Pix and Grids 3 – India

Check out my accompanying India-themed crossword puzzle here!

We made three stops in India on our 2020 Dubai-Singapore cruise: two full days in Mumbai and a day each in Goa and Cochin. For today’s post I’m going to focus on three photos taken in Cochin; to me, these pictures capture the timeless feeling of this tucked-away region.

Street scene, Cochin

The two-hour bus ride from Cochin to Alapuzzha (a network of waterways winding through lush surroundings) revealed a fascinating slice of a very different life:  kids playing volleyball, cricket, and soccer (not simultaneously) on dirt fields; dilapidated stands selling fruits and vegetables, spices, and seafood; battalions of scooters and tuk tuks (motorized rickshaws); temples honoring Shiva, graceful mosques, and gleaming white churches; and an inordinate number of bakeries, medical supply stores, and hospitals (I’m sure there’s some relation there, but I prefer not to think too hard about it, being fond of baked good myself). The picture above (taken with my iPhone from the bus window) shows women gathering at a festival of some kind; I love the way the colored flags cover the women’s heads.

I wanted an impressionistic take on this age-old scene, so I went with a slow shutter speed (1/80) to blur the edges and cranked up the saturation

Our bus delivered us to an open-air sightseeing boat, which meandered past elegant houseboats (rentable for $250 a night), waterside dwellings ranging from one room hovels to three story villas, women washing clothes in the waterway as their great-great-grandmothers must have done (I saw no enlightened men pitching in), and men bathing in the river.

Domestic scene, Alapuzzha

I can’t end this post without saying a few words about Mumbai.  This city of 20 million dials up sensory overload beyond the max, exuding a frenetic and exhilarating energy.  Battle-scarred black and yellow cabs swarm like angry bumblebees, cows share the streets and sidewalks with surprisingly well-fed dogs, vociferous crows, women in vibrant saris, and crafts vendors currying favor (sorry).  Aromas of curries, masalas, spring garlic, and incense spiral from markets crammed with fruits, vegetables, nuts, and spices.

Inside Crawford Market, Mumbai. Murky shadows and occasional bright sunshine made for challenging conditions.

Hindu temples abound, ranging from ornate worship centers for Shiva Lingam and Krishna to modest alcoves housing shrines to Ganesh (the elephant-headed god of wisdom and success).  Anglican churches share blocks with Zoroastrian fire temples, mosques, and synagogues.  Massive Victorian temples to commerce abut decrepit “tenant buildings” where four or five men share a tiny room. 

Woman praying at a small temple facing the Banganga Bath, Mumbai

Goa was beautiful as well, though we went on a historical tour instead of heading to the famous beaches or grabbing a delicious, Portuguese-inspired meal. Sometimes education should take a back seat to fun in the sun!

Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception (1541), Panjim (Goa)
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