Leaving the elephants of Parambikulam behind we headed ever further south, first to the ancient port town of Fort Cochin and then onto Cape Comorin, the southernmost tip of mainland India.
Much of our first day in Cochin was spent in search of Ratna, my father’s old housekeeper from his time in Cochin about 15 years ago. We discovered that the island she lives on has changed a lot since a bridge was built connecting it with the mainland and her old house demolished. After a lengthy search, involving at least half a dozen people, we were eventually directed to a tea stall where Ratna was working. She was mighty pleased to see us and with the help of her nephew to translate we had a good chat over a cup of chai.
The rest of our time in Cochin was spent mooching around the old Jewish quarter, enjoying a fine sunset over the Chinese fishing nets, and a few cultural performances at the end of a weeklong festival.
The next stop was Cape Comorin, the end of the line on our journey south, where we enjoyed exploring the sights with the throngs of domestic tourists.
We had a number of amusing encounters here. The first with an old boy on the boat crossing to the little offshore island who had his life jacket on upside down, the back of it stuck out so far every time he turned he whacked Pam in the head. We tried to explain but he just seemed to enjoy wearing it that way. The second was with a chap on the beach who agreed to take our photograph, after posing for the shot we realised he had no experience of photography when he picked up the camera, looked directly into the lens and tried to take the photo! After a brief lesson he turned the camera around and more or less got a shot of us standing at the tip of India.
We are now finally turning north and will be setting a breakneck pace on our way through Madurai, Pondicherry, Chennai and the little visited state of Orissa.