Saturday, 10 January 2009

Getting Personal on the Way to Work

On my walk to work yesterday a young Indian man drew level with me and proceeded to chat. His conversation went something like this:
"You with family?"
"Why no married? No like sex?". In less than one minute he was talking about sex. Indians are like that - they get very personal very quickly. Usually though, I get as far as saying I'm divorced and then get a lot of sniggers and knowing looks, though what exactly they are surmising I'm not too sure.

I've mentioned it before - that I found an off-road route to work. It takes me on a path alongside a drainage channel, away from the traffic and generally very peaceful. The channel is lined with concrete and there are little bridges every so often. Where the bridges aren't frequent enough there might be a coconut tree trunk laid across it, or sometimes a path cuts diagonally down and back up the channel. The concrete is in a bit of a sorry state and the ditch is dry and full of weeds, but it's still probably quite effective in doing whatever it's meant to do. I presume it's meant to deflect excess rain water away from the banana and coconut plantations which are a bit lower down the valley. The channel is probably more than two miles long and I haven't come across the ends yet - I'll have to explore it one day.

The path route is pretty level, but the road route gradually climbs up to Kovalam Junction. As that's where I'm ultimately heading, it means there's quite a steep bit for me to clamber up at the end. But just before that, there's an area between the path and the road which has been earmarked for a stretch of dual carriageway. It's been cleared at some point and is now covered in low bushes. Some of these big, pretty, yellow flowers grow in the bushes. I think they're some kind of clematis. They're so big that they tend to droop, especially if there's been a heavy dew overnight, but they still look really beautiful.

As I walk along I can hear the traffic on the main road - cars, lorries, buses, and a lot of motor bikes and autorickshaws which are indistinguishably wasp-like. Motor bikes here are generally between 100cc and 150cc. You do get the occasional Enfield 500cc bike thumping along, but most are small, even the ones carrying three or four passengers!

And the other thing I'll hear is the breaking of stones with hammers. There's an area at the side of the road where lorries dump their rocks to be broken up by a squad of ladies and one or two men, all working under the shade of propped-up woven palm-leaf panels, hammering away through the day for a pittance. The men have the big hammers and deal with the bigger rocks. From this distance it sounds like a kind of ticking or chipping; from close up you can see it's back-breaking graft.

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