Monday, Monday – too wet to be true. Tuesday, Tuesday there’s more rain too.

When Mood Music
2006-07-18 16:40:00

Well, here goes again with what should be another picture post. Gosh I envy you broadband-wielders! The part up to blogging at Kattappana was keyed yesterday in Kattappana.

Sunday 16th continued
After finishing blogging and chatting with the cybercafe-owner’s son (he’s in the equivalent of Upper VIth form/6th year and wants to get into software engineering), I met up with Ajeesh and Anish at Mini’s cafe.

They appeared to be talking about something serious but it’s really hard to stop Anish grinning – I think he’s wired that way and am a bit jealous.

"" Ajeesh or Smith?
"" Anish or Jones?
"" Bruce and Anish – why do I look so dorky?

Raji and Ajeesh had a mock fight while Remia and Mini looked on and I recorded it for posterity.

"" Ajeesh and Raji go hammer and tongs
"" Raji gets the upper hand
"" friends again

I think this may have been the factor that made Mini gift us our drinks. (Alternatively she might have simply wanted rid of us.)

Monday 17th
This morning, Sandra was (as usual) not enjoying being made up for school. Her screams of torture were mollified by use of my wide-spaced ‘afro’ comb but I don’t know yet whether she’s discovered the secret weapon built into the teeth.

"" Sandra hates being made up.
"" The finished article
"" Sandra posing
"" Sandra and Jaya
"" Bruce and Sandra – Jaya wanted this pic. I think I look like a dork!

Breakfast was papadoms and steam-cake. Here’s how steam-cake is cooked.

"" papadoms and steam-cake (puttu)
"" Steam-cake is made by packing rice flour and grated coconut into the top of the contraption on the right burner, then steaming the mix.

After dropping Sandra at school, we met up with Shaji and DS at Mini’s cafe. This was after I spent a while typing up a list of where and when I’ve stayed in Kerala. In India, all visitors have to complete at least two records at any hotel or guest-house. One is for the hotel and another is given to the local police. Apparently, even foreigners staying in private houses have to be notified to the police and neither Ajeesh or I have officially done so yet. Thank goodness for this blog – I’d never have remembered all the dates and places without it! (This document has now been handed in to the police so all is fine!)

Back at Mini’s, DS appeared to be sickening for flu – he was shivering and didn’t look right. I hope Deepa will be a good cure.

"" DS is cold.

We also met a man called Sashi at Mini’s. I think he’s involved with the project for the 25th.

"" Sashi
"" A mechanical coconut masher at Mini’s cafe
"" Parotta cooking on an open fire at Mini’s cafe

We then drove to Kattappana, stopping off at a couple of schools on the way so that the boys could talk to the headmasters and mistresses about this project. I picked up a copy of today’s Deepika: Shaji had an article on page 7 about wind generation at Ramakkalmeddu (Rama Rock). You may be able to read it in english here.

BTW, I’m to speak at this project for 20 minutes on Environmental disasters due to plastics and chemicals. Apparently I’m the international patron of the World Cultural Tourism Club. Well, as at least one reader of this blog will confirm, I’m very good at patronising! The programmes are printed and distributed and there’s no backing out back now!

We had lunch at a toddy shop near Thookupalam. The boys had kapa (tapioca) with various meat curries. I had tapioca with raw onion liberally covered with chilli powder. Now you know why I’ll be yodling tomorrow!

"" The sign on the front of the toddy shop. It reads kalle, i.e. TODDY!
"" the side of the toddy shop

A man who runs a hotel in Kochi came to our table and was curious about me eating apparently very spicy food. I told him I loved it and that I’d been introduced to it by a friend who’d stayed a long time in Kerala and learnt to cook here. (OK, it’s not the full story but it’s enough.) To tell the truth, it wasn’t that spicy but it was filling. Tapioca alone would have been utterly bland.

DS thought the onion and chilli stuff was too spicy for him. I suggested he get a fatty or milky food to dissolve the capsaicin (which is fat-soluble but not really water-soluble). He asked whether if he put on my glasses he’d have the vision of an englishman. I’m now seriously concerned that I’ve been talkng down to him. On the way to Kattappana, he talked about how the british had conquered India and how this was now being repeated by capitalist imperialism. (He also told me a bit about the history of cardomom cultivation and the planters who started the ‘modern’ plantation systems in the last few centuries.) The difference is, in his opinion, that it’s not just white people screwing India: people of all colours are doing it. You might think he’s a screaming trot because of this but he’s actually a member of the dear old Congress party!

Some sandom pix from the journey

"" Another form of traditional rain- and cold-wear is a blanket wrapped around the shoulders like this.
"" The ‘turban’ is a small scarf wrapped around the head. It’s often used as padding for carrying heavy loads that would floor me.
"" A trip-jeep like the one I was crushed into yesterday
"" A funky jeep

The boys are meeting the deputy director of education here about the project. I’m going to finish this now and do some research so that I don’t come over as a total idiot next Tuesday. Wish me luck, please!

Er, well by the time I’d uploaded and tagged the pix that are now part of this entry, Ajeesh and co had finished their business in Kattappana. DS in particular was ready to go home – he felt ill and anyway had to go to greet some visitors at his house.

Monday 17th continued, Tuesday 18th
Back at Nedumkanadam, Ajeesh went to visit the printer who will print the invitations or Jaya’s wedding. After this visit (and first stating that if I was patronising him, he should tell me and I would apologise) I suggested to Ajeesh that he insist on a proof first. His reply was that he was grateful for the advice of an elder.

Not long after we got to the house, the TV signal went down. (It’s cable TV but it appears all of the area was affected, not just Ajeesh’s house.) A few minutes later the electricity supply failed so we couldn’t even gawp at a blue screen of death. The electricity supply had apparently failed all over Idukki district. It’s ironic that Idukki dam supplies a large percentage of Kerala’s electricity.

Without power and with nothing better to do, we were all in bed by 9pm. This morning the power was still out – it didn’t return to Nedumkandam’s main drag until 12.30 today.

Ajeesh told me that a neighbour had died during the night of a heart attack. I don’t think I’ve met the man but I’m told that he was at most 45 and that he leaves a widow and three children in their late teens to early twenties. Ajeesh went to visit the family. He didn’t ask me to come and I didn’t ask to go: I would hate to intrude on private grief but of course I asked Ajeesh to pass on my condolences.

My immediate task was to wash me and some clothes. Without electricity, washing water’s obtained by Jaya and/or Ajeesh in what appears to be a risky and strenuous process. I didn’t want to add to their burden but Ajeesh suggested I use the stream where I’d seen some women washing clothes last weekend.

So, wrapped in my dirty lunghi and carrying a bucket-full of unmentionables, off I went. Washing clothes in a stream has at least one drawback, namely that you have to keep hold of the items. However, the rinse-power more than makes up for this. Washing my clothes didn’t take long but plucking up the courage to dunk myself took longer than it should have. However, by mid-day I was clean, my clothes were on the line and I was on my way to town.

On the way I passed a lot of people who were going to the house where the death had occured. Among these were a teacher and his 10th-standard pupils. (1st standard is for children aged 5 to 6. Before this, they can attend Lower and Upper Kindergarten years.) The pupils were class-mates of one of the dead man’s sons. The teacher invited me to to come (his actual words were ‘if you are interested, you can come’) but I still felt it would have been wrong so didn’t go.

Ajeesh had planned to do some a lot of work today, including some DTP which I assumed was work on Jay’s wedding stationery. He arived at the cybercafe just after I did and told me tht his plans had all been posponed because of the Idukki-wide brown-out. The cybercafe owner told us that power was likely to return about 12.30 – I was glad of not having to bus to Kattappana because I’d felt quite motion-sick on the way back yesterday.

Ajeesh and DS also told me about the tsunami in Indonesia. Without power, cellphone and international calls were unavailable and I was frustrated that I couldn’t check whether my Indonesian friend’s family were OK. (It turns out that they’re no-where near the affected area. Dunno what I can say about those who weren’t so lucky.) DS borrowed an english-language newspaper from a lawyer’s office so I could get the details: thanks for this, mate!

The power returned around the time that had been predicted. The first I saw of it was the twinkling of fairy lights around a shop’s picture of a god. DS and Ajeesh got on with their DTP work while I edited this entry and added in the pix. (At the same time I’ve been using Indian Rail’s website to check trains to Kolkatta. This is mind-bogglingly slow because you have to work out a potential route yourself then enquire about trains for each leg. You can’t just put in ‘overall start’, ‘overall finish’ and ‘desired dates’, then let the website sort it out like you should be able to IMHO. And woe betide you if you don’t know the IndianRail spelling of your termini and change-points.)

While I was doing this, DS came over and put a piece of paper in front of me and started to tell me about it. The piece of paper is a flyer for hotels. It tells them about the event on the 25th and asks them to sponsor a newspaper supplement about it. There was an amount of discussion about it, mostly becuase it has my name on it. Oo-er!

OK. I think that’s it for now – time to get on with reading up on nasty chemicals and their affects.

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