Day 101, Year 5: Putting the Pieces Together
Date: Thursday, February 4, 2010
Weather: Sunny with Haze
Location: Bolgatty Hotel Anchorage, Cochin (Kochi), India

Southern India has many puzzling parts that just don’t fit together. The tallest buildings in town are stores that sell clothing for weddings. And in a country where the average annual income is less than $1,000 US, the average cost of a big-city wedding is $12,500 US. How strange is that in a place where people are so poor that they have to row round, woven basket boats to get across the waterways to and from town? And then there are the men in town. All the business men dress in western-style clothing and have earphones for their cells so they can walk and talk. And then there are the other men who wear a dhoti which is a loose, long cloth pulled up between the legs so it looks like a short skirt. There is also the lungi which is colorful and more like a sarong and the mundi that is like lungi but is always white. But whatever color, often the men wearing these just stop wherever there is a crack in the sidewalk, stoop down, and pee. I have learned quickly to just walk around, but it is a little strange. All women that we have seen here dress traditionally in either saris that are a single piece of long material that is tucked and pleated into place and worn with a choli which is a short, tight-fitting blouse showing the midriff and a palloo that is the part of the sari that is thrown over the shoulder. The other commonly worn dress is the salwar kameez. This is a long, dress-like tunic slit up the sides that is worn over pants that have a drawstring at the waist and are tight-fitting at the ankle. This is worn with dupatta which is a long scarf. This is my favorite, but I just love looking at every woman I meet because all of their outfits are so colorful. But you don’t expect to see women dressed like this dancing wildly to modern Indian music. But sometimes when the tourist boats pass by us, there will be clusters of young women dressed in their saris dancing away on the boat. And here’s another one. You can go into a little internet cubbyhole that is down an alley and up some stairs with no sign and that has computers that are at least ten years old and have keyboards so worn that you can’t read them, but the machines have been upgraded and are super fast. The last incongruity that I’ll mention is that here in Cochin there are Catholic churches and schools at every corner and Hindu temples are very hard to find. And when you do find them, they are in disrepair and not anything like the Hindu temples we saw in Singapore with their beautiful, intricately sculpted towering tops. But here the temples have cows to pet, so I like that.

But still we cannot get out and enjoy the countryside because we are still seeking solutions to our boat problems. I did finally make it over to see Bolgatty Island this morning. The Cochin Golf Club is there, part of the Bolgatty Place Hotel, and that was fun to see. They use a horse on a tether to cut the grass. Great idea! And I’ve decided to call Nazar our agent instead of a boat boy, because he is no boy and that seems demeaning. He works hard to get everything we need, so agent he is. He put us in touch with a man named Anil who coordinated our freezer work and who has now found us a marine toilet. He called and we called Danfoss in India to see if we could get a replacement 12 volt condenser here, but the answer is no. So we are going to have to order from the US. We will stay up until midnight tonight so we can make calls during morning business hours to the US. Hopefully we can get something ordered and on its way soon. And tonight we again had the problem of the boat not starting when we turn the key and there is no apparent reason. So the problems just go on and on. The definition of cruising is working on your boat in exotic places, and that is exactly right!

We made a Skype call to Justin, Jo, and Ziggy this morning. The connection was not great, but we did get to see Ziggy in action. He actually sat in front of the computer for the whole time that we talked playing with wooden blocks that are replicas of buildings in London. I was amazed that he sat still for so long playing with the blocks, once in a while looking at the computer screen, and jabbering away. Justin and Jo say he is not talking yet, but his jabbering sure sounds like conversation. It won’t be long before he is walking and talking. He is an absolutely beautiful child, blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and it was a delight to see and hear him in action. We will try to call Heather and Jed late tonight which will be their Thursday morning and make arrangements for a Skype video call this weekend. We can’t wait to see Sam and Jonah and watch them in action.

100204 Day 101 India–Bolgatty Island