happnin' kovalam, India - low punch in paradise

Yolanda’s bit
12 January. We are in Kovalam beach. It's a stretch of two main beaches and some smaller deserted ones, perfect place to be as lazy as hell.

Since Trivandrum, people are more beautiful and healthy looking in this part of the country. I can't help thinking of places like Torremolinos in Spain. Easy holiday, lots of tourists, the place must have been something else years ago.
On the beach line it's all hotels and restaurants and shops and tour operators, money changers, ayurvedic massage and beauty parlors, Internet places, Khatakali performances. Close behind, a dense few rows of palm trees.
There's 3 or 4 restaurants that show 1 or 2 different movies every evening. Drinks and smoke are available everywhere.

The waves. Huge fun waves. There's surfing going on. For two weeks there was not a single second in which we couldn't hear them breaking, splashing, building up again very close.
We ate delightful seafood with wave-music background, we watched movies with waves soundtrack, we nonstop bathed and played with the waves, we slept on the waves.
There is a phenomena happening since I started traveling. Every night I dream lots of dreams. Some very complicated, many quite epic, some meat for psychoanalysis. I love it.
In Kovalam, the break of a sound wave would induce me to the first dream. Fantastic. We slept with all windows open, so Jot! and often the waves would interact/interfere with my dreaming life.

Vaio is being held in Bombay. Clearance delay.

Breakfast at Leo where we stay, then a few steps to choose a good spot on the beach with nice bottom-sightseeing. We hire an umbrella everyday and alternate cooking time on the sun, copious dips in the waves and cooling down under the umbrella.
Go back a few steps under the roof of some restaurant for lunch. I can't manage much more than a salad in this heat.
Green salad is few slices of cucumber, tomato and carrot. Nothing green on it. Russian salad is like a vegetable stew with a tiny bit of mayonnaise imitation sauce and a boiled egg in the middle. Mixed salad is like green salad buried under a mountain of onions. Crunchy-munchy salad is like mixed salad chopped down into microscopic cubes. Carrot salad is carrot salad. Loads of grated carrots with a few mint leaves on top.
The size of the plate is always unpredictable, varying from a big platter for three to a tiny tea cup saucer. Miles has rosty egg.

He's starting not to panic too much with the waves. When I swim to the horizon he freaks out. After lunch, more beach. We watch the sunset near the rocks limiting the beach from our privileged balcony. This is the time when, near the lighthouse at the other end of the beach, the "cool bit", some pseudo-hippies "take themselves too seriously" sitting in lotus position, Oooooooooming to the sun setting with blessed expressions on their faces. We get ready for the evening and the mosquito repellent makes us smell like nasty DDT.

Seafood dinner, we try all places. Movie maybe. Watched first Superman movie! Miles missed the times of going to watch it with his ashamed sister when it was first released. Five year old excited kid in his homemade Superman costume (S-tshirt, red cape, red underwear over blue ballet leggings, red wellies) and his Superman teddybear. I would have been a few years older then and fantasizing about Supermen.

By now we not only play chess, but got a backgammon mini travel set and two sets of cards. We revive all the games we can remember from penniless teenage. Late stroll on the beach, telling stories.

Vaio is being held in Bombay. Clearance delay.

Beach characters: On one of the first breakfast at Leo's we discover show girl. She emerges from Leo Hotel and onto the beach. Lays on the sand and takes off her T-shirt. IS SHE TOPLESS??!!! For Christ sake! I'm a fervent supporter of nudism but in India! Bikinis are enough of a scandal and entertainment for its native population. It's just not worth it. How outrageous! We stare and stare, she IS topless. She acrobatically dips in the sea her tits bouncing in the waves. "She's also a good swimmer!" Miles says, his eyes popping out of its orbits. "Oh, really? Maybe she's intelligent too!" Men will be men, but it never ceases to surprise me when they go through the mutation.
She goes back to her towel and lots of little groups of Indian men gather not so discreetly a few meters away staring and chatting. After a few minutes she slides her T-shirt back on and disappears through the back of Leo's. The friendliest of the waiters asks me with a smile "are you going to do the same as that lady?" I reply I don't understand why she does it. He says "mad or bad". I say you can do that in Europe but not here. He says you can in Goa. "Oh, really?"
The show takes place every early morning for a few minutes. Bit of a mystery really. It's not for tits tan sake, for she's white as milk and a few minutes on early morning sun don't do much. Show girl.

Sunglasses has the monopoly of sunglasses selling with all rights. He's the best. He has a Michael Jackson-Julio Iglesias air about him, maybe it's his mirror glasses, maybe his wide Colgate perfect-squared teeth smile, maybe his high pitch strident never-ending chorus "suunnnnnnnnnglassessssssssss? some coconut oile?". Oiled brushed back hair, stripped shirt and loose jeans, he's a walking display of about 100 pairs of all different sun glasses arranged meticulous and symmetrically all over his body. You can even buy posters of him at some beach cafes. Since we wake up till we go to bed we can listen to his chant carried by the breeze from different beach spots and mingling with the waves.

"Hello, pinapple?" "Hello, papaya?" "Hello, banana?" She greets me brandishing a frightening huge machete and an angry frown in her face. "Later? Promise?" "You buy from me, not from any other one. Promise!!" After half promising-maybes she heads on pointing her machete to the next defenseless tourist, the fruit overflowing still-life steady on the top of her head. Eventually I buy a pineapple off one of the women who expertly peels it off in a few knife strokes. Hot, juicy and sweet.
"Buy drum?" boys, and buy postcards, lungis, bedspreads,... come after.

Dancing baby. Looks Italian, fat, long curly hair, belly overflowing his swimming trunks, mid thirties. He goes dancing by the seashore and stops at every group of young Indians he crosses. They stop as well and they all boogie to an invisible maddening rhythm. They split in opposite directions and dance baby goes on bogeying to the sea until he bumps into the next group of young Indians.
Repetitive patterns.

Mr. Tom. He's surely English. White, porkyish built, he stays at Leo's. He must've been here as long as we have. He has breakfast at Leo's at 9am. His umbrella and deck chair are already waiting for him three steps away onto the beach, like every morning. He alternates umbrella and cooking, but he mainly cooks from morning to dusk, scarcely dipping into the sea. He turns a redder lobster everyday. This is interrupted by a two hours lunch break three steps back in Leo's, where he goes back for dinner after sunset. Never saw him at the movies. I think after that he goes back to his room, brings his glasses out from their hiding place and tries to entertain himself. He left a couple of days before us, surely he's sitting now behind a tie and a computer in some office in London, still red, probably peeling.

Vaio is being held in Bombay. Clearance delay.

One evening we were having dinner at Palm Beach and a few drinks as well. There was an animated chatting group next to us. Their conversation gradually dragged us to join them. In the group there was a couple of middle age actors who were rehearsing in the jungle nearby and were completely drunk. Old hippies, traveled all over a few times.
She became our godmother fairy and gave us a purple amethyst crystal to carry in our travels and put it in our third eye when things would get too much. She just couldn't help it. There were two other young English traveling couples. Two of them were going to a two weeks yoga concentration camp with India hugging guru woman.

We were spoilt for choice in ayurvedic massage parlors and finally I tried the one at Leo's. One hour oily full body massage. I chose a man to do it because he would be stronger and have bigger hands. It was actually full body and also very oily. From head to toes. He seemed to spend a bit too long massaging my bottom. I came out floating in the clouds. I prefer the pressure-points style though. This was a more sliding-hands relaxing style. Miles tried it after and he had a few cracking bones part that I didn't and his thighs are still itchy with spots from oil-hair frictioning.

Every morning from our balcony we watched the fishermen cast their 100m diameter nets from their wood canoes and retrieve lots of different sea life specimens a few hours later. Our dinner to be.

There used to be big parties of Indian tourists for an evening stroll on the beach on Sundays. They used to come in lots of 30. Schoolkids, families, army soldiers. In one of those, a group of about 30 young Indian army soldiers camped right next to us, stripped their uniforms off straight away and started to get mad in the waves. Jumping, dancing, shouting, diving, taking pictures.
Then after the usual "Where from? what's your goodname?" came a request for a picture taken with us. After about 10 pictures taken a queue started to form and the idea of 30 Indian soldiers having a picture of me in bikini definitely put me off and the show was over. All this activity took place in no more than half hour after which they all stuck their uniforms back on and off they went back to their quarters.

We did the tourist thing by going to watch a Katakhali performance which was fun.

I've been in touch with my family, as with everybody else, through e-mail. My dad's youngest brother, uncle Robert, is the link. He transmits my moves to my parents and lets me know how they are doing, especially any developments on the delicate state of my dad who was discovered to have cancer three months before my trip started and was given six months by the doctors.
One month into India my mother was asking me through uncle Robert to write to my dad about anything I may want to tell him about our past time living together before it was too late. So I wrote him a message with things never said before. He liked it very much and I'm glad I did it.
On the 16th, in Kovalam beach I received from my uncle the not for expected less painful news: my father died a couple of days before.

Strange days followed. New feelings hard to untangle and define. Something impossible and absurd strikes right through you like lightning and there's no way to deny it. You are left there without explanation.
In a further e-mail from my uncle my mum was asking me if I wanted to be present when they spread his ashes into the sea. I did. There were a few flying options back to Spain but finally my mum convinced me to continue my trip and they would wait until I got back for the ceremony.

Miles’s bit