It’s September 11, 2012, & I’m in the midst of taking it easy looking out on Arabian Sea waves crashing on the rocks below the balcony of my Rp700-a-night (€10) guesthouse room – it claims to be a hotel but it’s a hotel only in name. The noise of the waves is rhythmic (therapeutic even) & not particularly loud, but it is constant, prompting me to wonder if I’d ever tire of it. There isn’t a whole lot else to do here save for staring at the waves & contemplating pending boredom, itself possibly a form of boredom.
I’m in Kovalam in the southwestern Indian state of Kerala, one of India’s most well-known – & thus overdeveloped – beach locations; from what I’ve seen so far it is Goa, India’s other Arabian coast beach nirvana (a lot) further up the coast, minus the postcard-perfect beaches & with a lot more concrete. It’s early September so I’m straddling seasons here – the monsoon season is starting to wind down so pretty soon this place will start to get a lot busier. But right now things are quiet, there are very few travellers around, few services are running, some places are closed altogether & what you order on the menu might not be available. But that’s all OK with me. My needs are few & my demands fewer still.
Quick & Easy
The flight here yesterday with Sri Lankan Airlines from Colombo was as quick as it was pleasant – they barely had time to serve me the refreshments they served, a welcome change from the no-frills overload of the recent glut of Air Asia flights. I’ve already had that joyous moment upon opening a menu when I was reminded how cheap India is, even touristy Kovalam, something noticeable coming from Sri Lanka, itself not a particularly expensive location (although it’s more expensive than its (much) larger neighbour). I’ve also, & within 12 hours of arriving here, consumed more bottles of Kingfisher beer than I had of any beer throughout my time in Sri Lanka; for some reason I’ll never quite fathom Sri Lanka wasn’t conducive to having a beer, although it was widely available. Needless to say I’ve no complaints as yet with Kerala, not that I expected to have given the fact that I’m lounging by the waves of the Arabian Sea, not to mention Kerala’s well-earned reputation as India’s most sedate, most easy-going state.
India, Part III
– Yann Martel, Life of Pie
This is my third trip to India, having been here in late 2002 & again in early 2008. I’ll always have an affinity with this country because it was the first country I visited on my first extended travel odyssey, my 2002-2003 round the world trip. The country scared me back then when I spent 5 weeks here, most of them sheltering from India’s aggression on the beaches of Goa, the furthest south in India I’d been prior to yesterday. I’ve put plenty of miles on the clock since then & these days India is a challenge of a very different kind – a photographic one. The last time I was here in 2008 I managed, armed with an entry level 4MP point-and-shoot, to get some of my very favourite travel pictures so I’ve been looking forward for quite a while to getting back to India armed with a more capable camera. All going to plan I’ll be spending a month here, heading south to north & north to east, all the while dealing with India’s madness & trying to photograph it as I go. I’m excited for the adventure & challenge that lies ahead.
I’ll be moving on – starting to head north – in a few days time & between this & that I’ll be concocting a rough itinerary for the rest of my third visit to India. Concocting an itinerary is about the only item on my hectic Kovalam to-do list. But all in good time. For now I’m getting back to staring at those waves, until such time as I can think of something else to do.