FTB People: Nazar 72

Nazer 72 in his auto-rickshaw

“I Nazar seven two. Maybe you want diesel? Maybe wash boat?” With a sideways, rolling nod, he proffered a flimsy business card. Maybe, I thought, taking it from him. His anxious expression relaxed, and a brief smile smoothed his shiny face.

Read more...

From India To The Maldives

Saying goodbye to friends is hard enough. Saying goodbye to friends we’ll probably never see again had me choked. It caught me by surprise but as I hugged Gladwin, my Indian brother, I was lost for words and my eyes welled up. The pontoon at Kochi marina was a hotch-potch of our close friends, our Indian ‘family’ and the marina staff. They all waved us off as Esper slipped her lines and it was at that moment it struck me exactly how much I would miss India. Surely a passage to the Maldives was just the tonic we needed. If only!

Read more...

Black Dog – A Real Indian Scotch Whisky?

One frustrating aspect of living in India is the lack of decent booze. Rum is in abundance, but it can be quite sweet; wine is available with just three labels worth talking about, but their flavour does not justify the price; and as for the whisky… The only way I can describe Indian whisky is ‘caramalised fire-water’.

Read more...

Can I have a case, please? Wine tasting in Cochin

Ever been to a wine tasting in India? Did you know that “terroir” is a term that has no English translation? It is like the fifth element, and is that “je ne c’est quoi” produced by the environment in which the vine grows: the fungus that grows in the soil, the insects which crawl in the soil, the strength of the sun and the amount of rainfall. They all affect the taste of the wine in your glass. Apparently.

Read more...

Millie The Cat In The News

Yesterday we were visited by a camera crew. Apparently, in our absence over the summer, they ran a story on Nazer, the man who looks after our cat, Millie, whilst we were back in the UK. Yesterday they returned for a follow-up story, so you should see us all in the news very soon – if you live in Kerala, that is! Below is the original story that ran some time this summer. I’m pleased to say those awful blue tarps are now off as we busy ourselves for our departure to the Maldives early next year.

Read more...

Foreign Encounters: Liz’s first book is published!

‘When Nazar met our coddled cat, he fell in love. Unlike many Indians, he adores pets, but the few ragamuffin moggies you see in India are tiny. To him Millie was an exotic sleek-coated giant. When he discovered she knew the word “fish” he’d arrive at the boat calling “Fish! Fish! Fish!”… ‘

Read more...

Storm Brewing Over Cochin

It’s a bit early but the storms have started brewing over Cochin. I remember two years ago sailing from Goa to Cochin having to motor straight through some nasty weather and seeing lightning like you see in this video clip.

Around the one minute mark you’ll see it’s just like someone turning the kitchen light on and off. It feels like monsoon is just around the corner.

Read more...

Bolgatty Girl

Photograph: this is a random portrait of a girl who lives in Bolgatty Island village, where we live. Just happened to be walking past her purple-painted house and she immediately posed for the camera, as is typical here in India. It has quickly become one of my fave street portraits.

Read more...

Decay Theme – Life On Bolgatty

A submission for the theme Decay. Rather than go for an old, battered, black and white decayed look, I took a photograph of a decaying sign just on my doorstep (the Bolgatty ferry pick-up point) and brightened it up.

Read more...

Two Beach Birthdays

Our autumn series of followtheboat posts take us to the Himalayas. It’s an exhausting trek into the moody, cloud-covered mountains, but before we head north we’re going to take two weekend breaks on the beach in Kerala. Stupidly we booked our driver through the same company who arranged our fateful Western Ghats adventure. And guess who our driver was? Yep, the very same chap who claimed never to have had an accident in 21 years of driving, forgetting the accident Liz and I were involved in within 20 minutes of jumping into his car on our first trip (I think the definition of an accident in India has to include at least one fatality)

Read more...

Ricky Ticky Tavi

My Mum and Dad have been on at me for not writing anything since we left Turkey, but I’ve been busy, and they write so much there’s nothing left for me to write about. They even stole my favourite topic, FISH, and wrote about all their fishing successes. What they failed to mention, of course, is how I actually lure the fish to Esper with my witchy, feline, telepathic senses, so all their successes are really mine. Anyway, here are my initial impressions of India. Damn snakes.

Read more...

Kids Of Kerala Are Certified!

A few weeks ago I received an invite to attend the Kerala Watersports Sailing Organisation Certificate Awards. I’d already met Captain Jolly Thomas who is the man responsible for teaching young children how to sail their little, second-hand Optimist dinghies. In a country that has no real sailing heritage and with next to no funds Jolly has achieved the near-impossible by creating a small but successful sailing club for children. Set up as a charitable organisation the least I could do was attend the ceremony and maybe invite a couple of other western sailors to join me. Terry of ‘Roam II’ and Brian and Maureen of ‘Suryana’ came along to give their support.

Read more...

The Sooner These Miserable Sods Leave, The Better

A number of boats have turned up recently, heading west. Never before have I met such a miserable bunch of sailors. I thought it was just me but this morning a friend of ours who was cleaning her boat asked “What is it about these people?” They simply cannot bring themselves to say ‘hello’.” She is a cheery lady who could make even Scrooge smile. What do you think? Let us know.

Read more...

Folding PortaBote – Our New Indestructible Tender On Video

Boating is about pleasure but if there is one thing that gets me down it’s having to repair yet another puncture in my dinghy. The coral beaches of Eritrea gave our Tinker a real thrashing and quite frankly I got fed up with lugging this huge weight on and off Esper every time we wanted to go ashore. Liz and I decided, therefore, to treat ourselves to an unsinkable, indestructible, lightweight, folding Portabote. It stows like a surfboard, commissions in minutes and is fast! Check out the first of two reviews of this boat, including a video clip of the assembly. Worth every penny? Quite possibly. Strangest looking thing on our boat? Very definitely…

Read more...

Divanty Has Left The Building

On an overcast and mildly blustery New Year’s morning there were tears on the pontoon as Antony and Davina of s/y ‘Divanty’ left for the Maldives. Not including Lo of ‘Mistral’, who leads another Vasco Da Gama rally back up the Red Sea, this now leaves just Roam II and Esper from the original gang of adventurers who left Turkey in November 2009.

It is a strange feeling and a little sad too, what with spending the last few months having a giggle with the Divanty crew, but we’re happy that they’ve slipped their lines with some favourable winds and are heading somewhere new and exciting.

Good luck, Ants and Div.

Read more...

Christmas At The Taj

Not really for the general public but a few shots of our Christmas Day, which was spent at the Taj Palace Hotel, Wilingdon Island, Cochin.

Liz and I were joined by our friends Mike and Gabi, who were effectively on their honeymoon, and the usual suspects of Terry and Fiona of Roam II and Ants and Div of Divanty.

It is a real pleasure to be eating turkey, brussel sprouts and stuffing whilst supping on a nice glass of Chianti, in India where all of these things are hard to find!

Read more...

A Festive Message From The Esper Gang

Christmas is a’ coming and the nuns are out in force. Yep, you can tell it’s the festive season here in Cochin because the ladies in grey habits are running amok in the Christmas decoration shops. Clearly believing they have the blessing of The Lord Jesus Christ these little old ladies barge their way through the masses, desperate to purchase the most gaudy of decorations. There’s definitely some perverse pecking order going on in this predominantly Catholic part of India. Using their elbows as weapons these sinister old birds have complete disregard for the poor local children unfortunate enough to walk into their paths.

Read more...

Pre-Onum Festival In Cochin

Onum is a festival celebrated in Kerala, India and it lasts two weeks. There’s no big culmination, it’s just a period of rest and reflection and for many life goes on as normal.

Captured here are people at work and hanging out around Cochin during this period.

Read more...