Wednesday, March 13
Aranya Nivas, 17:42
We left Kochi at 9:00 after an English-style breakfast. Vinesh arrived in an SUV, packed our stuff in the back, and drove us away.
We drove for a couple of hours and as I sat in the back of the car with the a/c on I started to feel better and better. I realised that Kochi had seemed like a steam bath from the moment that we had arrived. I had not got ill. I had simply reacted to the overwhelming combination of humidity and heat.
We stopped for a chai and toilet break at Hotel Maria in Pullupara, about 40 kilometres from Thekkady. Soon afterwards we met Anib’s brother in the nearby town, Mundakayam. He had received a notice transferring him to Trivandrum with immediate effect; something to do with the forthcoming elections. Hundreds of high-ranking government officials have apparently had to do the same thing at the same time.
Like many things in India it makes no sense to me at all, but seems completely normal to everybody else.
We entered the Periyar Tiger Reserve and then drove through forests to our hotel, a state owned enterprise called Aranya Nivas. We get a room on the first floor overlooking the swimming pool: a big room with an even bigger bed.
We went straight to the swimming pool where Irma ran a swimming lesson for a Bangladeshi family and I sat and read until the monkeys arrived.
I switched to watching the monkeys who, among other things, came to the swimming pool to drink. I wondered whether monkeys can swim and decided that they probably couldn’t. I then wondered if monkeys like music, and if they would have musical preferences.
Once dry and dressed, we wander around the relatively small grounds. I photograph a sambara. Either it lives such a sheltered wild life that it has never learned to fear humans, or it lives such a tame life alongside the staff that it cannot work up the energy to feign fear. I guess the latter.
We will go to the Beer Parlour, a small room filled with too much furniture, a bar and a fridge containing Kingfisher beers. We then go to the restaurant where I will feel like eating for the first time in days and opt for a vegetarian mulligatawny soup and a fish malibari curry. This will prove an excellent choice, and I will follow it with a large caramel custard.
Then to bed. I will sleep all night in the cool, still quiet of the room.