Blood, sweat and beers

November 21, 2006

It’s late-ish, but the real time still isn’t exactly relevant as the past few days have been that weary hinterland of long-haul flights, boggling new places, searing temperatures and sleep deprivation.

The latter was particulary notable on our first night in India. After the predicable hell of a delayed nine-hour flight when you’re six foot three and stuck in the middle of the middle seats by a check-in woman who was obviously having a bad day, we got to Mumbai, retrieved our bags and got hit by the 36.4C temperature. Our first cab ride needed a push start, but we made it through the close-your-eyes-it’s-scary traffic to our first accommodation, a slightly pricey place that professed to be eco-friendly (but stank of kerosene) and was chosen simply as a place to rest our weary selves near the airport before a domestic flight the next morning. Rest? You’re having a laugh. You know how US troops torture people through tying them up and blasting them with loud music? Well, we were comfortable on a nice enough bed, far from tied up, but hours of pounding disco rising from the atrium of this place (all the rooms looked inwards) was in some ways comparable. Hours of it. Terrible housey pop and Indian disco and god knows what you’d call it music.

Hi ho. Our domestic flight with Indian Airlines the next day was wonderfully civilised and restful-ish at least. And Kerala looks gorgeous from the plane, but as with so much of the world, especially the poorer parts without municipal refuse services, the place is marred profoundly at ground level by the middens of plastic and filth everywhere. An egret and a pretty cow make a nice tableaux, but it’s compromised by the adjacent piles of crap.

I’m probably just tired, and soft after years of home comforts, but so far I can’t see very far beyond the crap. Hell, all countries suffer the blight of plastics, of the 20th century shift from centuries of using and reusing materials like wood and wicker and reeds and whatever, but at least we bury most of ours so it’s not so in-your-face (even if it is just as toxic).

Sorry, I’m tired. The blood of the title is minimal – just a scuff from tripping on a damp path (rain and overcast weather – tail end of a monsoon season), the sweat is from the stupendously muggy heat, and the beers are bought, illegally, from the wonderful restaurants here (who can’t include it on their menus; you have to request it as it’s effectively contraband. Or something).

We’re get more into the rhythm of backpacking, or seeing past the litter, of relaxing in deeply unfamiliar scenarios, but it’ll take a wee while methinks.

On a more upbeat note, Kovalam might be a bit of a dump, but it’s absolutely fantastic for bird-spotting. The skies are full of kites – sitting outside this morning with Fran and her best friend Becky (who came here on a package holiday) at one time we counted a dozen, with some even swooping beneath the rooftop level where we located. There were also sea eagles, with distinctive white throats and long curved beaks. And some other things harder to identify (the kites are of course given away by their tales). Amazing.

Anyways, I need my umpteenth shower. Then another attempt at sleep, before we head off early to have Kerala’s “must” experience, a trip on a boat on the Backwaters.


4 Responses to “Blood, sweat and beers”

  1. Lawrence Says:

    You mean you didn’t pack earplugs!? I reckon you could have quite happily travelled the world naked and survive the worst of it but a traveller without earplugs is a traveller…well a traveller going mental.

    Join the party next time.

  2. Sue Says:

    Terrible housey pop and Indian disco eh? I’m on the next flight out…

  3. samjordison Says:

    Yes earplugs are a top travel tip… although they’d have to be pretty good to withstand indian disco, i imagine.

  4. It was like trying to kip behind the DJ booth in a club, ear plugs (which are of course packed. Honestly guys…) were of no use whatsoever.

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