Kerala 6 – Busy Doing Nothing

Kovalum (still). 7th October 1985

Writing this is not easy. I have to make an effort. A game of cards or Othello; a thriller or the Walkman: all is easy when accompanied with constant nibbles and lubricated with another joint or chillum of Kerala grass. There are few among us who have not succumbed.

It is obvious that the ambiance here owes much to the ambivalence of the restaurant and rooms proprietors: four rooms with snackery attached: we’re happy captives. They all have black market interests designed to increase their prosperity at our willing expense.

There are no losers if everyone is happy..

I have never before experienced such sybaritism. Contentment, even joy, have passed my way. But not for extended periods. Love is the closest analogy, but where love’s eyes focus on someone else and, hopefully, theirs on you, the Kovalum sensation is more personal.

Am I in love with myself?

Maybe, but not much time is spent here introspectively. For that, one must be in a melancholic humour. In a climate so balmy, ragged edges, the bad times, are smoothed away. And having an inner smile is contagious. So I discover that doing nothing has restored my sense of humour.,   Only my wit remains with a cutting edge.

Doing nothing can be ritualistic. Watching the sun set, buying a banana chapatti as a midnight snack. One pegs the passing days with such actions, or merely forgets the passing of time.

9th October. 5.15pm.
Watching the sunset is intensely private. With an ocean in front, perpetually pulsing, above the clouds change colour and substance with the fading light from the horizon, now a flat Canaletto canvas, now a fortress being chased by a man’s nose. It’s a private viewing of cinema verité.

This is why, I suppose, that groups of peanut crunching, camera clicking Indian men, elderly adolescents all, noisily come and sit in front and all around me. They’re great film fans.

Kovalum Sunset – 2013


1. My diary records that on the 24th September I ventured south to Cape Cormorin, the southernmost tip of the Indian sub-continent. This may have been because I’d reached the northernmost pint of India during a trek in Ladakh and in some ways that completed a journey..
2. On the 4th October, I went to Trivandrum to do some shopping with le Suisse Claude – we bought an enormous stalk of bananas – and said farewell to la Suisse Brigitte who was headed for Goa. (We were to meet up later.)


About Jakartass

A Brit Abroad
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