Thursday, December 23, 2010

On the train to Kanyakumari

On the train

Sarah: "Listen to this: more water is used to make a hamburger than to shower for seven minutes a day for six months."
Will: "Wow. Hamburgers must have a lot of water in them."
Sarah: [Sighs]

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Only in India etc etc

"Today, when the prescriptive frame of caste is loosening, and many Brahmins are doing very well in business and management, it is tempting to speculate that their success is only a continuation of the commercial acumen of their more traditional predecessors. In the holy city of Pushkar, the hereditary priests of the Savitri Devi temple have gone to court to compel the guardians of the nearby Brahma temple to share the offerings received from devotees. Their argument is that Brahma, the creator of the world, had 'divorced' his wife Savitri because she did not arrive in time to participate in his yagna (ritual sacrifice) to create the world. As such - so lawyers were arguing in the local court in the year 2001 - the Creator should be made to pay alimony to the Goddess! This attempt to marry mythology to alimony in the quest to raise income must certainly have very few parallels in the world!"
Pavan K Varma, Being Indian (London: Penguin, 2005), p69.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

India part 7: Trivandrum

How could I have forgotten the Indian Coffee House in Trivandrum? Also known as "that weird red spiral staircase restaurant near the station", their menu offers "liquid coffee", "oval tea" and the not-so-nice-sounding "milk water". It's a filthy place, but when you can flag down a waiter, you can get your mitts on delicious paratha and friend chicken ("chicken fry") with red onion and a hot sauce. "A Trivandrum institution" sayeth the Rough Guide.

We only spent a day in the Keralan capital, but we did manage to pay a visit to the Napier Museum and zoo, where we saw some disturbing and utterly unmoving birds, and crocodiles, who seemed even more motionless.



Pink pelican


As a treat, we also went to see the new Harry Potter film at a packed-out cinema, with a quintessentially Indian audience. There was much cheering when the boy wizard appeared onscreen and excited applause followed each hi-octane set piece. Plus the obligatory man in the cheap seats who spends much of the movie barking like a rabid dog. The film itself was a bit disappointing, very uneven, and Radcliffe, Watson and Grint - all decent enough actors on their own - are awfully stilted whenever they're together, visibly waiting for cues and (Hermione particularly) frequently pulling tortured, worried faces.

Afterwards, we went back to our hotel and watched I Love You, Man on the telly, which is far better, and bizarrely, featured a running joke about the high quality of HBO's Sunday night programming (it was on HBO, and it was a Sunday night).

Then we went to an ashram, where there was very little HBO, Harry Potter or fried chicken.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Keralan haiku

Varkala sunset,
Wedded with the hawker's cry:
"Please sir, see my shop."


Friday, December 17, 2010

India part 5: Kochi

I think I ran out of steam camera-wise in Kochi... Don't worry, there will be words of unsurpassed lyricism soon, the pictures are nearly up to date. In the meantime, here's an elephant we overtook as we left, a rickshaw rank, a boat under a tree, and a crow. There are loads of crows in India. I was here in 2003, and I don't remember there being crows.

Elephant alert




Thursday, December 16, 2010

Signs I have seen #73

You were mesmerised by CSI: Miami. You were enthralled by CSI: New York. Now, prepare to be thrilled by...


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

India part 4: Bangalore, Karnataka

Then, onto Shoba and Tom's three-day Hindu wedding in Bangalore. Good times, great food and, finally, an answer to the question, "How many Indian men does it take to DJ a wedding reception?" (Answer, about six, even with a ready-made playlist.)

Shoba weds Thomas

Group pic

Wedding lunch



The groom

Just married

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Monday, December 06, 2010

India part 2: Candolim, Goa

Possibly the name of a character from a Gabria Garcia Marquez novel.

Hello, frog. This fellow was certainly the least lively of the creatures which we found in our room, and sadly, was even less so the next morning; we found his lifeless body splayed in the corner.

Sinquerim beach
Sinquerim beach: you'll find no tourists here, but it is a pleasing yellow colour.

Nice view out to sea on a walk we took. Forgot to bring any water, and nearly died on the way.

More documentation of what could have been my final hours had we not...

...climbed up the cliff and made it to Fort Aguada. Phew.


Ravanna model
It was Diwali, so all and sundry were making Ravana figures to burn. This fellow looks particularly evil. Probably a paedo.

A delightful lamp in the delightful garden at the delightful Marbella Guest House where we stayed.. The monsoon rains were not so delightful.

"Excuse me, do you have any crisps?"

Man on the train
Virgin Trains should let you do this.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Go, Baby, go, Baby, go

Forget Delhi's Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, there's a new amusingly-named politician in town...

MA Baby