This central part of Kerala is famous for Kathakali. Kathakali is a performance art where actors reenact episodes of the Hindu classics, the Mabaharata, the Ramayana, and the Puranas. Each segment lasts about an hour. There are 606 segments in Kathakali. Every night in Cochi, and most nights in a couple other nearby locations, a segment is presented, mostly for the tourists. We’re encouraged to show up early and watch them put on their make up.
This story is about virtue maintained and honor restored. A woman’s husband loses her to a demon (with the winged face)in a dice game. The wife refuses the advances of the demon and vows to not wash her hair, her clothes or herself until the demon is killed and her husband washes her hair with the demon’s blood. Krishna (with the green face), impressed with her honor, makes it so no matter how long the demon pulls on her sari, it will never run out of material and come off. Round and round she spins until the demon gives up. Her husband performs 12 years of penance to seek assisstance from Krisna, and is given the power to overcome the demon. Only a true love could want her by then, but he does so, eating out the demon’s heart and washing his wife’s hair with the blood. They live happily ever after.
There is much yelling, especially by the demon who is thoroughly unlikable. There is music onstage. Though a lot about the very many hand gestures and body movements was quickly gone over by the host explaining all this, it was impossible to remember a fraction of what he said. Basically, the performers can say enough that way, that spoken word is unnecessary.
Here’s the repentant husband.
Here’s the husband duking it out with the demon, who looks a little like Longhorn Leghorn to me. I say I say I say, boy, you need more light to take pictures inside from a distance.
Cochi is a great town to hang out in and absorb culture. This is on every night. There are galleries all over. There are other performances of music andÂ theater here and nearby. The locals are very proud, and the foreigners eat it up. Oh, today was cute. There are a couple of places that try to be art coffee houses/cafes. One does it perfectly. It’s called the Kashi Art Cafe. You go in and there was a Brit with his framed photos from around India on the brick walls. He’s sitting at a card table with his coffee table book for sale, hoping to sell a signed copy. He sold four yesterday. Today he sold four of his framed pictures. He was real pleased about that. You can go to http://www.waswoxwaswo.net/Â if you want to look at his stuff. The gallery music was Dan Ackroyd’s House of Blues Radio Hour off satellite radio. It is 10:30 Saturday night on the west coast. In the garden was the coffee house with a few good coffee drinks made with freshly ground arrabica, some teas and other drinks, and a fixed lunch of perfectly acceptible, by California cuisine standards, chicken salad sandwich on fresh thick sliced dark toast and cream of tomato soup. I felt like I was back in a nice place of that style in Mendocino. I just hung out there after lunch with a limeade and listened to the blues. You can go Indian all you want here, but it was nice to get anything I wanted at Alice’s Restaurant. Actually, if you wanted ANYTHING, you’d have to ask any of the rickshaw guys outside.
For no good reason, here is a picture of my hotel. It’s pretty typical of my nicer urban digs.