|India Trip of 2006|
Kamats in India 2006
by Vikas Kamat
By popular request, I am compiling this page of photographs and stories from our recent (February 2006) trip to India. You might feel that it is a repetition of February 2005 trip -- the season and the festivals all being same....
Rediscovering Lost Cultures
Sometime ago I wrote about the mysterious cult of "Durg-Murg" while describing a toy. This time I got to see a couple of members of the community at a village festival. The photograph is not clear, but a careful inspection shows the woman with drums, the gigantic whip (on right) and the traveling temple, just like the toy depicts.
We self-invited (it is an Indian expression referring to visiting without an invitation) to the home of a young historian and collector Mandarke Nithyanand Pai in the town of Karkala and enjoyed the warm hospitality of his family and his mind boggling antique collection.
We also visited Vikas's family temple (Devaki-Krishna Ravalnath) in Goa. Vikas's ancestors ran away from that region from Portuguese persecution some three hundred years ago, and it was quite inspiring to visit a place of personal history, and reconnect with ancestors.
Trip to the Spice Farm
One of the least publicized, and yet one of the most enjoyable trips you can have in India is a trip to a spice farm. All my years in India, I had never gotten an opportunity, but this time I visited two. One was in the town of Karkala and another in Manikkara.
The trip to the spice farm, is really a trip back in time and makes one understand why the Europeans and the Arabs wanted to trade with India. The aroma of the plants, herbs, and the leaves is truly exotic. Imagine you bump in to a tree and your shoulder starts smelling of the sweet cinnamon!
The trip was as much a lesson in botany as it was a treat to the senses. I really didn't know vanilla was a bean or that the nature indeed gave us a soap (in the form of soap nut) ready to be used as a cleaning agent. My wife had always thought the chocolate was a chemical made in a factory and she enjoyed learning the economics of the cocoa fruit.
There are so many spices in India, each with its own delicate or strong property. There are spices that appeal to the tip of the tongue, the back of the tongue, the gums, the throat, the nostrils, and of course, the taste buds. No wonder Indian food is so spicy!
Content Compilation and Gathering
We spent considerable time in acquiring contents for Kamat's Potpourri website. This included identifying old pictures, cataloging people, portraits, stamps, and coins and gathering aspects of India hitherto not documented on our website. We visited museums, monasteries, private collectors, scholars, and researchers looking for content, lots of which you will see on the website in the coming months.
|Kamat's Potpourri Vikas Kamat India Trip 2006|
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