Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Cross-culture travels

After much deliberation, B has finally decided to make the trip to Orissa.
I’m rather touched by his sudden enthusiasm. With a couple of days left until his arrival, he’s been downloading maps and reading up on Kalinga and Kolkata history.

And now I’m feeling a little guilty that I hadn’t taken the trouble to read about his place of birth when I visited over a year ago. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Coorg is a district of coffee estates and little else. Perhaps I felt no need for history when I knew I’d only be looking at trees and streams during my time there.
Talacauvery was beautiful and the wild honey was delectable. But I was a little bored by then end of the second day. If it were up to me, I’d choose a little more chaos. A little more noise, more people, more colour. I’m strange, but I’m still young. I can handle chaos.

B seems genuinely interested in seeing the sights in Kolkata. He remembers visiting as a child and recalls that it’s ‘very big and very dirty’. Of course, I take offense at the ‘very dirty’ recollection. And then we start arguing.
The usual North vs South comments. Sweeping generalisations. Broad insults.

I start with Kodava men and how they’re chauvinistic.
He calls Bengalis big-mouthed and unwilling to work with their hands.
I comment on the unflattering way Coorg women wear their saris. (With the pleats at the back and draped around themselves with no aanchal.)
He makes fun of the topor that Bengali grooms wear, calling it a dunce cap.
I say atleast our wedding ceremony doesn’t require the bride to stand with a pot on her head for hours, while she’s taunted by the groom’s side as they dance around her.
And so on.

And then we laugh about ethnocentricity.

So B’s chalked up an itinerary which is impossible given our time frame. An itinerary that covers Bbsr, Chilika, Puri, Konarak and Kolkata in seven days.
And I like the thought of days bursting at the seams with things that must be done.

I’ve recently been promised patient answers to genuine questions about the Kodavas.
I’ve also been promised a trekking expedition in Kodagu when I get home.