Monday, 8 February 2010

The Raven

India; October 31st; Day 40; Chavakkad

We were packed and ready to leave this morning having decide to go to Chavakkad. We’d located somewhere to stay on the internet yesterday and would start our journey by getting the bus into Calicut at 9am.

Breakfast was as normal except that we saw a bird fall from it’s perch dead. There are no gulls along the Keralan coast and the space they occupy seems to be taken up with a species of crow. These crows noisily congregate in the palm trees along the beach, In the grounds of this hotel the staff try and shoo them away with firecrackers from time to time. This morning the noise was going on as normal when Keith just happened to notice that after a brief flurry of squawks a crow just fell to the ground dead. I had my back to it so I didn’t actually see it fall. The staff were bemused at first and didn’t really seem to know what to do. After about five minutes someone came along at scooped it up.

Crows, or more exactly Corvids, including Rooks, Jackdaws and Ravens are well established in folklore and mythology as harbingers of death, Keith and I naturally thought of our Father who has been very ill all year. We had been in contact with home recently and were pretty sure that he was on the mend and a lot better than when we left home six weeks earlier. However we weren’t to know then that our Father would die in three weeks time.

Of course birds die all the time it’s just that it’s not something one generally observes. It was a weird thing to happen.

After breakfast we carried our bags out to the hotel gate to catch the bus but apparently we had missed it. It had left early and had not left from the parking lot outside the hotel as usual. The hotel staff were perplexed but they eventually helped us organise a taxi into Calicut.

In Calicut we were dropped off close to the bus station. As usual confusion reigned here and at first we were told that this was the wrong bus station for Chavakkad however another chap insisted we could jump on this bus ... so we did!

The journey took us southward out of the city and down the coast. From time to time the bus left the main highway to find its way to a small towns and villages along the way. On arrival at Chavakkad we jumped an auto-rickshaw which delivered us to our accommodation about 5 kms outside of town next to the beach.

It was a strange place, and a bit pricey, but we had no real choice. The room was fine and we had a garden to sit and read. After settling in the porter/guard/chef rustled up and omelette for our lunch. Later we had a stroll down the beach and watched a lot of fishermen milling about the old boats. We then jumped another rickshaw and went back into town to try and find some beers.

As usual it wasn’t easy. After asking around we were pointed in the direction of a bar which was a dark windowless room up a battered old iron stairway. We took one look inside and turned away in horror. Back outside we considered looking for an internet cafe so that we could check into our flights tomorrow. But we gave up on that too. However we did find another bar attached to a hotel of some kind. This one wasn’t too bad though it was full of the usual drunks. In this one you had to pay for what you wanted at a kiosk and then present the ticket at the bar to pick up your order. Inevitably we jumped yet another rickshaw to take us back to the beach.

In the afternoon we sat around reading and idling away the time and amusing ourselves by photographing the many types of dragonflies hovering about.

The boss came over later to enquire how we were and to ask us what we’d like for dinner. We though a piece of fresh fish would be good and this was arranged. Later I walked back down to the junction and was watching the fishermen unload and pack the catch with ice. The catch consisted entirely of squid. Back at the hostel I asked if it was possible to get some squid for dinner too and the boss duly sent his man down to buy some.

Dinner, of course, was subsequently very good and we enjoyed a kind of squid stew as a starter followed by a large grilled fish, Not bad at all. We went to bed early as we would be starting our marathon journey home tomorrow.

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