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Wednesday, January 30, 2008
hellooooo! i've found a computer, with a fan in the roof and the arabic sea outside the window. wohoooo!! so, i continue my diary :)
friday 25/1-08 went by bus up in the "cardamom mountains". they're called that because the trees are protected and cannot be cut down in order to make room for plantations, but the people living here are allowed to grow cardamom between the trees.
we made a short stop at a school, and borrowed toilets in nedumkandam. i love the names :)
oh, a good advice: if you ever get hold of tapioka (or maybe kapioka??) chips you are lucky. they are great.
stopped by the road overlooking the aneyrokaidam (????). some part of the name means "elephants", because the elephants go there to drink at night. beeeeautiful! i won't even try to describe it. but i promise it is definitely worth the risk of going on those dreadful roads to see it. when we were leaving i was almost convinced we'd fall down the slope and die. one of the back tyres of the bus was at the edge of the road when we stopped, and starting again the bus jumped a few times, but then we were on our way again. the roads in the cardamom mountains are narrow, steep and winding like snakes along the mountain sides. (just a note> the power just went. fortunately this place has a backup thing that gives power for an extra five minutes. nice of them :) the view is fantastic, but it's really really scary. we met schoolbuses now and then, and according to my standards the road was much too narrow even for one bus.
when we arrived in munnar we went for a walk to a little village close to the hotel. we walked through tea plantations to get there. i wonder how they manage to harvest the tea... it grows up and down really steep mountains, and the bushes are planted really close with only narrow paths here and there.
it's much cooler here in the mountains. apparently it was 3 degrees below freezing the other night. there are not as many different plants growing everywhere either. either cardamom or tea with silver oaks here and there. the houses seem to be in better shape too, as the air is not as damp as down in the backwaters.
i'm starting to get used to the fun way they wobble their heads. at first i thought it looked weird, but it's getting more and more natural.
oh, an observation: it's not only at former jamtteknik that moustaches are popular. almost every indian man i've seen has a nice big black moustach. even boys that look about 12 years old have them.
saturday 26/1-08 republic day today, so we watched the hotel staff hoist the flag and sing a song before we went down to munnar city and visited a hindu temple. before we went in ajith told us a brief history of islam and the story of some of the millions of gods. a cool thing: first you should worship your mother, second your father, third your teacher, and the gods come on fourth place. teachers seem to be very respected here, and people get very interested when the husband says he is one.
in the temple we look at a man wrapped up in a white sheet performing some kind of ritual. we got holy water in our right hands. didn't know what to do with it. some of the indians drank it, and others put in in their hair. i chose the hair version, as i'm a germofobiac and my hands were dirty. whe also got dots on our foreheads mad of ashes and oil. after that there were different golden gods to choose between. we chose ganesh. i have no idea what we were supposed to do there, but ganesh looked nice.
went up to erivakulam national park, which is supposed to host animals with such exotic names as gaur, sambar and nilgiri tahr (which is some kind of goat, and half the world's population lives in the erivakulam park). anamundi, the highest mountain top south of the himalayas is also in the park (2695 m above sea level). we were not allowed to go all the way to the top, though. apparently the anamundi used to be a popular place to commit suicide, so guards were now stopping people at a safe (?) distance. as almost every spot along the road up the mountains had a steep on one side i guess the reason the anamundi was so popular for suicude was not so much because it was the only place you could do it. apparentlykerala has the highest suicide rate of india. they also hae the highest education level and the lowers number of analphabets. i guess there's a relation to be found there.
we didn't see a single animal. not even a bird. but we did meet a group of nurse students who were on a leave because of the republic day. i felt like an exotic goat myself, because they flocked around me to take photos :) so far we've almost only met indian tourists. we've only seen a few white people in the big cities. we stayed for a long time and talked to the students. the girls i talked to were shocked to hear i don't belong to any religion, and that i was allowed to marry a christian man. these people didn't seem to be as traditional as people seem to be in the smaller villages. boys and girls talked and joked with each other, and anish (the class clown i guess) made up stories of the girls being very old and having 12 children, and the girls replied by telling me he was not really a student but a mental patient they were taking care of. a young man we talked to in thekkady said that it would not be possible for him to even talk to a girl if he wasn't married to her. i would have loved to stay and talk longer, but we all had buses to catch.
had lunch "down" in munnar (1600 m above sea level), and then went to the market. we found the most wonderful little book store, and bought half their stock :) we got 10 beautiful posters of animals, plants, fruit and the malayalam and hindi alphabets, note books, the sweetest malayalam school books and a wonderful book with patterns for a certain kind of art the tamils (especially) have in their gardens. for all this we payed 50 sekr, which was more than it actually costed. the girl in the shop was the sweetest and very helpful, and invited us to stay with her family if we wanted to stay longer in munnar. i don't remember her name, but ir rhymed with erika.
back at the hotel we met tourists from hydrabad and someplace else in ahndra pradesh. they are also going on a roundtrip, visiting the same places as us. some of them were teachers, and one was a principal, so we were examined about indian cities and had to repeat impossible names 10 times :)
had dinner together with a retired fisherman from the ahndra pradehs group. his wife and sister didn't eat at night once a week (but i didn't understand why), and the others in the group didn't eat meat, so they couldn't eat at the hotel restaurant. we had a really nice and interesting talk, and he told us about hinduish, fishing, arriage and exercise, amont lots of things.
DONE! that was all in the paper i had with me. the rest of the story will come another day :) i'm now in kovalam, where we're going to stay the rest of the vacation.
see you!! now i'm going to take a swim in the sea :P
¶ 10:14 AM
thursday 24/1 overheard a conversation between two snobbish people at the hotel. they were talking about the decline of the swedish language, and they sounded just like a black and white film. the woman said: 'chat - a comunication form empty of both contents and form." sweet :) they also talked in very negative terms about text messages, email and modern language in general. they must think i'm a very empty person, both when it comes to contents and forms :)
went to look at a spice plantation. thought that was a must in kerala (maybe anywhere in india?), as the food reminds me of my household classes in school, where the c and i mixed all spices we could find and eventually ended up with un-eatable food. the plantation looked very different to what i imagine it would have done in sweden: everything was growing everywhere - vanilla, pepper, coffee, cocoa and millions of others in a salig blandning. no swedish straight lines in sight :)
got to ride on madola (don't take my version of indian names too seriousy, i just write as i think it sounds, i probably don't get a letter right). he was a 35 year old male elephant with pink ears. it was amazing! i could feel his shoulders move under my legs, and his ears touched my feet. i'm now convinced i was born to ride on an elephant! it was the coolest thing i can remember ever having done. sitting high up in the air on that enormous animal, and being able to comunicate with him by touching his ears and head. afterwards we fed madola and his friend monicha, who was also 35 but a girl. they preferred bananas. elephants are really amazing people. they have the tiniest little wise eyes, the skin is rough someplaces, and soft as baby skin on others, their feet look really soft and sensitive, even though they re bigger than a normal sized dog. we also got to help washing monicha with coconuts. she fell asleep, and looked really cute. and she made us "kissing sounds" to thank us. they are really polite, the elephants! love love love!!!
the friendly fat man gave me oat meal porridge for lunch, as he said that would be good against head ache. to be really honest i don't think i'm going to be too fond of the spicy food even when the head ache is gone... it looks beautiful, though.
went for a walk in the neighbourhood, through the cows resting in the fields just outside the hotel, through narrow streets and then back through the loud "city" where we met javeed again. he gave us his family's adress in kashmir, and assured us it is no problem going there anymore.
took a bus to periyar wildlife sanctuary, where we got on a boat on the big periyar lake. i didn't expect to see any animals, i just wanted to see the place. but we saw lots of weird birds and monkeys, and even buffaloes, bisons, deers and a little elephant family. they were all coming down to the lake to drink as it dawned. we didn't see the tigers, though. apparently there are about 20-30 of them in the area.
as the busride from the hotel to the sanctuary turned out to take only maybe 10 minutes we walked back, together with a swedish couple and indian ajith as our informal "guide". he told us a tiger had showed up a few weeks ago, but he had been old and sick and people were afraid he'd kill children. he didn'd say what happened to him, but i guess he was killed. ajith also told us it is not allowed to capture wild elephants, but that it is difficult to breed them. here in kerala it has been prohibited to capture elephants for a long time (i think it was 50 years or something), but people have been able to buy them from tamil nadu until only last year.
found a wwf shop, and talked to the owner and his mother. the man told us he had no cast, as his christian parents hadn't had him baptised. bought a pink t-shirt with a tiger.
¶ 1:53 PM
monday 21/1 3.20 got up the typical indian traveller, according to my very limited study: either old and grey or young with blond unbrushed hair and a green rough jacket. lots of snow in iran. 21.30 (local time) landed in thiruvananthapuram. got on a pink bus to our hotel, together with a bunch of old age pensioners. were welcomed with flowers and a very sweet drink. dinner: lots of strange dishes with different colours and smells. "no no, no strong, only a little bit strong": yeah, right! i can tell allready i'm going to starve on this trip >)
tuesday 22/1 6.30 got up bus to alappuzha ("the Venice of the East"), which took about 4 hours. stopped on the way to have lunch. some people saw dolphins. i was not on of them :( got on a kettuvallom (or something like that), which was an old boatmade of ropes. i think it had been used to transport rice, because they called it rice boats. the husband and i went on a boat together with a cool couple from uppsala/manchester who had ohm tatoos, yin and yang in the ears and did tai chi to start the day.
cruised the backwaters of kerala all day. spent the day, evening and night ooking at the vies, reading and resting. at sunset the boat stopped for the night. beautiful night with a full moon on one side of the boat, and some kind of ceremony going on in the distance at the other.
woke up after two hours sleep. until then i hadn't realised how much a person could sweat! it felt like my skind was liquid, and the air was filled with more water than actual water!
today i had the smallest banana i've ever seen. i also had a green one and one that wasn't sweet. and i don't even like bananas >)
so far: doesn't feel really "me" to be so extremely "tourist-ish". maybe booking a roundtrip was a mistake?
wednesday 23/1 6.30 up (again! i don't even get up this early when i go to work) today is the birthday of an important hundu god, so we've heard drums and prayers all night :)
breakfast on the boat with the cool people. this is their third trip to india. their first stay lasted 7 months.
went on a bus to the western ghat mountains. you seem to be able to drive on whichever side of the road you feel is the most appropriate at the moment. and there are people, mopeds, elephants and kids all over the road. the cows and goats are clever and keep at the sides of te roads :)
stopped at a rubber plantation. two dirty little men showed how they make rubber.
visited a tea factory. very load! and i suppose they wouldn't pass a system safety test... it was cool, though. the machines looked like something in a tv-programme i saw as a child (doctor snuggles?). and the air smelled of tea. apparently their tea was of very bad quality, and was only sold locally. but now i have bought some bad tea to give to my friends :)
saw a flower garden too. they had lots of flowers. and as everything is so wet things grow everywhere. the walls of the houses turn grey with mould while they are still being buildt, and soon green little leaves start to grow through the cracks.
had dinner at a restaurant on top of ahill with a fantastic view. met a group of american tourists born in india, and the former owner of the restaurant.
arrived in kumily in the afternoon. our hotel was double booked, so we got to stay at a brand new hotl right at the edge of the village. it feels like the country side, with cows and field just outside, and only a short walk to the city/village of thekkady.
went for a walk over the border to tail nadu. met javeed from kashmir, who told us everything about shawls. had a head ache, and bought head ache pills with the colour "sunset" :)
so far: everything is weird and new and different: smells, tastes, sounds, colours. it's very green and damp, and the houses are falling apart in one end while they are still building the other.
have to go. this is the first internet we've seen for ages, and tmmy and someone else are standing in line.
i'm now on top of a mountain, where it was three degrees below freezing yesterday night!
¶ 4:23 PM
just a quick HELLO from a slow computer in a hot india.
So far: new smells, lots of noise, hot food, wet air, elephants people cars and rikshas (?) on the streets. and lots and lots more.
so far it's been a cool and weird and exciting new experience. the husband loves the food. i can only manage to eat rice and youghurt. tomorrow i'm going to ride on elephants! tonight (and probably tomorrow night too) we're staying at a hotel in a nature reserve or something. don't ask me about the name! but it's up in the mountains somewhere.
i'm keeping an old fashioned pen-and-paper diary, so i'm going to update the blog with more information eventually. if i survive the bus trip downhill, that is... now i'm going out in the mad life on the street again :)
The oldest little brother is shaving with the doggy trimmer :) when the youngest little brother talked about his rusty car earlier i suddenly realised that he is not 6 anymore. He is TWENTY-6! Very weird
i'm packing, watering plants, filling in application forms for dog shows, making lists for the bathroombuildingpeople, charging the camera, putting out timers for the lamps to go off and on while we're away, saying sorry to everyone i haven't had time to help, worrying about things i can't control while i'm away, looking forward to two weeks' vacation in indialand.
¶ 6:15 PM
i closed the chapter i've been workin on "all day", and remembered i just had to check something silly on a page, and when i tried to open the file the computer said i couldn't, but maybe if i asked kindly he could try to repair it. which he didn't do. probably because i'm not in the mood of asking things kindly at the moment. so, i will have to do exactly the same work all over again. boooring.
¶ 2:11 PM
yesterday i had a text message from a colleague, thanking me for "saying what we think" at the kick off. i thought that was sweet. and a bit cool too. i didn't think i was the kind of person who'd say what i think. at least not if what i think is that the bosses have acted like incompetent amateurs. i really hope the bosses realise how seriously i take this, because even though i'm very much disappointed and angry i would like to give this company another try. but if they don't apologise i'll have to go. that's how mature and professional i am :)
by the way, i have almost finished the cheap ugly blocket bed. we slept in it for the first time tonight. which wasn't a very long night. first the husband stayed up until 1 in the night/morning to shovel the slope (it was snowing a lot, and as the best way of pissing our weird neighbour off is to shovel the slope before he gets to it he didn't want to miss the oportunity). i was making the new/old bed and vacuum cleaning and doing other wife-ish duties while the husband was working and sweating in the snow. and it worked. this morning the neighbour was so pissed off he turned on the not at all quiet snöslunga and started walking around outside our bedroom at 7.30. yay! sweet victory! :)
¶ 6:57 PM
tomorrow i'm going to åre or someplace far far away on a kick off, that we half jokingly call a fuck off, or alternatively the fucking kick off if we want to sound more positive. i'm a bit nervous. what can i expect of a kick off? will i have to play silly games and climb through ropes in the woods in order to learn to trust my colleagues? the k suggested we say fuck your kick off and lock ourselves up in our rooms until we can go back home. another colleague said that it was good we had to leave so early tomorrow morning, because that makes it easier to be angry.
i wonder if we have the wrong attitude to this arrangement? somehow i've had the impression that a kick off is supposed to be something fun... maybe i've become too acclimatised to my colleagues, because i would very much have preferred a nice after work on a friday (here in sollefteå!), where we could all be mean to each other.
¶ 11:12 AM
today was my first day at work after 2 weeks' christmas vacation. getting up this morning was painful. i've become used to getting up at 7.30 and taking the dog out for a pee, and then go back to bed for two more hours. i think that's how i'm supposed to do it. it feels RIGHT. getting up at 6.30 and not going back to bed again at all feels ...WRONG. i'm sure i'm not supposed to live like that. a mistake must have been made somewhere.
¶ 8:01 PM
the finger i cut my finger when i was trying to cut the last part of the olive bread. fortunately the knife got stuck in my nail, otherwise i'd be a finger short now. why do i always do this? is there a special technique for cutting the last of things (bread, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots...) that i haven't heard about? or does everyone do like us: give the big "last piece" to the husband, who doesn't complain because he loves me (or doesn't want me to cut my fingers off because that would make me scream so loud)? because if there is no technique for this, it's about time for someone to invent it!
the bed i'm painting the cheap ugly blocket bed, and it's starting to look really good. or... at least really ok. but: the cheap ugly painting it was painted in before is coming through the cheap nice paint i'm painting it with. why is that? i paint, and it looks good, and i paint somewhere else for a while, and i look back at where i just painted, and through the nice pale grey comes horrible horrible orange! not nice!
the doggy hotel the pup and i went to visit a doggy "hotel" yesterday. we're thinking of checking him in there when we go to india. so while we are riding elephants, swimming in wholy rivers, walking on beaches, smelling spices, touching silk, looking at colours and eating in restaurants every day, the pup would get to spend two weeks locked up in a box in an old barn. all alone. maybe with a barking german shepherd in the box next to him, if he is lucky. sleeping alone. locked up in a box. cold and dark. and hungry. and all alone. having to fight with bears and wolfs to survive. and he is only a baby! maybe i shouldn't go to india?...or maybe i should. the pup seemed to like the hotel, and they had a little kitten named egil och eskil that he played with. and the girl managing the hotel seemed nice. maybe he will have the time of his life. or maybe he'll get scars for life, and will never ever trust me again...
the doggy dogs the other day i met a lady who looked at me scornfully and told me she had dogs too. but her dogs where not a bit like my dogs. the difference was that her dogs were "real dogs, so to speak". "real dogs" meant that they were not allowed in the house or to go for walks with other people and dogs, but instead got to be locked up in the car. i think i prefer my fake dog, though. it warms my feet a lot better than the real ones :)
the eyebrows they became black during the christmas holidays. i had started getting used to it. but. they have grows a little. and now it's obvious that their true colour is not really transparent. they are semi-transparent orange. not nice. what to do? paint them black again (and again and again) or let them grow out to be their natural orange selfs? why do things around me tend to be orange, by the way? i don't really like that colour...
¶ 2:24 PM
i have started painting the cheap ugly blocket bed. i think it's going to be ok. i still think it was an anti-bargain, though. we probably payed more for that ugly thing than it cost when it was new... or maybe not (i just like complaining and being out of proportion)
new years eve was nice, by the way. the princess l took a picture, of our cosy new year's pic nic on a hill with 6 dogs, 2 babies, >5 normal sized children and >7 grown ups. we walked up the hill in daylight, and down the hill in darkness. the normal sized kids had those wonderful mattresses (i have wished i'd get one for christmas every single year since -98). and the parents had torches to help the children avoid the biggest trees, stones, dogs and other obstacles. i hope someone saw our little train of lights and heard the shouts and laughter coming down the hill.
¶ 4:50 PM
i'm erika, and this is my own little blog. i'm married to tommy, and we have two cats named galdor and kala bhalu, a puppy dog named sasoh and a few chicks. we also have five angels: love, arne, anton, bob and teo.