Having prised ourselves off the houseboat we continued our journey south to Thiruvananthapuram (also known as Trivendrum). We checked into the best ranked home stay on trip advisor. It was great…we arrived in the heat of the day, hot, sweaty and a little dehydrated. Were met by the owner who took us through our room and then we settled with the other guests…in the sitting room, in the breeze, under the fans with a cool beverage. We felt very colonial. The gang staying there was lovely and we chatted, shared stories and (headed out with Simon and Ann a Brit couple riding bicycles around India) shared meals.
We headed off the next morning to the zoo which was surprisingly much better than I imagined. They were largely in open pens and in good condition. The exception to this was the big cats that were jammed into cages with concrete floors. It seemed as though there was a fair bit of construction going on so hopefully they are working to address the cage situation…one open style pen was finished and housed the lions. The up side to this was that we arrived at feeding time so got to experience lions, tigers and cheetahs crunching fresh chicken carcasses. The sounds made as their powerful jaws splintered the bones of the chickens was something to behold. the other standout to this was the exceptional hedge art that was on display at the entrance.
As per previous posts…it is hot here. We arrived at the zoo at 9am and hung around until about 11 and wandered out. Now the zoo was a leisurely stroll, largely in the shade and with a light breeze. By the time I had walked out there was not one dry section left on my shirt. I had a moist bandana to cool me off but in the shade and the breeze I still managed to sweat my way through a shirt in under 2 hours. So much so I stopped on the side of the road, bought a new shirt, stripped off and changed while a bunch of Indians stared at my Canberra tan.
The next journey that we had was the hunt for the Manjadikuru seeds. Now my family know these well as they are the seed pods with the carved elephants in them. For the rest of you the Manjadikuru seed is hollowed out and filled with small carved bone in the shape of elephants. The seed itself is about the size of a pea…it has a carved elephant shaped cap and inside is a number of elephants. The number and quality of elephants depends entirely upon when you bought the seed. If it was bought in the last few years there are 4 elephants of poor quality, a few years before that you could get 12 of better quality within a single seed. I grew up with one purchased by my grandparents that had 100 carved elephants of excellent quality within (I believe my mother still has this in a jewellery box somewhere). Due to generations of busted eyes these are no longer available as the carvers have been banned from doing such fine work.
The next stop was to Kanyakumari which is the southernmost tip of India. As you stand on the point you look out over the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar Statue which dominate the southern tip however the key thing is the intersection of the three water bodies. The Bay of Bengal to the east, laccadive sea to the south and the Arabian Sea to the west.
The hotel that we stayed at was perfectly located, although a little bizarre. The urinal cakes in the shower drain and the cartoon mural on the bathroom door (of Japanese anime characters) were a touch odd. That evening we headed to the rooftop to watch the sun set over the Arabian Sea…the next morning we were on the same rooftop to watch it rise over the Bay of Bengal. This is a pretty nice concept any way you look at it.
For the facebookers amongst you this has been seen. For the others this cute little fella was what turned up when I ordered a Kebab from a Kanyakumari restaurant. The image does not do it justice so I will break it down for you. The base is a mix of capsicum, cabbage, pineapple carrot, a lemon wedge, onion, cucumber and tomato. Our little friend is a curried chicken kebab (off the stick) covered in an unsweetened meringue (fluffy texture) underneath a tube of spun sugar. The eyes were grapes. This was wrong on every level.