An Indian Boyfriend and my Neighbour David Beckham
26.10.2014 - 30.10.2014 35 °C
so we just arrived in Kerala (Cochin)...Yvette got out at her hotel, and not knowing where the hell I was going to stay, I jumped out too and said goodbye for 4 days. Even though it was only 4 days, I felt all emotional (kind of like a woman) and wondered what I would do without my partner in crime. I went through all the stages of grief whilst I meandered around in the baking heat; shock and denial that my friend had deserted me, guilt that I had in fact driven her to it literally), anger at her cold hearted flippancy (all I got was a hug and 'goodbye!'...not even a gift.) and finally acceptance. Life must go on. And onwards it went. Straight onwards just opposite the lane leading to Yvette's hotel. I stumbled across a family homestay offering rooms for $7 a night. It was a large family home but with 4 extra bedrooms and I was shown to one with a balcony overlooking Yvette's hotel. It made a perfect pining post when I suffered bouts of loneliness.
Having not slept much on the god-awful night bus, my first stop was to get food, but more importantly was to return and get into bed for a couple of hours.
Walking around fort Cochin town to see what it had to offer in the way of eats, I was pleasantly surprised. Very small and quiet, with cute little streets and shops & cafes dotted about. It reminded me a little of Galle in Sri Lanka. I got some grub and returned to my room for a few hours sleep. When I woke up without even so much as an impression of Yvette's form in the bed next to me, it hit me all over again and I slumped off to the closest internet cafe to skype my parents. We talked for a while and I caught up with a couple of mates. By the time I left it was dark out and food was on my mind again.
Meandering around town, I stopped in a courtyard restaurant only to discover that I was the only customer. Thank God I brought a book. It started to rain. After the waiter took my order, the whole town was plunged into all consuming darkness, broken only by cracks of purple lightening which illuminated the skyline around me and left me feeling pretty uneasy at being all alone in this terrifying place where only the sinister looking waiters could hear my screams for help. The power went off and on numerous times and I was forced to eat my spicy noodles in darkness.
It soon became obvious that tonight was Divali - I had forgotten - and since I had nobody to celebrate with and not knowing if this place was safe at night, I began walking back to my homestay. I sat on the sheltered balcony in the rain, listening to the insects and frogs going crackers, and the intermittent explosions of fireworks from the small community celebrating Divali here. It was bliss
I had a fitful night sleep on the crappy mattress and got up at 10am to have breakfast with my homestay mummy. She made me toast and chi. OM NOM! I decided to do my own walking tour of Cochin and set of with my Lonely Planet book in hand. First stop was the Chinese Fishing nets (google it) down by the seafront. A busy area with a fair amount of tourists and people mingling around, I continued walking alongside the sea until I became aware that I was being followed. Eventually I turned around to face my stalker and was met by a gorgeous Indian dude. Hmm...my brain was telling me to tell him to do one, but my hormones were telling me 'hnfkjfsifofofhoweijfowejfsfmkfsdlfcmdslknsjn!' His name was Nas and he was 26 and keen to speak with me in English. What the hell is he selling I wondered...we talked and walked for about 15minutes and just when I was about to ask him to get to the point and give me the punchline, he must have sensed my unease and assured me that he wasn't selling anything and wasn't going to make me book any trips. He was a rickshaw driver / guide but he had a couple of hours to kill before work. Okay it was the middle of the day and loads of people around so I allowed him to keep me company for a bit. We went to a shit museum full of crappy artefacts where an over-enthusiastic ticket officer told me all about his birth stone (peridot) like I gave a damn. After that we went to get chi. It turned out Nas had had a Canadian girlfriend which is why his English was so good. 'Do you like me? You think I'm handsome?' he asked. 'Yes very much so, but you're still Indian and I dont trust Indian boys' I said. And with that, in true gentleman form he kissed my hand and said goodbye and for me to enjoy my day.
I spent forever in an awesome book shop selling all manner of India inspired books in English, before enjoying some humongous grilled prawns for lunch, then heading on foot into Jew-town (Jewish quarter) where the spice merchants and antique dealers were all out flogging their goods. It started raining so I hailed a rickshaw and spent an hour in my room before heading to the Kathakali centre. Kathakali is a traditional Keralan story told with dance and crazy costumes. I went to the theatre early to watch them applying their makeup and clothes. The whole performance was bewitching.
I went out for dinner again and once again found myself alone in an otherwise unoccupied restaurant. A thrilled waiter came over to serve mem (or so I thought). 'Madam what your name?' oh here we go....'kirsty' ...'where you from?'....'England.' ... 'You know David Beckham?' what the holy shit was this?! 'Err....yes I know who David Beckham is.' (proceeds to show me what I can only describe as numerous homoerotice pictures of DB in his undies) 'He your friend?'....Yes dickhead. Because there are only 9 people in England and David Beckham lives next door to me. Seriously?! Can I get some food here!!! It turned out, those were the only English phrases he knew as he then had to go and get his mate who took my order then asked me for my facebook name. I wrote down 'Regina Falange' on a piece of paper and he seemed chuffed to bits. Heading home after that crazy encounter, I was then followed by some idiot with an afro on a bike who wanted to give me a lift. LEAVE ME ALONE!!!
At 8am I got up for a Keralan backwater cruise. My ride was 45 minutes late and I was still only the first person to be picked up. Once everyone was on board, mostly Brits, we drove 1 hour to Alleppy where we were ushered onto a typical looking Indian house boat, apart from lots of flourescent orange chairs. We all sat down and introduced ourselves - there was a nice Geordie couple around my parents age, and a solo Kiwi woman in her 40's who I palled on with. Unfortunately a hoard of asshole Indian's came on board and spoiled the tranquillity with their mobile phones constantly going, loud voices and screaming undisciplined children. The guide, an Indian man himself, had to politely ask them to shutup several times because we couldnt hear him over their ridiculousness. One man actually retorted back to him that why should he take orders from him, did he think he was a dictator or something? No, he's the f**king guide asshole so listen to what he is telling us.
The cruise itself was beautiful...hundreds of tropical islands and mangroves everywhere. We stopped at one island and were given steamed cockles in spices in a banana leaf to sample. Delicious. We also went on a jungle walk where we identified numerous spice and fruit plants, and even saw a snake.
We then jumped in 2 canoes, and unfortunately me and Sharon(kiwi gal) got lumped with the family with the bratty kids. We just laughed at them taking their stupid pictures and allowing their kids to run riot which soon ended in disaster. When we got dropped back in Cochin later, I went to a fancy hotel for a few beers with Sharon...it was most good and we shared our best travelling stories. Sharon had just left Nepal and one week after she had trekked Annapurna, another trekking group were lost, and some killed in one of the worst disasters on Annapurna that year (2014).
I left sharon and went to meet Nas who I had seen again and given my number to. I waited around for him but he was a no show so bed it was. The next day I was up at 7am to experience morning ragas; meditation with the sitar (an Indian string instrument). I was the only person who showed up. I entered a stage and sat on the floor with the man and his sitar. He began playing it, and chanting like a mad man whilst I closed me eyes and focussed on my breathing. A young boy joined us and played bongo-like drums with the quickest, most deft fingers I could imagine. One hour later, morning ragas was complete and I thanked the man and headed off for brekkie. Nas met me and apologised for the night before but he was tied up with work. I told him I'd catch him later and went to a pre-arranged cooking class recommended by LP. The course was great. I was joined by an English man travelling solo, a german couple, and a weird pair I had actually previously seen in my guest house in Hampi on one of the occasions where I'd left the safety of my toilet. The girl, from NZ was young, around 23, and the dude she was travelling with was a 60-something Indian man (though no Indian accent) who had the look of a mental patient. It turned out they ran a health retreat in Picton, NZ, together. I still pondered over there relationship.
Anyway the cooking was amazing and we got to eat everything we made afterwards, and much to everyone's amusement, I couldnt handle the obscene amount of chili in one of the dishes and my face literally dripped everywhere. Noiiiche.
Around 5pm I met up with Nas again and he took me to his place for a couple of beers. There were other foreign folk there hanging with his mates so it wasnt too intimidating. After our beers, he walked me home and we said our goodbyes. I was leaving the next morning.
At 5:30am I met Yvette outside her homestay...YVETTE! I almost forgot about her We spent the taxi journey catching up on the past 4 days. Unfortunately Yvette had further bother with her gut trouble and had to seek medical advice, but otherwise was an absolute trooper and enjoyed all of the wedding antics from buying saris, to dancing and partying the night away.
At Kerala airport there was the usual ridiculousness going on. Having to go through not one, not two, but 3 bag scanners at different areas before even checking in. Finally on board, I don't remember much of the flight but we landed in Mumbai and checked into the most famous hotel in India. The Taj Mahal Palace. All the rich and famous stay here, and it even has its own documentary. It's absolutely stunning. We forked out a fair amount for the night and were met by a beautiful woman who put garlands around our necks and showed us to our plush room, complete with minibar, downy bed covers, air con, flatscreen tv, sofa, balcony, and stunning views. In our room we indulged, and looked down at the chaos below us and laughed at being nowhere near it.
We met a guide downstairs in the hotel who took us on a tour and told us all about the history of the hotel. He was amazing. His English was perfect, he was cute, intelligent and funny. I would happily have married him.
We did venture back out in Mumbai again on a quest for food, and some street henna. We picked our henna artists and squatted on a filthy pavement whilst a young boy painted our hands for a small fee. My boy even gave me a card with his number on afterwards and suggested he could service me in other ways at my hotel room. I still have the card! Unfortunately on the walk back through the busy streetts, Yvette and I were bumped and bashed by people and our henna was slightly smudged. Back at the room, we decided to order room service to experience fully what the hotel had to offer. A knock at the door came, and in stepped the cutest little old Indian guy, complete with white gloves n everything! He wheeled our table in and unloaded our food, tucked our napkins in, seated us, and even opened mini jars of ketchup for us. It was the cutest! We gorged ourselves and a while later the little man came back and we thanked him with a nice little tip
Getting to bed early, we were up around 3:30am I believe, and bundled into a taxi to Mumbai International. We got there far too early really but you never know this Mumbai traffic. We had a sleep and boarded our final plane home.
For once, I didn't give India the middle finger.