Biennale Kochi
Pause dej
Annish Kapur
Toit de Cochin

We came already 2 years ago for the first Biennale edition and we almost missed it this year. So that’s during the last week-end of the Biennale 2014 (which lasted until march 2015) that we had the opportunity to go, surrounded by a crowd of curious and enthousiastic people, who came to enjoy the last hours of the event.

Once again, we really appreciated our stay in Fort Kochi during the biennale. Of course, the quality of the work was not equal : some were done by internationnally known artists (like Anish Kapoor), some were students work… Some were surprising, some were very interesting, and some were more boring (not the majority at all)… But anyway, it’s always delightful to wonder in these magnificient old buildings, which are usally closed to visitors. Also, Kochi, already a charming place is morphing into a heaven of peace dedicated to art during those 3 months and that’s the perfect time to come again to this colonial city.

Next to the main venues, other exhibitions were hold. For example, we have dreamt in front of wonderful old maps of India in the Ginger House, which described perfectly India colonial history.

We were also very surprised by the enthousiasm of the locals around the event. Even if it was the last week-end, many people came (maybe helped by the very cheap tickets) to see work from local and international artists.

We have to admit that, being in Bangalore, we’re completely out of the artistic scene (on the contrary, in Paris, we were literally watered with cultural life), because the offer is limited and because we do not make the necessary efforts to take advantage of it….
So finally it was also a nice discovery of the artist-bobo indian world, something we don’t really experience in Bangalore, which is more likely to attract people from the geek world :)

Animaux sur le bord de la rivière à Nagarhole
Aigrette en vol
Guêpier ou Bee-eater

Between us and wildlife sanctuaries, it’s not a long and peaceful love story. Animals used to hide when we went in this kind of places. So we had a deal : stop trying to see animals. If they want to see us, they’ll come to us ! Anyway sanctuaries are above all made to leave animals in peace.

But, thanks to “bird watchers” friends we have, we went last month to the Thettakad Sanctuary and we took a fresh look at this kind of places. This time, we have followed our family on the banks of the Kabini river. Kabini is a very particular lake located between 2 National Parks : Bandipur and Nagarhole.

After renting a tele objective (we had been frustrated last time in Thettakad not to be able to click those wonderful birds), we decided to do a safari and, what it is great in Kabini is that you can do a boat safari, which is far less agressive than a jeep safari. We also thought that at least, we would be able to see some birds and that will be a nice ride.
But it really it was finally an animals festival on Kabini banks. As it is summer, animals all gather near the lake to drink and eat the greener vegetation. So, even if we haven’t seen a tiger nor a leopard (but it’s possible, our family saw a tiger the day after we left) we have seen hundreds of dears, sambars (kind of big deers), wild boars, monkeys, peacocks, many kind of birds, some elephants, indian bison (gaurs) and even a big crocodile, with the open mouth, just perfect for the picture.
What we really enjoyed was this kind of magical moments where all these animals are mingling together on the bank of the river: monkeys playing on deer’s backs while the wild boar and her family is passing by, while the crocodile is having a sun bath and while the snake bird is doing his snake stuff…. It was like in the Jungle Book finally! And now, we’re willing to go back there and try to cross a tiger path…

Soul and Surf
Jeep to surf
Varkala beach, south cliff

Varkala, we went there for the first time 8 years ago but since we live in Bangalore, we strangely forgot a bit about this place. Varkala has everything to tease you though. The sea first is a rare deep blue in India, something that even Goa could be jealous of. The waves then, which are allowing you to imagine to practice something quite unusual in India… surfing! And then of course, the famous redish coloured cliff which dominates Varkala’s beaches and where stands numerous cheap guest-gouses and restaurants favorited by back-packers.
But this time, we discovered a part of Varkala that we didn’t know thanks to a friend from France visiting us : the rightly named “South Cliff” which hosts a handful of hotels slightly more exclusive than their counterparts of “North Cliff” and which are also the gateway to an almost deserted beach.
We stayed at “Soul and Surf“, opened and managed by a group of English who left everything for a surfing world tour and finally ended up there. More than surfers, they were also designers and you can really feel it in this perfect place where everything is well thought and of good taste. A bit of a dream for a western hipster in India… almost making us jealous of not having it done ourselves: an old English bungalow renovated and decorated with indian antiquities, a pink Ambassador and green Jeep to transfer the surfers, café et pizza nights, surf lessons in the morning and yoga ones in the evening. We’ll just make our French by saying that the food is average but it’s actually a good thing because it’s forcing you to exit this place and try the grilled fish and other delicacies at North Cliff restaurants. The other problem is that this place aims almost exclusively English people, so you’ll have to pay in pounds before coming (and rates are of European standards) and once there you’ll feel like in a langage school trip, surrounded by Brits with highly perched accents (or really impossible to understand for us more used to the Hinglish).
Concerning the surf, we were a bit disappointed at first to have to surf on Varkala’s main beach but understood then that it’s a great spot for beguinners like us. Those two days gave us motivation to come back to continue to improve and discover other spots on this shore. We also experienced that yoga could be more than an additional catch for Soul and Surf as those two practices are really complementaries.

We’ll go back to Varkala to surf and maybe we’ll go back to yoga in Bangalore… or leave everything to start our own cool restaurant-guest house on the Indian shore :)

PS : and let’s celebrate this post being our 100th one! we’re also celebrating here our 3 years in India!

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