For our first real day in Cochin we tried to take it easy and pretty much just went shopping at all of the Kashmiri craft stores. One thing I hadn't quite experienced was how everything in India can be bargained for. Taxi rides, hotels, food, nick-knacks, opium, etc. While we were in one of the shops I decided to try my hand at bargaining for these two little painted elephants (which probably should have cost about $5 or less for both). He asked me for my price (saying he'd give me a good price) and I ran over the calculations in my head. For rupees to dollars you double something...or half something and add some zeroes....and I suavely suggested "How about 1000 rupees for both?" Jasleen and the shop keeper started to laugh because apparently that's more like $20. So, I awkwardly started looking at something completely different, hoping to divert his attention from the American patsy in his store he could swindle. I ended up buying a sandalwood lion (which smells fantastic all the time!), which he probably significantly overcharged me for, but he let me feel like I had bargained him down, so everybody won.
That night we went to a presentation of the Kerala performing art "Kathakali" in which actors don elaborate costumes and make-up and perform, silently, stories Indian epics with precise eye, facial, and hand movements combined with intricate dance and a vocal and instrumental accompaniment.
Prior to the performance, the female character, Minukku, (also played by a man) gave a quick tutorial for us tourists about the importance of the hand gestures (mudras), emotive expressions (rasa), and eye movements.
The information came so quickly, and with such attention to detail, that it must take a lifetime to truly be able to read a Kathakali performance is it is meant to be understood.