After another few days at sea, a couple paper and midterms we arrived in Cochin, India. The first day I had a field class for Physiology. We went to the local college to talk with some of the psychology students and hear from a few professors.

In the panel, they talked about the caste system and even though it was abolished it is still very prevalent today. We went to a local, vegan restaurant for lunch and got to talk more with one of the ladies who spoke at the university. I was interested in the meaning of the Bindi and she told me that in the north it is a symbol of marriage but in the south, it is just a fashion statement but if you have the triangle at the very top of your forehead that is also a symbol of marriage. Also, the Bindi is between your eyes to protect your pituitary gland which is the weakest part in your body and in the Hindu culture it is supposed to protect you from being mesmerized.

The colors also mean different things; the yellow symbolizes something that is religious or prosperity. The kunkum, or the red, is a symbol of religious spirituality or marriage. The ash has the symbolic meaning that everything is perishable and is intended to make you humble.

After lunch, we went to Dalit village to talk with the community about the caste system. They also performed a traditional dance and music for us. Before leaving we played cricket with the boys and played tag with the little girls. Then we headed back to the ship for dinner.

On the second day my roommate, India, and I went to our hotel to hang out by the pool and chill out for the day. The next day we went to eat lunch on the harbor before heading to Fort Cochin Beach to participate in Holi, which is the festival where they throw all the colors. It was really fun and so many people wanted to talk to us and practice their English. When introducing ourselves the local were very confused when my roommate introduced herself as India or they thought it was funny.

To end the day, we chilled at the hotel and ordered room service. In the morning, we had breakfast at the hotel before heading out to go shopping for the day. We went to Lulu Mall which was huge! They had an entire amusement park on the top floor and almost every store you could think of.

On the last day, a couple of friends and I went on a backwaters tour which is just a boat ride down the small river. We were able to see men fishing in small canoes, the large Chinese fishing nets, any many white cranes. We stopped at a women’s home on the edge of the river to eat coconuts and even got to feed some coconut to a little squirrel that hangs out at her house. Afterwards we went to Jew town to shop before heading back to the ship.

Overall, I enjoyed my time in India. I didn’t travel out of the South but I wish I would have made the time to travel up to the Taj Mahal.

Things I learned:

  • How to say hello: Namaste
  • Mostly everyone speaks English