by in Discovering

Traditional Indian dance - Bharatanatyam

Let’s be honest, we’re no big fans of traditional and other folks shows that one can find almost in every tourist place… We always feel like kids at Disneyland where people are trying to make you think that the Mickey mascot is the REAL Mickey.

Now, when it’s one of our friends, Uttara, who is performing, we knew it was a not to be missed show, even if it was in Chennai.

So at the end of last July, we reached the capital of Tamil Nadu for an easy-going week-end and to enjoy our first Bharata natyam show.
And then, the shock! Uttara, morphed into a kind of super-Hindu goddess performed relentlessly during an hour and a half with precise gestures and moves between the mime and the dance, the sacred and the secular to the rhythm of drums, chants or the solo jolting voice of her “guru”.

In the theatre, we were the only “tourists”, proof that this art is still well alive in this magical India always combining tradition and modernity.

If you ever want to organize shows with Uttara and her guru, don’t hesitate to contact us, we’ll put you in touch.

by in Out of India

Football jerseys in Kathmandu

For our “last mandatory exit” of the Indian territory, we wanted a change so we went to Nepal, even if it’s not the easiest one when living in Bangalore… We had kept in mind a wonderful memory of Kathmandu when we went there for the first time, 5 years back but we knew this time it would be almost impossible to trek due to the monsoon.

We didn’t have a lot of expectations this time apart from eating more momos (little stuffed dumplings) as possible and have some rest. We finally really loved to re-discove Kathmandu and its Valley. We also knew what to expect and that the time of hippies’ paradise or “little town in the mountain” is now over. Kathmandu is a big city, chaotic and polluted (but when one comes from India it’s not that obvious) but it also has hidden treasures when taking time to walk around.

On a cultural and historic point of view it’s also a very rich city. Wandering in the back alleys, you discover ancient temples very easily, going through a gate, you can end up in very peaceful courtyards, decorated with stupas and which are the center of community life… This time we also took time to discover other cities of the valley, (Bhaktapur, Patan), all as (and even maybe more) beautiful as Kathmadu but less crowded. The architecture is very different from what we can experience in India due to the multiple roofs pagodas which reminds more of China. The biggest surprise is that all these places are finally… Hindu! Because it was and it’s still the main religion in the country… Before leaving, we also checked again the magnificent and impressive Bodhnath Stupa, a Buddhist worship place and the center of a real Tibetan neighbourhood.

Other surprise: we went there just before the soccer World Cup final and Nepalese are completely fond of Football! An impressive number of people were wearing the German or Argentinian jersey (Argentina outnumbered Germany here though), huge flags of every countries were deployed in all the cities and giant screens were waiting for the d-day.

Leaving the country and flying along the mountains (which we were unable to see before due to the clouds) we promised ourselves to come back to trek and come closer to these splendid monsters.

The bike in the middle of paddy fields

We feel that the more we go to Sri Lanka, the more we appreciate our stays there.

We have to admit that this time we’ve done what we should have done from our first visit: renting a bike.

As the tourism is very well organised there (compared to India) we were wondering if renting a bike would be complicated in term of licence, guarantees… Arriving in Sri Lanka we’ve slept in Negombo, which is a seaside city only interesting because close to the airport and hosting a motorbike renting office… In 15 minutes we were finally driving an impressive Trail motorbike (Honda Baja), very high, nervous and made for the Paris-Dakar race. At least that what we felt. It’s a very different bike from what we’re used to drive but it was a nice experience to try something new.

As in a lot of countries, but even more in Sri Lanka, due to crazy buses, there is a huge difference of driving between the main road, which is hyper chaotic, very crowded and dangerous and the small roads which are wonderful, very calm and full of surprises. We wanted to go to the historic part in the center of the country, which was not a very short trip for only 3 days. We admit that being on this bike is not perfect in term of comfort but we had been very surprised by the efficiency of the suspensions on the unpaved roads. It’s also thanks to these secondary itineraries that we were able to contemplate wonderful landscapes, to find ourselves in the middle of paddy fields, to stop only to admire a piece of life, discover amazing view around a corner, have a quiet pic-nic… Well, it seems that, we don’t really change and travelling on a bike changes completely our overall experience.

We’ve also discovered a wonderful cultural past. We’ve loved discovering Sigiriya, which is a real rock-city overlooking the area. We were there for the opening at 7am so we we’ve also taken advantage of the nice morning light, the low number of visitors at this time to be able to appreciate it at its best, both the natural site and the heritage. On our way we also stopped to Dambulla which contains nice religious paintings in caves. However, we were a bit disappointed with Polannaruwa which is very vast and whose ruins are quite difficult to understand. Moreover the site is not well maintained compared to the other two. Fortunately, the roads around the city, specially one between paddy fields and a lake, are stunning!

We’ll change our visa this summer so it was our last “mandatory” week-end in Sri Lanka. We needed time to find what we could like in this country but now, we feel that we’re going to miss going there. And we can bet there will be aSri Lanka#6 in few months…

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