On the beach

Being a beach babe, I’ve swapped Munnar’s calming mountains for Alappuzha’s sandy beach. I’m back on the west coast of Kerala, about 50km south of Fort Kochi, which is where I was before going to Munnar.

I’m relieved to get some 30c heat back in my bones! I’m seriously concerned about my ability to now cope with sub-20c temperatures! This is ironic because, prior to coming to India, I struggled with anything above 25c. I wonder if 30 is the new 20 this year?

One reason I wanted to be by the beach was to run in the morning. So it was with great joy that I went for a gentle 5k run. I came back to a tasty dosa, sambar (South Indian curry) and various coconut chutneys.

When running, I expected more people to be staring at me because in five weeks I’ve seen two runners and one was white! However, most people just took it in their stride. In fact, more people have been curious when I’ve been at a busy junction taking photos of speeding rickshaws!

I’ve lucked out again at my hotel, which is deceptively called Rosa Mystica Beach Resort – perhaps an indication of expansionist ambitions. A lovely small homestay where the owners do everything, including the good old-fashioned home cooking.

It still makes me smile when I see the owner’s reaction after I ask for South Indian food and not the usual stuff they give to tourists for breakfast (jam, toast and tea). I wonder if anyone actually takes them up on this relatively bland alternative.

After breakfast and shower, the owner took me on an impromptu motorbike ride around the neighbourhood, possibly because of my Gujarati heritage.

Alappuzha was a major trading port prior to the development of Kochi. Business-minded Gujaratis settled here because of the trading links.

Several people, on learning that my parents were born in Gujarat, have told me that Gujaratis are good at business. I did wonder: where did it all go wrong. I could have been a cornershop millionaire!

As usual, when I arrived yesterday, I made enquiries with the homestay owner about yoga classes. To my surprise, a yoga teacher came over to discuss my “requirements”.

This evening, I had my one-to-one session with the teacher. We went to the roof terrace and did yoga under the stars – with the mosquitoes. For them, coincidentally, it was mealtime, and they congregated around my ankles.

After the excellent yoga sessions with Santhi in Fort Kochi, this was disappointing. Santhi was hands-on, stretched me (in both senses) and I made tangible progress every day. Of course today was never going to reproduce those 2.5 hour classes and the communal breakfast. But still, this teacher was uninspiring and perfunctory. By contrast, Santhi was very passionate about yoga and spreading the message: “Become a yoga teacher; the world needs more yoga teachers”, he would say, even to beginners like me!

When we finished, the teacher said, “Same again tomorrow?”. I replied that I would let him know. I returned to my room, applied Tiger Balm to my ankles and had the most delicious dinner.

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