India, Uncategorized, varkala

Hospitals, birthday celebrations and giant Hindu Gods.

May 20, 2016

Due to various skin conditions and a battered knee, we ended up visiting a private dermatologist for a skin biopsy and an orthopaedic surgeon. 

tom arghhh

I also had an MRI scan and was given physiotherapy.  The treatment we received was fantastic, efficient and clean.  At KIMS hospital in Trivandrum, we were very well-looked after and for a very reasonable price.  I don’t say this to promote health tourism, but maybe as a way to reassure potential travellers to India that should something go wrong health-wise during your stay, the chances are there will be someone to mend you.   amy oooDuring our stay, we also had the honour of celebrating our friend Mo’s 60th birthday with her.  Mo is a lady unlike anyone either of us have ever met.  A truly inspirational woman grabbing life by the horns and making the time for herself to really experience life the way she has always wanted to.  Mo’s catchphrase throughout her stay was “far niente”, an Italian phrase meaning doing absolutely nothing, but deliberately and with enjoyment.  Idol nothingness.  Something we could all get a little better at.

Mo_Varkala-4 During the day, we went to a local Muragon festival.  Sometimes this involves insane facial piercings.  Huge rods are inserted into one cheek and pushed out through the other.  People are hung up from the top of floats by meat hooks.  People decorate their entire bodies with hooks and pins.  I geared myself up for the same goriness we had witnessed at the same festival 2 years before, but unfortunately this festival was without the piercings.  Oh no, I did not think to myself.

Lastblog_Varkala-29Mo_Varkala-3Instead, hundreds of drummers (including our African Drumming friends) and dancers paraded through the streets.  Men carried huge towers on their shoulders and spun around in circles.  Unfortunately one of them stacked it and ended up with a back-to-front leg.  It was not a pretty sight.  Hundreds of children dressed in orange with white powder all over their faces and led by their individual supervisors, carried incense sticks and moved to the drumming.  Many of them went into a trance.  Arms were flailing about and some children collapsed.

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This is a video Tom made of the festival.

In the evening, we treated Mo to some colourful jewellery and I made a yummy cake.  Debra also arranged for a beautiful bouquet of flowers to be delivered.

  Lastblog_Varkala_finalphoto of We went out for a special dinner to celebrate Mo’s birthday.  In the garden of a lady called Kumari, we sat at a long table with a large group of hipsters from the nearby surf school and ate an incredible and excessively large meal, while two cows sat just behind us, occasionally creating their own water displays.

Lastblog_Varkala-24Lastblog_Varkala-25Once we’d polished off our food, we headed back via all of the beautiful lights that had been put up for the next day’s festival finale.  The streets were lined with what must have been millions of fairy lights in an array of colours.  Every street also had a giant light installation depicting a Hindu God.  It was a bit like Christmas.


The final day of the ten day temple festival was insane.  The main festivities began in the evening.  We arrived early to see the performers getting their make up done. 

Lastblog_Varkala-20 Women don’t tend to take part in any of these festivals, instead men dress up as women in extravagant outfits with absolute cakings of make up.  The results are often incredibly beautiful.


Throughout the evening, thousands of people lined the streets to watch musicians, dancers and performers dressed as various Hindu Gods.  The main spectacle however, was the huge floats.  Some of them were quite terrifying.  Each of them told stories of different Hindu Gods and came complete with narration, moving limbs and in some cases, water.

Here’s Tom’s video of this incredible evening followed by lots of pictures…

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