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What’s on top

This drawer shows that ‘stuff’ sticks to you/we’ve been here too long!

We went shopping in Trivandrum about an hour away, to a beautifully clean air-conditioned shopping mall, where they had Sketchers, Crocs, Woodland, Hush Puppies and Adidas shops.  Somehow we came out to India without really sorting out proper footwear and what we had has worn out, so this shopping trip was much needed, even if it felt a bit like being back in the UK!

We had lunch (Thali) in a vegetarian restaurant in town that had been recommended to us; no menu you just have a banana leaf put in front of you and staff come round and ladle food onto it, topping up throughout the meal, and little metal pots of sambar (curry), and chutneys.  One pot was pointed out as sweet, so we ate that separately at the end with a spoon.  Everything else we ate with our fingers, pouring the liquid onto the rice and doing our best to clump it all together.  I think I did better than my previous two attempts but I’m probably still at the level of a young child when it comes to eating rice with my fingers.  We ate breakfast, masala dosas and black tea, at the train station cafe.

We got the train there and got a rickshaw back.  On the way there we’d sat in sleeper which means you get a seat, on the way back the only trains available were passenger trains, the woman at the counter looked very doubtful, ‘passenger,’ she kept saying; those are the ones you see with everyone crowded on, and it was 5o’clock, so we chickened out and got a rickshaw instead.

From the rickshaw we could see the shops and the people and the colour of all the places we went through.  Me: ‘Look at that lovely saree,’ ‘Oh look that is beautiful,’ ‘Just look at those colours,’ repeated about fifty times.  The shops have big colourful boards/hoardings and are so full and so many and of such variety; all kinds of fruit, bright coloured teddies, suitcases, plastic buckets, children’s bright pink sequined party dresses…  It started to rain and it felt almost chilly.  I wrapped my shawl around me and looked forward to going somewhere hot.

Every day things, continued:  As well as shopping mall shoe shopping, I had my bloods done for my thyroid; an American woman living here told me where to go.  The lab looked a little bit old-fashioned to me from the UK but a blood test cost around £1.65, I just turned up and they did it straight away, and the results were ready to collect the next day.

Netflix:  I chose ‘Happy’ from my husband’s list.  I don’t have a list, just like I don’t find cat videos on YouTube but I do very much enjoy watching the ones my husband saves for me (I had better add, he gets them on Facebook, he doesn’t search for them either!).  Happy is very good, it is very violent (I take the earpiece out and shut my eyes for those bits) but it’s cartoon violence so not emotionally upsetting.  Very good anyway.

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Wearing socks again was a surprising pleasure!

Travel update

When we stepped out of the ac shopping mall it felt hot.  We realised that we’d travelled around, train, rickshaw and a bit of walking, all in 29°C without it bothering us at all.  Compared with when we first arrived, we must be more acclimatised, which is good because on 29th July we are going to Chennai (which is on the coast on the other side of the country (the East) in the state of Tamil Nadu.  Chennai is hot, dry and where we are staying is ‘very busy, the real India,’ (Y, who lives there, told us), so it will be a big change from our monsoon cooled evenings, our quiet empty guesthouse in the middle of an out of season ayurvedic resort area…

We leave here (Varkala, Kerala) on Friday 27th July and go North up the coast to Kochi, still in the state of Kerala, for two nights.  I am excited as apparently there is a Body Shop there.  I have had the best of intentions but haven’t yet found a hand cream to replace Body Shop Hemp Hand cream.

We are sorting out what to leave; it was good to have accumulated extra clothes during the monsoon as it was so hard to get stuff dry (our things smell permanently mildew-ish here!) but Chennai is hot (and modest I understand) plus I don’t want to carry more than I have to.  We are disengaging, getting ready to say our goodbyes, even as it’s changing here, shops reopening as the monsoon nears its end and the season approaches, with incredible amounts of building and repair work going on.

Writing update

I have had a few good sessions on the ‘Kerala’ chapter.  I got a bit overwhelmed (as usual) and thought, ‘I can’t do it’ (You can do it, but you have to do it).  I reminded myself of the mantra, ‘Start at the top and work your way down,’ that one of the dear housekeepers at my last job said to me when I was overwhelmed.

I broke it into three sections according to the three places we’ve stayed in.  The places, and our experiences, have been distinctly different even though they are only at most a twenty-five minute walk away from each other.  I have completed the first section and am working on the second.  I am glad that I haven’t got onto it until now as with a bit of distance I can see what each place was and I am able to ditch irrelevant, boring or crazy notes that haven’t lasted.

I have ordered the whole book like that, in sections according to the places we stayed, whether for two nights or two months; length of stay doesn’t seem to correlate with how short or long each section is.  I would like to have it all done in draft by the time we leave here a week from now, but I probably won’t, and that’s okay ‘Trust the process’

My Instagram followingthebrownrabbit

My husband’s Instagram (much better pictures!) travelswithanthony

Thank you very much for reading

See you next week