eating seafood of one sort of another every meal except breakfast.

We visited a church (Anglican/Protestant), which is the oldest Christian church in the British Commonwealth.  While we were in the church, we learned quite a bit about all sorts of things most of which had nothing to do with religion.  It was a good place to sit and listen to our guide.  Among other things, we discovered that Kerala, in comparison to other regions of India:

Has an extremely high literacy rate (91%);

Has a high female to male ratio possibly due to a low level of female infanticide, which in turn might be due to Kerala being, traditionally, a matriarchal society; and

Has a strong trade union tradition and high wages (there is a minimum wage of 700 rupees per day, just over $10).  Many Malayali people go overseas to work, which results in an inflow of people from other parts of India who take jobs in Kerala.

We also learned quite a bit about the caste system and the odd ways in which it manifests itself in spite of supposedly being overcome by education, etc.  We were told about the beef ban that was proposed by politicians many of whom are high caste Hindus.  In spite of the fact that cows are sacred, many Hindus eat beef.  This is particularly true of low caste Hindus because beef is a very inexpensive source of protein.  The proposed ban was widely ridiculed and used as an example of how out of touch with reality these politicians are.  All very interesting.

My favorite part of the day, however, was our visit to the dobhi khans where the laundry is still done the old fashioned way . . . By beating it on slabs of rock or concrete.  My god, what a horrible job.  I think the worst job there was hel by the lady who was ironing things with an unbelievably heavy iron that was filled with burning coals.  I lifted the thing and it was heavy, hot and horrible. And the results were beautiful.

We had an evening of traditional dance and martial arts . . . The only photo I took that turned out has mysteriously refused to download from my memory card  . . . All the other pictures have but it has not.  It’s one of so many flipping mysteries that my brain just can’t comprehend under the best of circumstances let alone under the semi-poached condition it finds itself in at the moment.


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