Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Stargate Through The Looking Glass

I think I have to revise my idea that no-one comes to India simply for pleasure. I've just passed through one of those wormholes in reality that crop up quite often in fiction when you enter another reality, a parallel universe. Somewhere between Temple Junction, Varkala (where we ate an excellent thali overlooking the bathing ghats) and North Cliff, I left India and entered a Holiday Resort. Here little of India remains at all. There are a few rickshaws hanging around the helipad (where Indira Gandhi used to land en route to the village's Hanuman shrine where she used to come and worship) and some of the items in the liitle grocery stalls are recognisable but suddenly there is no traffic noise, no horns, no litter (almost), no beggars, none of the familiar Indian architecture, no touts (almost) - only a paved cliff path fronted by a sheer drop to a large sandy beach and backed by an array of restaurants, guest houses and handicraft shops (no escaping the Kashmiris!). And the population is suddenly European plus Israeli, accompanied by those Indians who staff the various places set up to service their needs. Presumably a lot of them jet into Trivandrum airport and take a taxi here, doing the reverse on the way out, only seeing "Real India" through the car windows. There's hardly a Lonely Planet guide to be seen - they don't need thjem for the well-worn route they follow.

And I can't pretend it's not pleasant (sunburn and lassitude excluded) - with a reasonable beach, great views, a bit of a breeze tempering the undeniably intense midday heat and humidity, and - now the season is largely over - very reasonable prices for excellent rooms (balcony with hanging chair and sea view, palatial bathroom with real hot water and enough space for a small party, tiles and marble throughout: 500 rupees - under 7 quid!). Pity me, don't!

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