This has been tough to put to paper, but eventually here it is. Let’s try recalling the impressions and ideas I had during a month spent in India in-between April and May. I have to tell you, this whole trip had a savor to itself, it’s still difficult to discern the taste and feelings I had there when I am back here now. The important point to understand is that I went to India because it was keeping on calling me, in a million of subtle ways. The food that we eat at least once a week at Woodlands, that rich, oily gravy which melts in your mouth together with pieces of hot nan. The music blasting from the speakers of Little India’s shops. The drunk people at Antarabangsa. Penang is just freaking cleaner India, and it has been always there since I’ve moved in. India was calling, from there. “Come and see me”. Literally, how can you ignore a piece of land which on the map is as big as the whole continental South East Asia? There would have been a strong incomplete vision on my part, if I kept forgetting about India.
It was the interesting point of many conversations with otherwise boring people, the fact they had been to India was able to sparkle fire in my mind. There were two categories of people: the one telling me they hated it, because it was just dirty, noisy, aggressive and macho. The other one, claiming that India is the most lovely place, where everything is different. Om shanti. A different culture, things done the same way, but in a different way. It was a true enigma to me, unable to understand whether India would have made a good or terrible travel destination. And therefore, I was always pushing the trip idea back because of the sheer hugeness of India. Having lived and explored China extensively, I was already familiar with the dwarfing feeling of being a microcosm inside of a gigantocosm, the frustration of human reach. It was just ridiculous to think to go to India for less than a month, so I always declined, pushing back, until the next long travel plan.
Which never came so far, by the way. So, when one night I found a very good deal on an Airasia ticket to Kerala, I just purchased it without thinking too much about that remote date, four months in the future. I was hoping that going would have been a real possibility, and not just a number on a black and white scruffy printed paper. In the end, we woke up encrusted by the terrible leftovers of a night without sleep and a packed flight, and the first thing I saw landing were coconuts. Endless. Everywhere. A massive amount of coconut trees wherever I could stretch my view.
I don’t know if starting from the South of India was a good idea or not, but anyways, one month it was and we had to decide where to start tackling the monster, from the top or the bottom. The ticket helped out eliminating a tough decision, and here we are headed for the southernmost tip of the Subcontinent, or just a little bit above: Trivandrum.
We were in for the shiniest, hottest part of India, for the big temples and the sacred cities, the beaches and the hill stations, the monkeys and the fishermen, the rocky deserts and the Mogul cities. It was an India which is totally far away from the Taj Mahal stereotypes, but it’s equally intriguing, beautiful and alluring. This is just an introductory note to reorganize my thoughts into paper and to introduce a thematic session for Monkeyrockworld, in this June, on the verge of a rainy season which never comes: Monkey goes to South India, to take it virtually off the geographical map, and bite hard before coming back and tackle the North… in a longer, stand-byish mode. Oh yeah.