Imagining Trivandrum

Thali Meal

Our skyscraper hotel looms. New sewage/water lines are being installed all over the city.

We landed beside the Arabian sea and drove 7 miles inland to Trivandrum, the capital of Keral.  At 4 in the morning, many people, women and men,  were walking the main arterial road from the airport or standing a long the road. Why are they awake? Our hotel is a very nice luxury and rises some 13 stories providing a view of coconut palms and many one to two stories structures, mainly cement and some brick.  There is a hazy cloud cover which diffuses the intensity of the sun.

We are a group of 17, ranging from 19 to 40 years old, a mix of graduate and undergraduate students, and mostly in the urban planning field.     I’m sharing a room with a Chinese women, YiLing, who has been in the states for two years at University of Iowa.  I’ve slept most of the day. There is space for me to roll out my yoga mat out here.  There was a wedding going on in the hotel today and the women look beautiful in their shalwar kameez.  That said, wearing more than a tank top here feels smothering and it will take me sometime to get used to wearing more clothes.

We walked from the hotel this afternoon, winding towards a main strip in search of vegetarian cuisine.  We were not hassled at all.  Smiling kids waved at us as we passed their homes and said hello, hello! A taxi strike of protesters passed by carrying signs and singing, and with as many women and children as men. I guess we made it to downtown, or some major road closeby and stopped there.  Everyone ordered a Tali meal.  It’s a sample platter, with small bowls of curries and yogurts and local dishes.  A mound of rice is plopped in the middle.  I washed my hands and used my right hand to gather and place food in my mouth.   Delicious.  About $2-3 seems standard for lunch.

Trivandrum has about 1 million people.  I am imagining what an Indian city would feel like at a larger scale.  Land uses and income levels are all mixed together.  You must fight as a pedestrian for a crossing on the road and there seems to be a level of trust in other drivers as people walking with the flow of traffic.


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