PanEEr and Promises
Getting onto India’s terra firma from a crappy boat ride from India’s islands in the Arabian Sea was a godsend for me. Not only did it mean that my obligation to hubby was fulfilled, but it also meant that my portion of the adventure could begin. I had very high expectations for this ‘Cook-cation’. I was anxious. After all, I felt that I did get screwed over the island trip so I could be wrong about the rest of the trip, too. Crap.
As soon as we arrived at Cochin airport on the mainland, we were picked up by this little guy with a name that went on for days. He repeated his name to us about 5 times. We just stood there and blinked. We moved our lips in and out like retards trying to figure out what the first sound of 28 syllables were that we were to repeat. He finally gave up us and said, “…okay, okay, just call me ‘Abi’”. Hell. That worked for us.
Abi was both a fabulous driver and a truly warm soul. Our first destination was Munnar which is only about 100kms (or about 60 miles) from the airport. Google told me that it was about an hour and a half away. It was an intense drive as we wound up mountain paths and through these backroad villages and dodged cows. Two hours later and still in the backseat, we leaned to ask Abi how much further. He gestured his hand in a screwing-a-lightbulb action, did the Indian neck bob and shouted back to the back seat that we were almost half way there. Fuck. Google lied.
We asked to stop for a break. Abi took us to a local haunt that was jammed with natives. We ordered a masala tea, and a house special – a dish called kizhi. This dish was beautiful. It came wrapped in a banana leaf, India’s answer to plastic wrap and tin foil. It was stuffed with prawns, crab and fish. Well looking back at my crappy pictures — doesn’t do it justice. It looks like a lung or someone barfed into the banana leaf. Sorry. It was terrifically tasty though…not the up-chuck, I mean — the kizhi.
Four hours later, we had arrived at our destination. Yay. The hotel, which only had 6 room/villas – was fabulous! Our villa was raised on stilts in the canopy of the surrounding trees. The view was incredible too. We overlooked rapids, trees and flowers. Awesome. I was hoping to see elephants though.
The next day we had a private cooking class froma cook/writer who wrote and was awarded the creator of the World’s Best Indian Cookbook by the International Gourmand organization. This woman, Nimi, was incredible on so many levels.
Nimi’s back story was that in her graduate year in Business and Communications, she was on holidays with her family. In a random moment while staying at a hotel, her father met a man in a lobby and “promised” her to this stranger’s family. Right after graduation, she was married off to the man’s son. The family has told her that they are too wealthy to allow her to work and therefore, she does not have any support from any them. Her only function is to be a wife and mother. Hmm. She’s a breeder. Period. The writing her book is seen as an act of defiance by the family. They perceive it to be even more of a slap in the face to the family that her success and fame is drawing attention. Wow. Now that’s a first-hand confession that is more than a snippet of Indian inequality.
As for her food and classes, Nimi did not disappoint. She is fabulous. Although the recipes, while fresh, fragrant and tasty, weren’t the best part the class. I found the spice education and application beyond fascinating. At the end of the class, we asked Nimi to take us to her ‘family’ spice store, I was a bit conflicted whether to support her by not buying much or to just buy and get over it. In hindsight, I should have bought way more!
Returning to the ‘glamping’ villa, I had trouble processing all of it. (Yup, poor little rich bitch, I know, right?) I guess I was being shown the blatant celebration of male superiority… It made for a pretty sleepless night as I spent rewinding my first week in India as presented to me by my male influencers.