Thursday, January 4
Near the village shop, 9:17
Many people here fear dogs to a seemingly odd extent – especially since semi-wild dogs live in little non-threatening packs all over the area.
When I take Bruno for his morning walk we meet an old man who freezes as soon as he sees Bruno. He asks me if I control it. I say yes but he remains rooted to the spot.
Inevitably this results in Bruno walking slowly round him while he mutters “Venda” in a shaky voice. “Venda” means something like “Go away” in Malayalam. I grab Bruno’s collar, he looks at me, pulls away and races happily down the road.
We will meet the man again ten minutes later as we return home up the hill. This time, though, something will catch Bruno’s attention and he will race past the man before he can begin getting frightened.
Bruno will dive into the bushes where he usually harrasses a pack of thin, undernourished semi-wild dogs. This time I will not hear them whining and yelping. When I catch up with him I will find him harrassing two or three monkeys who race down trees to taunt him and then race up again when he runs at them.
The rest of the monkeys will arrive and I will count nineteen or twenty, some about 75cm tall. Bruno will chase them at the very edge of a quarry – a thirty metre drop into rocks and water. I will try to stop him but he will take no notice of me at all. The monkeys play piggy in the middle with him, taking turns to drop to the ground and leap up again. I will go into the undergrowth after him, through the low hanging trees, and find myself surrounded by monkeys clearly enjoying themselves.
I will fail to catch Bruno or photograph the monkeys, but I will take the opportunity to rip my trousers. As I will say to myself at the time
Dog chases monkey,
Man chases dog.
Foot slips, trouser rips,
Man trips on log
I will walk home and wait.
Bruno will appear forty minutes later, drink a bowl of water, and stand looking at me with his mouth open, panting. I will never have seen him so exhausted. Obviously he and the monkeys played a hard game.
We always bring cases full of groceries home from Kerala: ghee, neem toothpaste, Joven’s creams, masala oats, and so on. In the afternoon Irma will start packing two of the cases; to clear space and to check how much room we still have left.
Naa and I will sit and read.
At 15:00 we will go to Lighthouse Beach where I will go to Manthra Ayurvedic Clinic to get a massage from Anu. I will spend ninety minutes getting stretched and pulled, and emerge feeling wobbly and energised.
I will meet the others at Leo. They will promptly send me off to find the Chai Man who walks the beach with his chai and samosas. I have the task of intercepting him before he runs out of samosas. I will find him at the start of the beach and buy three.
We will decide to have a snack, look at the menu, and spot that some meals cost less than snacks. Naa will have a chickenburger, Irma will have chicken noodles, and I will have egg biryani. Mine will have two whole hard-boiled eggs inside it.
I love the egg biryani at Leo.
On the way to the beach we had dropped my trousers off for repair, and spontaneously ordered another pair. Anu will join us while Irma goes to collect the trousers.
We will ride home in the dark with all four of us laughing all the way. Tangarat finds everything funny in a way that always proves infectious.