TRV and Countryside

January 12, 2010

More than I expected, today.

I had dropped off laundy at the hotel the previous night and at 9:30 in the morning they called my room to tell me it was ready. I opened my eyes. Knowing that they probably wouldn’t be “right up” to drop it off, I contemplated whether I should lay around because they might be right up, or hop in the shower because it might take them some time.

Once in the shower, I got a cheerful call from Sharon, telling me they were headed to the resort restaurant for breakfast. Just as I was getting dressed, my laundry arrived (score! perfect timing!) and I went off to meet the girls.

Sharon started telling me about the resort and how busy it had been over the past few days, but that it seemed to be emptying out, now (probably because the Christmas-New Years winter break is over). Then it was time to say goodbye. They were headed home to the UK and getting ready to go to the airport. We exchanged email addresses and promised to keep in touch.

It was early, and I headed over to the travel desk to figure out what I wanted to do, today. I waited to speak with the resort’s tour agent. He was speaking with an older European couple (not sure where they were from, but they spoke or knew English). Clearly, they had not been traveling around and didn’t know what they prices are around here. He booked them on some day tour, and I swear I heard him say that it would cost them something like 75 EUROS for the pair of them, which apparently, that’s a deal. (I know that that many Euros convert to a whole lot of dollars… which is thousands of rupees!) Oh boy. This will not fare well for me.

At the desk, the “tour agent” who was there to “help me” began quoting me astronomical figures to go around and see 3 sites in Trivandrum. I decided I could probably just walk around the city myself, with my guide book. I asked him how much it would cost to take a taxi to the city center, 8 km away. He got on the phone with some of his taxi driver friends and told me it would cost about 30 dollars just to be dropped off. I could feel myself getting angry that he was trying to take advantage of me, said no thank you, and left to go figure it out myself.

Out on the main road in front of the hotel, there were lots of drivers eager to earn the fare. This one guy named Unni latched onto me. I told him I needed a ride to the city, but first I needed to change money. (The exchange rate is between 44 and 46. The hotel charges 42.) Off the bat, he said he would charge me 800 rupees to take me downtown, maybe show me a sight or two and head back. He led me to a money exhange guy and I exchanged 20 dollars. That got me nearly 900 rupees.

I decided I wanted to really see TRV the way the locals would, so I asked him to point me to the bus, please. I started to walk. He told me petrol’s expensive around here, but if I agreed to buy two litres of petrol for 100 rupees, he’d take me into town himself on his motorbike.

We were off!

After filling up on gas, our first stop in Trivandrum was the Puttan Malika Palace. Next to the palace lies a Temple called Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple. It’s beautiful and it’s a landmark of the city, but I wasn’t allowed inside of it because I’m not Hindu.

Then it was back on the bike, across the street, to the Napier Musem. It’s a strange museum that includes a mix of the animals of India with info about the dress of India and a history of the ancient houses on the coast.

Outside, there’s a public park and I saw lots and lots of schoolkids coming from the park, filing into the museum. This was the first time in India I’ve seen so many kids at once, and they’re not beggars! I was happy to see some kids in their uniforms, in school.

Back on the bike, off to another park. As Unni and I were making conversation, he mentioned that I look different from everyone around us. He also mentioned that I’m kind of fat. I thought this was particular, because it was funny the way he said it. He didn’t seem to say it as something derogatory, he just mentioned it as something that is. As if he was pointing out that I have curly hair.

As we were riding on his bike, I noticed the villagers look at me in the sort of amazed curiousity. Everyone who caught my eye smiled at me and many of the children waved. I waved back.

As we walked through this second park that Unni took me to, there was another large group of school kids there. They were off to the side and I heard them call to me. “Hello! Hello! What’s your name!” They called to me as Unni and I walked by. I told him I had to go talk with them. After all, they probably just want to practice their English. I turned on my video camera and what I found were the cutest, friendlist school kids just filled with curiousity! We introduced ourselved to each other. They were filled with laughter and smiles. It made me happy to see so many clean, happy, educated children in India, after being accosted by kids at the tourist sites.

Unni showed me the park.

Unni took me to see the park’s beach. It was really hot. It was time to go back to the motorbike.

We made some stops along the way at these beautiful lookout points. One in a fishing village, another in a

Back on the bike, we drove for a while. He had been talking about his family, his German girlfriend and his house. He said I reminded him of his girfriend and he says he misses her. I told him about Mike. He asked if we were getting married, if my family would be giving him a dowry. I laughed. I said we don’t do that. Unni wanted to show me his family. On the way to his neighborhood, we drove through a variety of communties.

Poor neighborhoods…

And something I haven’t seen a lot of, rich India. I got a glimpse of these beautiful houses and made Unni turn around and go back so I could take a video.

One the way to TRV’s villages, we came across a farming plantation and I made Unni stop so I could film it because it was just so beautiful in the countryside.

Then we saw Unni’s family’s home. I didn’t go inside, but I did meet his brother’s wife, their son and a neighbor boy. It was pretty cool to meet the neighborhood kids and walk through his little community. He showed me the well that belongs to his family. I asked him about the bucket shower; he told me he prefers the bucket over the running water. Force of habit, I guess.

Back to TRV, Unni took me to the beach restaurant owned by his brother. We had been sightseeing for about six hours. He refused to eat. I told him to please order something. I ordered calamari (ohmygod it was delicious!) with coconut rice.

He ordered a beer. He said he was “showing me respect” by not eating with me. I thought that was strange. He told me my hotel was expensive and asked me if I wanted to stay at the resort his cousin runs. I said no thank you. I tried to give him a tip, but he wouldn’t take it! He asked me a couple of times how I liked India, like he was the country’s tourism ambassador. That I don’t find so strange. It seems as though the people here love their country so much they want to show all of the visitors how wonderful it is. He gave me his phone number and said, “We are friends, now!” He didn’t have an email, but I gave him mine. Then he walked me around the corner and pointed me to the resort. He said he had fun and to please not tell the other taxi drivers how much I paid for the tour. I tried to pay him again, but he refused. I don’t know why he was so nice to me all day, and when I asked him he didn’t really answer. I’m sure he has his reasons. Thanks, Unni for making my day fun!

I’m at an internet cafe now and videos are taking a while to load (it’s half the price here than it is at the hotel). It’s also really, really hot right now, even though it’s almost 10 in the evening. I’m gonna wrap up here and go swimming in one of the resort pools. Even though the resort is sort of expensive, I really like it. I feel safe.

3 Responses to “TRV and Countryside”

  1. Mike Says:

    Hey Hadas,

    I really dig the idea of a motorcycle tour through town. What is this business of a dowry? That sounds pretty good! Ha! Just kidding!

    Talk to you soon!

    Mike

  2. underdesign Says:

    What is a proper dowry for your hand in marriage? I might be into the cash infusion….

    Haha!


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