India · 28 Days · 26 Moments · August 2017

Alice's adventure in India

14 September 2017

A tale of 3 cities. Part 3. Bangalore is a brief moment. A brief encounter. Necessarily brief. Heat presses down on us like a hot iron. Busy. So very very busy. Traffic rages past, an unrelenting stampede of vehicles. It's early, we need coffee. We need sanity. We must gather our thoughts like troops preparing for battle. A solid plan. To be idle in such a city is like sending a lamb to lions. Plan A: find WiFi cafe, have coffee, breakfast, find somewhere to stay. No WiFi in Bangalore a nonchalant policeman tells us. My effortful despair is waisted on him. He shrugs his shoulders. I am irate. Can't anybody help?! Internet says Angeline, we need Internet. His eyes widen, he blinks twice. Internet ahh Internet! Round the corner. Well done Ange! We round the corner. No cafe, no Internet. It's Sunday. Not a lazy half day Sunday. Not a close at 4 Sunday. But a full-fledged departure from existence Sunday. We are lost. In a city of closed doors. Plan B: leave. Plan B.

12 September 2017

A tale of 3 cities. Part 2. Just go with it. Walk with the winding walls. Absorb the posters on posters, signs on signs, billboards & lightboxes, shop after unidentifiable shop, scooters & scooters, and the incessant hooters! It's crazy and fun, beautiful and shambolic. Wafts of perfume, incense and delicious chai parade streets. unafraid to mix with the smog of exhaust fumes or the sneer of more unpleasant smells. Panjim is not unkind to us. Unafraid, she exposes both her beauty and her roughness. Beautiful gardens, contemporary art galleries and luscious silk fabrics lay the blueprint of this city like spiders lace, delicate yet strong. And then she is fierce. Impenetrable. Streets un-navigable. Panjim is that lightnight bolt where beauty meets ferocity. Huge churches loom on corners, stalwart, watching. They guide us. Not to redemption. But to our beds. To fresh coffee. To that slightly guilty sense of safeness. Comfort within discomfort. We're lucky. We're tourists.
A tale of 3 cities. Part 1. Panjim, Bangalore, Mysore. Cities in India require, no demand, a certain strength. An ability to appear grounded, confident, calm and in no way unsure of yourself. Instead you feel the opposite. These concrete jungles are dense and unforgiving and do not sympathise with India virginias. A two second pause will draw people unto you like moths to a flame. Friendly. Not friendly. Helpful. Not helpful. Or is it just me? Vulnerable? Afraid? Agitated! My short fuse doesn't help. Poor Angeline. Some shadows are outlined beautifully by the moon and sun. My own seem more unpleasant, flame shadows on a furnace wall perhaps. Ok, maybe a slight exaggeration. But I feel pulled out of myself. Especially when vulnerable. Don't know where I am so I demand to know it. Don't feel understood so i plead it. Don't feel helped so I disparage. Just go with it I tell myself. Don't demand to know just feel your way. Really. There is nothing to worry about.

4 September 2017

Colva. With Palolem leaving us feeling...unfinished, we seek Colva. Further up the band stretches. Further. Willing it not to snap. Colva is better. Better but still missing...something. Honestly Goa I find you quite hostile. My white skin appeals to your bank accounts and Facebook selfies only. Even when you are kind, underneath you lingers a desperation I wish I could quell but I cannot. And I resent you for that. Sorry. My feelings are as convoluted as your road systems. Rushing. One thing to another. No sensibility. Aggressively driving caring not for anyone around you. Vulnerable pedestrians may as well be road kill. So in Colva we cook. Shiva, our teacher, displays intelligence and kindness, almost frivolous. Until the end. He asks we proof read an english assignment. No, insists. Payment is rushed and uncomfortable. Kind eyes lose light, solidified in this financial purpose. No need for niceties. Job done. An almost strained last smile begs a quick exit. We leave.

1 September 2017

Reaching Palolem we gasp for fragrant air. For blue sea. For palm tree stenciled sunsets. Reaching Palolem we're laden. Laden with anticipation and safe admonishment of a Madgoan town, happy to leave. Reaching Palolem eyes seek sweet spots, hearts eager to drink relief in a star shocked sky, ears prick for sounds within the noise, for calm within the chaos. Reaching Palolem. Maybe the reaching was better than the reach. So we take up seats and gaze at pleasing pleats of the ocean and...continue to gaze. Searching. Something amiss? Cocktails served by grumpy waiters, alcohol slashes coveted words. We admit, we are a tad dissapointed. Fucking Lonely Planet! We jeer into night. Laughing the way one laughs when all other emotions are worn out. Palolem is ok though! Don't despair! But its "okeyness" teases us! Like smells of bacon to amature vegetarians. There was yoga, but not yet. There was kayaking, but not yet. There was there was...just not yet

31 August 2017

Overnight night train between Thrissur and Goa makes me feel stretched like a rubber band between fingers. Did I leave a limb in Thrissur? No, not Thrissur, further south. Cochin? Varkala? All limbs reach Madgoan, Goa but 2 hours at the station waiting to get to our beach destination, all limbs, mind and soul ache to be pinged to the other side again. Back. Did we let the wrong finger go? No. Palolem will be worth it. Madgoan station heaves it's heavy rancid breath on us and glares. A monster devouring it's prey. Eyes red and fiery. Hot and hostile. A man plucks a banana out of Angelines hand and begins to follow us. The station is playing with us like a cat with a mouse. Faces seem gleeful at our discomfort. Train is delayed. We take a taxi and rush out of the station and it's fiery mouth toward somewhere, we hope, is out of its grasp. How long can a forked tongue roll?

30 August 2017

It seemed to rain the entirety of our stay in Munnar. And so it's beauty seemed lost or distorted, like water spilled on an oil painting. Spirits sodden we sought the comfort of alcohol. Strictly prohibited so our hotel tells us. A covert operation! Seedy restaurant is a good place to start. Manager, even seedier, says he can help. After bringing our food, everything wrapped in plastic bags even the soup, he gestures with a sly grin to a green neon sign in the sky. A hotel on a hill. And so we climb. The hotel is surprisingly nice. The staff hush us as we mention beer. No beer left they say, only wine, wine which costs more than our accomodation and breakfast put together. We'll take it we answer. The rain stops. Back down the mountains on a bus that does not recognise speed limits. The sun breaks through windows clutching at our arms and faces, pulling us into its reverie. I'm so happy your leaving it cries. Smile. Goa is waiting.

29 August 2017

Cold wet beginnings in Munnar. Beautiful but slightly apocalyptic. WiFi desires lead us on goose chases.

28 August 2017

Our last night in Varkala the rains came down. Sad beause we were leaving Rafi says. All along the cliff top the lights of restaurants and shops dance between power cuts and water splatters tarpaulin. Guests hold their breath whilst staring at the candlelight anxiously waiting to see their meals properly. For some reason they're mouths are unable to function in dim lighting. I enjoy the power cuts. Despite the rain, shopkeepers persist with their heckling as we walk home, hollering from beneath dresses and bags, calling out between piles of shoes and jewellery. More colours? Different size? Looking is free! They cry. The last night is a quiet one. Rains wash out the need for conversation. So four of us sit. Quietly drinking cold beer. Goodbye Varkala. Next stop Munnar.

27 August 2017

Our Varkala home! Wish I could capture all the amazing life here, insects n all but the gecko and Rihanna the neighbourhood dog are the only ones who stay put.
Working for our rent. Baking sun, cold beer, paint on my nose. My music escapes into the background, Rafi approves. He dances. Asks if it's my favourite. We paint haphazardly as insects traverse our feet and ankles like himalayan nomads. We've painted their home they cry.
Working for our rent. Baking sun, cold beer, paint on my nose. My music escapes into the background, Rafi approves. He dances. Asks if it's my favourite. We paint haphazardly as insects traverse our feet and ankles like himalayan nomads. We've painted their home they cry.

25 August 2017

More rooftop yoga. This time we overlook the sea, stretch our bodies and are humbled by the magic of this place.
Last night. Scooter ride night. Through dark streets except for the occasional array of multi coloured lights that hung from the trees to celebrate the upcoming Ganesh festival. Thrilling. Wind rushing. Cold cheeks and warm hearts. Then we arrived at the beach. Kappil beach...we imagined it's beauty as our vision was obscured by the fact that it was night time. The dense sky showed no stars, only the little lights from the nearby beach resorts revealed their secrets. And so we sat in silence, listening to waves and the evenings haunters. Crickets, bats, crows, late night gatherers telling their tales, we chatted a little. Our host introduced me to a form of mediation/massage/acupuncture that I had never heard of...points meditation.. Interesting or intimate? Cultural or close? Still struggling the read this particular procedure but everything was fine. Is fine. Back on the scooter pushing the night with our faces and breathing something new through the senses. Rafi speaks of Karma.

24 August 2017

Thali on a banana leaf and beer in a teapot, perfect!
I stumbled up a Margaret Atwood book in the restaurant and for some reason that made me feel...something...nostalgia? I haven't even read this book..something about her writing...I thought of Canada's amazing how words can make you feel something you don't really know how to describe. I think what it is is the power and magic of good writing that can immediately take you exactly where the author wants you to go, you become their characters, you experience their story. Compelling! Wish I could write like that!
I always hate to admit it but travelling can really make you appreciate home! I guess that's not such a bad thing though ans it does not stop me appreciating my journey. Silly little things really like trying to post a parcel which involves 3 different activities; go to pay office, go somewhere else t have it boxed, somewhere else to photocopy passport then voila, ready to go! And after all that I changed my mind! 😁 it's also frustrating feeling like some people will tell you anything when you ask for help! Not really a big deal and certainly funny in hindsight but it can make you feel vulnerable/silly tourist who knows nothing! Thank god for those reliable rick-shaw cabbies! Liking them more and more as time goes on. Really these things are not a big deal at all...maybe I'm just battling with the knowledge that we really do have some of it easy back home. Now for lunch on a cliff top restaurant overlooking the sea...stop whining self and enjoy!

23 August 2017

Wow! After our prison cell ashram we've found little heaven! This place couldn't contrast more! Accomodation for £3.00 a night with yoga,Aryuveda, juice bars and real coffee all along the coast! Angeline and I are in bliss! The place were staying in is still in process and so we've offered our assistance in making it look pretty and helping out in general :) Rufee the manager/owner is a very happy chap, like lots of the people here (bar the ashram), had a very gleeful laugh and a cheeky glint in his eye. Definitely recommend staying here..Can't remember the name of the place right now though!
So Angeline and I lasted one night instead of 4 in Ammas ashram. I think we both agreed that there is nothing spiritual about deprivation or embracing suffering. To embrace life is one thing but to never realise your potential or have to go through countless initiations to reach different levels of enlightenment goes against my spiritual beliefs. Both of us actually felt quite depressed being there and really struggled to see happiness or joy in the people there. Maybe we were missing something, maybe a hug from Ama herself would hae turned us 360 degrees and we would be rolling around in our cell-like dorm with glee, who knows! All I know is that both of us couldn't be happier right now to sit on a squashed bus in the hot heat on our way to Varkala beach! I do not regret our visit, I think it reaffirmed my faith in my own spirituality and beliefs that we are all worth our dreams and desires and to limit ourselves is not faith but austerity. Anyway, next stop Varkala! 😎

22 August 2017

First day at the ashram. No photos allowed inside so had to sneak one outside. The place is strict and a bit eeri so far with incredibly basic accommodation. Angeline and I have had some misgivings already so may cut our stay short. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

21 August 2017

Lovely roof top yoga with Anita and Ramesh this morning at 6.30am sharp! An amazing opportunity to do yoga whilst watching the sun rise but trying to do headstands and other hard poses whilst keeping mosquitoes at bay is challenge I dicative of yoga in India!

19 August 2017

Animal love, roof top dinner and tea!
Mid morning coffees and masala chai tea at Kashi art cafe accompanied by an abundance of rain and no umbrellas for either of us!

18 August 2017

In the evening Angeline, Martin and went for coffee at Kashi art cafe, where lots of Europeans seem to gather, then for dinner at Fusion Bay, a favourite of Martins. I can't remember exactly what I ate but it contained fish and spices. Very delicious!
Incredible first day! First visited the elephant sanctuary where we were allowed to touch and photo these beautiful creatures. Followed by a 5 hr backwater boat ride. On route we visited a herb and spice garden and saw people fishing clams to use the shells for calcium powder. Mixed feelings about the sanctuary. The elephants look happy enough but there was a loneliness about the place. The lady you see in one of the pictures we met on route to the sanctuary. Martin, our Hastings friend nonchalantly said he felt like a chai, next moment our driver pulls up to the side of the road where some people are gathered in a sheltered outdoor kitchen and 3 delicious chai teas are produced! The lady had an impressive way of stretching the tea, holding the glass up high and the pan low throwing the tea from glass to pan in a perfect line. Still overwhelmed by the accomodating nature of the people yet simultaneously I'll at ease with a slight feeling that whiteness = privilege and/or money sign!