Friday, December 19, 2008

Visions of Palm Trees

It's still crispy outside and more snow is yet to come—this is the weather report's promise or threat, depending on your outlook. It's busy at the bird feeder in our backyard. The black capped chickadees and flickers with their black breasts and red cheeks are beautiful against the white snow. Even the common house sparrows look prettier. But I'm still having visions of palm trees dancing in my head. And other sights and sounds of Kerala.

In the short time I spent there, I noticed a few of the many differences between Northern and Southern India. For example, most of the men wear lungis, short sarong-like skirts wrapped at the waist. They come in colorful prints and plaids and look really comfortable, especially for the hot and humid weather. And they're actually quite sexy—especially on men with shapely calves. (It's easy to see why men prefer women in skirts.) They're often topped with a collared shirt, which seems a bit incongruent, like wearing a dress shirt with shorts. Men wear them for all their activities from carrying coconuts to riding motorcycles.

Some of my other favorite sights included:

 Women wearing sprays of creamy colored fragrant jasmine in their glossy black hair.

 Billions of bananas in green, yellow, and red.

 Groves of rubber trees with little black pots attached to catch the slow-dripping milky white latex.

 Small battered trucks and buses gaily painted bright yellow, orange, and red. They look like well-used and well loved children's toys.

 Hindu temples and gods and goddesses painted colors so vibrant the entrances look like something from a Disneyland ride.

Here in snowy Seattle the clouds are coming in and most of the bird feed has been demolished. I think it's time for a warm cup of chai...

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