15/10/09 - 14/10/10
I have been trying to write a blog for days, but it isn’t flowing. Its not that I haven’t done anything interesting, because everyday is a small adventure, it just not very noteworthy. I spent about three days travelling to Kerala all told – the tale of it would bore you to tears. I have also been adjusting, sorting things out in my head and making decisions. After all that, there’s no time in the day to write blogs.
Over the last week I have started to feel more at ease, less on guard the entire time, I am adjusting the rhythm and pace of life in India. I am starting to slow down and relax. I still have to convince myself that I don’t have to be occupied at every moment of the day. The fact that travelling is what I am doing now is starting to form in to a coherent thought.
The heavens opened on the day we arrived in Kerala. The sea was battleship grey, with steely clouds building menacingly on the horizon. I t was spectacular, I loved it. The atmosphere was so charged and moody, I found it very energising. When it came the rain was so heavy and incessant, we were forced to sit under the protection of one restaurant where, we spent the entire day playing card games and reading. On the few occasions we ventured out into the squall, we were soaked through and it was impossible to fully dry off.
I was enjoying the weather, but poor Lucy and Michelle were desperate for the beach after a five week whistle stop tour of the north, they deserve a rest. I have months in India so I was just really happy to sit back and watch the drama unfold.
Varkala is a funny little cliff top resort. The front strip is meters away from the sheer drop down to the beach. Like all good tourist resorts there are many little restaurants, bars, tourist offices and shops selling toot, seemingly more specific to India are all the many Ayurvedic massage parlours, Mendhi, and the many smiling, happy people shouting greetings and “come madam, look in my shop”, “What’s wrong with my shop?” “I give you good price, cheaper than Tesco, cheaper than Primark”.
The beaches are ferocious and each year several people are swept away in the unbelievably strong currents of the Arabian Sea. I was paddling up to my calves and a wave knocked me off my feet, landing me smack down in the surf. There are many restaurants and bars all offering surprisingly excellent food. Alcohol is illegal, so beer is bought to the table in mugs or the beer bottle is cunningly disguised by a twist of newspaper. Its really funny seeing one on every table, they are more obvious by their beacon of a disguise. It is a serious issue for the bar-owners; however, as if the correct <em>backshish</em> isn’t forthcoming, frequent police-raids occur. Last week a man was jailed for 15 days for serving beer to the foreigners. (That’s us, by the way).
Yesterday, to Michelle and Lucy’s delight - the sun shone. The world looked fresh and new after the downpour, and smelled quite good too! We made our way down to the beach, accessed by a treacherous stairway hewn into the rock – that was not my favourite part of the day. Once safe on the sand, we procured an umbrella which I sat firmly under, having put on SPF 50, reading the Indian travellers’ classic <em>Shantaram</em>, determined not to get a tan. I actually enjoyed the beach for a change. Taking frequent trips in to the water to be battered and pounded buy the, at times, 10ft waves. At one point the water pulled back so much that it looked like a mini-tsunami coming crashing towards the beach. I was playing in the waves like a kid, but don’t worry I didn’t go out of my depth and I stayed between the flags. Unfortunately the sea is filthy; full of plastic bags and banana skins, bottle tops and weird fibrous masses that slink around your legs or hit you with the force of the water. Despite my perceived precautions I still managed to get slight sun burn, the sun is massively stronger than I imagined.
So where to next? We haven’t really decided, we all want to experience the meandering backwaters of Kerala and our budgets are perfectly matched so coming to a decision that we all agree on should be simple. I am enjoying the company, someone to share it with and the laughter. Lucy and Michelle are working their way back up the coast to Mumbai eventually. I still don’t know what I am going to do. I can’t really decide where to go in Southern India. All the places I had ear-marked to visit I have been repeatedly advised to avoid. I have to choose where I want to spend Christmas – that being the one time I really do not want to find myself alone. I have to choose wisely, between my budget and being able to be near people (Goa Vs Kerala) and a place that I actually like and want to stay in. so I am going to wait until I have seen Kerala to make that decision. The only added pressure being, Christmas is peak season and everywhere will be booked far in advance. Truthfully I am not that worried, I have every faith that it will work out for the best.