Well, fairly reliable power supplies have been restored. We even had the luxury of TV last night. (Fatal temptation of fate: just as I typed this, the power went down and I’m busy draining the cybercafe’s UPS.)
Friday 30th June/Saturday 1st July
I think I’ve got up to about Thursday of last week. On Friday, Ajeesh drove us back to Moovatupuzha (about 3 hours from Nedumkandam, even driving on good roads and crazy-Ajeesh speed*) so that his car could be valeted and serviced. With us was his younger journalist friend, Anish, who needed to attend a meeting somewhere on the way.
*I don’t recall curling into a fetal ball in fear in a car before, although I have been very scared at times. I don’t think it was the speed alone that got to me this time. You may have read my opinions of Indian drivers: this journey reiterated them.
We also called in at a court-room in Ernakulam district so Ajeesh could witness in court that a certain debtor had (albeit belatedly) repaid his creditor. I wasn’t too keen on having a visit to officialdom and law sprung on me without warning – I’d have dressed a bit differently for a start!
However, with that out of the way and the car in the garage, I found a local cybercafe and bought my tickets to Sumatra. I think part of the prevarication so far has been my fear of going to somewhere completely unknown. India was colonised by Britain but Indonesia was colonised by the Dutch and Japanese (and has a very complex history before that) so my knowledge is all gleaned from a guidebook, a few snippets of other books, a cynical Essexian marxist and his Indonesian wife.
On the way back, Anish opened his bottle of ‘Doctor’s Choice’ brandy. 50ml was enough to start him puking – he didn’t open the window in time and so covered his lap and Ajeesh’s shoulder and spattered my jacket-cuff.
It was too dark to clean up, so Ajeesh drove us on past Idukki. Around 11pm, he’d had enough so he stopped on a side-road in the middlee of nowhere, then he and I relaxed the front seats and slept on them while Anish curled up on the back seat.
We woke around 6pm and found a nearby chai-stall: breakfast was tea and fried wheat-cakes. Then Ajeesh walked off to visit a relative (like the phfor, they’re everywhere) while Anish and I sheltered from rain in the car.
We then drove back to Nedumkandam and stopped at a water-pump at the foot of the hill leading up to Ajeesh’s house to clean the car. There wasn’t too much puke but some had got into immovable mats in the rear footwell. (Several days later, it’s still discernable.) I’m very impressed by Anish’s timing – puking into a just valeted car. I’ve told him that I’m a doctor and that it’s my choice that he doesn’t drink any more rancid donkey-semen. This version of brandy smelt worse than fenny or toddy: both of which give me the dry-heaves.
Back at Nedumkandam, I had yet another first: it wasn’t the first time I’ve ironed clothes to dry them* but it was the first time I’ve used a portable kitchen hotplate to do so. I’m very glad I was attempting to dry my clothes, not to make them look smart. I should add that this ironing wasn’t frivolous – I’d run out of clean clothes while waiting around 3 days for clothes I’d washed to dry.
*That particular record occured when I was a dole-mole, living at Forkenford Farm in Edinburgh.
There then followed a long and vain wait for power to reach the cybercafe.
I’ll have to go into Sunday, Monday and today’s fun and games later because it’s late and I’m feeling ill* and tired. Suffice it to say I now have learnt a little about how hard planting out banana-trees** on a hill-farm can be. Oh well, if nothing else, it’s a wee bit off the mountain I feel I owe them, even though Ajeesh says I don’t.
*chesty cough and cold: the effects of lack of sleep and reasonably frequently getting rained upon, then not drying out properly
**well, actually they’re grasses – so don’t tell them your guilty secrets!
See you later space-cats!