Day 2: The sea was stormy and dramatic yesterday, with the surf up and huge waves crashing the shore when I drove up to Kovalam. But local people still continued to bathe at the main beach although the promenade leading to the Lighthouse Rock was deserted, with empty restaurants still trying to attract customers.
I spent some time walking around but quickly returned to the car when it began to drizzle. The driver had also mentioned that he knew of a shop that "sells very nice Indian clothes," and I wanted him to take me there. Turned out the shop was Fab India, selling the same goods I had just left behind in Delhi. So next we headed to Kovalam Mall, a small brick building that looked completely deserted. I was assured though that it was indeed open and as soon as I hesitantly stepped into the dark, dimly lit interior, a cry went out to the back: "Customerrrrr!" The lights came on and three salesmen descended on me, the lone shopper in the mall. Curiously, all the salesmen were Kashmiri (as elsewhere in the state too), selling goods from all over India except from Kerala!
Eventually, my Kovalam shopping comprised just banana chips, jackfruit chips, one red banana (just to sample the taste) and an umbrella (since it continued to pour). Back at the villa, my hostess fussed over me, insisting I eat lunch despite the fact that I was really late. After that, she left me alone for most of the day and in the evening regaled me with the most incredible stories from the Mahabharata. I mean, here was I, an Indian, listening to a foreigner speak to me in her French-accented English peppered with Italian exclamations ("Capito?" she would ask me at the end of every story and sometimes sentence) about little known (to me at least) obscure passages from this great Indian epic. With her expressive eyes (she is a Kathakali dancer after all) she communicated to me so beautifully the wonder of Karna's dreams and Kunti's grief.
We had a late dinner and went straight to bed. I woke up this morning to homemade bread, strawberry jam and aromatic coffee - am now off to Kanya Kumari. More later....
(These Kerala diaries are from a trip I made to the Kovalam area in June 2017).