In Trivandrum, Kerala, we went to a circus which had many live animals. At the entry to the circus was a medical fair that had jars with pickled foetuses from start to finish and cardboard cut-out enactments of rape scenes. There was an adult corpse next to a helpful doctor who was lifting the rib cage with a ruler to show us where the organs went.
In Kovalum, multi coloured Kathakali dancers put on a cultural show. They had large red skirts and green and blue faces.
We took a boat tour of the backwaters of Ernakulum, Cochin filled with Chinese fishing nets. There was an island where they turned coconut husks into straw to be used to make bright green and red mats.
On the train north people were hanging off the sides of trains because there was no room inside.
Goa was all about beaches and fish. There was Anjuna, Calangute, Vagator, Colva and Benalum beaches- long curved beaches with coconut palms bending toward the sea. I wore a wide brimmed hat that could be conveniently folded into a small circle. A man pulled wax and rocks out of Dad’s ears for a fee.
Having spent the most part of the holiday taking malaria tablets with chlorine tablet laced water and being vegetarians as cows are sacred and can’t be killed; it was great to have salty air and fresh tasty seafood. There was also an ice cream van that used filtered water – we went every day.
The guesthouse we stayed in at Benalum village was owned by a lovely couple who spoke good English and treated us like family. My parents were still in touch with them for years after the trip. We visited Bom Jesus Basilica in Old Goa and Santha Durga Temple. We shopped at Margoa market and saw a bear dancing- a sun bear that the owner has tethered to a stick with string through his nose.
We met a Mormon family from America which consisted of 10 children from the ages of 17 down to baby. The 16 year old twin boys were my favourite and a girl that was closest to me age. We rode hired bicycles and played lots of cards- I learnt how to shuffle cards cleverly.
There was a field trip to Cape Rama Fort that we explored thoroughly and to Anjuna market to buy cheap jewellery and handicrafts. Beggars were the most prolific here and dad told me not to give them money because we didn’t have enough for everyone.
Finally we visited the gateway to India in Bombay. We stayed in a hotel where the beds had no mattresses and there were cockroaches and people everywhere.
When we arrived home, my dad discovered that he had put the same film back in the camera twice thinking it was blank. We ended up with double exposed photos of elephants juxtaposed on top of temples; and us with the Mormon family at Anjuna market seemingly walking into a crocodile farm. Though a mistake, these photos were some of our favourites and illustrated India perfectly.
Published as part of A Memorable Journey on Story2Share.
Related posts: India, 1987-1988, Part 1: The Road South