Tuesday, December 27
Kovalam Junction, 08:54
Several times in the last few days I have talked about exploring K.S. Road, the direct route from our house to Kovalam Junction. Two years ago gangs of workmen dug the road up to replace the water pipes, and cars and rickshaws still avoid it. Yet I have seen vehicles enter and leave the road everyday since we arrived.
Yesterday I had claimed that one could walk to Kovalam in less than thirty minutes, which Naa and Irma disputed. This morning Irma woke me up to tell me I should do it right now, before the sun rose, if I really thought I could.
I left the house at 8:32 and by 8:54 I could see Divine Supermarket on the other side of Kovalam Junction. Case closed. I could have arrived even earlier but I stopped to photograph a Christmas tableau, with real geese, in the drive of a large church. I think I counted six churches along the road, including Jehovah’s Witnesses and Pentacostals. I also saw lots of little shops, a chai bar, a school, an engineering college, a multimedia studio and Kerala Water Board.
As I turned to walk back I had to stand aside to let a steady stream of motorbikes and scooters pass by. People headed down K.S. Road to the junction on their way to work. Within a few minutes the junction filled up and rush hour began. I walked up the hill with the sound of a hundred horns receding into the distance.
I noticed a lot of rickshaws using the road and observed two three-wheeled goods carriers travelling its full length, passing me then stopping to make a delivery then passing me again. The road seems no worse than the road down to Uday’s house.
I pause when I see a mint-condition Ambassador class saloon car in traditional white, parked outside a large house. Ten years ago, when I first came to India, these ruled the roads. You saw dignitaries carried in them by chauffeurs in them in every city. In 2012 Hindustan Motors stopped making them and now they have begun to fade away in favour of prestigious foreign cars. I photograph this one while I have the opportunity.
The temperature rises rapidly on the walk back and I will arrive home about 9:25 soaked and in urgent need of a shower.
At 11:00 Irma will phone for a taxi but fail to find one. Eventually Santhosh will send his friend Moon and we will all leave for Trivandrum. We will visit Fabindia; Style Plus; DC books, as recommended by Sanil; and Big Bazaar. The latter will indeed prove a quieter and more pleasant experience than Pothys.
I will replace the Samsonite shoulder bag I bought here several years ago, the zip and strap of which have finally broken, with an identical new one. I will buy teas to refill my tea box at Arcada, and four books, including Schumacher’s other one, which I have never read from start to finish. Irma and Naa will buy books, clothes, cosmetics, food, jewellry and shoes.
We will spend the evening eating a not-too-spicy chicken, rice and carrot dish that Irma will make.