Saturday, 3 January 2009

In Which I Vent My Spleen

A shitty few days. This place is getting to me. The traipse around Trivandrum last Thursday on all the rough "pavements" has left my right foot aching. It's the foot I injured in an accident a few years back. Because it aches I have to rest it, and when I then put weight on it again it hurts like hell until I've used it for a bit. I've not been able to sleep properly, partly because of it, which has left me tired and irritable. And the constant noise - horns sounding in the night, the heavy trucks crawling past, the neighbours squabbling, the f*ing cocks crowing, temple noise, Indian music blaring from nearby houses, the smoke from burning rubbish, bloody Indians themselves and my own stupidity... it's getting me down.

Last night I managed to leave the pressure cooker on the heat all night so that it had boiled dry this morning, turned brown and wasted God knows how much gas. That's pissed me off. How could I be so stupid as to forget it?!

And those loudspeakers I bought really are rubbish. There's no mid-range so voices are muffled.

I went up the road yesterday to the tailor's shop and found that, no, she didn't sew shirts. But the woman she was chatting to had no money so could I give her some for a cup of tea? No, I bloody well couldn't!

A bit further on I had lunch at Dhara Restaurant near the timber yard and that was good. It's more like a works' canteen and full of local men who observed me from a distance. Rs.25 for a tasty Keralan fish "meal" is a bargain.

I then went down to Lighthouse Beach the back way, through the plantation bit which was nice and quiet, with a few Indians working in the fields or washing clothes in the stream. I headed for Coconut Restaurant for a coffee, and found a good seat with sea views. Only then, after I got settled, this loud American came and joined the three people next to me. It was very clear he was trying to pull the girl with his obnoxious chat-up lines and bollocks about being a good honest bible-reading boy. "My bible is always open... You can trust me! Don't you like me?" insincere crap. Then he called over the staff by yelling "boy!" across the whole restaurant. Anyway, he was just loud and American, which always winds me up, but the others seemed to be lapping it all up. He then turned to me, with his big wrap-around shades, holding his friend's expensive camera, and beckoned me over. "Would you mind taking our photo?" "Yes, I would." "OK, come over here, just press this button." "No, you misunderstand. I really WOULD mind taking your photo." "...Oh..." He then went very quiet. Oh, how VERY satisfying! It didn't last, he was talking shit again within a few moments, but I felt I'd scored a little victory.

On the way back home I passed an old woman street vendor who I have sometimes seen if I go a back way to work. There, at her home, she has a little scheme going with the local kids - if they spot me they run to her house and yell for her to come. She is always asking me for money. She wants a loan to buy fruit which she can sell to the tourists for a profit. "Why won't you lend me the money? You have money, don't you? I will pay you back! You don't believe me, do you?" And so it goes on. It's the same every time. Usually it's just school kids asking "School Pen?" or "Rupees?" or "Chocolate?". My response is always negative as it just encourages them. If they look desperate I will give money, but never normally. If I get into conversation with anybody I tell them I never give money. I only give my time, and I give that through SISP. They don't understand but too bad. Anyway, this old woman had clearly found the money, or had got the fruit on credit. She greeted me like an old friend, but then it's "Would you like a fruit salad? I'll make you one! Why not? Don't you like my fruit?" and then it's "Why don't you sit here and chat, and I'll make you a salad..." Yeah, like you're not trying to stitch me up! I made my excuses and got away.

On the way back I called in at Veeju's, the hairdresser. He did me a cut for Rs.50 which I am sure is over the odds but he takes his time and does a good job so I don't mind too much.

I don't know what's right or wrong, I just try to do my best, but the feeling that everyone is trying to rip me off is very wearing.

I've just thrown a coconut at the cockerel, the neighbour's music has stopped, and I've vented my spleen here. I'm feeling better! Now I've got get down to some lesson planning for next month...

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