Dropping us at the beach for sunset, our driver is so excited to find a wide-open space that he shows off with a full spin in front of the colorful fishing boats. As always in India, we make some short-term friends and watch the sun going down beside the hammer and sickle that stand for traditional communist Kerala.
After a delightful breakfast at the Ayesha Manzil our host Moosa takes us to the market in town. He does the daily shopping of vegetables, fruit, spices and freshly landed fish. This shopping trip is the first part of our cooking class experience and we try to profit to the max by asking him all about the why he is buying this and not that. Not everything we smell – meat market – is as great as the pictures my camera gets.
Next, we visit two local handicraft cooperatives. At the Pinarayi Weavers Co-operative highly skilled and dedicated craftspeople keep up the art of traditional hand weaving. As you can see in the pictures, they still use the old and mostly wooden looms and other machines to produce beautiful and top quality textiles. The second shop was making the traditional bidi cigarettes.
Coming back to our charming homestay it is time to get ready for our class with Faiza. She is a well renowned master of the Malabar cuisine and waits for us with aprons, and many already chopped up ingredients for our dinner. Actually doing the dishes myself improves my skills in Indian cooking even further. Tasting our own cooking out on the porch while the sun is setting we admit that Faiza’s final touch made the dishes perfect.
The second day we dig into Kerala culture and history. The Thodeekalam Siva Temple is a little bit off the beaten track, but it spoils us with stunning mural paintings. The history of the temple is not clear, some sources say it may date back as much as 2’000 years, somebody told us it’s 1’200 years old … who knows and cares about some 100 years plus or minus. The paintings, executed with natural colors, depict a wide variety of members of the Hindu parthenon. Please forgive the quality of the pictures; it was mobile phones only, no cameras.
On the way back we have a stopover at a school, where they held a competition in classical kathakali dance performed by the pupils.
In the evening, we visit a local temple and witness the daily Theeyam ceremony including the preparations by the dancer.