Thursday, January 11, 2007

Meeting up with Portlanders half way around the world actually happens

Walking out of the Trivandrum airport yesterday morning was another miracle—low and behold there was a driver waiting with my name on a sign. It was a little unclear how he knew to be there at that time, but later we discovered he was sent by a Portlander, the friend of a friend with whom I established email and phone contact, staying in Trivandrum in the house he and his wife had built on family property. They have come to Trivandum each year for about a month, for the past sixteen years. Later, after a good swim in the warm water of the Arabian Sea and a fresh fish dinner, our good friends and neighbors from Portland arrived at our hotel in Kovallam beach from Kochi, and within a few minutes another driver and car came to take us to the home in Trivandum to meet the other Portlanders. (While in the car, our friends told us they had dinner with mutual friends from Portland who they had arranged to meet via email.) We met a several family members, had beer and home cooked Keralan snacks prepared in wonderful hospitality by the sister-in law of our new found friends. He regaled us with some good stories. He told us that on the day that Sadaam was executed, the road south of the airport was blocked by Keralans who demonstrated their displeasure of American hypocrisy and would slap a picture of Sadaam on foreigners’ cars windshields. Foreigners were not in any danger, but many people didn’t go to work that day according to our new friend. Kerala is known as the first elected communist government and literacy and trade unionism is higher here than in other parts of Indian.

Kolavallam Beach is a mile long strip of shops, restaurants, small hotels, and yoga and massage centers full of European and Australian tourists. Indian women selling cut fruit and men selling trinkets roam the beach. Beach chairs and umbrellas rent for twice a typical Indian wage. Crews of fisherman share the beach launching their large wooden 10 person fishing boats to row off shore and drop nets. Crews of 20 or more pulling hand over hand on huge gauge rope haul laden fishing nets to the beach chanting songs to make the work easier and keep the rhythm of pulling together. It is a traditional style of fishing you can imagine being hundreds of years old. The catches are silver sardines that fill roughly two or three slightly large than a milk carton box. This amount of fish is the result of hours of work for what we are told is 2000 rupees a box—about $44. For us it is a romantic and beautiful scene, but then our hands are not rope burned and we can buy delicious fresh fish dinners overlooking the sea.

1 comment:

Sue said...


Thanks for including me in your blog email. Sitting here in my office in Boston, I am enjoying following along on your trip. Love to both you and Michael.