11 October 2013

Alleppy, India - (18)


News Snippets - 8-10-2013
The Indian Government has decided that tourism is vitally important to the country and has therefore passed a motion that citizens from over 40 countries would be able to obtain a visa on arrival. Travellers over 60, from all countries would also be eligible for a Visa on Arrival. This news from the "Times of India"
The State Bank of India (SBI) has made history by announcing it's first woman chairperson in it's 206 year history!! Arundhati Bhattacharya is the first woman to head an Indian Fortune 500 company and the sole female CEO among the Fortune 500 companies. Certainly history is being made here and this will perhaps open more doors for higher positions for women in India??
On the subject of women, Betty Karan, wife of the late Ravi Karunakaran, opened a huge museum in memory of her husband. The coir business was started 100 years ago and is still going today with approx. 800 employees. A long history of coir making in Alleppey! Ravi died in 2003 and the museum opened in 2006. It's an incredible collection of art works, curios, porcelain, ivory, glass, carvings, antiques and more. Betty started collecting items at the tender age of 13 and it appears that she is still on this mission at 75. A world traveller, with recent travels to South America and Antarctica,  this must be one incredible lady with connections all over the globe. There is the most beautiful, porcelain globe from China amongst the  3800 pieces in over 10,000 sq ft of vast space. This museum was specially built and Betty has her own private entrance to it all. Beautiful pieces do need to be constantly admired, would you not think?
A large mural adorns one wall - this has the names of 194 countries and took 8 months of work y 3 artists from Kerala. Made with only natural colours such as lime, yellow ochre, red ochre, black lamp soot, blue from some leaf (can't remember!) this was all done with a Arrow Grass Brush. Some of the finely carved chests come from Burma and there are exquisite pieces from all around the world. It's a total treasure chest spread over numerous rooms and 2 floors.
As one enters, a large 1948 Buick is on show, looking in mint condition. There is just so much to see that it is difficult to take it all in. A personal guide takes one around and no photos are allowed. The words of Sree Narayanu, One Caste, One Religion, One God for all humanity have not taken root sadly. There is a manuscript written on palm leaves although I have no clue what is written on this - imagine writing on palm leaves?
The wealth that surrounds this family stem from coir. Coconut palms, then the husks of the coconuts = coir fibre which is spun into Coir Matting. Products are then manufactured from this. This industry has allowed Betty and her late husband, Ravi to travel the world seeking artistic treasures. It seems that Betty has not yet satisfied her desire for travel and there will most probably be some new additions to these incredible collections.
The entrance fee was IR 500.00 so not a cheap outing but really worth seeing.
We walked back in the heat, watched the booms come down for the train which hurtles past at great speed. There were people walking on the track in the distance - how stupid can one be? The guard at the crossing was frantically waving them to get off the track. Once the train had passed, they came sauntering along as if this was a lovely, pedestrian walkway! Takes all sorts!
A swim cooled us down - I love being able to splash right into a warm pool. Despite the warmth of the water it is still cooling and refreshing.
James massage went off better than mine - I doubt he will sport massive bruises. Lucky man!
The hotel phone lines are down so no Wi-Fi - we hope its restored soon.
On that note, beer time.....
© Judelle Drake

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