1. Wake up to the sound of sea, cows and crows in my bright yellow beach shack.
Whoaa, the crows in India, theres so many crows. At 6- 7 in the morning you really know about these crows.
You lie in bed dreaming of air-pistols; for the birds and a huge power water gun; for the beach dogs to stop them from constantly barking out their territory.
2. Order a cup of Masala Chai which usually takes about half an hour to arrive. Unless!… you have made an appointment, difficult to keep at the best of times in India, but on these occasions the chai usually takes about 45 minutes thus making your simple plan almost impossible to maintain and your life ridiculously complicated. The most simple task in India takes a ridiculous amount of dedication, for example, today I must go and buy a padlock, I need to wash some clothes, I need to eat some lunch, I need to check my email…. oh my goodness gracious me! How can I manage!
3. Step One - Walk next door, sure that you have put on the right knickers. Right knickers meaning that they are decent and modest but not too decent to be stretched and pulled and covered in dirty herby oil by a strong thin tall and dark Kerala man. Bijou, with a moustache, who in 10 minutes time will have you lying on a large mat , like a variegated, marinading oily fish whilst he walks over your body with large flat oily feet in the attempt to peddle the life outta ya. God, its good.
What with an oily mat and the rope he hangs from, this could sound inappropriate but no, it's Ayurveda and is as old as the earth and unique to Kerala, down the road. It is very oily and the oil is infused in good herbs and roots and spices. It is meant to have strong healing qualities, especially when applied vigorously with a hot oily stick and stuff compress. A large Copper pan of Ayervedic oil is brought to the boil next to you and then the large muslin compress is slowly dipped in. Then it is smacked against every part of your body except your lady bum. Its amazing. Clarins…… take a jump.
4. Step two - Get towelled down in an oily stoned haze with an old T-towel.
5. Brisk walk to the end of the beach with my friend FJ. Get halfway.
6. Sit back in the bamboo plastic tabled Beach hut and have INDIAN breakfast….OH My God! Masala Veg curry, Aloo garatha (I think ) and Roti ….. small pancakes with spring onion and hot oil. Curd. Masala Chai.
9. Wander back to the beach and chat to a random and lovely selection of people I have befriended over the week, play backgammon, draw, try to read, usually unsuccessfully, do a bit of laundry, hang them out to dry on my beach hut balcony, put on my 'cossie' and my baggy pants, head to the sea edge and salute the large red sun as he sinks into the sea. Usually about this time I open my eyes to find myself surrounded by sandy cream and black cows cudding blissfully around me as if I were their yogic herdsman master.
DID I SAY THAT?
Yogic herds woman master?
OH MY GODDDDD... I am not lying!
Are you or are you not impressed?
9. Take my sun-warmed bucket of water to my hut and have a shower … take down laundry, sweep hut, Go to the bar. Hard Life.
Living on a beach whilst the UK is freezing its little socks off, my friends and family are working and here's me, the Indian herds woman?
BUT in 10 days I will be home. 10 days! After 6 months away. Wow. I feel rather strange about that to say the least. But lets not get into that story as I haven't finished my point system….
10. Eat more Massala something…… possibly pop into the kitchen to chat to and watch the gorgeous Nepalese cook, Ramu Olli, work his magic in a tiny tin and bamboo hut with his legendary team of 5 Nepalese kitchen staff including, Rabbi who likes making a show when I pop in. Last time it was a manly display of cleavering the hell out of some meat as proud and smooth as if he were decorating a wedding cake.
11. A game of back gammon with Sandip or The mad Israeli's, my hilariously opinionated but gorgeously cool neighbours.
12. Unplanned - Get stung on the big toe by a huge centipede creature. Huge being about 4 inches.
13. Wonder if I am going to die … or ... the centipede?
14. Have a dark brown sticky gunge rubbed into my foot as my toe grows larger and larger.
15. Time to make a phone call.
"Hello E? Can you talk?"
' Errrr Yeah…I'm in London having my hair cut, you alright?'
"I need you to google - "MASSIVE RED AND BLACK CENTIPEDE WITH FANGS BITES ENGLISH LADY"
'Right… Just your average phone call eh!?
' Yeah …. Hurry up. Get your hair cut and then call me.'
16. For over half an hour I sat with my Indian friends, R and S and we kinda stared at my toe seeing what would happen and I wondered if I was either going to die or whether I should have another rum and coke. No one seemed to keen on the idea of me having a rum and coke so 20 minutes later I am thrown in a taxi …. and delivered to the local hospital with my sore toe which was rather large and red and pulsing.
'LOU ARE YOU STILL ALIVE?'
17. Great fun in the back of the cab, slightly hazy from my rum and cokes and the prospect that I was having an incident which seemed quite entertaining…. through the quiet night roads whizzing along…
18. Arrive at the local hospital to find a family of 12 anxious people with their daughter about to pop a baby and there's me with a sore toe with two Indian men saving my life. It was surreal and good. I love the unplanned.
19. Meet all the family and watch the shenanigans of this green lit, white tiled tiled, pink walled mini hospital in GOA. I got to see a gorgeous Indian girl massaging her 'ready to pop bump' which was protruding proudly from the gap in her shari.
20. I was seen. Three very strict, not interested in being friendly; only efficient, Indian doctors who asked me a few prompt and efficient questions which were noted in a large lined notepad and discussed quickly in strict Concani.
21. Am given a TETNAS jab and some pills.
And that my dears was that.
Louiji the big bugs magnet.