Today we got off the ship and we were whisked away in a bus to the Casino Hotel which was literally a one minute ride from the port. Leah, Nikki, Adriana and I were in charge of the home-stay programme so we broke out with a few warm-up activities. After that, we and the participants were introduced to our new Indian families.
Adriana and I stayed with the most wonderful family. Madhu and Sarah, the 35 year-old couple, were so lovely. Their children, Dayan and Alehah were so sweet they even broke my child-defence mechanism down. We went to their house and spent the afternoon discussing every issue we could come up with for a few hours. I was so happy to sit and have such intellectual conversations with locals of Cochin.
After that its very hard for me to describe the very random and timeless afternoon and evening we spent. We went to a Hindu temple. We entered the area, took our shoes off, and walked on the dusty paths into a whole distinct world. There was music, candles, smells of jasmine and devout people praying in every corner. I felt such a sense of peace inside. After that we drove past a Katah Kahli studio and entered for the most strangest and intense performance I have ever witnessed. A story and a man dancing with body and face contortions probably didnt help the current Larium nightmares induced by my Malaria medicine which plagued my sleep that night in the form of the Planet of the Apes. After that we went to one more temple which was even more mysterious that the first one. A bit outside of the city, we stepped into a world that was so unfamiliar to me. After taking our shoes off, we walked into a candle-filled refuge with two elephants and people praying in all directions. It was as if time had completely stopped. A flute played such moving music as the candles lit the night and the elephants swayed back and forth. We were quickly notified that we were being kicked out since non-Hindus were not permitted to enter. I had no idea that Hinduism was so exclusive. I had imagined it more inclusive like Buddhism. In any case, I am just happy to have experienced those few minutes that felt like days which was an experience that I probably cannot explain to anybody accept my travelling companion that day, Adriana.
After our surreal religious experience, we went to Cochins posh Country Club for drinks and dinner. Again we spent hours discussing politics, culture and religious issues.
Adriana and I woke up around 8am and lounged around the house this morning. After breakfast, Sarah took us shopping at mostly posh Indian stores. I bought a few things but the shopping in Cochin is surely not the highlight of its tourism. I was able to pick up some books as well on India and am looking forward to immersing myself in some Indian knowledge.
We went back to the house for lunch and then Madhu took us to the port that evening. It was hard to leave once again. These two days feel like ages and Peace Boat felt so far and distant.