December 18, 2010

I’m in Pondicherry, or Puducherry, aka Pondy. It’s full of Indian tourists. Maybe because it’s so not like India here! It’s at about 4-6 hours from Chennai, it’s a former French colony, the road names are in French and locals speak French! It’s so weird. It’s not a French that I understand though, like their English actually. The town is in Tamil Nadu, a region in the South-East of India, and it faces the Bay of Bengal.

As soon as I arrived, once I found a room (which wasn’t very easy, maybe because it’s the weekend, but all cheapest guesthouses were full; I found a room that I have to share with coackroaches, but as long as they don’t want to share the bed, it’s ok), I had a nice shower and went to a nice café by the sea recommended by Lonely Planet (maybe I follow the guidebook too much, but I would probably have ended up there anyway because it’s the only place by the sea and it has decent prices). I had a sandwich with cheese and vegetables (ok) and chips (super good!).

A Canadian guy, from Quebec, kept me company (=annoyed while I was trying to write) because there were no other free tables.

Now I am in another café with a nice terrace, all pretty, in wood and stone, and I am with Corine (or Carine? I knew I should have written her name immediately), French. She is a happy person, keeps laughing. I had a delicious chicken breast with lemon and honey. And chips, again. It’s nice to be able to choose between rice and chips. And not to have a stomach ache.

Kochi, Kerala

Kochi, Kerala

December 16, 2010

Today I’ve rented a bike. It was on top of my list of things I miss. I nice bathtub, polish on the nails, pizza, movie, and a bike ride. It’s a shame the saddle was the most uncomfortable on earth and after 10 minutes I was already tired of riding.

I’m in Kochi, the capital of Kerala. Nice town, with buildings of Portugues, Dutch and British architecture, coming from the colonial past of the region.

I have diarrhea again, it looks like it wants to keep me company until I go back home. It’s raining. Good, it was very humid. In a few hours I have a train to Chennai, on the Eastern Coast. From there is my flight back to Italy in less than a week. A nice bath and pizza the first night, aubergine parmesan on Christmas eve, on Christmas Day anything that the house has to offer, and then… I have a lot of dishes I miss.

Pictures from Aleppey

December 14, 2010

Aleppey is a small town South of Kochi, in Kerala, built on water. Very charming. I stayed only a couple of days because accomodation was more expensive than the rest of India (20 euro), but I would go back.

In Paradise

In Paradise

A short lovely holiday in Kerala

December 12, 2010

Here I am.

It’s been a while since the last time I’ve written something. I guess I got tired.

After Pushkar I went to Udaipur, a romantic city, perfect for solo travelers; then Ahmedabad, where I was for one day and visited an ashram founded by Gandi and I ate a lot of ice creams and iced coffees. Then Mumbay, full of people, with an average income that is four times the average in India, but where 60% of its inhabitants live in slums. Slums where they pay a rent, and have electricity in the house, but still slums.

And I arrived here. I think I am in Paradise.

Kannur, in Kerala, a region in the South-Western Coast. In the morning I have breakfast in the jungle, among various birds and banana, coconut, pineapple and mango trees. Then I walk five minutes in the jungle and I arrive to the beach. Empty. When it’s busy there are 8 people. I can’t see the faces of the other people on the beach because they are too far away.

So what was meant to be 2 days to spend here became 3, then 4 and finally 6. Tomorrow I should live. Surely before the 15th I have to go because I have a train booked from Kochi to Chennai, from where I will fly back. 10 days left.

costa malabari kerala

I almost forgot the most important part of this holiday. They feed me three times per day, and the food is the best I’ve had so far in India. Surely I got back the few kilos I lost with diarrhea and others. In the North the food is good, but it’s more oily and heavy and after some time you get tired of it. Before I got here I couldn’t take curry anymore, and I really wanted some tomato pasta. In these last 5 days I’ve eaten (Indian) like a wolf. And desserts are even better! I must use cinnamon and coconut more often once I go home.

Five days and I’ve read three books, sunbathed, eaten, played on my notebook. Nothing else. Awesome!

I really needed this time of relax. And now I’m ready to go back to the urban jungle, made of people and rickshaw and alleys and horns.

costa malabari kerala

Bombay Mumbai

The contrasts in Bombay: from the green and lush parks, the rich governmental buildings, to the rubbish-covered slums.

Gandhi in Ahmedabad

Gandhi in Ahmedabad

December 3, 2010

I’m in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. I can’t even say the name properly. I stopped here because I couldn’t find a direct train from Udaipur to Mumbai. And I discovered that in this town there’s an ashram founded by Gandhi in 1917. An ashram is a spiritual community, where people retire and do some yoga and meditation.

In Gandhi’s ashram people also work, fabrics, because Gandhi thought that you must work to eat, prayers, meditation or study is not enough. He’s an interesting guy. After being a legal consultant in London and South Africa, he went back to India, his home country; he gave up his clothes and wore that white sheet that you see in every picture and started preaching the independence of India from the United Kingdom, the equality of religions, the abolition of the untouchable chaste.

From Ahmedabad he started the famous march against the salt tax, wanted by the UK, that was a burden mainly for the poorest, for which salt was one of the most important products. 385 km, until Dandi, by the sea.

One of the rules of the ashram was chastity, which might have contrasted with the fact that he was married since he was 13 years old… His wife also lived there, but in a separated room. Also “palate management” was a rule, because you have to eat, but without enjoying it. Well, I wouldn’t be able to live with this. The ashram all in all is very nice, quiet, near the river, with a large palms garden and giant ants. It invites you to spend the day reading.

It’s hot in Ahmedabad. You can tell you are heading South. Good, it was getting cold in Rajasthan. And I thought it was hot in Winter too in India…

This morning my train arrived at 4.20, in time. When the arrival time is in the night and I would like to sleep more, the train is always in time. When the arrival is in the mid of the morning, when I would like to go to the hotel as soon as possible to start visiting the town, the train is late for sure. This morning I left my bags at the luggage deposit and I walked to the town centre. People seem nicer here. Maybe because it was 6 am or because there are fewer tourists, but the “good morning” seemed more heartfelt. Only the rickshaw men were annoying like in every other town. Every two meters someone would stop to ask if I needed a taxi. And a “no, thank you” is not enough, so you have to explain that you have arrived at your destination, otherwise they seem not to believe that a tourist might like to walk while sightseeing.