Apukalypse Now. Or “Shit of Fools”

November 25, 2006

Sorry if I’m offending anyone with the above titles (parents).

Only been away about a week but seems like ages now. Time is warping from the aforementioned sleep deprivation, something that continues to haunt me. Noise is one thing, heat is another, stupdendous humidity is another, and being a very light sleep – who has always found it hard to get to sleep – is yet another. Getting acclimatised, and finding the right balance of AC, fans, meal times (and related digestive schedule), ear plugs (which to my mind should be an emergency measure, not something one becomes dependent on. I never used them in any of my previous world jaunts, but I’m older and crankier now so feel the need), is the key, but I’ve no idea how long it’ll take.

Hi ho. Not being able to sleep much over the course of several days (at least 10, as the nights before we left the UK were disrupted by anxiety) has been taking its toll. Not only does tiredness leave you irritable and moody (or even more irritable and even more moody in my case, before anyone says it), it also denies your body its regeneration and restoration, it weakens both your mental resolve and your immune system.

And we all know how important your immune system is when you’re away from home, even on a jaunt to the Med, let alone a long venture to the wider (developing) world. We went on the Backwaters of Kerala a few days ago. This is the “must” here, and it’s a wonderful experience – or it was until the food poisoning hit. The Backwaters are a large area of lakes, rivers, paddy fields and wotnot, near the old trading cities of Kochi and Allepuzha. They’re stunning, even after the inevitable rise of chemicals in the farming, and the impact of thousands of tourists chugging about in fossil-fuelled, poo-venting “rice boats”. Myriad white egrets, cormorants, hawks and brightly coloured kingfishers can be seen as you chug along at a mellow pace. There’s also women trashing the hell out of their laundry outside houses frequently build half a metre below the level of the water you’re travelling on (much of the populace moves out during the monsoon floods).

Three of us got hit by the bug, I came down first and was soon decorating the toilet. Doubtless we succumbed because our (weak) immune systems couldn’t handle the fact that they staff on the boat cleaned all the glasses etc in Backwaters water. Two of our chums, who had kindly organised the jaunt and we’d met before getting aboard, were more resilient, but me and Fran succucumbed soon, then Becky provided some further sound effects during the sleepless night. What bliss. Travelling up river in a semi-delirious state of foulness and mental addlement.

Honestly, we’ll toughen up little by little, but get food poisoning on the fourth day was a bit crap. More stable now thankfully, but it’s lame to be in Kerala – place of fabulous seafood and curries, two of my favourite comestibles – and order vegetable noodle soup or pizza from the menu when we could have fresh tiger prawns baked in the tandoori owen (sic). Can’t face seafood again just yet.

Anyway, I do promise (well, loosely promise. In a flexible fashion) to not talk too much about digestive disorders on this blog too much. Sleep and digestion are just so quintessential to the travelling experience; what else is there to do but sleep, eat, look at stuff and read? I guy I met in Pakistan in 1991 had badges stitched on his stuff saying “Veni, Vidi, Munchi”, which sums it up really.

Today was a marked improvement on the long crazy car journeys and ill health of the past few days as the weather shifted from the tail-end of the rainy season to full-on sunshine. Fran and I hit the beach, rented some loungers, and enjoyed Kovalam an awful lot more than previously. It’s a grockley, tatty place, and very pricey compared to elsewhere in India, but it’s easy-going, the tourist scene mixed (old/young, western/Indian etc). It’s not exactly a mind-broadending cultural experience, but sitting on the beach reading an excellent tome is blissful innit? Mind-broadending, cultural stuff can come later; we have plenty of time.

(Oh, and the book in question is the third part of Neal Stevenson’s epic historical Baroque Trilogy, which deals with, among other things, the transition from older beliefs and trade systems to Enlightened science and finance based on currency that represents an amount, rather than being an amount. Among other things though, as over the course of three 800 plus word novels its ranged studendously widely. Will be gutted to finish it.)

(Oh Pt 2. Sorry if my posts are tediously long rambles. I’ll hone my blogging skills over the coming weeks I’m sure.)

(Oh Pt 3. Still can’t really be bothered to proofreading and spellcheck my own copy closely. If you’ve read Fran’s blog and seen her snicky comments about me proofing, that only came about as I was sitting beside her waiting to use the machine as she didn’t want to sit in our weird hotel’s reception area on her own. And I’d forgetten my book. Or something.)

(Oh P 4. Not had a chance to upload anything to Flickr yet, as the two machines I’ve been on since leaving having had a USB orifice beckoning. Not that we’ve taken any especially good pics yet.)

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5 Responses to “Apukalypse Now. Or “Shit of Fools””

  1. samjordison Says:

    If it’s any consolation my friend just got food poisoning on Brick Lane… And, of course, it’s raining here so the idea of sitting on a beach is most jealousy inducing.

  2. tickticks Says:

    sorry to hear about your semi-delirious state of foulness and mental addlement. Stay chipper Danno!

    In case of squits I recommend white rice fried up with chopped tomato and onion and a nice binding fried egg on top.


  3. No beach today (so far), as it’s wet and overcast. We kinda caught the end of the rainy season. I’m also wondering if climate change is affecting them here too, but I’ve not attempted to dive into that conversation with anyone yet, given accent and language difficulties. (My Malalayam isn’t up to much. Or anything. I’ve muttered a few bits of the Urdu I know, as it’s similar to Hindi, but probably more English is spoken here than Hindi, so it’s not much use methinks).

  4. PAUL Says:

    At least this is easy to access (cf flickr), even if the language is such that can’t show your niece and nephew


  5. Didn’t really have young ‘uns in mind with the prose tone I’m afraid bro. Better just stick to showing them pics on Flickr!


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