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The Mystical Adventures of Tess and Jack

An Alleppey New Year!

INDIA | Friday, 6 January 2012 | Views [919]

Another valuable public transport lesson was learnt on our way from Munnar. Not only should one avoid the ticket collector's seat if one does not wish to spend the entire trip standing; one should also not select the back seat of the bus because there is an unspoken rule that this is the allocated ‘spew seat’ – anyone that suffers from motion sickness is entitled to boot you out so that they can vomit out of the back window. This might seem logical but is very annoying when the only place on the bus your backpack fits is under the back seat. We also got the distinct feeling that people were manipulating the system: drastic bouts of nausea seem to miraculously fade within 15 minutes and the victims (who were previously standing) then cheerfully enjoy the remainder of the trip in their comfy new seat.

We arrived at our next destination (Alleppey – the gateway to India’s iconic backwaters) in high spirits: the long bus trip was over, we had scored a cheap hotel room without booking AND in the high season, and enjoyed a delicious Indian meal at a busy little diner called Thaff. In the early hours of the morning, however, disaster (of the gastroenteritic variety) struck. Poor Jack was up and down for the next 10 hours squirting from every orifice in his body(possibly a slight exaggeration…does it count when you cough and spew comes out of your nose?) Things had subsided by the morning but he was still out of action so I took myself off on a pleasant outing to the internet café and bookshop, all the while basking in my good fortune and praising my iron guts for having dodged the illness. This smugness faded as I walked home in the sweltering heat and was overcome by the first wave of nausea. Almost 12 hours to the dot since Jack’s first spew I came down with exactly the same ailment. As someone who rarely suffers from illness of any sort, I predictably did not take this very well. The situation was not improved by our surrounds: really hot and about a zillion percent humidity (topped off by a tropical squall in the middle of the night), lots of mozzies and the conviction of one of our hoteliers that he was a good singer + access to a microphone. The real high point was where I crawled to the toilet (too dizzy to walk) and dry retched to the sound of a wailing Indian prayer song in the background. Another sad fact was that the last thing consumed before the illness was a nice big glass of sickly sweet rose milk. While it was pretty obvious that we had some kind of viral bug and not food poisoning, I don’t think I’ll be able to touch another glass of the stuff as long as I live. I hereby revoke what I said about my heaven flowing with it…my hell now runneth pink with rose milk.

Things began looking up the next day (New Years Eve), when both parties had regained close to normal digestive function, the rain was (sort of) clearing, and we were able to score accommodation in our originally preferred hotel, Gowri, which had been full on arrival. Here we had a nice little bungalow in a quiet garden with cute squirrels chasing each other through the trees. We didn’t feel up to much celebration-wise, so spent the evening having a few drinks (beer for Jack, a litre of water for me) in Gowri’s courtyard, chatting to the very friendly all-male staff and their New Years guests. Highlights included meeting Ramesh, an Indian guy recently returned from Belgium and two days out of a massive relationship breakdown. He got nicely drunk and perhaps overestimated how liberal Western tourists are when it comes to appropriate conversation topics; every second word was ‘pussy.’ We also got to witness some at-home fireworks displays which were very entertaining if not quite up to the usual safety standards: when things weren’t exciting enough the fireworks got kicked to send them soaring off to explode in unpredictable directions, including into the neighbour’s yard (not happy) and onto the street. We were snug in bed by 10.30 pm. Happy New Year everybody!

The remainder of our time in Alleppey was pretty laid back and uneventful, however we made an effort to go on one of the much-lauded tours of the backwaters around town. This was a relaxing four hours spent being paddled around in a covered boat, with one stop to look at some muddy rice paddies and get felt up by a creepy old man (he asked for a photo with me and then got a little too excited when I put a comradely arm around his shoulders for the pose…apparently this was taken as an invitation to grab my breast), and another to be little falconers (see photos). On our last evening we journeyed across town to the beach (pure Indian tourism: packed with people, stalls selling crappy plastic toys and various options of ‘shit to ride’, e.g. camels, ponies…and of course nobody in the water) and had a belated Christmas seafood feast in an atmospheric restaurant on the water’s edge, which was only slightly detracted from by an annoying American tourist sitting behind us bragging about all her overseas sexual conquests.

We are both back in excellent health and spirits and enjoying the last few legs of our Indian adventure. Hope you are all happy and well and enjoying your 2012!

Lots of love, T & J xoxo 


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