Before I jump into the post, I need to explain the title. For some reason, I always make up songs of the most mundane things when I am with the Other. And we were together all the time in the trip so my musical genius was unleashed, unfortunately the songs last a couple of days and then leave us. If only I had taken the trouble of writing them down, these last 10 years would have given us a great insight into our own lives.
I have been trying to live with as little things as possible, I think I do ok, but sometimes I pat myself on my back a little more than necessary and then end up with more things. As Moody would say, owning less things requires constant vigilance. Anyways the clothes industry, especially fast fashion contribute quite heavily to the depletion of the earths resources and sometimes also have social impacts – underpaid labour in awful conditions etc. To that effect I have been using the same swimsuit since 2012. I bought it in th US, and it has travelled with me to Goa, Gokarna, Thailand and even back to the US and offcourse the whole of this trip, where it was used almost everyday. It was dying, and the Other thought so too, to which I came up with the title song – ” the last place we are going to is Varkala …. Varkala.. and in Varkala I will leave this swimsuit behind ”
It doesn’t reek of lyrical genius, but it can be quite catchy when I sing it. So anyways it was time for Varkala, officially the last place on our trip where we could swim. From there we were heading to the Other’s grandmother’s place near Kanyakumari for a few days and then back to Bangalore.
Kollam to Varkala is a very pleasant ride, a little under 2 hours by the coast.
Just as we were leaving kollam, we chanced upon a beached ship. Wonder what the story is, why did they just leave it here to rot, surely a ship is worth a lot in terms of scrap even. We will never know.
We stopped for lunch at a road side restaurant. It looked promising, there were pictures of the kerala thali on a banana leaf, with sides of fried fish and beef, the tables and chairs were under the shade of a huge tree. Except that true to form, the food was terrible. Street food in India is amazing, why is it so bad in Kerala ??? They even served the food in plastic sheets shaped and coloured to look like banana leaves, why ?? WHY ?? WHY??? Eating on banana leaves is one of the most traditional eco – friendly practices we have. It decomposes quite easily. Maybe the plastic sheets are cheaper ?
Well you can’t expect much from a restaurant which serves you food on fake plastic sheets, but it was the worst meal we have had this entire trip. The other had been looking forward to the kerala beef fry, and was sorely disappointed. They even managed to make the rice taste bad.
Well atleast we had great scenery.
Hot, hungry and annoyed we entered Varkala, which is a small commune set around a cliff, overlooking a beautiful beach. In the monsoon there is no beach, and you can stand on the cliffs and look at angry waves below, but in the winter and summer, there is a sheltered beach which cannot be accesed by vehicles, so there are no shacks or shops. It is just a beach.
This town also attracts a lot of foreigners, but of a slightly different kind from Goa, this place is more of a yoga hub, where the people who believe in the universe and energy and all of that congregate along with motley crew of the rest of the world.
We checked into the first hotel we found called Akhil Resort, which was decent, a clean room with a decent toilet, a balcony and a pool for less than 3000rs. The sheets and pillows however had the names of other hotels, as bizzare as it seems, I think this hotel steals the linen from others.
As soon as we checked in I wanted to hit the beach and get a massage but the other wanted to chill with some beer. We contemplated going our separate ways but being the dutiful wife, I gave in. (kidding, I sulked a bit, and was hungry thanks to the bad lunch so conceded with bad grace)
The cliff is lined with shops, cafes and restaurants with trays of fresh seafood outside. Many of them serve beer but most of them do not accept cards, so withdraw plenty of cash if you are going there. The food is once again eclectic, a similar cuisine to the beaches of Goa and Gokarna. We sat at a north east indian restaurant which was a series of terraces overlooking the ocean. The Other had his beer, and I stewed over my lime juice. The sea was calling out to me… I can’t be near the sea and not swim, unless I am in Oregon or NoCal and the water is freezing.
We lost our way back to the hotel from the cliff and went around in circles for a while, trying to find our bearings lead us deeper into a labyrinth of ramshackle guest houses, a grocery store with a room to rent on top, people doing yoga under the tree, tattoo parlours and massage parlours which looked very very questionable, till we gave up and resorted to google maps. How did people travel and discover new countries and map them in the old days, we got lost in a 500M stretch !
But once we got to the room it was time to get dressed (or undressed) and go to the water. Perhaps it was because it was our last swim of the trip, or perhaps it was because it was Varkala, but the water was amazing. It was the best time in the water for us. There were even some people surfing a little away. We frolicked through a gorgeous sunset and stayed in the water till the light faded and there was darkness in the air, and then it was time to climb back up the cliff and decide what to do for dinner.
We decided to try as many restaurants as possible on the cliff and hopped from one to the next having a beer and something to eat here and there, till it was bed time. The beach below was inky black, but there were people there. Some of them had lit up lamps to form a circle. It was rather nice.
We were hoping to meet our new friends from the Shaka Surf Club here, but we had to leave before they came, which was a pity, I love connecting with new people while travelling, even if we never meet again.
You can spend many days in Varkala, eat – swim – sleep – repeat, but we were on day 38 and needed to run, it was one last day at the beach for us. We were back in the morning for a small swim, a walk and a breakfast overlooking the ocean. Meals with a view beat all other kinds of meals any day.
Special mention – there is a café called the juice shack where they fill your water bottle with filtered water for 10rs so you don’t have to buy bottles and throw them in the sea or send them to landfills. They don’t treat the Indians as nicely as the foreigners but for this I am willing to concede their weird racism.
I could go back perhaps, I think I might like to…
I have been wanting to do a solo trip for a long time, and booked my tickets to Varkala two years ago and then chickened out and cancelled it. It is perhaps fitting then that I am writing this post on my solo trip but in France.
So goodbye readers ( I think there are a handful of you now, apart from the three I know), there is just one post left of us hitting Kanyakumari, the very tip of the Indian Peninsula and then heading back home and to our jobs. The end is near for the saga that buttercupgoeswest.