Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Richard on his own Day 1 Jan 16th

Wendy's leg is finally well enough for her to walk normally.  The dressing came off this morning without tearing & the procees is no longer painful.

She decided to stay on in Kochi to shop & take a cooking lesson.  I took off on the motor bike for a three-day ride on my own to Coimbatore & Bangalore.  She will follow by train & we will meet up again in Bangalore.

There is always a pain in parting, and a small fear at being on one's own, so it was not easy to take off on my own.  But I wanted to ride the motor-bike some more.  A ferry off Fort Kochi, and I was alone on back roads working my way up the coast.  Coconut trees, light traffic, a cool breeze while moving, and riding was fun.  I ride more carefully with Wendy than on my own, so it was great to give the beast the throttle it likes whenever I wanted to pass.  The engine responds and the put-puts stretch, then get closer together as we surge past slower bikes, cars and busses.  In places, the rural houses were as big and well-designed as many one can expect to see in a Canadian subburb.  Money from "NRI's"? (Non-Resident Indians)

1.5 hours doing 40kms along the coast to a second ferry, then back onto the National Highway.  More traffic.  Vehicles ignore motorbikes in on-coming lanes and simply over-take.  Heading towards them, I have to move to the edge of the road or onto the unpaved shoulder to let them pass.  The wind, dust and occasional smoke make one's eyes smart, and I have to blink & rub my eyes frequently in order to see.  Movement slows in the villages, but we keep going.  The Highway enables speeds of up to 80kph in places, so progress is faster.

I stop occasionally to stretch and have a coffee, or pick up water.  One stop is beside a typically well-hidden liquor store, so I can line up with the villagers & buy 26oz of local scotch for $9.  Villagers grab their small bottles guiltily and scamper.  My purchase is carefully watched by all.

I make it to Coimbatore (21k) by 3:30pm & cruise around a bit, seeing no places to stay.  I follow the Lonely Planet map to the bus station & find many hotels.  The first six I try are all fully booked.  The seventh wants $21 for a double room , non-aircon.  I try a few more & get a non-a/c room for $10.  I unpack & get back on the bike to see the State Bank of India building.  I am assured that it is over 80 years old, which would make it the same place my father worked when we were here in the 1940's.  I take pictures.  On the way back, I pass the cotton mills - Coimbatore is a cotton town.  Is it my imagination, or can I really remember ,as a child with my dad, visiting large rooms with many people operating cotton gins?  Or was that just a picture in  history book?

The whole area is packed with people. No places available at the nearby Internet and no seats available in the many restaurants I check.  Finally I go back to my hotel, get a beer sent out for, then eat in the hotel restaurant.  I have yet to see another white face in the town.

I remember  "Coimbatore Race track"  It is a circular road in town.  I think our house was on that road & Michael, our cook, used to take me from there to school on the back of his bicycle.  I ate chapattis in the servants' quarters.  Impossible to know what is real and what is imagined.

1 comment:

  1. Marvellous, Richard, simply wonderful. Is it actual history or imagination? I have a memory of being at my father's fish and chip shop in Cardiff and I recounted the story to my parents many years later. They were astonished and could hardly credit that this was a real memory of mine and not, as you suggest, a page from a book, or something said to me but not really experienced. Excellent that you're chasing down these various places of your childhood. Love, K.