6 days later…I’m still in Goa…

what a place to be “stuck” hey…apart from the mad tourism it’s quite beautiful here, oh and I have this kick arse flat to live in, which totally helps…

so I’ve been driving around (first in a little white japanese car, then in that beautiful blue beast) for a few days, and it’s pretty hectic driving in India…there have been a couple of incidents…though nothing too serious, thank god.

first it was the cops…no real reason, it appears they wanted some money, as you do…so 500 Rs (about $12) I was free to go…quite a rip off for Indian standards but for anywhere else, total bargain!
for a first day (let’s keep in mind that I’m on my learner permit, haven’t driven since June, and generally don’t really drive at all) it was incident free, total surprise to me too..

in one day i managed to reverse into a car – cracked the license plate…well they weren’t there anyway, and the cops didn’t seem to care too much…clip a guy on the elbow – really he shouldn’t have been on the road, I blame the lack of pavements in this country, plus who walks with their back to traffic (everyone here), and between stalling quite a bit…(totally the car, proof you ask? well my dad AND brother also stalled the car, so there.) oh and I managed to bust a tire…at night…on a quiet road…thank god my brother was there, oh and I had a torch…and I know how to change a tire…in a wonderful family bonding moment I taught my brother how to do it, and welcomed him into manhood…hahaha

as Emma put it so well “I’m not scared in the car with you driving, but I’m worried for those on the road around you”…yup I’m a bit of a menace…actually, I drive like an Indian…one hand on the horn..it’s the only way here…it’s a right of passage, there is no giving way, no priority, nothing..it’s me first and too bad for the rest of you…so I’m doing well!

oh, and the beast? no accidents, just cruising around and loving life…

so nothing super exciting going on here, I’m pretty sick so I’m staying put till I’m better, looks like it’s going to be some kind of trance party in Goa for new years…could be worse yea…life’s a bit of a beach down here…yoga and beach..not too bad….going to head east early in the new year to get a bit more travelling done before heading home (very very soon!!)

more photos coming soon, possibly when I’m on a computer of normal speed…at this rate I’ll be here all night…

a moment of belonging.

I was standing in the cold, miserable rain of Ooty, drinking coffee, smoking, with a turban on my head…being stared and laughed at by the men standing around…I turned and spat on the floor…and it hit me…I’m like an Indian man.

I finally found my sense of belonging in India…

I realised that perhaps these guys find it strange how all these foreign women come over and act..well, like men. we’re loud, we’re alone, we’re independent and pushy…(I was wearing a scarf as a turban) to them, we may as well be men…the women here are so stuck in their traditional roles…

look at how they dress…a huge majority of women still wear the sari or salwar kameez, whereas most men wear (horribly styled) western clothes…this alone says masses about the society here and the roles each gender is encased in…as one guy in Kochi told me, it’s time for us to evolve too..so right..it’s about time…if India wants to move into this century and perhaps one day be a world leader (I can’t see it, personally…) they’re going to have to let some of the traditions slide to make room for the modern world they want to be a part of.

so Christmas is in 2 days…and I’ve spent the day sitting on a little beach in southern India…there’s no mobile signal..it’s beautiful…couldn’t feel further away from it all.
tomorrow up to Goa…should be good though I’m not really looking forward to the crowds…and egos…and all that jazz…

go go Gokarna

In the Nilgiri region, around Ooty, it seems every farmer and his goat has a tea plantation…makes me wonder what kind of quality you’re getting when you purchase Indian tea overseas (let’s not even think about here)…it could just be your run of the mill, grown by the side of a busy road with cars, buses and trucks charging up and down daily…the tea’s growing like it’s on steroids…from all the FUMES!! disgusting..we can only hope they wash it!

sadly i can’t tell you how they make tea (well..the process involved) after a night of shivering in bed (it was bloody freezing…i’m not exaggerating) we woke up to rain, and clouds so thick we could barely see 30m…there goes the tea plantation visit, or any walking at all…we left after a hot shower (my god that was incredible! first hot shower since Oz…and well needed too!!) and some food. a short walk to the bus station, i was told that the bus to Calicut (our next stopping point) wasn’t till 2.15pm…so we waited….and waited….and waited….it was drizzling non stop, it was absolutely freezing, and just really miserable…what a place!
after many MANY chais and coffees, the bus finally rocked up…around 3.30…luckily we were waiting (out in the rain) and managed to jump on quickly enough to get seats (yea there were heaps of people standing) and even fighting each other to get the spare seat next to us…we picked a woman…

thus began another long journey here to Gokarna…
the bus down to Calicut took about 7 hours (not the 5 we were told it would take…with only 1 toilet break) and we finally got there at night, starving and annoyed..if a little stiff too…we went to the train station where we got some unidentified curry with paratha and waited…till 12.05am when our train got in…of course we only had spaces again so we had to walk through the whole train of people sleeping, in the dark, with all our crap, finding some spare beds…thank god we did, and managed to get some sleep…before arriving in Mangalore at 4.40am….after another two hours or so waiting we boarded another train to Gokarna…no beds, just hard, upright, packed bench seats…great.

the ride was fine, after so many chais and coffees i couldn’t have another (that’s ALOT) we finally got to Gokarna and got shoved out of the way by all these little old ladies with heaps of bags…spiritually enlightened im sure (they were on a pilgrimage) and managed to get out…

we headed for Om beach, but realised it was full, so after lunch and a swim and some pretty hard bargaining with a boat guy we headed over to Kudlee beach where we trekked over the beach with our packs in the blaring sun like a desert movie to find a place to stay…

my first thoughts (and notes) on Gokarna…
a bunch of stoned, dreaded backpackers…Israelis dancing to crap techno on a hot little beach…little shacks dotted around a palmtree studded coast…

this place couldn’t be more of a polar opposite to Ooty if we tried…and only 24 hours later too! this country is unreal…
it is so rare to find a place still so sparsely developed, there are more people here than places to stay…

i was listening to a conversation in Israeli yesterday, my neighbours were trying to put up a hammock chair..sounded super complicated…i suddenly felt so displaced..was i still in India? this place could be in Thailand? you wouldn’t know the difference…oh wait…there’s masala…a LOT of masala…and cows (shit) on the beach…ahh India…

ahhh Snooty Ooty..perhaps just not my cuppa tea..

Two days in Varkala was more than enough, the last night was spent at the “Chillout Shack” a pretty cool place styled like many in Thailand or Laos but kind of rare for India…unfortunately it was guitar night and every Jack Johnson wannabe whipped their guitars out and had a little jam…cynical much…love that there are backpackers who travel with guitars…nah it was lovely, live music, a range of western music, some hits…some were totally butchered…

being so short on time now i’ve had to cut down my itinerary to be in Goa for christmas (which is less than a week away…) so as i wanted to see hill stations in Kerala and in Tamil Nadu, i opted for the less touristy Ooty in Tamil Nadu. it’s quite a bit further away, but then after Varkala i was happy to be away from a very touristy place, and frankly its not so out of the way when heading up north.

here’s a revised version of my map, here are the places i’ve been so far, not sure where to from here exactly so i’ll have to update as i go..

anyway we set off from Varkala in the morning on the train to Kochi then after waiting a couple hours another train up to Coimbatore…we arrived at night after spending all day on trains in the heat, without proper seats..apparently when you buy a ticket at the station just before getting on the train they cannot allocate a seat (they neglect to mention this part) so you buy a “space”…what does that mean? means you don’t get a seat…and so you sit wherever…until someone who actually reserved that specific seat comes along and kicks you off…so we moved…and again…and shared with people until we finally arrived at Coimbatore late…

I have nothing to say about that town, all we did was eat and attempt to sleep. the train on from there was just before 5am..so we got up at 3.45am..that was soooo harsh. mainly because my room, was ON the street..you could hear every single noise…from cars, to the guy yelling TSHIRT TSHIRT TSHIRT TSHIRT (he was selling tshirts..) and of course, the bloody arseholes standing ON my doorstep, YELLING in tamil, all night…im not exaggerating i had to drag myself out of bed at 2am to tell them to shut up and move on…so after what was probably the worst night’s sleep in the history of bad nights of sleep, i was rudely awoken by my alarm at 3.45am…for yet another day of riding the train…yaaaay…

after buying tickets, grabbing a quick chai, and managing to headbutt the corner of the wall while picking up my backpack (yes i have a bloody bruise now…love it..) it was off to the train for a quick ride (in the dark) to Mettupalayam and on to the “miniature railway” to Ooty.
so this trip is described by lonely planet (most traveller’s bibles) as one of the top train rides in the country…this it may be (for scenic purposes) however they fail to mention the reality of the ride…this is why i’m here to fill in the gaps..
so we’re queuing in the dark for the “miniature train”..it’s small, but not like a kids size toy train which is kind of what you imagine when you hear miniature..or at least i did…i was relieved to find that it was in fact adult size, and of course they crammed in 5 people per bench..way too many if you ask me…4 was comfortable, 5 was just too much.

it was an incredibly beautiful ride…the 48km (which took only about 5 HOURS) by steam engine (we had to stop frequently to add lots of water, oil and bang around the engine with some kind of hammer) was this amazing transition from coconut palm trees and jungle, to thick rainforest, to a drier forest type and up to the dry tea plantations where the weather is cooler, and there are gum trees…
the train was packed (there were even people standing in our compartment at some stage, though we all protested)
we went through many tunnels, not something you’d think would be particularly exciting…but the Indians were going wild…they were screaming and cheering…every time…there were HEAPS of tunnels…
for a country that has regular power outages you really wouldn’t think that being in the dark was THAT exciting…maybe that’s just me…

one thing i must mention, as awwwwwful as it is..is the rubbish..it breaks my heart and it’s just disgusting..not to mention IRREVERSIBLE.
the entire way up (my head was hanging out the window) there were beautiful streams and waterfalls, everything had plastic in it. it was EVERYWHERE. how sad is that? for those who have been to India before you might know what it’s like…its absolutely everywhere…and it’s so awful. and there is a complete lack of any education about it, or any care for that matter. they ask you if you like their beautiful country but don’t think for a second to try and keep it beautiful.

anyway long story short, beautiful trip, many stops, touristy photos (i took over 100 on the way up so i’m gonna have to go through and cull) and we’re now in Ooty.
so the attraction to Ooty (im deducting based on my experience in 1 day here) is the surroundings, the scenery, the weather and perhaps the tea..but the town..not so much..it’s just another Indian town…dirty, busy, loud, and nothing exciting happening or to do or see..in the town…but around town, it’s so serene, and stunning scenery.

so tomorrow some kind of tea plantation visit where you see them grow and pick the tea leaves and then whatever it is they do to it after that…guess i’ll find out tomorrow…

oh and lovely news…i have a nasty cough and cold…bloody hell…

bargain queen…head wobble supreme…

here I am in Varkala…watching the sunset into the ocean in front of me, from the cliffs above…I went swimming (after a day to wrap my head around the thought of being in a bikini)…i felt SO NAKED…there are foreigners everywhere…I even had a chicken burger the other night…so this place is really nice…but it’s NOT INDIA.

we’re leaving tomorrow. it was nice for 2 days to relax and do pretty much nothing – oh I might mention briefly that loading those photos took over 3 hours yesterday…so you’d better appreciate it…i hate being online here, rather not be at all, but then keeping this updated is important to me, and if you don’t write about stuff within a couple of days you never do…or you write 1,900 words like i did…that was about 3 days without internet updated..

so my friend Emma has been learning off me how to be a hardened bargainer…I’ve been improving my bargaining skills from a young age, and I’m getting pretty damn good at it, so good in fact that when other foreigners come into the shop I’m quietly asked to stop until they leave…I love it…I’ve been teaching Emma the ways…and of course I’ve improved my head wobble…I’m now a total pro.
but the real beauty is that I’ve learnt how to use it…like how they use it…as some of you may know, the head wobble is a typical Indian thing, and it means…well…yes, no, maybe, I don’t know, I don’t care, I don’t understand you….and whatever else…so when you’re being harassed once again to buy a drum…very cheap…very small…rather than going no, no thanks, maybe later, or NO I DON’T WANT A FUCKING DRUM!!!! all you have to do is a short wobble, maybe even flick the wrist and that’s it. they get it. they won’t even ask you again!

amazing.

once I figured this out, my whole perspective was thrown completely..I get it now…all of it…and even better, I know how to deal with it!

so that’s the good side…the one thing that I’ve also figured out (and mentioned briefly yesterday) was the lying…they don’t say no. so they lie instead…about anything and everything, on a daily basis…it’s gets to the point where you’re like STOP LYING TO ME!!! but then you realise…you can lie too! it’s hard i must say, I mean i’m a really direct person, so it’s totally natural for me to just be totally honest…why is that annoying i hear you ask? well everyone here asks where are you from? (followed by what is your good name?) so i go France. name? Devika. this is Indian name *wobble wobble* yes, my mother is Indian…where in India? you speak good english….ok so it goes on and on and on and on…about 25 times a day…EVERY DAY. it gets old. very quickly..anyway we’re trying to lie more…but there’s no quick way around where are you from? not for me anyway…

so of course we meet people everywhere, every day..last night was another fine example of that..Emma and I were eating dinner at some place on the cliffs…by the end of the night there were 8 of us around the table! you hear some great stories from other people, and Mat, one of our friends from Kochi has some great money saving tips it seems…though the guy has US dollars he’s got stories about free food, free bed in a dorm (both in the Golden temple in Amritsar) a free train trip (he just didn’t pay and they didn’t ask anything) and he “left without paying” Emma in Kochi, he’s now sleeping on the rooftop of a guesthouse for 150Rs a night – that’s not even $4…talk about a cheapskate! good to know he still gets ripped off though…everyone gets ripped off..it’s almost inevitable..then really what’s a dollar here or there? when you think about how much money you can spend without even thinking twice about it back home, life is so so cheap here. it’s great!

as predicted i don’t have time to go to all the places i wanted…it happens…i knew it would…so from here I’m off tomorrow morning very early stopping briefly in Trivandrum before taking a 9 1/2 hour train trip to Coimbatore just in Tamil Nadu. From there it’s up to Mettupalayam and a train trip to Ooty…sounds like an incredibly beautiful place! more photos to come…and perhaps a super long post to catch up for a couple of days without internet…we’ll see….

run through the jungle…

this song has not only been stuck in my head for the past week or so, but I’ve now decided that it’s Kerala’s theme song…if you could see the lush rainforest packed with palm trees that makes up Kerala, you would totally understand that it’s the most fitting song ever…now i just need to contact the department of tourism and let them know…

so after 4 days in Kochi (an extra day since i was waiting for friends to arrive) it was time to move on, so with my Belgian friend Emma we took the local bus down to Alleppy, home of the famous backwaters..we found a great little homestay guesthouse with a (so we thought) super friendly guy called Biju and his super cute dog, Jacko!

we spent the arvo walking around town and after about 10 minutes realised that Alleppy was actually a little dissapointing…after Lonely Planet’s description “Venice of the East”…there’s alot to live up to…now sorry, but just because there’s 2 canals running through town, doesn’t make it comparable to Venice…AT ALL! for one, the water was black and pretty nasty looking..and then the town, well it leaves much to be desired…after a super spicy and unidentifiable “special meal” at a place called Hot Kitchen (what did we expect really with a name like that) we walked about town and ended up being part of a procession (we were much of an attraction, they seemed more interested in us) so we took some photos and followed them into this hall where we thought there would be a talk on “The Art of Living” by Ravi Shankar…we were a little disappointed to find (that after waiting two and a half hours) he wasn’t actually coming…till February…so we took part in the celebrations and enjoyed the one thing happening in Alleppy..

Lana & Nick arrived early the next morning and we did a one day back waters tour in a canoe..now most people do the houseboat thing, and though they are really beautiful handcrafted boats, it’s a little too pricey for me, and being so big the boats don’t fit down the small canals, so you actually cover more ground in a little boat, plus canoe vs motor boat i vote peace and quiet rather than a bloody motor all day…there’s enough noise in this country! so doing my bit for the environment (yet another boat on the river yea) we all got into our little boat with our guide who spent the day paddling and singing as we relaxed by the water on the most peaceful day i’ve experienced so far!
our guide was a nice guy, but so damn hard to understand…halfway through the day i managed to crack the code…on top of the heavy accent, he was saying ‘and the’ in between EVERY WORD…so as he explained about the rice and the fields and the season and the water and the people and the life….we finally got what he was saying through hard concentration!

our day was pretty cool, with stops for breakfast, lunch, chai and a brief stop at a christian church where a nun dressed in an unflattering brown dress tried to force her christianity down our throats, reminding Nick (who made the mistake of telling her he was brought up Christian) that God was crying for him everyday as he’d lost his way…our day was well rounded…we fled the scene and returned to our peaceful boat…with apologies from the guide…
it was such a beautiful, peaceful day, something so rare in such a crazy country!

we returned to our homestay and had organised to make dinner at home, so after buying food at the local stalls we went back only for Biju to complain all night and the next morning about making food and cleaning! what a great host he was indeed…it was a bit of a shame as it completely changed our opinion of the place and we were pretty happy to be out of there the next day…

so on to Amritapuri by boat we went…for those who don’t know Amritapuri is the home of the hugging amma, one of India’s few female gurus…her special darshan is hugs, and she regularly spends hours (apparently up to 22+) at a time hugging people without a break!
after a cool 4 hour boat ride down the river (where we ran into Mat, an American we saw in Kochi, who also left without paying Emma money he owed for the room…she got it back!) we got off the boat, crossed the pink bridge and entered the compound of pink high-rises where Amma resides..it was alot bigger than i expected (not sure exactly what i was expecting, something smaller at least) and very imposing, with so so many people getting around dressed all in white, i thought we had joined a cult!

after checking in to our little dorm room and doing a welcome tour (where we learnt all about Amma, the centre and Embracing the World – the charity org) we went to take part in Bharjan (singing)…now i’m pretty good at picking up languages (this is something im quite proud of) but i must say that Malayalam (the language of Kerala) is bloody hard, and sounds nothing like it looks…this makes it pretty difficult to read and pronounce as it’s impossible to guess…oh, and there are letters that don’t exist in the english language…talk about a challenge…anyway i gave it a go, it was good fun and the atmosphere was serene and beautiful! unfortunately, taking photos is strictly prohibited, i was dying on the inside, wishing i could take some snaps to share it, but i respect that…so no photos for you…you’ll have to visit yourself!

after another unidentifiable dinner (seems to be a bit of a trend here, don’t know what you’re eating but it’s pretty good!) we were off to bed for our early start…up at 4.30 for chanting…again in Malayalam, the 1,000 verses was such a cool experience…sitting in the temple in the early morning the resonating sound in the dark hours of the morning is a magical experience and is something that must be experienced to understand..after an hour of chanting followed by some singing it was over to the beach for morning meditation and sunrise…amazing.

after some breakfast we lined up for our tickets for darshan – we were the first in line as we were leaving that day, darshan starts at 11am and tends to go till about midnight or so…so if you’re leaving, you want to be there early right…we got there at 11 and were told to come back later! (Lana & Nick managed to get in with the first group) so we went away, came back, were sent away again and after about 2 hours they let us come sit down to wait….after waiting 45 minutes we thought this is ridiculous, we’re going to end up missing our bus! now, don’t judge me on this…but i had to lie…and i felt awful…but i must first explain something…since i’ve been in India (and it took me a little while to realise) everyone has been lying to me…EVERYONE LIES HERE…it’s crazy…and i’m sick of it…but they won’t stop, and to be honest, when we do it to, it works out better for everyone…i mean how many times a day am i going to explain the full story of where i’m from etc etc? they don’t really care…it’s just another question!
so to get us out of there, (and we were told to lie by one of the devotees working there) i told them we had a plane to catch later that day…that they understood and we were “rushed” through…so i’m a believer in karma…and i felt awful…but then i’ve been lied to so many times in the past 2 weeks, i feel i’ve earnt my right to lie back…and it’s only white lies really…i am french, i am also “from” australia…we did have to go…what can i say…

so i got my hug….it was incredible! to look at it purely from an outsider point of view, it was insane up on stage with her…there are all these devotees sitting around just staring at her in love and devotion…it creates such an incredible atmosphere..and i’ve never seen a guru upclose…someone so adored by everyone…all these people from all over the world coming together in one place to see and touch her, receive a hug from the hugging amma…what a bizarre place to be! so it’s a bit of a zoo on the stage, she’s sitting in a chair, under aircon (the only place in the ashram, and on the stage to have aircon) and people are crushed around her while she chats to some people on the side…then there’s a guy who pushes you into her bosom and someone who grabs you back out when it’s time for the next ‘hug’…cynicism aside, it was magical…unexplainable…just surreal really…

now i saw Amma in Brisbane in April of this year, i’d also read about her a few years ago and had since then wanted to come here and see her, experience the ashram and feel her energy…so for me, it was unreal! amazing, incredible, yet somehow so hard to explain…a combination of her and the energy she exudes, the adoration for her and what she does for the world along with the atmosphere of the ashram (apparently 2,000 people live there permanently, plus all the tourists who come every day..i tell you it’s massive) it is another world…
now a quick explanation of these devotees dressed in white…amma’s children…most of them who i met were american..now that’s great, but a little weird when you’re in India and all you hear is American accents…and for all the claims on being so spiritual, leaving the egos behind and all the rest of that…i overheard many little discussions between those residents…seems there are still politics in the spiritual world….what did i expect really…just because you leave your life behind (escaping reality for the safety of an ashram) don all white clothes and do some chanting in the morning, doesn’t make you a whole new person…
i will say that when i go spend some real time in an ashram ill pick somewhere a little smaller, where there aren’t tour groups going through daily…but that’s my preference…i will be back though..

finally after an interesting trip down the coast (one girl ran away when i asked her for directions to the train station…literally…she just bolted…) we are in Varkala, a little beach town on the coast set on some amazing cliffs…it doesn’t feel like India at all, and it’s a little wierd…all these foreigners in bikinis and skimpy clothes…tourism what are you doing? when will people understand that they are in INDIA..it is a conservative country…just because there is sand doesn’t mean you can ignore this…COVER UP PLEASE!

so Varkala for 2 days or so, i need to rethink my itinerary as im running out of time and there’s too much i want to see! will have to skip some places in favour of spending proper time in each town and of course, ill be back for more!

New page for photos

so i kind of figured it out…check out the new page (up top) it’s called India Photos, i’ve started adding photos there in a slide show, ill try to finish up on that soon…till then at least some are up for you to see!
enjoy…

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God’s own country


So i’ve been in Fort Kochi for 3 nights now, it’s my 3rd day and its time to move on…it’s a great little fishing town, very cute and very easy to just walk around and hang out…been meeting people everywhere, i don’t think i’ve had a whole meal alone yet!

It’s such a great thing meeting people on the road, we all have something in common so for people who might not usually find it so easy to talk to strangers, the barriers are down, and we can usually have a great conversation about where we’ve been, where we’re going, what we think so far…places to go, places to avoid…and other traveller’s stories…it’s awesome!

I think travelling alone you tend to meet more people, but alot of people are still surprised that i’m travelling by myself, mostly those in couples…I am loving it. it’s so important to know how to be alone, though i can’t even remember how many times i’ve been asked and told my story about “my husband”, and how he’s in the next town and i’m meeting him in 2 days, and no, we don’t have any children yet…why not? it’s never ending…hahaha…there isn’t much sense of personal space, let alone too personal a question here, they want to know everything, even how much you earn! sometimes it’s tricky avoiding the questions, but usually you can turn it around and ask them questions in return…what is your good name? if you ask about their kids and wives you can get them talking for a while.

So back to meeting people on the road, it’s so easy, i tend to meet people wherever i go, even in Melbourne..so here, where we’re all sharing a similar experience, and we all come from all over, it’s easier, and faster than in your everyday lives…
within a day i had met people from:
germany & chile (these 2 were married)
france (heaps and heaps of french here)
england & new zealand (these 2 were living in singapore)
america – seattle, santa monica, LA
belgium (Bruges!)
and more frenchies…
that’s in ONE day…nuts…

so as i posted in that map last time, i’m planning on heading south to Alleppy from here to do a little Keralan backwaters tour – a MUST DO in this area it appears..i’m excited to move on to somewhere new, further south and eventually to the tea plantations north east of here…i hear it’s amazing up there! though as everywhere, it’s getting more and more touristy, and there are so many tourists even here getting around in skimpy clothing…its so frustrating to see people who come to India with no regard for the local culture to the point of wearing mini dresses here. The locals don’t like it (i’ve checked) and it’s pretty much insulting. why travel if you’re not even vaguely interested in the culture? Stay at home? Go elsewhere where you won’t be offending people…that’s really taking it to a new level..

Anyway that’s enough ranting…I’m off to do some yoga, finally, been searching for a place that’s not a rip off since i got here, my body is crying out for some yoga!

Photos up soon, promise, I’ve been patiently loading them for over an hour now…surely it won’t be long now…

Incredible Indeed…

Well I had planned on finally uploading some of my awesome photos of India given that i’ve been here almost a week now! Of course things don’t seem to go as planned and that’s ok…I flew yesterday from Delhi to Kochi (Kerala) and arrived sans backpack…great…no clean clothes…and no cable for my camera either! so next time it’ll be…whenever that is…now it’s the next day and many calls to the airport later “the bag is not here yet”…ok so you have no idea where it is then…yeaa great! Guess i’d better go buy some clean clothes it’s so humid here…
With any luck it might be on one of the flights coming in today or tomorrow, as long as it’s not lost somewhere in the masses of Delhi airport or better yet, in some other random part of the country, i’m ok…

So after a hilarious but slightly frustrating stint in Delhi with my Indian family (who i’ve not really seen since i was about 1) I’m finally off down south and my journey begins…I had planned to fly to Chennai (Madras, in the state of Tamil Nadu) and make my way down south around the east coast and then back up Kerala ending up in Goa for christmas, but in another fine example of things going as they do, it’s been pissing down and flooding in Tamil Nadu for the past 2 weeks…given that i thought it best to not brave the floods (schools are being closed and people are dying from mostly electrocution related incidents) I booked my ticket straight to Kerala.

I now have about 2 weeks to make my way down south, loop back up through the tea estates in the mountains and up to Goa for christmas and mum’s birthday..

So far I love Kerala..compared to past trips north to areas like Rajasthan it’s a completely different vibe…the people are more friendly and there is alot less staring…seemingly strange for an area that receives less tourism than Rajasthan…but a very welcome change. I spent the early morning drinking chai and hanging out with the local fishermen by the river, a beautiful area which is being changed by tourism every year…surrounded by men, yet completely welcome with smiles, chai and friendly conversation…they barely stare, its amazing! looks like i’ve found my neck of the woods!
These friendly Keralans with their huge smiles, so proud to show me their biggest catch of the day, huuuuge fish! will post photos soon (whenever that may be…Im on Indian time now) everyone seems to be sporting a mo…it’s like movember all over again!

You really gotta love the internet…everything is possible hey…here is a google maps of the trip i’ve planned for Kerala so far…

Kerala…God’s own country…