Wednesday, December 29, 2010

First day in Thiruvananthapuram

Thiruvananthapuram has proven to be an even more fascinating place than I expected. We landed at 3:15 AM. It was 26 C outside, humid and the airport is not air conditioned. Every inch of the city offers new fascinating smells.

The biodiversity here is astounding even in the heart of the city. There are giant old hardwood trees, many of which are in flower. Some examples:

Above: Plumeria alba ("Frangipani" or, as it's called here, "Champa;" actually native to Central America but is a staple in Indian incense). Below: two gigantic Banyan trees (likely Ficus benghalensis) along Mahatma Ghandi Road. These are all over, often the prop roots have simply been cut to widen roads or sidewalks, like the tree on the left.
The City is a perpetually active and busy place. The density of people is immense. There are many times more pedestrians than cars and many residents ride scooters. Supposedly Indians drive on the "wrong" (left) side of the road, but my experience so far has demonstrated that Indians drive on every side of the road. Being a pedestrian means being aggressive and constantly on your toes. Sidewalks are rare and where they exist, they have often caved into the sewers below. The dichotomy of income driven by the caste system is strikingly obvious, our ritzy hotel is built directly alongside squatters:

Some views of the city:

Monday, December 27, 2010


From December 27th, 2010 to January 16th, 2011 I will be in the south of India studying urban planning as it relates to affordable housing and environmental sensitivity. Put another way, I'll be escaping the winter wonderland of southern Ontario for a more civilized climate.

Let's take a look at where I'll be going:

Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the southernmost states in India (excluding the Andaman Islands) at the tip of the triangle dividing the Arabian Sea from the Bay of Bengal. I'll be flying into Thiruvananthapuram (British: Trivandrum), the capital and largest city of Kerala, which will be home base for most of the trip. But I'll also visit Kanyakumari, where the Indian Ocean divides, Thekkady, near the environmentally significant Periyar Tiger Reserve, and Kerala's second-largest city, Kochi (British: Cochin).

Generally I'll post here daily with stories, photos, trivia and anything else interesting and relevant. I'll also post regularly to my Panoramio page:

Check back soon!