Saturday, 14 March 2009

Hotel = Eating Place

This is the Sree Padmanabha Hotel in Trivandrum where I often have lunch. It's called a "hotel" but, like most "hotels", it's actually what would be known as a cafe or eatery in the West. It is divided in two: on the right hand side is an area where the food at lunchtimes is Keralan Meals only. On the left they serve other meals. It's all vegetarian which suits me just fine. I often have a "chappatti set" which is a couple of freshly made chapattis and three sauces, served on a metal tray with recesses for the sauces and a banana leaf under the chapattis. I usually have several cups of hot-ish water with it, served in a metal "glass".

The hotel is in a bustling little street in the Fort area (East Fort), just in front of the large rectangular pond belonging to the Sree Padmanabhaswarmy Temple, the largest temple in Trivandrum. In the photo are several women with umbrellas. They're not because of any rain; they're because of the sun, a pale skin being seen as highly desirable in India. That's why I wear a hat - to make me desirable!

The weather is now changing again. It has been getting hotter and more humid little by little, or at least that's how it feels. Then we've started having thunder and lightning but no rain. Then a couple of nights ago the heavens opened and it really threw it down. The temperature fell a few degrees and it freshened everything up. This is the first rain for about four months - everything has been getting very dry-looking. Areas of land which are not cultivated have cows and goats tethered in them because fodder is running short. On my walk to work there will often be a few ropes I have to avoid tripping over, tethering cows in the (dry) water channel or goats in the verges. Sometimes I've seen family teams with sickles, gathering any greenery they can get their hands on. This has meant that the ground which once had lush bushes and weeds covering it is now looking rather scrubby and barren. Even the vicious spiky bushes have been cut back to get at any green weeds in them.

On my route I pass a low concrete house near the sawmill. I often chat with the two children who live there - Sourinineya and Renjith, who are 12 and about 9. They are nice kids and often run down to the path if they see me coming. They never ask for anything, unlike other kids who often try the "one school pen" trick. It transpires that these two children and their mother have moved in with their grandmother while their own house is being repaired by their father. A coconut tree fell on it and smashed the roof and narrowly missed hitting the kids. Sounds like they are damned lucky to be alive! Anyway, it was the little girl's birthday last Thursday and I bought a bead necklace and earrings for her. It was only cheap but she was genuinely delighted! Very "Railway Children"-esque, and gave me great pleasure!

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