Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why Kerala is Awesome to Visit.

So the G family recently invaded Kerala for a visit. Overall, it was a nice trip. The people were for the most part friendly and polite. Here are the highlights:

1. Taking a non-night train is a long and tedious option - especially with kids. 12 hours type long. in one seat. The scenery was fabulous, but how long can you really watch scenery? That being said, it was a novelty and the kids liked the vendors being around all the time.
2. Cochin/Fort Kochi was fun to visit. I ironically got to appreciate some Dutch heritage and I'm a culture/history junkie. Our hotel was in a great location for wandering around. The architecture was very interesting to see.
The View Behind our Hotel

Crazy Mix of the Old, The New, and the Tragically Dirty Beach

Holla Dutch Folks!

3. Munnar was great. It doesn't have the same feel as the rest of India but the cooler weather and amazing views were much appreciated, especially after being in Fort Kochi.
Lots of waterfalls to be found.

The view from our hotel room back porch

From outside.

They had frikkin Emus. It was awesome.

This right here is just not right. I heard Gasolina in Kerala more than I have anywhere else. And not just in Munnar.

4. There's not much in Thekkady, but we did see a martial arts show that was very cool to watch. Do see one when you go to Kerala. Unless you plan to go on a big, expensive safari, there is absolutely no wildlife in the preserve. Even then, I have my doubts.

This is a squirrel, people. It was the size of an opossum.

Funniest thing ever - this monkey stole that bottle out of someone's hand, opened it, and drank it, relaxed as anything.

Seriously big spider.

5. Alleppy was absolutely one of the coolest places I have ever been. We stayed in a hotel so far out in the middle of no where that the road was barely big enough for one car. With a compound on one side and a canal on the other, it was a bit nerve wracking, but it was so quiet and peaceful, we loved it.

One of the infamous houseboats

6. Flying back was the best decision ever.
7. Unless you hate it, eat fish. Keralans know fish, especially in the backwaters.
8. Unless you LOVE elephants, try to stay away from the elephant traps. They're a bit sad.

The not so great:
1. Kerala is hot and humid - even in the middle of winter (unless you are up in the mountains). The hotels in Fort Kochi will have air, (if you take an AC room and it's not during a power cut) but no where else will. Open air dining is pretty much the only option here.
2. The mosquitoes have orgies every 2.3 seconds. Even inside during the day, the mosquitoes are completely out of control. Bring bug spray. And long sleeves/pants.
3. Don't plan to be unique if you're white in Fort Kochi. You cannot swing a chopstick there without hitting 4 different white people. Not only will you not be unique, you will be seen as a sales target and Keralans in tourist areas are a bit more pushy than in other places in India. They post signs about no pressure sales inside, but harass you outside.
4. Most of the handcrafts/art you will see will be generic Indian kitch and not Keralan art. Unfortunately, even in the areas that don't cater to white people.
5. Kerala is not so much an activity place as a relax and enjoy the scenery place. You may or may not enjoy this.
6. The possibility of Big Spiders - Very Big Spiders. I saw many with very large webs along the road in Munnar. Hand sized spiders people.

The One in Which I Admit that I’m a Horrible Blogger. And Lonely.

Alrighty then. So this should come as a surprise to actually no one. Hello, my name is Becky G and I’m a horrible blogger. I blog about as often as I call my mother or my friends, which I suppose makes me a terrible daughter and friend, but we’ll leave that for another post. I could give you all the excuses (I’m too busy!) but I’ll spare you even if they are true. Really, I suck at making myself write every day (or few days, or week or damn, how long has it been??).

One of the reasons I’ve been absent from writing is some of the things that have been going on in India lately. Trust me, I have a What the Hell India brewing in my mind and I have a lot to say on what’s been happening. I don’t want to get into this just yet though.
The G family has been in India for a year now. We’ve settled in for all practical purposes. Try not to fall over in surprise, but I have actually made my own friends and I have my own activities going on. I knew that I would probably be lonely before we settled in and I got used to things – anyone with 2 pickles worth of common sense would realize this. What I didn’t plan on was really, really missing my family and the US in general even after we had adjusted and started making friends.  I find myself day dreaming about my friends and the small town with a sense of loss and missing that I never ever had in the US, even though I left that town over 10 years ago and logically don’t want to move back there.

I find it difficult to admit this to people that I talk to from the US because so many told me it would happen. Everyone hates being told “I told you so”, even if it’s true and that person knew it was coming. I would hate for people to think that I’m miserable and pouty and so achinly homesick that I can’t function and I hate it here. That’s just the thing – I don’t. I love it here! As I mentioned, I have friends, I run a business, the weather is perfect right now, I get around and am able to do what I need to get done even with Daddy G travelling. But my Grandmother has been unwell recently. As I mentioned before, she is one of my favorite people on the entire earth. I actually wondered if I would see her alive again, which broke my heart. Even if I wanted to go to her town if she got sick (or god forbid died) I couldn’t, which is very different from living in New York. The fact that I can’t just jump on a plane every time I needed to and fly home is really doing a number on my psych.

We’re planning  a trip to the US in May and I’m super excited about it.  I have the feeling that I’ll be gob smacked  by the sense of not belonging (which happens EVERY time I wander back to the town I grew up in) which would be a good thing. Having this place reinforced as home will be good for my mind, even if I do miss my family. I’m used to seeing them every year for a month, so it will be good to spend the time with them. I have a sneaking suspicion that the US will be a bit alien to me since I’ve been gone so long. Folks, I haven’t driven a car in a year and I’m almost afraid to now. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it for a while. People can change a lot in the course of a year depending on the surroundings.
Unfortunately, I don’t think this feeling will go away any time soon and will just have to be one I learn to live with as long as we live far away from my family.