Monday, December 17, 2012

India reminds me


 

India reminds me ... of old lessons:


.."Keep your wits about you" (aka "Be in the present")- not just to watch out for the next weird thing, or for crafty deals or sticky fingers, but any time out on the roads - now more than ever, now that one in every thousand has a car and one in every hundred a motorbike [my wild guess not govt stats] Now when you're on any sort of road, the traffic can come at you from any angle and, although most of India's new drivers/riders seem to have learnt quickly how to survive the creative approach to the rules of the road applying here, there's still the odd one who's yet to sharpen up.

.."Don't make fixed plans" I thought my dentistry would be finished on Sunday but no, for various reasons, some of them Indian, some of them mine. Anyway, it'll be more like Wednesday now so I'll be Fangful Fred for several days yet. A lesson to learn there too about what it feels like to feel hideous! It also means that my plans to get to Goa and out again before the notorious Christmas rush need to be re-assessed. Maybe it's best to spend a Christian festival in a non-Christian region, neither Goa nor Kerala but Tamil Nadu, maybe. Keeping an open mind (but trains need booking well ahead!)

 
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.."Everything has a price" (it seems, even acquaintanceship) After a pleasant 20 early morning minutes spent chatting with the crew of a Chinese fishing net (by invitation), I go to leave for my ferry, when I'm prompted for "tea money". They seemed happy with 10 rupees, and so was I.

 
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India also reminds me of other travel from the past, things buried deep in the memory, travel not only in an earlier pre-private-transport India but also Indonesia, Thailand etc (although Thais might not thank me for the comparison). The ubiquitous tuk-tuks (autorickshaws), similar heat, smells, fruit, flora & fauna, pace of life all prompt memories but also remind me of parallel events.
Today, Sunday, another reminder: cycling in the tropics can be a real pleasure - if you get the right balance - slow enough to stay cool, fast enough to stay cool (wind-"chill" factor). If - as is usual - it's a sit-up-and-beg boneshaker, speed is unlikely to be an issue, although getting up anything steeper that a shallow slope might be. Foolishly, perhaps, I set out on one such bike to cycle 30 miles plus to a much vaunted beach at the end of a long thin island opposite Cochin. I hadn't reckoned with the whole route, virtually, being urban or the seat getting quite so sore - but I made it and feel proud to have done so. (30 miles in England on my UK racer is a cinch: here, pedalling a no-gears heavyweight was quite a different matter.) In the end, at the end, the beach was quite pleasant and amazingly empty for a Sunday but steep-shelving and uninviting for a swim. Ok for watching the fisherman, the crabs, clams, bright electric blue kingfisher and various fauna. Nearby was a scenic area of "backwaters" with the obligatory Chinese fishing nets.



On the way back, I decided to take it in stages, relying on roadside shops to tempt me in. One proclaimed "Sip up" so I stopped for two bottles of soda. And then Arafa Family Restaurant - how could I not? (and no, I wasn't on that scooter. Bone-shaker was out of shot! NB: Close-mouth pose to protect those of nervous disposition.)

NB Don't think I'll be uploading photos at this rate in future. Blogger seems rather slow and stupid as far as photo uploads are concerned - or maybe it's just me! Also, when not delayed by prolonged dental work I'll be more on the move.

The first post ("Indianize") has a new and beautiful shot, even if I do say it myself.

Monday: another day, another Indian challenge: trying to book rail rickets, exacerbated by a UK-based issue - all my cards seem to be getting blocked! I'll post this anyway, not know where my next destination will be. Hasta luego!

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