Wednesday, January 8
Kovalam Surf Club, 14:30
We woke up to the sound of pouring rain. It seemed to have been monsooning all night. As it turned out it would continue to rain hard all day, only eventually petering out in the middle of the evening.
The air was heavy, hot and humid and everyone was surprisingly tired from the party. I went and had a day nap immediately after breakfast. I woke about two hours later to discover that Naa was asleep on her bed and Irma and Auo were at Divine Supermarket. Five minutes later they arrived back and Irma cheerfully announced that it was time to visit the Zero Waste Project. I climbed into the waiting rickshaw and off we went.
We were the only customers and we bought a few things. I asked about the books and this time they were not display copies but were actually for sale. I bought an Indian edition of Wendell Berry’s collection of agrarian essays.
Now I am wandering around the house looking at the various artefacts and decorations, while the rain pours down outside with suddenly renewed vigour. Irma has returned to the Zero Waste Project to collect the paper bags that she ordered. I am looking at an image in a book that reminds me of the mural outside the Surf Club, which in turn reminds me of the Katha Kala performance we saw that frightened Auo.
At 18:00 a taxi will arrive to take us to Anib’s new apartment for dinner. The supposed thirty minute drive will turn into an eighty minute mystery tour increasingly marked by agitated phone calls as the driver realises he has no idea where Anib lives, and can’t find it.
When we eventually get there we will have a delicious home-cooked meal of crabs, prawns, fish, pork, chicken, salad, rice and bread. We will talk about education and employment, since Puji is almost eighteen and will be applying for college next month.
Their apartment is on the third floor of a new, and not yet completed, block of flats. So far three of the thirty flats are occupied, and Anib expects that no more than ten will ever be occupied. The rest will be kept empty as investments.
New apartments in India are sold as shells and, once you have bought one, you sign a second contract with another company to build the interior. Anib used someone he knows and they designed it together and had all the components handmade. The result will prove to be spectacular. They have used digitally printed tiles, for example, to create marble-like tile floors that have no repeating pattern whatsoever.
At 21:27 Anib will announce that the driver has to leave at 21:30 and off we will go. The driver will know his way home and the return journey will take about twenty minutes, the first ten of which consist of a series of short cuts through the dark alleys of Trivandrum.
The city is obviously a lot bigger than any of us had realised.