I only have a few hours in India remaining <sniff> and since its absolutely chucking it down outside, and there is thunder like I have never heard before, I thought would take some shelter and tell you about my last few experience of India. I said at the end of my last entry that a lot could happen in a few days and it has!
2 nights ago in Kerala I was strolling along the side of one of the canals in Alleppey when I bumped into a lovely smiley Indian man called Kabeer. He asked me the usual questions…'what is your 'good' name?' and 'which country?' (That is word for word how everyone greets you here. Everyone has a 'good' name!). Then he insisted 'come, come, you must come and meet my family!!'. Short of excuses and with nothing better to do I obliged. I met his wife, daughter and son. His daughter turned out to be my age and spoke a good level of English. They invited me into their home and wanted to know all about me. Then of course they had to get the 27 neighbouring aunts and uncles, 72 nieces and nephews, 2 grandmothers, 8 grandchildren, the neighbours, the post man, the landlord and the local chief of police to come and meet me! Ok, so I exaggerate slightly, but there were many. They were all so nice. Most of them spoke some English so between the daughter (Aswathy) translating and a bit of charades we were able to communicate. They kept plying me with Chai (the delicious sweet Indian tea). They asked me if I was hungry and when I replied 'no thank you, I've already eaten', they plied me with biscuits, bananas and a full meal of noodles, egg and curry! I ended up staying for hours and when it came the time for me to leave they were worried that it was dark and unsafe for me to walk alone, so I had an entourage of the 2 children and an aunt accompany me home (and we stopped to pick up 2 more cousins en route!).
One of the Aunts invited me to visit her school the next day. She is a nursery school teacher in a local nursery. I thought why not, what a brilliant experience! Before I went to the nursery though, the family invited me round for breakfast. They cooked me a traditional Keralan breakfast, I forget what it was called but it was one of the best things I have eaten since I have been here. They were like pancakes, made from flour and ghee, served with potatoes and onions fried in turmeric. Accompanied by chai of course. Although they fry almost everything here, everything is freshly prepared and they use a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. By the time I left for nursery I was incredibly full as they kept insisting I ate more. In the morning break I got fed 2 cakes and about 5 jack fruit. By lunch time I insisted that I really wasn't hungry and thought I had managed to escape when someone offered to take me for a boat ride. When I got back they had prepared me a mountain of rice, an omlette, dahl and about 3 different pickles. I could hardly eat any of it and I hope they didn't think that I didn't like it, because I did, it was delicious, I was just so full! Eating with the family was brilliant. Far better than eating at any restaurant as I was eating true Keralan food.
The children were so cute! All aged between 3 and 5 years old. They are just beginning to learn their ABC's and 123's and they already have facts about India drilled into them (its no wonder everyone you meet is so patriotic!). They could already recite the Alphabet in English and count to 100. They could also say very basic phrases 'good morning', 'what is your name?', 'how are you?'. They spend as much time learning English as they do their own language, Malayam. The family told me that in India there are 28 states and 26 different languages! Thankfully all 28 states learn English.
The family were so kind, I just can't imagine that ever happening in England! I felt bad because I couldn't do anything in return, but I shall send them some photos.
So my trip to India has ended on a happy note. Despite feeling about 1 week ago that I was ready to leave, I now wish I could stay! I am really looking forward to Thailand though and all the new experiences that that will bring.
Love to you all,