It’s January 1st, 2011 and I have just experienced that initial shock of arriving in India, that smell of raw sewerage as you walk out of the airport terminal in the pitch black of night, minimal lighting even at the airport pick-up area, getting into the arranged car and driving off hoping that some of those men who seem to be from rent-a-crowd don’t decide to follow your car into the night, stop your car, pull you and the driver out, give you a mild beating (hopefully mild) and rob you. Not imagined, happens, happened to a young English guy on my first visit to Pune some years ago. He spent the entire month organising a new passport and re-arranging his tickets home.
Down some very dark streets and alleys 15km toward…I wouldn’t have any idea, to Kovalam, the beach area near Thiruvananthapruranam (Trivandrum to most people) Late, tired, formalities over pretty quick, got rid of the guy who won’t go away because he wants a tip. Shows me everything, every light switch and plug, shows me how the taps work (maybe thinking I haven’t ever seen those before), shows me how to open and close doors etc. I asked about safety deposit boxes so they bring one to my room (Southpark face should be inserted here) It’s about 8kg I guess, means you can put everything in it and the baddies can simply steal the whole thing without having to search the room. There are certain things they just don’t get, quite a lot of things actually.
The noises during the night were unbelieveable, 100 different noises at any one time, 100 different noises during the day. It's kind of interesting sitting quietly trying to differentiate some of the noises, isolate them out from the cacophony of sound (I think that's a word !)
I am still locked in my room, not yet ready to venture out, need more mental preparation. Sounds strange I know but that’s what India does to you. Even though I've been here twice before and know what to expect there is still this shock, this massive assault on your senses from every possible angle. Time for pranayama, that will give me some extra much needed strength to begin facing this first barrage (which will come in the form of overly-keen hotel staff wanting to help me)
Later on....been down to the beach, wandered around, got annoyed by literally hundreds of men trying to sell me anything and everything, all utterly useless stuff as far as I am concerned, their sales skills are abysmal, surely it doesn't work for them but still they try.
Here's a couple of photos of the beach at Kovalam, one from each end of the beach. Interesting to see a beach in India, can't quite get my head around it all, a bit numb, seeing Indian people at the beach is a bit surreal to me, especially when they go into the water in groups with clothes on.