We are on our way. Now for all those sceptics who raised their cynical eyebrows when I said we were travelling by Air India be advised…It was good. Check in was simple, fast and efficient even though most of those around us were checking in the maximum weight allowance 46kg of luggage which consisted huge cases that have long vanished from British air travel. Then through customs and security which again was fast and relatively easy even the bit where we had removed belts and shoes and lap tops from cases and kindles from covers and ipads from sleeves and taken off our coats and emptied our pockets in order to reassemble everything whilst stumbling out on to the main concourse.
After a quick look in Dixons to buy yet another set of earphones (I will leave them in strange places) we have a Garfunkels breakfast which came quickly but cost too much and seemed too small for the price we paid. This was washed down with even more expensive supplies bought to sustain us on the flight. As mentioned earlier I had feared for the overhead lockers but they were capacious and boarding was not the usual bun fight one has to normally endure. Out plane, a 777 apparently, was large airy, with good leg room, wide seats and because it was only half full we were able to purloin a set of three for ourselves. Had we been quicker I am sure our land grab could have been more. Pre dinner drinks consisted of two mini bar bottles of gin each with lashings of tonic. Dinner was a starter of chickpeas in dressing followed by a very pleasant lamb and vegetable concoction termed “bland meal” on the menu and a semolina desert. Tea and movies galore follow and a bit of a kip to help us make it through the 9 hour flight to Mumbai. I do not think this feeling of well being will last as we have to get baggage, clear customs and re check in within 1.40hrs. Those in the know say it cannot be done. We will see….
Little note whilst I think of it. Thanks to Rachel’s parents for dinner and bed and transport to the station. Dave’s comment about us getting our monies worth out of the sewage charges this morning gives an indication of how our collective stomachs were faring with the impending departure. Second note to Angela for making us cry with her soppy words on the phone.
…It can be done! Plane arrived early but since the airport was pretty deserted, apart from copious amounts of sleeping baggage handlers asleep (barefooted) on the external conveyor belts, we fairly sailed through and only had to put our baggage through 5 different x ray machines.
Rachel has serious collywobbles but I suspect this is due to the stress of the last week, fatigue with the days travels and possibly the fact she is scared shitless.
That’s it for now as plane due to take us to Trivandrum in a few minutes followed by a bus, train and finally rickshaw to get us to the first hotel in Clafouti where hopefully a little reed topped bungalow overlooking the sea awaits us for the princely sum of £10 per night.
Whoa! Trivandrum is hot, fetid and full of tuk tuks and taxi’s. We get a cab to take us to the railway station and are immediately initiated in the rules (or lack of rules) of the road in India. It seems much the same rule as anywhere in the East. There are few! To demonstrate this a driving instructor teaches his novice to cut across lanes of traffic and drive on the wrong side of the road to access a side road right in front of us. We arrive at the station with 5 hours to spare before our train. However we are effectively trapped as the baggage is about 50lbs for me and 40lbs for Rachel. Couple this with the heat, lack of energy and no local knowledge and you get why.
We doze in a paid for waiting room – 10 rupees each for air con, toilets and comfy sofa. Strange thing loads of men come in an use the shower in the loo and then proceed to get undressed or dressed in the waiting room which makes for a better understanding of your Indian male anatomy. Luckily there is an earlier train at 11.15 which is the New Delhi Super Express. It isn’t! In fact it would be better termed the cattle truck. The windows are barred and have no windows, the doors are open, the dust and grime is plentiful and street hawkers ply their trade up and down the carriages. Having said that there is a sort of olde worlde char…shit about it and we feel that we are very much in India. I will reserve first impressions until I have slept but think once I get my head around the rubbish everywhere I will actually like the place. Rachel is desperate for me to so let’s hope she’s a good judge of a sub continent.
Train arrives in Varkala and we travel in a 50’s cab with overley elaborate material fraying on the seats and the most sensational roof of moulded shapes with architrave around the edges and ceiling rose in the middle.
Arrive at our hotel which we are about to investigate. Big first blog as doubt ops will be avaialbe over next few days.
Chris and Rachel x