might have named ourselves Meenakshi’s Maidens to honour the Fish Eyed
Goddess of Madurai. We were 14 women from Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg, and
Florida all keen to have our eyes opened and minds filled with the tastes,
sights and sounds of Tamil Nadu and Kerala..
From strolls on the beach to shopping for silk, the expectation level rose by the day.
In Pondicherry our hotel had been the home of the French Governor
Dupliex and the spacious rooms reflected a courtly life in a bygone era. Wandering
streets with walled gardens, Catholic churches and French boutiques, we might
have been in southern France.
Not for long though, as soon, in Madurai, we found ourselves being blessed by a temple elephant. We followed a statue being borne through the torch lit stone corridors of a temple in a silver cart on the shoulders of dark men clad in white dhotis. Mystery prevailed. Horns blared and drums sounded. Shiva, The Beautiful Lord, was being brought this night, as every night since time began, to the bedchamber of his bride Parvati to ensure the preservation and regeneration of the universe. Greek travellers watched this ritual before the age of Rome. We marveled that although we knew nothing of this, it might just be the secret to why we are all still here.
Our much less lofty goal was to have clothes made to order in the famous cotton market. Tailors poised at their sewing machines, ready to zip up any fantasy we desired by morning, added to the colourful chaos of vendors flashing patterns and textures and pressing us to choose.
Another day, we refreshed ourselves in the turquoise pool which meandered from doorstep to doorstep of our resort villas and enjoyed a glass of wine as the sun turned the light to gold on a tranquil lake.
One night we clamboured onto rice boats and lazed through the lily pad lagoons of Kerala’s backwaters watching life unfold along the shores. We anchored midstream and became one with the serenity of sunset and sunrise.
Our guide Sateesh who was with us from flight arrival until departure, shepherded us through markets and shops, synagogues, temples and game preserves. Everyone warmed to his impressive knowledge, his shy laughter and selfless charm. We were privileged to meet his wife Bindu and two small children Hari Krishna and Sri Devi .
Because 7 of our group had paddled on Abreast In A Boat in Vancouver and were living with Breast cancer, Sateesh asked his brother-in-law if he would drive two village women, who also had breast cancer, 50 kilometers to Cochin to meet us. Omaiya and Pushpa were his neighbours. It was an amazing happening. We were able to give them sought after information and plan to send more in Hindi and modern prostheses from Canada. We gave them hope and they gave us grace as they caressed our cheeks, touched their lips and then their foreheads. The hotel doorman came over when he heard what was happening and quietly told one of the village women that his wife had breast cancer and could they contact her and give her some support. Like ripples on a pond, the magic will begin from this small beginning and we plan to help it continue. It’s a strong bond that needs no language, and we share it with our sisters everywhere in the world.
Thanks to Zutshi Travel for planning such a stellar trip for us.
This trip will be repeated in January of 2007.
|Welcome||Beach @ Mahabalipurum||Shopping Fun||Shivanni and Jane||Madonna of the bananas||Digital replay|
|Poolside pleasures||Muslim women in Thanjavur||Souvenirs||Rest in the Shade||Temple elephant blessing||Our guide and his family|
|Rice boat tea time||Uncommon road scene||Watching the fish nets - Cochin||pushpapaddlingpo...||abreast in a boat|
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