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Welcome to India

As the first two months of my trip to India draws in, I think I’m in a good position to give a quick round up of what I’ve seen so far.

I’m going to keep it brief, and let the pictures do most of the talking…

After a very long journey from Heathrow – Mumbai – Thivandrum – Varkala (Kerala) I finally arrived at Soul & Surf and to the little piece of pardise on the cliff edge where I would be now spending most of the next few months.

Unfortunately I was baggage-less after a screw up at Mumbai with what felt like the slowest transfer possible left me on the plane none the wiser that my luggage hadn’t quite boarded with me.

This meant the first couple of days I wandered around wearing various strangers pants, clothes, deodorant and shoes… Nothing quite like being thrown into the experience head first, or getting to know people intimately very quickly by wandering around in their knickers.

So here’s a sneak peek at Soul & Surf, and the café where you will mostly find me over the next few months.. basic isn’t it? We boil water for chai on the stove and there aren’t any doors….

The weather is hot & humid… it was cloudy and a bit rainy the first week but now the sun is here and everyone’s a lot happier but hotter. Being up on a cliff edge is great, you get a little bit of breeze and you can walk down the steps for a dip in the luke warm Arabian Sea when it gets too stuffy… nice. When there’s dolphins everyone stops to watch them flirt in the surf.

A couple of lovely local Keralan ladies cook the staff lunches every day, and spicy fish curry is ALWAYS on the menu. It’s the speciality here, lots of seafood in spicy hot sauce served with rice, dahl and a poppadom. You have to adjust pretty quick to eating curry for breakfast lunch and dinner… yes breakfast too. Below is a picture of ‘Iddly’ a local traditional steamed rice pudding breakfast with pots of curries.

You can get an amazing Thali take away here for 80p. Nice.

Most things are veggie when they aren’t using fish – people told me I would be veggie within a week of getting to India, and I can now see why. Vegetarian never tasted so good and wholesome. You don’t really miss the meat.

The wildlife here is amazing. I’ve seen huge fruit bats flying overhead, snakes, mongoose, lizards, geckos, frogs, the most beautiful butterflies and an elephant that although chained in a temple was an incredible experience to see standing tall in the moonlight.
There are a lot of stray dogs around which pull on heartstrings, especially the puppies..
I’ve visited a couple of wild local beaches which use old wooden fishing boats and traditional nets, the local kiddies are always really friendly and want to have their pictures taken.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a neighbours for home made Indian food, and to a wedding celebration which was a spectacle of colour.

A trip in a rickshaw is a great wind in the hair experience, especially when they are decorated with such pride and care..

I am planning a trip to Munnar – a small town a few hours away which holds beautiful green rolling hills, tea and coffee plantations and elephants and tigers in the wild.

The café is fun and hard work at the same time. Managing an outdoor restaurant with local staff as well as Westerners can be tricky.. But I am taking on the challenge and am pleased that the menu has a mix of western healthy food and Keralan classics. The boys are lovely and I am particularly enjoying their home made chapatti’s which are cooked around 4pm every day (masala chai time) mmmmmmmm. Recipe coming up!

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