I've been getting quite anxious about finding suitable accommodation. Justin the taxi driver, who I'd hoped would be able to help, is now working 160km away. Neither the people at SISP nor my other contact here had any specific suggestions. The manager at Bakers Resort was telling me that I should avoid Muttacadu area, where I'd stayed before, because of trouble with youths, drugs, thieves etc. He said he'd check with his contacts but that it would take time. I wanted to get settled quickly so decided to check Muttacadu out myself. No one else I spoke to knew of any trouble. That included an English guy that a driver had pointed me to, who lived nearby.
I visited the flat I had in mind - it was much as I remembered it, only a bit grubbier. It's the ground floor of a house, the upper floor of which has yet to be built. It's attached to the owner's old house where two kids, their mother and grandmother live. The price was exactly as before - 6000Rs a month (about £80) so everything bodes well.
I was packed and ready to leave Bakers Resort hotel by 9 o'clock. The manager charged me a very decent rate which was good of him. I hailed a passing rickshaw to take me and my heavy suitcase - 50Rs. Perhaps a little on the expensive side but as I'd just saved 1000Rs or so on the hotel, I didn't mind. At the new rented house I was greeted by the family whose names I am struggling with, but intend to eventually master! The only furniture I have is a couple of wardrobes, a table, some plastic chairs and a bedframe - no mattress! There's a fridge and, later, a gas hob appeared from nowhere. The empty gas cylinder will be filled in a few days time through some system involving ration cards. So, the first priority was a mattress and bed linen. The family booked me a taxi - the idea being that the driver would put the mattress in the car's boot or on the roof - but we eventually found that the Big Bazaar in Trivandrum had very few in stock, those they did have were the wrong size, and all other bedding shops were closed as it's a Sunday. It wasn't a complete waste of time though - I bought sharp knives, towels, cups, plates and, importantly, buckets! The water in the bathroom is heated by an electric heater but any half-decent flow results in tepid water so I need to trickle it into a bucket and then use a cup to throw it over me. And, typically Indian, the tap marked "C" is actually the Hot!
There's been a longer-than-usual power cut this evening. Fortunately the 11yo lad next door had suggested I buy some candles and mosquito coils and incense just in case... and I needed them all almost immediately! The cut has so far lasted 6 hours from 4 o'clock and therefore was mostly in darkness. The lad next door asked for help with his homework and this took up nearly all the time, with us working by candlelight. Like most kids he had left it all until the last moment! It was fun though, and involved his mother and grandmother when it came to writing out an Indian recipe for a dessert in English.
So tomorrow I start helping at SISP. Not sure how I'll find time to get the mattress but I don't want to take time off on my first day there. Somehow it will work out...