Mumbai’s Gudi Padwa Parade

Marathi Hindus’ celebration of the new year is Gudi Padwa. In Mumbai, this means a big parade led by women on bikes, a lot of drumming, dancing, and a lot of smiles.

Signs that amuse me: Donald Duck says, “Don’t Touch”

This was a large mural outside of the child care room at an airport in Trivandrum, Kerala. I can’t explain.

Also strange, the happy baby doll in a plastic bag on the display of banana chips.

Banana chips from Kerala are delicious.

Oddities and construction along Kerala’s waterways

I don’t have explanations for any of these things we saw in Kerala.

This looks like a normal house under construction until you look closely and realize that a scarecrow is doing the roofing.

I’m very intrigued how this boat would eventually be put back into the water when it’s completed. There were a lot of boats being constructed or refurbished along our route. They were outnumbered only by boats tied up and sitting idle.

A lock to separate Kerala’s backwaters from the sea

Most of the backwaters of Kerala are fresh water. They provide not only transportation, but irrigation and drinking water to support a very large population.

There’s a manually operated lock that allows vessels to move in and out but keep sea water out. We pulled up, but no one could find the keeper of the crank.

After some protests and the payment of an ‘appropriate fee’ the crank handle appeared, and the large doors slowly closed behind us, and the one in front opened to allow us to continue our journey out toward the sea.

Coconut collection

Three days a week a coconut is delivered to our doorstep in Mumbai. It’s a delicious treat, and a small luxury of living in this part of the world. Here, a couple of guys are cruising the waterway collecting fresh coconuts.

Fishing from shore

We got one thumbs up and a bunch of stares as we cruised by this group fishing from the shore of the canal.

Kingfishers and other birds

Peacocks may be India’s national bird, but the brightly coloured kingfishers should definitely have been the runner up for the title.

They’re nearly impossible to photograph as they dart quickly and rarely stay sitting.

One morning, our boat turned down a narrow channel with plenty of overhanging trees. That’s where most of these photos came from.

The right way to play Settlers with a baby

The boat crew thought we were awful parents by letting Carmel crawl around on the deck floor while we played Settlers of Catan. On the other hand, she was happy and so were we.

Public waterway transit in Kerela

I’m always intrigued by communities that use waterways for public transportation. The backwater villages of Kerala take full advantage of their calm waters to get around. Below, the equivalent of a bus.

This girl ran beside our boat for quite a long stretch. She was on her way to school.

We passed these kids loading up onto the local school bus.

They may have been headed to this school.

At numerous points, there are local ferry services to move people from one bank to another.

Chasing fish

This man set out a short net between the pole and his boat and then proceeded to swim and splash in a circle around the pole. It took a while for us to realize that he was chasing fish into the net. He was there a while, so I can’t vouch for the efficiency of the method.

Sunset the evening before was also quite nice.

Cuttlefish harvest

We took an after-dinner stroll down to the water in Kochi and found fishermen unloading their boats.

They were offloading big baskets of cuttlefish. After weighing their catch, they stopped at the big boss who tallied receipts and recorded everything in his record book. Cash was occasionally disbursed.

Cuttlefish are by far my favourite marine creature. They’re just awesome. I’ve only managed to spot a couple while diving, probably because they have such amazing camouflage. They can change colours insanely fast, have muscles that change the texture of their skin to mimic the texture of whatever surface they’re on, have 180-degree vision, have ballast tanks like a submarine, and occasionally pulsate crazy colours like in this video. Oh yeah, and they have green blood because they use copper to transport oxygen instead of iron.

Given how few cuttlefish I’ve seen while diving, I was surprised by the size and volume of catch that these small boats were returning with. I have to admit, this made me a little sad.

Chinese fishing nets in Kochi, Kerala

The shoreline of Kochi is full of giant cantilevered fishing nets that are referred to locally as Chinese nets. At sunset, the operators started to arrive to put them to use. They’re large contraptions that are dipped into the water and pulled out a short while later. The process is repeated many times over the course of the evening. With all the nets, I’m not sure how there are any fish left in the bay.

On this particular net, a bright light hangs over top of the submerged net to help attract fish.

The weight of the net is offset by rocks tied on various lengths of rope from the arm of the lever. It looked pretty easy to get the net up and down as the weights provided near perfect balance.

Birds started to accumulate, waiting to pick small creatures off the net as it came out of the water.