Monday, March 22, 2010

Lungies and Lugies

Our last weekend in Kerala was spent in the city of Kochin. Kochin was a nice city with friendly people.
A large majority of the men in India wear what is called a 'lungi'. It's basically a few yards of cloth (about the size of a beach towel) that is wrapped around the waist like a sarong and can be pulled up to wear short. Andy had been playing around with the idea of getting one for awhile. Luckily, there was a man selling them on the street in Kochin! After purchasing the lungi, we then had to go on an excursion to find out how to tie it. Seeing as how nearly every man wears one, this wasn't a hard thing to do. The group of men seemed really amused that this young white guy wanted to wear lungi, and they happily started to tie it around Andy's waist. It wasn't until after it was tied on that he was told his lungi was too short. Apparently, Andy is taller than the average Indian man.

It was a long train ride (actually two) up the coast from Kochin to Hampi. We had a 4 1/2 hour layover in Goa (at 3:30 am!) before catching the bus to Hampi. Hampi is a beautiful place nestled between large boulder hills and coconut, banana and rice plantations. Strewn about the rocks and plantations are ruins from a 14th century empire. We were really pleased to find a super cheap (but very nice) double room in a guesthouse for only 200 rupees! Our pleasure soon evaporated when we learned how overbearing the guesthouse landlady was. Everyday she would ask us to eat at the guesthouse for dinner and everytime we said 'No, thank you' the less she liked us. It's not that the food was bad (we ate there our first night) it was actually quite nice to have homecooked food again, it was that she charged 80 rupees per meal. 80 rupees per meal is a lot when you consider that we can eat at a restaurant for 70-90 rupees for both of us. Unfortunately, she didn't seem to want to understand the concept of 'budget' traveling when we tried to to explain it to her. I think we must have offended her in some way. Besides the constant badgering to eat her food, we were also put off by her incessant spitting. A lot of people spit in the street here (more than in the States) but this woman hacked up lugies about as often as a chain smoker lights a cigarette. I was often woken up to the sound as early as 6 am!

Despite our landlady (who really was just trying to make a living by feeding on the blood and wallets of tourists) we enjoyed Hampi. We took a really nice bike ride through the hills to see some of the ruins of temples and former kingdoms.

If you want to know what it's like to be a celebrity and plagued by paparazzi, come to India. At one temple, we were swarmed by a large family that was very excited to see us and consequently wanted to have their photo taken with us. But it wasn't just one photo. We ended up having several group shots (one with Andy, and one with me) and then there were individual shots. We finally had to pry ourselves away by saying we had to go on to the next ruin. The next day, I felt particularly diplomatic when a couple walking by me shoved their toddler into my arms so that I could pose with her and the mother as the father took a snapshot with his cell phone. In addition, I have now had my picture taken with several Indian men and a group boys (about the age of my eleven-year-old brother) who also asked me for my phone number.

We are continuing our journey northwards (and west) towards Gujarat with a quick stop at the Ellora caves on the way. Traveling and sightseeing has been nice, but we are getting anxious to return to the simple (and cheaper) farming life!


  1. During your moments as a luminary I am happy to see that, for the most part, you both are treated kindly. The United States is lucky to have the two of you as ambassador's.

  2. It could be you got all that attention because you're blond and blonde (male and female)....hmmm, Paige, makes me wonder if your mom has ever shared with you her experiences as an 18-year-old Midwestern blonde (who didn't know she should use a straw in her pop, oops, I mean "soda" can) hustled by all those brown-eyed, dark haired New Jersey Italian men. (OOPS, JOHN, MAYBE SHE DIDN'T SHARE THOSE EXPERIENCES WITH YOU EITHER!!!) Andy, does the facial hair make you a standout as well? Hmmm, the men with bare feet and long-sleeved shirts, and the women colorfully clothed with jewelry and no sun glasses. Is this their "everyday" attire, or is this a group of women "out for the day?" The background vegetation continues to be very attractive. May you continue to have a safe and exciting learning experience.
    Grandma Wanda