Notes from a crowded country: India – 10

Tues, 19 Jan, 2010, Kovalam, Kerala

We’re at the Travancore Heritage Resort, in Kovalam, Kerala. Arrived yesterday, after a 3 hour drive from Kollum. Well, it would have been less, but a certain person left their iPhone in the hotel, and didn’t discover it until we were about half way down the road. Oh well, everyone needs to feel like an idiot every once in a while. It did give my sister and Sulo a chance to shop for cheap sandals while we called the hotel and figured out my phone was still there.

Before we left Kollam, I got up early enough to go down and take a walk on the beach. It was a beautiful sunny morning, and a group of fishermen were out fishing in the Arabian Sea. They had set a net out in the sea a couple of hundred feet – I’m unsure exactly how since I never did see them set one, but I assume the keep one end on land, then run the other out and around with one of the boats they had beached on shore. However they do it, the net result is a net deployed several hundred feet in the sea in a horseshoe configuration with a group of guys holding both ends of the net onshore. They then begin the laborious process of hauling both ends of the net onto shore hand over hand, gradually tightening the thing until finally the back end comes up on shore laden with fish.

Or, at least that’s the plan.. I suppose it’s hit or miss wether or not they get a big haul this way – if they’re lucky enough to surround a school or not – but on this particular run they seemed to haul more trash out of the water than fish. After separating out the trash and the catch they auctioned off the main part of the cash to a couple of fish sellers right then and there on the beach – according to Kesh they got the princely sum of 1150 rupees for the lot – about $26 – not a heckuva lot when you consider it had to be split among a dozen or so guys.

We rolled out of Kollam about 11ish, and had another interesting drive to Kovalam. Our driver for this segment was a little more mellow (though still prone to using an imaginary 3rd lane to pass), so the ride was a little “edge of the seat.” We did see some interesting sights on the road –  trucks (over)laden with bananas, coconuts, and elephants. Yes, elephants – apparently, they still using working elephants for certain jobs in this part of the country, but the asphalt roads are hard on an elephant’s feet – so they truck them from place to place in the back of a pickup.

The Travancore is *way* plush. It’s a beach side resort, set up high on a hill overlooking the Arabian Sea Most of the clientele appear to be Europeans, and it’s a bit of an older crowd – but no matter. From the balcony on my room I can sit and look down at the beach, and here the roar of the surf, off in the distance. The surf here is very regular and widely spaced – and it really “booms” when it hits the beach, then theres a hiss as the water runs up the beach. It’s like some primordial heartbeat or breathing – as if you’re listening to the vital signs of the very earth itself. However you describe it, it’s very peaceful.

Last night we went to another beach near the resort – Lighthouse beach – and watched the sun sink into the Arabian sea before heading back to Travancore.

Today, Annelie, Ravi, and Sulo went off to visit a Hindu Temple not far from here, but I can’t resist the lure of a day relaxing by the pool, so after a nice dip in the Arabian Sea this morning I’ve been hanging out by the pool, reading a cheap novel and generally decompressing. What a perfect way to “end” a vacation. Tomorrow we head back to the hustle and bustle, the noise and the dust of big city New Delhi. Then it’s back to to Amsterdam, and back across the pond to DC. Finally, back to Boulder, where my job (and my email) await. Sigh. For today, though, I have the sun, the surf, and the sand.

And that’s enough.