“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.
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’.
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.
[S02E11] Next week we head off on our classic Golden Triangle, where we’ll get to see the Taj Mahal and all those wonderful cities in Rajasthan. Before we do that, we head down to the backwaters of the south Cochin and rewards the youngsters for their sailing skills. We also get to meet a group of teenagers busily revising for an important exam.
[S02E10] Tea may be the calming cuppa we need after an extremely frustrating visit to an Ayurvedic spice plantation. Ayurveda is the alternative medicine passed down through generations of Indians. Sadly many have a complete blind faith in it, believing basil can cure cancer, for example. We debunk the wild claims of Ayurveda.
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.
[S02E02] Lonely Planet has this down as a must-do before you die, and having spent a couple of days on the backwaters of Allepey, we concur. This is a bird-watchers and fish-eaters paradise. We take a gentle motor through the backwaters, viewing sunken rice fields and people-watching the locals as they go about their business on the famous river banks of Kerala.
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)
The last instalment of our six-part story of our trip from Turkey to India has been published in Sailing Today. Over the last year our story of the Vasco Da Gama rally, including our passage through Pirate Alley and across the Arabian Sea to India, has been serialised in British sailing magazine, Sailing Today. In this story we make our way down from Goa to Kochi with friends Emma and Katie straight through some nasty storms, signalling the beginning of monsoon. Sailing Today Issue 171 is out now and is also available online.
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.
Today I had an encounter I will never forget. Meet Chella Duri, a goatherder from Tamil Nadu, working in the neighbouring state of Kerala. He earns as much in a month as we spend on an evening out, but I’m not asking for your pity, just a few moments to listen to what he had to say when he heard that I was a rich westerner living on a boat in Cochin…
Munnar is a corner of Kerala that’s tucked away in the mountain peaks of tea plantations and lush green valleys. Miles and miles of strange looking tea trees, interspersed with cardamom bushes and coffee trees, provide great walks and views not seen anywhere else in this mainly tropical state. In this post Liz provides some insight into these wonderful valleys, and throws in a visit to a tea factory.
We’ve now left Madurai and we take you up into the mountains. Kodaikanal is an old hill station in the Western Ghats and at over 2,000m it is cool, quiet and peaceful, the perfect juxtaposition to Madurai, that mad and crazy city in the plains. This mountain village offers some of the best views of the Ghats and this little post provides photographic and video evidence of exactly how English some of the countryside looks. Think Lake District in the autumn…
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.
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.
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