After two month I am traveling again. I have gotten comfortable in Tilonia and so I am a little bit weary. But for no reason. I catch the train to Jaipur, see the city palace (boring) and the Janar Matar (awesome) and lots of people only hunting for a good selfie. Seems to be that proofing you have been there is more important than being there. I guess +20 Facebook likes make it more real. Definitely feels good.
An indian family invites me to join their picnic and later I get tea and lunch from the shop owner that just sold me a plastic box for 24 rupees because I know more than 10 words of Hindi. The riksha driver wants to be my friend. We shake on it.
I the evening I fly to Chennai and get picked up by B’s uncle and father. Lucky me because Chennai is a hot damp mess of construction sights. Overpasses off course. My clothes are soaking wet. The next day I board a train to Calicut and just 11 short hours later I find myself there. Switch to the local bus and a three hour procession of palm trees and some incredible views and I arrive at my destination.
Kambalakkad (Wayanad, Kerala, Southern India). A tropical place with many plantations in the back country of Kerala. Once very backward now very much developed. Islam and Christianity battle with opulent buildings and shrines for attention and believers competing with the main religion Hinduism. Lots of Gulf money (many workers works over seas in the middle east) has enriched the area. And between all that the reappearing hammer and sickle. Kerala has a strong communist government. What a mix. And all the men wear skirts. Well it is called lungi, djothi, wasti. A traditional Indian piece of clothing. I smile at the blanket around their wastes not knowing that I will wear one myself very soon.
The reason I came here is RASTA a sister organisation of Barefoot at the end of the world. Well the end of my world. The earth is round and technically there no ends but sometimes a place is so far away from what are use to that you find yourself at the edge of your world. Luckily if you cross over that edge you don’t fall but your world increases.
So at the edge of my world I find the campus – with 4,5 houses, overgrown by coffee and coconut trees and all the mandatory jungle noises – of a small NGO barely scrapping by. A chaotic little place of heart aching beauty.Besides making a map of the campus, a 5 phase plan to facilitate tourism as source of income, restarting the biogas reactor, cleaning the solar heater and fixing the rainwater pipe I incidentally get involved in the solar electrification project. Before I know it I find myself in the front row of the meetings with local government. I get the feeling that the “german engineer” is used to add some blingbling. Besides saying who I am, where I am from and what my profession is I don’t contribute much to the discussions. Later however I get to point out some hickups in the planned process.
Dusk is my favorite time here. The light becomes irie and seems to sharpen the senses causing every contour to edge out, surpass normal reality. I love that … so much. If you ever want to get away from everything: THIS IS THE PLACE. Insider tip.
After just one week I leave RASTA and head for Trivandrum. The train ride shows me for the first time the surreal India I know from the western commercials. Plantations, elephants, swamps, incredible trees, rice fields, etc. Its like watching slide show.
In Trivandrum I participate in an Indian wedding which is great fun…and requires me to wear a lungi. And actually it fits me well. Plus it is the perfect clothing for this hot damp climate. In case of more freedom of movement or extreme heat: Just fold it up to a short skirt. The dancing part after the ceremony was a little bit short for my taste. Although it seems like I will always be remembered for my “lungi dance”. My own little piece of immortality.
All photos (except indicated differently) in this blog are my own and are not allowed to be used without my explicit permission.