I left Neena’s family’s house in Delhi early this morning. We got up at 6 in the morning and it was still dark outside. We were still sleepy from our amazing overnight in Rajasthan. I wanted to remember the room we shared in Delhi, so I shot a video.
A driver showed up for me early and she and her uncle Hans Raj accompanied me to the airport. I hopped a 4-hour flight to India’s southrnmost state of Kerala. I was headed for the airport in — get this — Thiruvananthapuram. Yes, that’s the actual name of that city! When Neena and I were planning our trip and I mentioned that city, we just called it by its airport code, TRV. Apparently, the locals have a hard time pronouncing TRV’s full name, too. They call it Trivandrum, which is much easier from everyone to pronounce. Anyway, that’s where I am right now.
The plane was sort of like a hop on-hop off plane, which made one stop in Mumbai. I was on the plane with a team of cricketers from Cambridge University in the UK. I was sitting in a middle seat, so I starting chatting with one of the players, Frederick who was sitting next to me, about sports. I said I didn’t realize cricket was so huge in India (it really is a huge sport here. Everyone talks about it.) He told me it’s a pretty big sport in countries that the British colonized.
After Cricketer Frederick disembarked in Mumbai, I chatted with the Indian businessman on the other side of me. We were talking about the country, its infrastructure, the culture. He’s an Indian dairy farmer and I told him my story about seeing a cow in the market. (By now actually, I’ve seen cows EVERYWHERE for that matter.) He said before the cows were as common as they are now, when people used to see cows in the street, they would kiss their feet, paint a red bindi between their eyes, even put flowers around her neck! I told him I would have gotten a big kick out of seeing that!
We talked about all the poor children I’ve been seeing in India and he said that education in India is only free for elementary school. After that, you have to pay for it, and it’s not compulsory to go to school. He says Hindus are like that. They’re not forceful. They make suggestions and that’s it; but he told me I’m going to be seeing very different things in Kerala. He says Kerala is one of India’s richest states and almost everyone there is educated.
I arrived in Trivandrum in the afternoon and my driver was right there for me. I had looked up hotels online with Neena from Delhi and the night before, on our way home from Rajasthan, Jusdav helped me make a reservation. I was craving a little warmth and luxury, so for my 3 nights in Trivandrum, I booked a 4-star hotel. That’s a hell of a lot of money in India, but for the price of about two nights in a cheap hotel in New York City, you can book yourself a rich resort, so I decided to try it.
Anyway, my awesome driver came and got me. I asked to please stop at a supermarket on the way to the resort, and he did. It was my first venture into an Indian supermarket and I found all kinds of snacks and candies that I had no idea what they were, and other items I thought were just plain strange/funny.
I baught some sunblock, chocolate, water, mango juice and dry cereal.
Once at the Uday Samudra resort, I was totally happy. It’s beautiful.
I put on my bathing suit and went off exploring.
Of course I found the spa, made an appointment for after sunset and went to the pool.
It was so nice to go swimming! The fact that it was warm enough to go swimming was a real treat! At the pool, I met these two really cool English women about my age, Philippa and Sharon. They had been on the resort for a few days after spending 3 weeks exploring and were leaving tomorrow. They had just come back from a serious trek and organized tour of India and Nepal. We chatted for a bit and planned to meet up for dinner.
Then I went off to the beach to watch the sunset.
Once it was dark, I returned to the spa for my massage.
I didn’t know what to expect in an Indian massage, but I figured I’d just go with the flow. The massage was about 33 or so dollars. For real bargain backpackers, I know that’s super expensive, but I decided to just go ahead and “splurge.”
Once at the spa, there were TWO massage therapists waiting for me. At first I tried to talk with them and ask them questions. When it was clear they didn’t understand me, I figured I’d just let them lead me.
They led me upstairs to a large dimly-lit room. The room had a thatched roof, so it had a triangular shaped high ceiling. Off to the side of the room was the bathroom (with a shower!).
In the room there was a chair and a strange wooden massage table. They asked me to undress and gave me a “loin cloth” to put on. They didn’t leave the room. They saw I was confused about the loin cloth so they tied it on me themselves. (No modesty, here. We’re all women here, I guess what the heck.) They had me lay down on the table face up. (No sheet, no towel, just lay face up wearing just the loin cloth.) Soon, it became clear why the table was a strange wooden, non-sheeted table. They began to pour massage oil all over my body. (Gobs and gobs of it, like they were about to deep fry me!) Then they proceeded to give me a four-handed massage.
Okay, so when I said there was no modesty, seriously, it seems no body part was off limits! They touched me in ways no masssage therapist has touched me in the states. At first it was hard to relax. Then, I started thinking, “I didn’t realize that I had so many muscles in my chest!” They had me flip[ over, and the massaged my back, legs and feet. Then I flipped over and they rubbed my head and put this strange thick face cream on my face that said "anti-zit" on the tube. I was sliding all over the table. I was totally greased up. There was no way I could put my clothes back on like this. They led me to the shower. (A shower!!!!) The water was warm and lasted forever. They asked me if I wanted shampoo. I told them yes. One of the women showed me a powder. She mixed it with water and returned with a small bowl of the concoction. I wasn't sure how to use it, so she had me turn around, slowly poured it over my head, and washed my hair for me. It was lovely. She rubbed my head for a few minutes like they do at the washing station at the hair salon. Once I sort of got enough grease off me to put my clothes on without staining them, I got dressed. I was relaxed and happy and went back to my room to change.
In my room, I took another shower with my own beauty supplies. (I wouldn't have bothered, but I still felt really greasy.) My shower was long and dreamy and I didn't feel bad about using all that water one bit.
I then went to meet Philippa and Sharon for dinner.
They took me to this amazing little "Italian" restaurant (It's actually a seafood restaurant if you ask me) called Il Marinaio.
Apparently, Kerala is known for its seafood. It’s a state located on the tip of India, on the Lakshadweep Sea. Just on the other side of that tip of India is the Indian Ocean.
Neena and her family had told me that the food is totally different in the south and that they eat a lot of seafood.
We talked about their trip and they gave me tips about India, told me they wished they could stay a little longer and told me what a great time I’d have over the next few days, then in the Maldives.
After dinner, we were all totally beat. I checked my email at the resort before heading back to my gigantic plush bed. We agreed to meet for breakfast in the morning before the two of them left for England.