the Thiruvananthaparum Express

(the Thrivananthaparum Express, leaving from the city going all the way to Dehli.)

We are almost over jet lag and have taken a four hour train ride North to Kochi-- On the way, we met a delightful couple with a darling, curly-haired daughter named Shruti, which means "melodious tone." Lots of confusion getting onto the right train with our tickets, they had tons of letters and numbers, in English and Malayalam -- no seat or train number which we could decipher. After asking a slew of people, and getting mixed responses, we sat down, stretched out and prepared to be moved whenever the conductor stopped by. Instead, we were okayed by the ticket man, given pillows, blankets and a questionable lunch -- trains are the way to go in Mother India! I had such fond memories of the overnight train my Dad and I took when we were here almost 10 years ago (I'm growing up!! aaahh!) This was just as wonderful, except the food was definitely off. Still, my stomach-of-steal and I ate it, God forbid I should skip a meal. Dave ate masala-flavored Cheetos instead.

Now we are in Fort Kochi, the old part of town, soaking in the AC at our absolutely lovely homestay, the Bernard Bungalow. We spent the evening enjoying the cooler temperatures, breezes, trees and the ridiculous amount of Indian kids playing cricket at the park across the street. Although Kochi is more touristy, it is much more relaxed and easy to navigate than Thirvananthaparum. I'm so excited for the upcoming backwater boat ride, cooking lessons, spice market and yoga class we have lined up for the next few days.

We are getting into the groove, smiling and laughing over interesting conversations with people we meet on the road -- our taxi driver, Ani, explained his arranged marriage prospects ("I want light skinned, very many courses girl") and how he gets to see this girl for only 5 minutes while she serves tea. The lovely couple AJ and Raj on the train described their experience in North Carolina, the must-see places of India: Kashmir, Aleppy, the Taj Mahal, etc. -- all of which they had never visited themselves... I got Raj going on cooking and she listed all the ways to prepare sambar and a pudding made from pasta (it sounded divine!) and I talked to her about the mango pie, of course! Coral, our host, has talked to us about caring for her dear husband (just had major surgery) and how she has to force him to relax--this is a long-married wife's lament throughout the world, eh? Kvetching is universal.

The people make a place, they really do. I'm still grinning ear to ear at every turn on our "toot toot (auto rickshaw)," every bite of dosa, and every exchange with the generous and out-going folks we are meeting. We are so lucky! Dave even found peanut butter today, so I think we've hit Nirvana.

(Train ride relaxation and odd-tasting food.)

(railway workers in their brown uniforms.)

(one of many cows, roaming the streets.)

(the ubiquitous cup of sweet tea served with every meal -- these cups have seen some use! and the best meal we've had so far -- traditional vegetarian Kerala food. We ordered a thali and a masala dosa. No White people at the restaurant and lots of toothless Indian grins and beautiful saried ladies.)

(Our delicious thali lunch -- hopefully, I'll be learning how to make all these foods soon!)


  1. Best post ever. Like opening a journal as it is on the train. What fun. I remember that train car. Apologies for the food Leela G. I will have the porter bring better for you and the honorable David G. How happy to subscribe and now be greeted by you. How joyous. My heart is full. Not it is time to have a bagel and make my stomach full. Kisses. Joy. and Safety.

  2. awesome!!

    with love...
    andrew and steph

  3. Ooh! Ooh! I want, I want, I NEEEEED. Please email me some masala dosa and coconut cucumber curry, either in the body of an email or as an attachment. They look so delicious!

  4. loving the posts and the connection with you guys! be safe and know that we are drinking up your adventures from afar!

  5. Amazing. I can't help but think of Darjeeling Limited when I see your train car shots. Looks like a blast. Have fun, darlin'!