There is no way I would consider retiring to any such place as India, the gap between rich and poor is bad enough in this country. And I realise that nobody could remotely be considered poor here when one looks at places like India.
Man is not lost, only temporarily uncertain of his position
My own observation from 10 years ago is that there are 3 classes: high government officials living in luxury, urban dwellers, rural peasants. And of course the former South Vietnam is richer and more corrupt than North Vietnam. I am pretty sure that in the last ten years a new middle class has emerged as international business develops, just like in China. Vietnam is perhaps 15-20 years behind China, but it might catch up faster.
Bixa, I'm not a vegetarian and do eat most meats. There are not many countries I'd go to where I would and do avoid eating meat and India is one of them. Mainly the hygiene reason but I could easily not eat any meat anywhere anyway, it's not an absolute must normally for me. Apart from bacon.
tod, Mrs M is quite a few years younger than me. When she eventually retires I'll be late seventies and I doubt very much we'd retire to India. We'd keep the house in Spain and although Mrs M has been to India and enjoys it, we were here for the three day wedding of her brother, retiring there is not something she would do.
Knocked around Kochi today before moving on tomorrow. It’s a very easy town to be in. The streets are not so hectic as most places for a start. There are also a few things to see and hanging around near the sea it quite pleasant when it is hot and a slightly cooler breeze is a bit more comfortable. It is still hot and humid at this time of year though. I must be drinking litres and litres of water every day and every evening I have to ring out my underpants otherwise they will soon rot. The constant sweating soon cleans your pores out though, so there is an advantage to this. Mrs M informs me it is cold, rainy and sleety back in Spain. Oh dear.
Following are just a few general shots of the town plus I headed across to an area called Jew Town for a quick look. They have been settled in India from probably the 12 Century, there or there abouts, but those in Cochin arrived sometime in the 16th Century following expulsion from Iberia. Following Independence in 1947 and the establishment of Israel, virtually all upped and left.
I was asked if I eat meat in India. The answer is I avoid it if it all possible. Here is a photo of a typical street.
Notice the butchers shop on the right side? Here’s another one a bit closer up.
I think that answers that question then. In this next photo it seems they didn’t get the political correctness memo.
I wonder if anyone objects and is deeply offended by the use of ‘mentally retarded’? Also are we able to use the word ‘disabled’ still? It does appear to just a western thing to have so many people offended on behalf of so many other people, often who don’t give a toss. Being offended by proxy is an industry in the UK and USA it seems. Those who are not part of a community or section of society who are ‘grossly offended’ by the use of a particular term. But they aren’t the ones affected, it’s always others they are ‘fighting for’. Give me a break. Yes, I agree, certain words and phrases should not be used but it has gone too far. Never mind the recent action in the UK to remove a statue of Cecil Rhodes from a University because of his history and as one student put it, he felt physically violated every time he had to walk past it. Mind you, he was a student, which means he had no real purpose in life yet and was probably thrashing around trying to be offended by something.
I like exaggeration as much as the next man/women/person/transgender/CIS……..etc etc. In fact a million times more (see?) but being genuinely offended yourself by something is far different to being equally offended by something that you think may offend other people who you are not a part of and have no connection with other than thinking they’ll be offended, so something has to be said. Protect the weak and disadvantaged by all means, but every couple of years change your mind about what words you think they might be offended by and then add on a few more phrases just to cast the net wider, just in case like, and to cover all bases etc, well it gets beyond the pale.
If you want an eminently sensible answer to if job titles, for example Kellner/in or Arzt/Ärztin, should not differentiate between male and female then speak to a few German citizens who are without a penis, like my favourite, a Chair. Not followed by ‘man’ or ‘woman’ but just a ‘Chair’. I say without a penis in case someone objects and is offended by the word female, which does unfortunately set apart about 50% of humanity from the rest. And in Germany, is it a problem that the word for a male, say in a job advert, comes before a female? I can understand though easily how being called a female is divisive and draws attention to sexual differences. Sorry. Maybe I should have said ‘of higher intelligence’ and not be fixated on penises, or the lack of. Which doesn’t mean that actually having one is a better thing. Often not. I want to make clear that having or not having something can also be something someone is offended by. Like saying a child has ‘special needs’. It sets them apart from other children and is deeply offensive to some that the child is singled out by the perceived stigma of being ‘special’.
These sensitive souls who are offended all the time need to learn some pragmatism, as with the above sign. Yes, it may be somewhat out of date but nobody is bothered here. They have much more to be worried about than changing the wording in case, on the off chance, it might offend someone. Those sensitive souls have too much time on their hands in western countries and ought to do something more productive, like coming to India and cleaning up the streets. That’d be a start and they’d soon learn what really being offended means rather than jumping about like a headless chicken on red hot coals on a hot tin roof with a bee in their bonnet and ants in their pants when they see or hear something they view may offend someone at third or fourth hand whether it does or not. And that is the thing, it doesn’t matter to them if or if it doesn’t offend the actual people, if they think it does or even just might, then that is enough.
If you are offended by what I’ve said, stop for a second and think if you really are offended, insulted, or you just disagree with me. If you really are, then is it you that is insulted or do you have that feeling because you think others will be? Anyway, don’t get me started on that otherwise we’ll be here all day. Like we just have been.
That’s got the heavy rant out of the way and here is a bird in a cage. Maybe animal rights organisations are offended by the cruelty of locking up a free flying bird. Then one of some wood. The tree huggers will be livid that several fine specimens have been barbarously killed.
Anyway, here’s a church.
A couple of men were collecting the fruit from one of the trees in the grounds. They were actually beating the tree with sticks to remove the fruit. I remonstrated with them that they were hurting it and I could hear it screaming in pain. They told me to piss off and stop being so ridiculous. The fruit was a smaller version of a gooseberry and they said it was used in ayurvedic medicine. I tried one and I can only say the reason must be to give your facial muscles exercise when biting into the extreme sourness.
The next one speaks for itself. Actually it doesn’t and I didn’t ask but I can only assume that trees deliberately kill themselves. Strange that.
I’ll give you a rest from my facetiousness and let you have a look at some views of the area in and around Jew Town. I’m sure you’re glad of that.
Had a bite to eat in a locals restaurant away from the Jew Town/Fort Cochin area and the place had an extensive menu. As often happens though it only was doing the one dish, a biryani type thing. Cost half a euro and wasn’t that good but was filling.
The birds of prey had got it right Mark, with a name like yours, your cards have been marked from the start.
Having said that I have great sypathy with you. I had another wasted 4 hours at the hospital this morning, pleading with all and sundry to cauterise my bleedin ear. Noone will take the responsibility !!!!!!!
An excellent Romanian nurse at last put a dressing on the wound which looks as if it will hold for long enough for the wound to heal. A very nice doctor was talking me into getting yet another appointment, but I said sorry, I can't see that will improve matters, just forget it.
No body has the guts to make a deciscion for fear of consequences from on high, I suupose that is bureaucracy gone mad..
Sorry to impose my rant on your wonderful thread Mark.
Man is not lost, only temporarily uncertain of his position
No problem at all mossie. You are right in that few people want to make a decision without thinking of what someone above them will say. In the Police it came to point that few were actually doing any work for fear of what might happen if they got it wrong, and even sometimes not knowing that an action was wrong until called into an office and the 20/20 vision in hindsight brigade started asking to justify what you did. Too many people covering their own backs and so it is easier to do nothing than something. Delay and prevarication has became all too common.
I've also decided I might be in the wrong place. The area is famous for Ayurvedic treatments, which apparently are effective and at least do no harm. I'm all for them. But, I'm not all for the crystal healing, head in the clouds, positive energy transfer fanatics the place seems to attract. Granted the majority here are not like that but some......... jeez, get a grip will you.
I ordered a snack in a cafe today and just after I did I noticed close by a woman return from the toilet. She was aged thirty. I knew this because she said during conversation with the person with her that something happened five years ago when she was twenty five. Good at maths, me. Her cafe companion I felt hardly knew her and they'd only just met. He was mid sixties, male, had dreadlocks with what was left of his grey hair and dressed like he hit Goa in 1969, walked south from there over the years and still had the same clothes on.
He spoke with an English accent, she was European but I couldn't quite place the accent. She might even have been from one of the Scandinavian countries. She was dressed like a foreign woman who wants to dress like the Indians but can't get the right style, so it looks like a mish mash of neither Asian or European, but at least she had a few beads in her hair. The point of this long build up was that she had a loud strident voice that couldn't be ignored. And I tried, boy did I try. I even got my Kindle out to start reading, but couldn't concentrate. The words on the page just melded into what she was saying.
If she had been saying something interesting, maybe imparting travel knowledge, talking about current affairs. I'd even had managed to abide Kim Kardashian as the subject. But, no. She was spouting forth about her detecting the energy given off by someone, being able to convert the negative energy to positive and making that flow back into the person giving them a sense of well being and contentment. She did this by touching the person and meditating and imagining the energy lines being given off. And the colour of them. She mentally manipulated them until they achieved the desired colour and level and then directed them back to the subject who needed to be helped.
She said she found this quite disturbing as she could see them often even when just walking the streets and sometimes felt in severe cases she had to stop and perform her 'healing' there and then. I'm surprised she didn't detect my antipathy for her. This went on for a while until she said something that prompted an exclamation from me of "for f***ks sake" that I'd tried to keep under my breath. I smiled at her and she looked away. What did she say? She mentioned that she could do this not only in person, but down the phone. Yep, she said she was talking to her mother and felt she was angry about something, so she concentrated her whatever on righting the energy until the mother cheered up. She mentioned that she has found she can do this now quite often down the phone and she can send the positive energy long distances.
I ate as fast as I could and left. The old bloke said very little, just noises of encouragement. I think he would agree with anything she said just so he could shag her. Men are like that no matter what the age. Apart from me by the way. And any others on here. Probably.
Another very interesting episode Mark! I looked at your 'meat' photo closely. The meat looks pretty fresh and I bet is ripening by the minute in the heat ( and I should imagine 1,000's of flies are happily having a free meal). I noticed the red blood(?) that has dripped onto the sidewalk and people tramping through it in their slops. That meat looks like beef. Does that mean the population is not Hindu?
Looking at some of the buildings in your photos - I have wondered for many years why post-colonial public towns and cities have no upkeep of their buildings. Come to any place north of us like Mozambique for instance. Buildings are left to rot and decay. Is everyone just too lazy to give things a lick of paint or are hoping they will fall down and a new one erected? Zanzibar is another typical decaying enclave of a former beautiful place. I find this very sad.
Tod, even though the majority are Hindu in the state of Kerala, about half, in Kochi particularly the population is 35% Christian. This is very high and accounts for the beef eating. In Kerala as a whoile less than 20% are Christian. The state though is renown for its tolerance of the differnt religions. There is a high percentage of Moslems here, more than Christian. They eat a lot of beef.
As for decay and why it is, when you find out a definitive answer, let me know.
I would say that many post-colonial towns have more fancy buildings than necessary, once the bureaucrats of the occupiers colonists have gone home. Who knows who some of those buildings belong to. Also, poverty is a compelling reason not to spend money on paint.
The meat market is not very tempting. Meat here is commonly sold in the open air, but even rickety wooden stands in the temporary markets make more of an attempt at tidiness. It's amazing how really huge enclosed -- but with windows & doors completely open -- markets completely given over to meat do not stink. Out of preference, I buy my meat from market vendors rather than from supermarkets, simply because quite often it is better quality meat.
In Spain I get mine from Carrefour. In Jordan I used to get mine from Carrefour. In Egypt I used to get mine from................. you can fill in the blank easily enough. To give a hint it begins with C and is French.
Had a bit of a boat day today. You’ll see what I mean. A couple of churches as well. I left soon after breakfast at the b and b. The usual small Kerala style continental breakfast. A pot of tea, enough for three cups, two egg omelette, four slices of toast, jam, butter, orange juice, three bananas, and orange, an apple, and seven or eight whole slices of fresh pineapple. Set up for the day, I set off, south.
I soon came to some boats seemingly haphazardly strewn around at the top of the beach.
On the beach they were in a bit more of an order.
I gave these lads a bit of a pull as they were struggling up the sand. They said thank you but then one of them spoilt the moment by asking me for money.
I slipped past a couple of churches, after shaking the sand out of my sandals.
I stopped to take a photo of the well dressed girl waiting at the side of the road and then noticed her male companion across the road also taking a photo of her.
And some friends.
After a little while the backwaters came in to view again.
Still working the canals.
I plodded along and kept my head down until I found my accommodation for the night. It’s not far from, guess what, a beach. The photos of the room looked quite nice on the internet. As you would expect. But in reality it’s not too bad at all.
The outside toilet and shower are unusual but good.
I soon slipped into something a little more comfortable and hit the beach for a swim. I looked one way and couldn’t see a tourist at all.
I did manage to spot one though the other way.
There is one beach side café which I frequented after a while to wash the salt out of my mouth after playing in the waves again.
Always remember, a wall can be rebuilt. A tree is for life.
We’ll see what happens tomorrow but it’s more just of a repositioning day on my way down the coast. I won’t be on the beach but inland a few kilometres and will be stopping at a fairly normal roadside hotel.
Absolutely fabulous Mark! What beautiful scenery. Things look pretty ship-shape all round. No mess trash lying around and a wonderful aircon so you can keep the mosquitos at bay....the wall may have kept you awake though
bixa, there are tourists, not hordes of them though at all. Just several dotted around. I have heard Russian, but only once, though I have heard lots and lots of German and some French. English is very absent. I was talking to a Swedish woman with prickly heat who has had to stay in her room for the last 4 days. It still looked bad when she showed me.
As I mentioned it was just a bit of a travelling day today. No photos. I'm now south of Alleppey not too far from a place called Kollam. I've found a decent hotel a little way off the main road, it's supposed to be a four star but falls short somewhat, though is quite reasonable. Tomorrow continue south I hope.
As my daughters would say, “OMG!” Instead of being stuck in a café I now end up in conversation with an energy transferist. It started off ok, she wanted to look at my helmet. For those from the UK who know that as a euphemism, you’ve got a filthy mind and just because you thought of that first I’m going to leave you hanging for a minute as that comes towards the end of my day.
I am a little remiss in not mentioning that I took the bike back to the rental shop in Kochi and hired a motor scooter. I’ve called her the Red Devil as she is………… errrr…….. red. Original, I know. For anyone interested it cost 300 rupees a day, about 3 UK pounds. I can cover a lot more ground on it, not as much as if I’d had a car, but enough rather than catching busses and trains. They are fine enough but I just cannot do with the inflexibility. It is my holiday, my time and I don’t want to be beholden to others with their own timetables. A couple of nights ago I was at a place called Mararikulum, south of Kochi. If you want a very quiet time and a good beach, that is the place. But having only one place to eat at night, unless you eat at your accommodation, is just a little too quiet for me. That’s why I was only there one night.
But the breakfast at my place was quite substantial, again.
Last night I was at a supposed 4 star hotel, but strangely in the middle of nowhere. It wasn’t near anything, about 6km away from the main road and hidden along a normal back country street. It must have had forty or fifty rooms and I got the impression I was the only guest. The room and bed were lovely though. I did have a problem as regards fuel for the scooter. I needed to fill up for today but every petrol station I passed was closed. I made it to the hotel and they said that there was some dispute over licences for the State so they’d all closed. Nobody knew for sure when they’d be open again.
I didn’t want to be stuck in the middle of nowheresville albeit in a nice hotel. So I persuaded the hotel manager to source for me a few litres of black market petrol. There always is some but it needs a local to know where to get it. He turned up trumps at 8am the next morning, this morning, at my checkout. So now I had enough to last the day. As I’m spending three nights where I am now I knew it’d all blow over before I needed to leave. I now know it actually has done as the first one I saw open was near here so I stopped to ask and they said the dispute was over and everything was back to normal.
I thought I’d show you a quick photo of a tea shop. This is the side of the road place where tea costs 6 rupees a glass. I stop at these similar places several times a day. I always have two glasses, which unfailingly amuses them for some reason. See the Red Devil and my helmet? Stop tittering you Brits at the back.
On another educational note, and I hope you don’t mind before we continue, here is a motorbike.
Looks old, and isn’t. It’s brand new. Those who know about these bear with me or scroll down a little. The Enfield Cycle Company was formed in the UK in 1893 and started making bikes in 1901. They became defunct in the UK in the 1970’s. In 1957 the tooling was transferred to India for this model, the Bullet and the bikes, though modernised and developed, are still made here today. It is the longest lived motorcycle design in history. It looks like something T.E. Lawrence would have ridden though he favoured one called a Brough Superior which was made in my home city of Nottingham. The Rolls Royce of motorbikes. It might have killed Lawrence though as he was probably going too fast on it. Didn’t Harry Potter ride an Enfield at some time? But there you are. A Royal Enfield. There are thousands and thousands of them in India.
Hands up who wants to see a market………….
Timmy, Timmy, leave Bartholomew’s nose hair alone. Yes, it is long but we all have some. No, don’t wipe your fingers on the desk, use your hankie. And Kevin, take your feet off the desk, you don’t do that at home, do you? You do? Well, you don’t do that here. Churchill would have been proud of you with that two fingered reply, I’m sure. Sorry, regressing a bit. But to continue. Travel reports nearly always seem to feature one so stop fidgeting. Ok then.
I deliberately stopped at a small town today to give you the idea. The streets were quite busy.
Makes it a bit hazardous on the scooter. I even saw a Fire Engine! Motorbikes and Fire Engines, all in one day. I’m lucky, plenty of boy stuff.
We’ll have a walk round and the shots are a bit random but it was quite busy and I had to cover it a couple of times to at least see what was being sold rather than just all the people in front of the camera. At one point you’ll see large balls of brown stuff. No, don’t know what they are.