Today was our last day in Varkala as we were heading back to Ernarkulam to fly to Mumbai tomorrow. Steven woke early so as I didn't want breakfast he headed to the beach to grab a bite and print off some stuff in an Internet cafe. I woke and started to pack our things... It's amazing how much stuff we have and we have hardly bought anything. Steven came back about nine ish so I checked my mail and uploaded the blog.
As check out was at twelve we thought we had better get sorted so piled all our stuff in to our bags and I was gutted to see I had misplaced an earring, not just any earring but a pair that meant a lot to me. One of my oldest friends Sarah had bought them back from holiday and they are a gorgeous pair of turquoise drop earrings. I was be side myself. Steven went off to see if we had left them in the other room and came back a bit panicky asking for the other one... Apparently the women who owns the place could remember finding an earring but not sure if she had chucked it!!! Anyway he came back a while later and she remembered the earring and thought it may still be in her room. It was and I was thankfully reunited.... I thought I'm not going to risk mis placing them again so popped them in my ears.
After we had finished packing I went and sat in the terrace and wrote some postcards to all back home while Steven checked out and booked a hotel room in Mumbai. It was soon approaching twelve so we headed down stairs and our auto rickshaw arrived. We jumped in and headed to the station... We arrived and off loaded our bags and headed to our platform. We still had a good hour, so on the recommendation of the hotel manager we headed to the station cafe and ordered a thali each.... Actually we didn't order anything, by the time I had washed my hands and walked back to the table there was a veg thali meal waiting for me lol. I tucked in and it was actually nicer then the last place but as long as you didn't focus too hard in your surroundings... My apprehension wasn't eased when I asked the guy serving what the veg was that I was eating and he said I don't know....
We ate up and paid our bill of sixty rupees (less than a one pound) and headed out to the platform. We sat and awaited the train, buying some water as somehow we had lost our bottle on the journey down the platform. The train arrived fashionable late and we boarded. Despite the fact it was two pm we were welcomed by a sleeper carriage ...although when you see how far Bangalore is from Varkala you could understand why. This journey was going to take a very long time for those who were unfortunately staying put for the whole duration. We sat down on my sleeper bed and relaxed with our books, this was probably one of the comfiest ways to travel ...lying back on a bed complete with pillow and blanket... The it was improved further by a guy selling chocolate bars, hadn't eaten chocolate in five weeks and relented and bought one... Delicious.
The journey passed relatively quickly and we got up a little early to stick our heads out of the train door and see Kerala rush past us... I think Steven thinks I'm a liability as he held on to my rucksack tightly (that was strapped to my back!) as I took pictures of the train in motion... The carriages went on for miles, I couldn't even see the end of the train. A few mins from the station while we were waiting to get of I instinctively went to fiddle with my earring and to my horror realised the same earring from this morning was missing... I now panicked as we were moments from the station and the train doesn't wait at the platform for long before speeding off to the next town... I actually thought I was going to cry for the first time since arriving in India. We have little possessions while travelling and have already lost my sunglasses, bracelet and randomly nail clippers... Along with two white vest tops, yet few things mean a great deal to me. Yes my GHDs are expensive and my camera too... But the three things that I would be devastated about losing ...apart from the beau would be my memory cards for obvious reasons, my Saint Christopher as Hannah and Harry gave it to me and it means a lot... Lastly was my turquoise earrings as Sarah had bought them back from her holidays and her presents are always so thoughtful and irreplaceable. Steven bless him dropped his bag, gave me instructions to drag his bags off the train if it stopped ad headed back towards our cabin. This was no easy feat as the exit part of the carriage was now filled with Indian families waiting to disembark. However he made his way though and as the train slowed further I could see him frantically looking.... I just love that boy so much.
The train stopped and I dragged the bags off while three or four Indian men just stood there and stared... I have found that although they have this supposed nature of respecting women, giving up seats and such ...it only applies to Indian women. At the station despite having a heavy rucksack on my back not one guy offered me a seat and the same occurred now... I even had to ask one of them if he was getting off as he blocked the door. Anyway I dragged them off and hoped Steven was close behind... And he was ...shaking his head sadly. Now I really wanted to cry!!
No time for that though as the crowd swept me along and straight in to a guy asking "you want rickshaw".... in a very deflated voice I said we did and we followed him to his auto rickshaw. He was in the process of loading our bags into the thing when I stopped him to agree a price.... "Three fifty" he said... I simply laughed and said "I'm not stupid... The hotel is seven km away" I said "three hundred" and he said yes let's go. Once I was in the rickshaw I checked my scarf to ensure my earring hadn't got caught but no luck... Gutted!! Then I snapped back to the present moment and realised the guy was totally ripping us off and I was in to much of a miserable daze to notice... Now I had and was even more depressed... And annoyed! The journey shouldn't be more than two hundred and he was singing to happily for my liking.
The guy started making small talk... Obviously thought we were daft tourists and asked if we were needing a ride to the airport tomorrow. I said we would but not from a guy who was openly ripping us off... I said if he gave me a decent price now then he could take us the twenty km to the airport tomorrow. His face fell and resulted in nearly an hour of negotiations on route to the hotel... He tried the charm offensive but failed as I told him I wasn't stupid and hadn't just fell out of a tree... That I had been in India a long time (he doesn't know the truth) and that I'm fed up with being charged tourist prices and I wasn't prepared to pay three hundred for a journey that short. He then tried the "your from a rich country" to which I replied... "As are you... It's just the money isn't shared evenly" this led on to the pity speech... To which I replied... " I'm a nurse and by no means rich... This sorry speech wasn't going to wash". He either gave us a decent price or I would get someone else to take us in the morning. He knew he was on to a good thing as we were offering a good price for tomorrow's fare. He then tried to highlight that " look the journey takes a long time... its far to you hotel" I wasn't falling for that line either and laughed... "That's because you don't know where your going and are simply going the long way round" as he pulled up outside the wrong hotel. These guys try all the tricks. By now I was majorly fed up with the effort of saving a couple of quid... Although now it was the principle and I am as stubborn as a mule... Well so Stevens always saying!
During one of his many stories and charming ways in which he would change the subject from fares, I felt something hit my foot and when I reached down to the darkness of the floor I was dreading what I would touch... To my surprise it was my earring! I had removed it and put it into my bag! Honestly now the other one was making a dash for it. I assumed I had left the zip open as I often lose stuff that way but the zip was closed.... I felt a knot in my stomach and my heart raced as I dug my hand deep into my bag and rummaged! after a while of frantic searching I felt something between my fingers.... My earring!!!! The one that was on the floor must have fallen from my top or something... I couldn't believe it I had checked my scarf thoroughly. Now I was so much happier and took this as a good omen that I wasn't being harsh battling with this driver, good karma and all that.
Eventually after we had been round the houses several times... He wanted to show us a party, then wanted us to stay at his friends hotel... "For better price... One thousand rupees.. Our hotel was expensive" to which i replied, now a bit agitated "that our hotel had been booked and paid for and was only costing us a thousand rupees. Jeezo man!!!" Well eventually we arrived at the hotel... We got out, said we would see him here again at three thirty am and gave him the two hundred rupees to which he still tried his luck for more. I then in a very short manner, explained to him that he was lucky my boyfriend was more generous than me (I know... Who would have thought it)... As I was only willing to give him one hundred and fifty and that giving him five hundred tomorrow was way more than generous as it was.... so stop trying to mug me off!
We went in to the reception of the hotel and were ushered to sit down. The guy started checking us in so I enquired how much a rickshaw was going to cost from the hotel to the airport... He said no more than three hundred and fifty, and from the station to here... Two hundred and fifty... Mmm so I thought. They offered to get us an air con car for six fifty but I declined. I was happy to give the guy five hundred... It is a way out of town and will be the middle of the night, I'm not completely heartless. Just then the rickshaw guy popped his head in and checked we were still meeting him... To which I said yes... He must have heard the whole thing... good! i restated that he was getting five hundred, no more... No less. Exhausted we headed up to our room and tried to forget the whole sorry thing, though I was secretly pleased that we had persevered... I'm sick of people constantly trying to rip you off because they think all the tourists are loaded... It's like I said to the rick shaw guy, if that was the case I wouldn't be wearing dirty clothes with a stupidly heavy rucksack on my back... I'd be on a nice air con bus with my entourage and a fat Tiffany and Co diamond on my finger....