There's a strike on today. The reduction in traffic outside the house is very noticeable. Even the cockerel didn't start crowing until 5:30 - it was 5:00 yesterday! And the temple music seemed later today - around 05:45 - or perhaps it was drowned out by the ceiling fan which was on faster last night. The sound of it whirling away makes the noise of heavy rain in my imagination and helps reduce the intrusion of external sounds which is great for getting to sleep. The strike means there's no school today, but also unfortunately, because many shops are shut, that I can't get a mattress and sheets sorted out. It would have been the perfect opportunity.
It has been incredibly humid again but I did manage to check in at SISP for a brief talk with Paul, and then I walked down to Kovalam beach. I stopped for a chai at the German Bakery - a second-floor restaurant which is basically a few pillars covered by a pitched roof. Sitting back from the front means all you can see is the waves - not the hawkers and touts pestering the tourists along the path just below, or the black patches in the bits of golden sand. Those patches again make me wonder just how clean this sand really is. Still, from the German Bakery the view is fantastic, and the masala chai delicious!
I have been bitten to death by mosquitoes today despite being covered with Odomos cream - it seemed to make little difference, though without a control experiment who can tell? What the point of these little bastards is is beyond me. And why the hell do the bites have to itch so much after the blighters have left the scene? But I suppose at least you know you've been bitten and the reason for any malaria or Dengue fever that results. They are worst just after rain, and it's been raining on and off today which means lots of mosquitoes.
chapattis with some curried vegetables at breakfast time which I saved for lunch. Tasty too! Anyway, they are making me feel very welcome.
I bought an Indian dustpan from up the road - no accompanying brush was sold, and the lip of it was bowed, which I only found out after trying to use it! I had previously bought a broom type brush (like a besom) from the grandmother which she sells for 5Rs and was told that this was what I should use. She makes them from stripped palm leaves which must mean her hands are like leather because those leaves are pretty tough with sharp edges. I succeeded in flicking some dirt around but not in picking it up.
Indian matches! There's a knack to striking them which I have yet to master. They either lose their heads or ignite with a spark which flies off tangentially into the distance! You have to hold them at the end and push them very sharply down the sandpaper strip. When they do eventually light they seem to burn so quickly that you end up burning your fingers unless you move incredibly rapidly. And they stay glowing for 20s or more so you have to watch what you do with them. One day I'll get the hang of this and will wonder what the fuss was all about!