That title sounds like I should be segueing into a moral tale of some type, but in fact they are 3 prevalent features in my current environment. First, the breeze. I sometimes still feel like I’m in someone’s movie (perhaps Godfather II, when they are in Havana and Hyman Roth has a heart attack?) where the curtains all blow about with the breeze, mostly a gentle wind that freshens as it moves. Other times I feel like I’m one of the body babes in Golad’s old fitness videotapes when I practice yoga in my bedroom, because I look out over palm trees swaying in the breeze and the curtain is blowing, much like the green screen they used for the fit women behind him. (There is a fine line between positive self-image and delusion, I realize.) The breeze has different rhythms throughout the day, and I assume it has to do with the tides, but growing up landlocked has resulted in my ignorance of maritime phenomena. Still, the breeze is an unexpected bonus of living in the land of the coconuts.
Kerala means “Land of the Coconuts” in Malayalam, I believe, thus the name of this year’s blog. Kerala is alternately called “God’s Own Country” because of the geographic beauty, and “Land of Pepper” because, well, pepper grows wild here, many different kinds, and pepper is/was the most used spice in the world. It’s what drove the Portuguese here back in the day, then the East India Company and all that the Brits brought, but I digress.
|TO GO Version of Coconut Water|
Coconuts are seen in many forms here, and one I thought I should give a try to was the green coconut vendor. Green coconuts have a very clear “water” which can be enjoyed almost anywhere in the city, if you have a machete and a sure hand. I ordered my coconut and watched him take expert hacks at the coconut until he had made a drink that looked like it should have an umbrella stuck in the top. The water had a mild flavor of coconut, and was refreshing. I saw that they threw away the rest of the coconut, and I wondered why they didn’t use the inside meat, but then I turned my head to the skyline and saw the plenitude of their product. Regarding the rest of the coconut, my friend told me that their domestic help then cuts out the meat and grinds it into a pulp for their famous coconut curries. I still don’t get where the coconut milk we see in cans comes from, but I’ll ask again and pretend I forgot I asked, a tactic I’ve used with great success on other confusing cultural items.
Bananas: There are lots, and they come various shapes and colors. I thought I had a couple of each type the other day, so I gave my selection to the vendor to weigh. He first looked at them, then chose a fat green one I had forgotten, and without asking me, put it on my pile. I was fine with it, he’s right, he’s the banana man, not me. Taste tests confirm the little short yellows are #1 for me, super sweet and just the right size, while the red, which are supposed to hold many medicinal qualities, was rather bland. Good skin color, though, that’s worth some points.
BTW, what’s the news in this world coming to? First the NY Times interviews Stephen King’s constituents, not exactly the group I’d want to be representing our fair state, and next I read the newly-elected prime Minister of Bhutan publicly challenged President Obama….to a game of one-on-one. If I know anything about the male athlete’s ego (and I do), them’s fightin’ words. Trash talk has gone global! I look for an internationally televised competition in our future. Perhaps President Obama can keep his cool with Congress (some say too well), but I believe we’ll be seeing smoke pouring out of his ears on this one.
In other news, I read about the new pope’s austerity, his sense of humor, and even a sense of humility. And now he even seems to have trouble with the idea of the Vatican bank engaging in money laundering…. What a picky guy! Still, not a woman-friendly church, but at least he publicly acknowledged many Cardinal’s and Archbishop’s fixation (mostly American) with sexuality issues. His message seemed to be one of “get over it and get onto something centered around love and acceptance, peeps, we got serious issues you are ignoring.” Not exactly those words, but that’s what I interpreted. I wonder if they took the vote again on him if all those cardinals he keeps asking to walk instead of being chauffeured would vote for him again. Too late now! Well played, Pope Francis!