Thursday, 25 December 2008

Christmas Day

Another day in paradise...

It's been a quiet day. I took a walk down to the sea at Vizhinjam and then along to Kovalam. The beach at Kovalam was heaving with tourists, both Indian and Westerner. I had had the idea that I might find a nice place to have lunch and maybe find a few English-speaking people to chat with but, to be honest, once I got there I couldn't face it. Most of my days are spent having staccato "conversations" with Indians and trying to understand their thick accents; it would be nice to have a chat without all the concentration and interpretation for once. But I could see all the restaurant owners rubbing their hands at the prospect of charging extortionate prices, and the tourists themselves looked self-contented, wary of any outsiders, or just not my kind of person. Picture blubbery loud Americans, or sweaty UK Northerners with knotted handkerchiefs and football team T-shirts. I decided against it. On the way up to Kovalam junction I passed two fat tourists in shirts, shorts, socks and hiking boots. The woman's tight shorts showed the sweat running down the crack of her backside from the exertion of waddling up the hill. Urgh! Be very glad I didn't have my camera with me!

My Christmas lunch was chicken curry and barottas from the stall at Kovalam Junction (something I could buy any day of the week), sitting on a plastic stool under some shade and watching the traffic. Contrary to what people told me, many shops and stalls were open for business as usual. The "Divine Supermarket" was doing a roaring trade. This is the supermarket just diagonally across the road from the stall. I suppose it's convenient - you can browse around and choose things at your leisure without having to speak to anyone. Nothing is where you'd expect to find it though, and it's totally disorganised and dusty. I found the Sellotape in with the cosmetics, for example, the logic of which eludes me! And it's more expensive. They appear to do a good trade though, with a high percentage of tourists, and are in the process of adding more floors with all the attendant dust and noise that that entails.

I had some SMS messages and emails with friends and family which was nice, but best was having a chat on Skype with my two children and hearing about what they had been up to and what their plans for Christmas were. Just small talk. It made me wish even more that I could be with them in person. It ain't easy out here.

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