30.11.2016 - 30.11.2016
Wednesday November 30
The day started out foggy and cool but by 9, the haze had burnt off and by noon, it was quite hot and drippy humid. Fortunately, we are experiencing Indian winter, so the daytime temperatures aren’t much different from our Canadian summer temperatures.
Lyle and I chose different excursions today. On his trip, Mangalorean Legacies, he visited an old plantation farm where there were demonstrations of pottery making, a hand-pounding ‘beaten rice’ operation that produces a dry cereal, an oil seed processing operation that produces massage oil, cane furniture making, and weaving using a handloom to make cloth.
The farmhouse was owned by a landlord prior to Indian Independence Day in 1948 and then was turned over to the workers. It contained many artifacts and cultural displays. School groups were visiting the farm at the same time.
Donna’s tour, Highlights of Mangalore, started with visiting a large cashew nut processing plant which originally exported cashews to many different countries but now exports solely to the Netherlands. I observed the process for roasting the nuts in their marble hard shells, then watched the women crack open the shells to separate the kernels from the shells. The last stage of the process is to peel the skin off each nut individually. It’s VERY labour intensive work and I will appreciate it with every cashew I consume. The shells are saved to extract cashew oil which is painted onto wood in their homes to keep away termites.
The working conditions at this factory were deemed to be good: it was very clean and the uneducated women who work there get paid 6 USD a day (considered a good wage), they get free childcare and health benefits. Of course I had to buy some of the product – so I got some fried, salted cashews and some with black pepper!
From there, my group toured the Gokamanatheshwara Temple, dedicated to Shiva. It was a stunningly beautiful, large temple complex with a number of buildings clustered together. Our Hindu guide gave us more explanations of the structures, symbols and practices than I have heard elsewhere so I was extremely pleased. For example, she pointed out that all Hindu temples in India have a golden radius pole that marks a sacred energy point. Temples were constructed at these points to draw people to these areas of beneficial, healing energy.
I then visited the chapel at St. Aloysius College. Our guide’s family had attended this large “semi-government funded” school plus college for several generations. The interior walls of the chapel are completely covered with frescoes portraying the life of Jesus and the disciples, and the ceiling is covered with oil painting (which appeared to be more historical, e.g. showing Europeans in ruff collars). All of the paintings in the chapel were painted by one artist from Italy in 1899. It has been compared to the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
Our guide then took us to the main vegetable market. It was interesting to see different kinds of vegetables and leaves/herbs and to hear all of the different medicinal uses of them. Our guide is a nutritionist by profession so was eager to share some of her knowledge. Indians consciously incorporate this knowledge of different food properties into their daily meal preparation.
One morning at breakfast, I was coughing and one of the dining room helpers, Akash, came by and said I should have some Chai tea with ginger to help get rid of my cough. The tea came back with about a half inch of chopped ginger in the bottom of the small juice glass. It was yummy and gradually, I have got over my cough. Each morning I look for Akash to prepare my chai but he’s a busy guy. He said his role on the boat is to ensure that the Indian passengers get their chai tea in the morning because without it, their day just doesn’t get off to a good start.