Norwegian Country Women in India3 mins read
Anne Marie a former intern of Ethical Travel Portal, spent time interning with us and our partner gaining a fruitful experience in India. One of the highlights of her experience was leading a journey in India. From a guide’s perspective, here is the account of Anne Marie’s experience leading her group.
Last week I was on a journey around South India with a group of sporty ladies from the Norwegian countryside. They are members of Bygdekvinnelaget (The Norwegian Countrywomen). Ethical Travel Portal was contacted to provide the women with a “local experience” before the conference and to make sure they had a good stay in Chennai with transfers, guidance and local sightseeing.
Before I met the lady I travelled from Bangalore to Cochin with, I underwent a train ride which I had far too big expectations for. I spent eleven hours on a “bench” with two Indian men having only a book to read. I finished the book! Finally, I reached Cochin (Kerala) and I was really happy to meet Linda at the train station. It was also great to use a toilet that was not a hole in the ground and stinking of urine!
After joining Linda and six lovely Norwegian people for a few days, I met “my” group. I would be travelling with them for the next ten days as their tour escort. At the airport, I was excited to meet the women. After a rough start with some delay and a broken suitcase everyone was happy and safe on the bus at Cochin Airport, Kerala.
The first few days was dedicated to exploring the local communities along River Nila in Kerala and Cheruturuthy. Nila is a river that the locals are dependent on however has now turned to a critical state. One reason behind this is the over usage of its resources.
In Nila, we visited the Khadi centre (where Mundu/Dhoti, clothes used by men are produced). Likewise, we spent time in a pottery workshop, witnessed bell metal work, mat manufacturing units, witnessed serpent worship, watched a Vyali Folklore group (a performance of dance and music) and underwent a musical trail. They were all connected to the Nila Foundation who work towards preserving the culture along the river and strive to showcase the importance of the River Nila.
After some days in Kerala, it was time for the women to move on to Chennai for a short week. We travelled on the night train and everyone including me were excited! The ride went surprisingly well and everyone was happy to explore a different kind of India. In Chennai they participated at the conference “Associated country women of the world”, where the theme was empowering women worldwide; encourage, educate and enrich. This was also the main reason why they travelled to India.
Chennai is different from Kerala. There is more traffic, different sounds, smells, landscapes and a different climate. The whole group enjoyed the hotel having a massage, drinks, hot water and room service. On those days the woman went to the conference, did some shopping (silk from locals), sightseeing and enjoyed the food and atmosphere in the big city of Chennai.
After dropping the women at the airport, it was time for me to get back to Bangalore and continue my “normal life”. All in all, it was a great trip to the south of India, with lovely people and memorable impressions!