Once again – please read the beautifully written words of my travel companion, Sunsan Manser!

“Good morning dear family and friends,

Wishing you well from tropical southern India.

Yesterday we took a rice houseboat down the backwaters along the Coast.  On the drive there, we talked about the matrimony ads our tour guide, Biju found in the Sunday newspaper for us to read.  Marriages here are still primarily arranged by the parents.  Customs are changing and modernizing over time, however.  Prospective brides and grooms’ parents put ads in the Sunday newspaper detailing what their son or daughter would like in a mate.  The caste is included, fairness of skin, age, and height, educational background, state of residence in India.  Dowries are required, even though the law dictates that this should be a thing of the past.  The bride’s parents need to provide a  nice dowry to the groom’s parents – money or land or gold, something substantial.

The ride down the backwaters was relaxing and beautiful.  It was slightly overcast with a gentle breeze/  We sat in the living/dining room on the boat – with comfortable chairs looking out over the “river.” We also took turns sitting out on the prow on cushions, closer to the water and next to the driver of the boat.

These Canals were originally used for transporting rice from the adjacent rice paddies.  Today there are roads nearby and agricultural products are transported by trucks.  As a result, these rice houseboats have been remodeled to carry tourists up and down the backwaters.

As we traveled along the river, we saw women coming down their steps to the water, dressed in colorful saris and ready to wash.  Sometimes you could hear the sound of the slapping of clothes being washed against the rocks, sometimes dishes form their meal being washed, sometimes they were washign their hair or taking a modest bath.  The women in their long saris, were stepping down into the water, getting the bottom of their beautiful dresses wet.  By Western Standards this is not a very sanitary way to keep house, but it was fascinating to watch and take photo sand observe a society still functioning as they have for hundreds of years.  

We were served a delicious meal at the dining table complete with chapati and dal, cabbage and vegetables, small fish, chicken, rice, vegetable curries, and the ever-present tapioca pudding.  Later friend bananas with honey were served as a fresh hot snack.  It was a lazy, relaxing day.

After, we stopped at a shop to buy some pashmina scarfs.  The owners were from Kashmir.  I had never talked with anyone from that region.  At first they were very serious and workign hard to show us the quality of their beautiful textiles.  But soon, Kylie had them laughing and more relaxed as she told them of her travels to Kashmir and explained that she would like to go into business with them and be able to see and help sheer and harvest the beautiful pashmina wool…

Today is our last day in India.  We will say goodbye to Biju and our driver and board our plane for Sri Lanka.  It will be sad to say goodbye.”

-Susan Manswer

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