Visit to a sun-drenched Kovalam beach today. Great for my sun-deprived legs to be out in the open! Oh, the bliss of wearing shorts and sleeveless t-shirts.. I can imagine returning here many weekends to enjoy the sunshine and must definitely bring my swimwear! Many shades and shapes of white flesh on display here, whilst Indian women retain their dignity clad in churidar or sari but it does not stop them from frolicking in the sea. And men, well obviously they can get away with dressing down.. Although on further reflection and studying the beetroot colour I now sport, maybe there would have been some sense in going ‘Indian’ after all or plastering on the factor 15 that I had in my bag. But still showing signs of my African veneer and considering the definitely grey overcast skies of the last few days, I did not feel the need to use sunscreen… I should have known better, but hey, at least I will have dosed up on Vitamin D and my bones already feel better for it.
Kovalam is clearly a touristy place with touristy prices… A quarter of a pineapple sold by a street vendor for £1… Really… I can buy them in Sainsbury for that price when they are in season, which seems to be almost all year round. So having negotiated a price of 50p or 50 rupees I am sure I still paid over the odds, but on a sunny day when everyone is smiling, who cares… And she kindly allowed me to take her photograph.
People love to speak English and so I am taking every opportunity to help them make progress… So this morning in Kovalam, I talked to Gopan, a tuk-tuk driver, who decades ago was married to a French woman, but has been single for many years… Ah, wel, romance wears off and love and sex… He brought it up, not me!!! I am sure he is one Indian who takes his Kama Sutra too serious and too literal… We did not go as far as exchanging telephone numbers, but I have his now as he lives in ‘my town’ and he will happily give me lifts to Kovalam. I so praise The Lord for my short memory problems as after having been here almost two weeks I still do not know my address… so there was no need to pretend and I really could not tell him exactly where I live…
Then there was Joseph, the tea and spice shop owner, who was willing to sell me asafoetida – would have been useful if he had the ground stuff – and keeps a dictionary in his shop when in need of translations. I chatted to Johny, who was looking for customers for his sun beds, and Jacky, who showed hand painted cards – they were actually very nice… And what is it with Manchester? It seems everyone has been there or has family living there, or could it be this is the only place name they can quickly pull out of the hat because of the football??? And lastly I joined pale, white Sylvia for a cup of tea overlooking the beach; she came on a cheap package holiday 20 years ago and never left, but is returning to the UK in January after finally having had enough of the Indians and the heat…
I sampled ginger tea made with proper pieces of real ginger added to tea and had my first masala dosa: sublime – I must learn how to cook that!!!
Lieve, I have glorious memories of Kovalam beach and nearby Trivandrum. My husband and I traveled all over India in 1979, before our kids were born. We were only there for a few days but we were so impressed with Kerala, the high literacy rate and the cleanliness compared to the rest of the country, including our home base, Bhopal. I think you picked the best place in India!
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.
Yes, I agree. Kerala is probably one of the nicest places in India, but I have only travelled in the North before – the usual touristy Golden Triangle – and Goa. I hope to see a few more places whilst I am here, but Kerala alone is a huge state, so I will be exploring this first and hope to spend weekends visiting various corners and not just the beaches…
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One thing I’ve always wanted to see is the synagogue with the Delft tiles in Cochin (I believe it’s Kochi now?) but I haven’t made it there yet. Maybe you will, soon!