A brainwashing device with a rinse cycle?

When Mood Music
2006-05-19 12:25:00

I wish I could take the credit for that idea but it’s from a comic I read in my misbegotten youth. I think the comic starred Plastic Man and the brainwasher was invented by, then used on, professor Albert Ergberg. If this detail can stick in my head for years, why can’t devanagiri characters stay for a few weeks? Enough of this – normal service WILL be resumed…

So yesterday I bought a replacement battery charger (my nice shiny UK one appears to have fallen victim to India’s frequent power outages) and eventually left Ernakulam, taking the ‘Venad Express’ to Kottayam, halfway between Ernakulam and Kumily.

"" folk waiting on the platform ahead of me
"" folk waiting on the platform behind of me. All of them would cram themselves on the train as it started moving.

The train departed on time and arrived in Kottayam about 20 minutes late – there was a long stop at a tiny halt about halfway through the journey for no apparent reason. The route passed through fertile land and villages that called to me and past a filthy-looking dairy that didn’t appeal at all. Somewhere (can’t recall now) I saw what appeared to be jackfruit growing on the branches of trees, not the main stem.

"" a new building we passed
"" don’t look back in anger

The ordinary cars were of course crowded and standing by the open door was the only way I could breath. Sitting at the open door was even more respiration-friendly until it began to rain.

"" crowded carriage

Of course, this was an understatement: the heavens opened and liquid hell poured out. The rain didn’t stop until some time after 4am this morning.

"" view from my balcony
"" view from my balcony – I like the ‘abstract’ effect

At Kottayam, I toyed with the idea of staying in a railway retiring room but finding tha a night in a hotel would only cost 30 rupees more, the hotel won. I’m glad of this – I got a huge, clean, room with en suite bathroom and shower (cold water only) plus a sachet of shampoo, a small bar of soap and a clean towel for 230 rupees.

The hotel (the ‘Ambassador’ on KK Road) has a bar which appears to be the local pub – brandy and (not much) soda was disappearing down a gaggle of throats at a vast rate. I drank a beer and a soda water and then escaped to watch the rain at the hotel’s front door. Various folk were there, waiting for autorickshaws and other transport to take them and their thoroughly wetted whistles home while keeping them dry.

One of the inebriates, a bank manager with the State Bank of India, asked the usual question and then whispered into my ear that he could help me find a companion. I laughed it off but again I’m disturbed and a bit insulted by this sort of offer. I hope his head is pounding this morning – he reeked of brandy.

Oh well, time to move on to Kumily. Kottayam’s a friendly place dominated by a catholic church but has nothing that makes me want to stay here.


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