Saturday, December 31
Kovalam Junction Art Café Gallery, 11:50
We woke early this morning with various different noises all around us. An early party had started, trucks and buses rumbled past, and the temple began its festive preparations.
Naa and I went for a walk. We started at 11:05 and reached Kovalam Junction at 11:30. Now we sit drinking tea in the art café with the owner and artist-in-chief. He draws with ink and pen and then colours the drawings with different strengths and types of teas. I buy a set of reproductions of his entire work to date.
We will walk back slowly, keeping to the shade as much as we can. When we get back at 12:00 we will discover that all our plans will have changed.
Apparently Sanil had contacted Irma via Facebook to say that his sister couldn’t reach us. Irma had contacted Geetha via WhatsApp, and she had immediately phoned back. Irma then cancelled our table redervation at Villa Maya because we have a New Year party to attend.
Irma had also called a rickshaw which will arrive a few seconds after us. Naa will stay with Elvis while Irma and I drive to get things for the party; two bottles of wine and some snacks.
We will have an adventure finding the place. We will get instructions to meet a car at a temple and follow it. Another car will also follow it. We will travel for over an hour, doubling back on ourselves several times. The driver in the front car will start asking directions from passers-by. Eventually we will reach a near-vertical path through a forest full of monkeys. Only one car will make it up the hill and the others will walk. The others will include us.
The hike will prove well worth it – for the building, the food and, most of all, the company. Göran and Geetha designed the building themselves thirty five years ago as a personal take on an ancient Indian castle. They commissioned a famous temple carver to create his final piece in the centre of the ground floor. Göran has one of the best personal offices in the world: a long L-shaped, book-lined room that stays cool all morning then heats up at midday as the sun changes position.
Everyone had brought something and we will eat a variety of home-made Indian snacks including deep-fried anchovies. Elvis will sit on Naa’s lap watching. The company will consist of international Indian academics and professionals. Sohan Lal, a film-maker, will watch Elvis with amused ineterst and offer to adopt him when we leave – and keep calling him Elvis.
We will walk down the hill, Santhosh will drive us to his house to meet his family, and then walk us through tiny paths the short way to the temple by Lighthouse Beach. We will walk to Leo to sit and watch the parade, have one beer, and then find ourselves a rickshaw home.
We will watch the New Year fireworks from the top floor of the house.