India cannot be rushed, nor can it be explained in a single sentence...

 

Saturday 4th December 2010

Yes, it's still Saturday and after a few hours sleep we decided to go for wander around to get our bearings and to see what India really looks like.

Still a bit out of sorts from the journey we walked into the town centre. We dodged puddles of water and mud, unsure if they were remenants from the previous nights downpour but some of the odours that filled our nostrils half confirmed that they were also of human origin.

The local market is only a ten minute walk from the hotel but even a walk this short is like a huge adventure. We walked through the shambled streets into the heart of Trivandrum and sat on a wall outside the Central Train Station watching as daily life bustled by. Taxis, rickshaws, scooters and motorcycles all weaving and dodging with no apparent highway etiquette being observed or enforced.

After we soaked in local life we went for a walk towards the market.

"Taxi, you want taxi? Rickshaw? Hotel?" several attempts to draw our attention were made by the rickshaw drivers parked along the delapedated road. Several rickshaws pulled up at  the side of us while we walked, each driver wearing a hopful smile trying their best to catch a fare. Even hawkers trying to cash in on a rickshaw or taxi sale were badgering us. Politely and firmly we rejected all requests.

At the market we looked at some of the food stalls. Hygeine here is not on a high list of priorities for these food vendors and likewise for some of their clientelle. After reading so many articles on survivng street life and avoiding illness in India we finally  stopped and watched a man making omelletes and parotta or eggs and chewy bread. As he was making it he convinced us to sit in his shack and have a meal.You could see that the man was pleased to have western customers in his business. The omelette was slightly spicy and bread was wonderfully chewy. It ticked all the boxes for safety:

  • Watched it being freshly made
  • Cooked at high temperature
  • Served on clean dry food bags on top of plates

All the boxes ticked until one of his friends poured a cold/luke warm yellow,  raw egg sauce over my bread that is! And how did I know it was luke warm??? I ate it!

Eating with your fingers is a great experience. Right hand for food, left hand for personal hygene- nuff said!

The meal cost Rs50 so 70p for a meal for 2 was a good bargain and I just hoped that it didn't want to make a comeback later on.

In the evening we decided to have a meal at the hotel. I had a very spicy Masala and chipattis and Diane had a spicy fish dish with dahl. Ordering the meall was not easy, even though we could point at the menu.  The waiter did not understand that Diane did not want rice. He would not take "No rice" as an option with the meal. He went into the ktchen and you could here him and the chef laughing and joking about these English people ordering a meal with no rice He came back to the table more times than we can remember saying "only sauce, need rice", but we stuck to our guns and said no.

When the meal came, with no rice, there was more a meal for four people than two. It was cooked perfectly and full of Indian flavours. The waiter kept coming back to the table and I could see he thoughts written on his face about our "no rice" meal. Yes, there was sauce but the the bowls were also filled with vegetables and meat.

Our first Indian meal was excellent.

Once back in our room we had to start planning for our trip to St Joseph International School, in the north of Kerala. We have been in touch with someone from the school that coordinates volunteers and will be in touch with them during our trip to be picked up in Kollam.

 

 A room with a little view