Kochi

St. Francis Church

Kochi is one of the most important towns in southwest India. Its history is full of shipping, trading and conquests. In 1503, the Portugese have started building the first church on Indian soil. In the St. Francis Church, Vasco da Gama has been buried - before his bones have eventually been transferred back to Lisboa. In his remembrance, there are still some granite panels with Latin and Portugese carvings in it - and two or three old and 70-ties style looking picture postcards showing Lisboa.

Chinese fishing net
Chinese fishing net

Chinese fishing nets

The Chinese fishing nets all along the seashore are mentioned in nearly all traveller guides. These wooden constructions have quite large measures and require several men to operate them.

It is a well thought out mechanism based on balance and moment of force. There are two large perpendicular arms. The net is fixed on the one pointing to the sea, the land-side arm carries several stone weights. These weights are tied up by long ropes. While lifting the net, the land-side arm gains more and more momentum of force - but this is compensated by the stone weights touching the ground and getting "out of play".

Normally these nets are just operated during night time, a lamp lures fishes and crabs over the net which suddenly gets lifted. It is just for touristic purpuses that some nets are also operated during day-time - meagre catches.

Kathakali

Kathakali is a traditional dance in Kerala. There are more than one hundred plays, all of them narrating religious themes. Each play just takes two actors - and two musicians for background music. The original rules are allowing only men to perform these dances. Even female roles are played by male dancers. Nowadays, occasionally also actresses are allowed to perform Kathakali.

Kathakali performance
Kathakali performance

Similar to the "black-white" scheme of Western films (white dresses for the protagonist, black for the antagonist), Kathakali makes use of colour symbols. Corresponding to the greenery of Kerala's nature, a green face symbolises "good" - the bad character in contrast has orange skin.

The dance itself is very complex, many signs and movements are hidden for Western eyes. After the performance at the "See India Foundation" in Ernakulam, an experienced dancer explained that even the fingers are forming signs to express words.