Saturday, January 5
River Road, Fort Kochi, 9:50
We began with a breakfast on the hotel roof, that Auo found refreshingly European: toast and omlette, with hot, sweet tea and chilled water.
Now we have arrived at Aspinwall House, the main venue for the Biennale, and bought our tickets. We are outside waiting for the exhibition to open. When it finally does, we will spend about four hours wandering around the venue, which is an old heritage building in a state of disrepair that has been commandeered by the Biennale and used in a fantastic way. The artists have been challenged to fit their pieces into some extraordinary spaces and they have risen to the challenge.
When we finally leave, with Auo vowing she will never attend another art exhibition in her life, we will stop at two of the smaller venues that we happen to pass. (The Biennale is spread across the city.) At the second, which turns out out be the festival office, we will manage to get one of the programmes that were all given away on the first day. We will discover that, just like the main catalogue which is called Against All Odds, it is, in a peculiarly Indian way, entirely devoted to the heroic struggles of the organising committee, with nothing at all about the artists (whose names are not even mentioned) or about the art.
Since the drive back will be seven hours again, we decide to leave for Kovalam at 13:15. Sreni will suggest that we eat first and take us to Hotel Fort Queen, in Jawahar Road, where we will have the lunchtime buffet. This will be uniformly excellent, and I will discover payasam, a hot Keralan dessert made from nuts and bananas. I will have two bowls full.
We will arrive home just after 21:00, after passing through nine or ten towns and a sudden tropical storm. Irma and I will sit and have a beer before going to bed and falling into an instant deep sleep.