India is hotter than Kenya. Okay, we knew this would be the case, I guess. Bridget's mom liked to tell a story about how when she got off the plane on a visit to India, she got blasted with the powerful heat of the jet's engines, only to realize that, no, that was just the local weather. When Sue told this story in my earshot, I would always catch Bridget making wild shushing ixnay gestures -- because I don't like being hot, and Bridget was afraid I might get wise to what was in store and divert our trip to Norway or something.
But seriously, it is hot. Four showers a day hot. Upper-thigh-chafing after a twenty-minute walk hot. Giant tongue-shaped sweatstains making my t-shirt translucent hot. Hot. But you can cool off a little with the omnipresent fresh lime soda under the omnipresent ceiling fans. Here is a picture of me after enjoying same in the Jew Town Cafe in Mattancherry:
As you can see, I look refreshed. What? What's that you ask? "Jew Town Cafe?" Well, there is a community of about 16 Jews in Kochi, and there is a synagogue, and lots of shops trying to capitalize on the exotic angle of Indian Jews. The "town" is really a tourist trap made of stores filled with overpriced, if nice, crap. The synagogue wanted us to put on all sorts of long-sleeved or -panted clothes before entering, and we thought it was not worth it. Because really, If we were already as sweaty as we were (whcih was very, very sweaty) then the chances are that the modesty clothes they offered to us, unlike your typical fancy-restaurant loaner necktie or blazer, would be absolutely rank. No thanks!
Weird Requirements. To get a SIM card for your phone, you must provide a copy of your passport, your Indian Visa, and a passport-sized photo. That's weird.
Kerala Backwaters. This is a picture of a dude poling us down the rivers and canals of the famous Kerala backwaters.
He's wearing a garment called a lungi, which looks reaaaaaly smart after an afternoon walking around in breezeless western-style shorts and underpants.
India is just unspeakably exotic, in a way that kind of loses its meaning after a very short while. Everything is lush and weird and colorful and there are temples strewn around with the frequency, if not the uniformity, of Starbucks in America. This picture above does as good a job as any at conveying this concept, even though we have 50 others that could expand on it.
12-Hour Train Ride. Being on an airplane for 12 hours sucks a lot. Without ever having been on a flight that long, I know this to be true, because I have been on seven-hour flights, and they sucked pretty hard. However! Taking a 12-hour train ride across India in an old-fashioned sleeper car? Not all that bad! One of my least favorite sensations is wanting to sleep but not being able to lie down. Another is being hot and sweaty without recourse to a shower, or fan-blown nudity. How about an air-conditioned sleeper car? Don't mind if I do!
Look at all that room! Pull that curatin closed, and you could flail your arms about wildly and no one would even see you, much less get injured by your flaily shenanigans! Go ahead and flail in cool, horizontal comfort!
Goa. Okay, I'll need to take some more pictures. Goa is a crowded, touristy beach town, full of goddman WHITE people. There must be a name for the syndrome in which I think of myself as an an open-minded and intrepid world-traveler while viewing other white tourists as unspeakably vulgar intruders and polluters. It's a challenge to live with this hypocritical mindset. But not as challenging as trying to imagine life without toilet paper and standard dining utensils!
Later: dogs, food, and pushy vendors.