Saturday, 6 December 2008

House Geckos and Garish Houses

The morning started with me having to chase two of these little fellas out of the kitchen. This is a House Gecko - a little lizard about 8cm long. He has a bit more growing to do. I don't mind them too much actually - they're nocturnal and usually hide behind the fluorescent light fittings, behind toilet cisterns, and occasionally under the toilet rim! They're a mixed blessing - they usually deal with the creepy-crawlies around the place, especially those attracted to lights, but they do leave little pellets behind. That's often how I know they're about - the evidence. Anyway, I managed to encourage them to leave by the back door although one of them was very insistent that he wasn't going to go.

Mid-morning I decided to walk down to Kovalam's Lighthouse Beach but not by the usual route. Armed with my new compass (Thank You Petra!) I headed due South-West from the top of my road. I found a little path worn in the weeds and decided to follow it. Whereas the road makes a longer, more gradual descent, this one plummeted rapidly into a kind of basin. I weaved between little houses with no road access, bigger houses with maybe one car or a motorbike, coconut trees and banana trees. (Oh, and while I remember, I saw a Nissan "Cedric" saloon car today. Great name!!) Some of the little places probably had just one or maybe two rooms, the bricks appeared to be mud and the roofs were corrugated iron. In that area the ground is a kind of sandstone and very free-draining. There were little streams all the way down to the village, irrigating mud-bounded plots with banana trees in them. The main streams were diverted to the sides of the valley and a certain amount of water was fed to the plots. I suppose that stops it from flooding massively and the soil getting washed away. Anyway, just by heading in that general direction I ended up more-or-less exactly where I expected. Quite a feat when you consider the abysmal accuracy and detail on maps around here!

While wandering around I bumped into Kavita, a girl from SISP who's in the youngest class. I suppose she must be 8 or 9, a really attractive little thing and quite charming. She showed me her family's shop and I met a brother who is also a product of SISP. Then I pottered along to the Swiss Bakery (a rip-off of the German Bakery) where I had what was possibly (no, definitely!) the worst cappuccino coffee I've had in my life! Weak instant nescaff with frothed-up milk on top. Horrible - but I was thirsty.

Using my compass again I navigated my way back to the starting point and passed this house on the way. Indians don't shrink from outrageous colours! I've seen violent violets, gross greens, offensive oranges, and preposterous pinks - this blue is quite subtle in comparison! To make it clear, I love this "Sod the Neighbours!" attitude. It's all about self expression!

There was another significant success today: I found somewhere to eat extremely cheaply! They call themselves "hotels" but they are actually basic eating places - and this one was very basic. It's at the top of my road so I pass it on foot twice a day. It has two long narrow tables and two long benches to sit on, facing each other. When I arrived it was almost full with most of the clientele came from the sawmill next door. Anyway, a Keralan fish "meal" (basically rice, five pickles/chutney/sauces, and a couple of seriously fried fish pieces) set me back all of Rs.25 - about £0.33p. This would have cost ten times as much in the touristy areas of Kovalam. A great find!

And just for completeness, to show how little things fascinate me, this is a phone cable fault being investigated. All the joints had previously been wrapped in insulation tape which has been removed here. Look how near to the surface this cable is! I would say 150mm at best, it has no armouring and the joints are dirty. Little wonder it's bloomin' well faulty!

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