Saturday, March 2, 2013

Kerala, part 1

Last Sunday we flew to the South Indian State of Kerala for a conference for Fulbright awardees in South and Central Asia. We spent 5 days in Kerala and it was wonderful! Obviously I'm writing all of this after the fact (because I didn't take my laptop), but hopefully I won't forget too much.

Before we left Bangalore we rushed to Prakruthi in the morning to stuff ourselves on dosa one last time before we were deprived of them for five whole days (note: we could get dosa at the hotel for breakfast, and got one on the first morning. It was so inferior to the Prakruthi product that we never did that again!). Our flight was at 230pm, but we'd been advised by friends to show up at least 2 hours early, so we had a cab pick us up at 11am and headed out to the airport. The ride out was great- not much traffic on Sunday- and we were at the airport by noon.

(Side note: on the drive out I saw a furniture store that was having a sale. There were huge signs in the windows saying "Get 'off' sale!" I will regret the fact that I didn't get a picture of that shop for the rest of my life.)

I do have a picture of me and Liel on the plane. The plane was nearly empty, so we got to spread out a bit. They also fed us biscuits and coffee, and were completely on time and wonderful. Go Air India!

The flight from Bangalore to Kochi is just an hour long, but we landed in a very different part of India. Kerala is tropical and lush, quite a contrast to Bangalore's high desert. Liel was quite taken with it and declared Kochi to prettier than all of Bangalore, except for the airport (the Bangalore airport is very lovely). Unfortunately, the flight to Kochi was also rather bumpy, which caused Robert to take an extra dose of his flying medicine. While this made the flight a breeze for him, it also meant that he remembered almost nothing that happened for the rest of the day. He couldn't quite manage to use his phone, and asked me three times if I'd taken it off airplane mode, each time in a triumphant voice that indicated his certainty that he'd found the root of the problem.

A Fulbright rep met us at the baggage claim and directed us to a waiting area. They'd hired a bus to haul us to the hotel and we had to wait for everyone else coming around that time to arrive, which took about an hour. They we we were off to Le Meridien. I was unsure about how pleasant our time there might be, as the place has really mixed reviews, but it was fantastic. More on that later.

First, Robert took a bunch of pictures while we were on the bus, and then fell asleep and snored happily away until I woke him up when we reached the hotel. Luckily he's not a loud snorer, and the bus noise covered it up so I don't think any of the other Fulbrighters noticed. Happily, I managed to snap a few pictures.

I know it's childish, but I crack up every time I see these. Heh. Here are a couple of pictures I took that first day. The billboard below is for coconut oil. I can't read it (it's in Malayalam), but I like the kingly looking guy telling you to buy his brand of oil.

That one on the bottom is actually the airport. It's hard to read, but it's an ad for the billboard space, and says, "Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again. -- Joseph Campbell". I'm not sure it gets much more awesome that seeing Joseph Campbell being used to sell advertising space in South India!

Anyway, as I said the hotel was lovely. So posh, especially compared to our normal life in India! The kids and I spent two days lounging around the pool with friends and watching movies in our air conditioned room. It was so decadent. After that we straightened up and flew right and spent the rest of our time doing all the proper Kerala sightseeing things, which were also fabulous!

Here's the view from our hotel room. All palm trees and resorts, baby!

Robert spent his time attending conference sessions and meeting other Fulbrighters, as well as giving a talk himself. We saw him at meals, which were all provided by the USIEF (United States India Educational Foundation- the administer the Fulbright India program). Really, it was so relaxing and awesome! We'd wake up, roll out of bed and go down to a huge breakfast buffet. Then Robert would head off to conference stuff and the kids and I would go upstairs and put on bathing suits and collect the newspapers and go down to the pool. We'd hang out there til about lunch time, then get dressed and meet Robert at lunch, which was always delicious. Then we'd keep out of the heat and play games and watch movies until dinner. Dinner was always really late by our standards (and started only after various speeches and such), so afterwards we'd just go to  bed. Our sleeping arrangements were one queen sized bed and one twin sized bed, so one kid slept on the twin each night and one slept with us. That left something to be desired (Zion is a HUGE bed hog, and Liel insists on touching me in some way all night), but eh. Such is life!

That first night Zion must've had some accidental egg at dinner, because around 1230am I woke up to the sound of him vomiting over the side of the bed. It was crazy- I'd been sound asleep and all of the sudden this wet, spattering noise woke me wide awake, and I knew immediately that it was Zion throwing up, and not him spilling water for instance. Mama senses.

Anyway, although he tried to only puke on the floor he actually got all of the blankets and sheets on the bed. Our bed, as he was the one sleeping with us that night. And of course the smell was awful. But I called the front desk, explained that my son had thrown up, and in 5 minutes two guys with fresh bedding were at the door. Very quickly one left while the other striped our bed and started to remake it. Then his coworker returned with a bottle of air freshener, which they made frequent and liberal use of. Poor guys. And within 10 minutes everything was back in order, we were tipping and thanking them, and going back to sleep. It was the best child vomit experience I've ever had!

I think that about wraps up our first day. More coming soon!

1 comment:

Kristofer Young said...

Seems to me that you covered most everything; coconut oil Kings, Joseph Campbell, and accidental eggs.

So glad you had a great time!

Love Dad