Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wendy alone

Wendy alone....
Mine is a very tame episode compared to Richard’s adventures but not without its quieter pleasures and surprises 
I waved goodbye from the hotel steps and watched him round the corner in a cloud of dust. How to spend my two days in Cochin?  Without the bike to hop on to and whiz around town, I would be on foot or looking for tuktuks.,
I set out on foot to find some more dressings for my ankle which still needed to be protected  from the dust and dirt of the streets.  Cochin is a very hospitable place for walking – with sidewalks and tuktuks who cruise by, look hopefully at you but then move on.  Rather than being loud with honking, the streets are alive with the sounds of children in school  -  all  of them, from tots to teenagers, neatly dressed in their school’s uniform.  I seem to have hit lunchtime when I passed by – a leisurely start to my day  – and they were out in their hundreds – perhaps thousands in three schools – racing around in the heat, the older ones raising dust in an open bare earth area playing cricket and soccer.  
I stopped at St Stephen’s cathedral.  Claimed the oldest church in  South India, it dates back to 1568.  Inside I happened upon Finn who saw me and came up the aisle to say hello.  His Mum, Brona, was there with her parents who, as she had told us when we met the day before on the ferry from Ernakulum, had arrived from the UK to spend a month with her.  They were about to go to the synagogue and offered me a ride with them.  I wanted to take another look at a carpet I saw a couple of days ago, so went along with them.  It turned out that they know someone in London who wants to do a houseswap with someone on an island on the west coast.  Well, we know someone with a house on an island and  a couple of weeks in London sounds great - so we'll follow that up.
As we walked down toward the synagogue, I happened to notice a necklace that looked identical to one I was coveting from another store but was not prepared to pay his price.  Brona and her Mum came in to look at it with me - the price was a quarter of what I had been quoted elsewhere so I bought it.  It's rather dramatic but unusual and I'm hoping I won't be shy to wear it!

I wandered about a bit - didn't go to the carpet place but by the time I had walked up and down this particular street, all the vendors claimed they recognized me and that I had promised to come to their shops and why wasn't I stopping now, just for two minutes to look - that's all they wanted, not buy, just look, please madam, make me happy for two minutes, come inside, many beautiful things...
I took a tuktuk back to the hotel.  It was a treat to open my door and find the bed made with the sheets tight and white and clean towels - first time this trip, I think.  
I made myself a cup of tea with our newly purchased immersion heater, tried for a second cup and it blew!  Alas - we only bought one.

I got busy on my computer.  I wanted to take advantage of the hotel’s wifi and download books on to my MP3 player in preparation for our 36 hour train journey from Bangalore to Delhi.
The system for doing this is terrific but it takes a few hours to get through the whole process of searching for books etc.  But I'm now well prepared with five new books!
I tried writing on our laptop but the keyboard is so erratic that I give up after managing a few lines.

So, that was Day One - no charging elephants or falls on speed bumps!

I went out to the shops again next day but remembered that I have to carry this stuff on the train and didn't buy anything more, except for the rug I mentioned earlier.  It folded up neatly and was easy to carry.  A taxi took me that evening to the railway station.  I felt a bit lost when I arrived since I could see no boards listing the departures and platforms - of which there are eight.  I also needed change for the taxi.  A young man came up to me and asked if he could help.  Gratefully I said yes.  He gave me change and then asked about my train and took me up and down to find out where I was to go and also directed me to where the coach would be that I was listed for - very kind.  We had booked two seats since Richard was originally going to go with me.  We didn't cancel since it wasn't expensive and the extra seat space would mean I had more room to spread out if I wanted to.  In theory, that is.  Well, that didn't work out.  I discovered that our two seats, while they had consecutive numbers were not actually side by side.  One was an upper bunk in the main coach area and the other was along the wall and listed as a side seat, much narrower than those in the main area - though I did not notice that at the time.   Advice to train travellers in India: avoid the seats listed as "side".  We saw that the designation on the ticket was SL but didn't know what it meant.
Anyway, I ended up sleeping in the lower bunk side seat while I could have used Richard's upper bunk and been a lot more comfortable.  The people in the main area simply took over all the main seat space which I found annoying as well but what to do... Also they decided to bunk down at 9:45 and switched off all the lights so I had to go to bed as well.  This was a three level bunk sleeper train.  Six people. 
Sheets and blankets and pillows were rented for the nominal amount of 50c  - I asked for an extra pillow so got the whole set of stuff.  The exta blanket helped soften the lump between the two seats that fold down to make the bed.  I pulled out my mp3 player and began listening to one of my books - and blessed Vancouver's public library and the hotel's wifi. 
The morning came fairly soon and I picked up a pre-paid taxi for the trip into Bangalore.  He delivered me to the Catholic Club about 10:20 and there was Richard, waiting in the lobby :-)

1 comment:

  1. ....And there was Richard, waiting in the lobby. May it ever be thus!