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Friday, May 28, 2010

Tourist-shock.. 1

When you’re in a tourist hotspot it can hard to avoid those for who the hotspot was developed: tourists. Western tourists. I chose a guesthouse on the basis of me not being surrounded by tourists. I didn’t want to be distracted, I didn’t want to get “sucked-in” to that scene. I came here to have some peace and quiet and some me-time. Varkala beach is divided into 2 areas, one for the Western tourists, which is busier, cheaper and has café’s, bars, restaurants and shops galore. The other part, which is where I am, is mainly for either elderly tourists or Indian tourists. It’s a little bit more expensive, it’s quieter and there are only a few restaurants and hardly any shops.

Even though I’m not near the busy area, I was drawn to it over the past few days. Mainly because I was trying to avoid certain Indian men who were making advances, in the only eating place near my guesthouse. So to avoid that confrontation, interference and awkwardness, I was hanging out in the touristy area and have been with people I was initially trying to avoid: Wednesday night I found myself sitting, for the first time in ages, with a group of English and Irish youngsters. It almost frustrated me to have attracted a situation I was wanting to avoid. The main reason was actually because I was confronted with something I haven’t been wanting to do since coming to India and that’s to party and to drink. I‘ve only had 1 glass of wine on my birthday which I couldn’t finish. Since then I haven’t wanted alcohol, nor have I been around people who have been drinking, except for Byron and Patsy last weekend.

Many people who travel in India say they automatically stop drinking because there isn‘t much of it around. In the towns there aren’t really any bars and I haven’t noticed any liquor stores either. It’s not a big part of life here. I unintentionally stopped drinking. It wasn’t a plan of mine, it just happened. But then what happens is, that travellers find themselves suddenly surrounded by their “own” people and get sucked-in to the drinking scene again. It can be a bit of an alien feeling and you ask yourself: what to do? Continue to be alcohol-free or go with the crowd? Wednesday I couldn’t resist agreeing to have dinner with these guys. They were lovely people but I soon felt that it wasn’t what I’m here for! I almost felt guilty for agreeing to go along and I was then feeling like bore for not drinking. But soon I copped-on; I wasn’t going to have a drink just to fit in. I didn’t want anything other than a juice. I didn’t care what they thought of me, because I didn’t even know these people. When they asked me to come to a bar, after dinner, I said no to that too! Was it because I wasn’t drinking or was it because I wasn’t having a great time and felt that all they were doing and “dribbling non-sense” and I was simply sick of listening to it? Maybe it was all of these reasons. So I decided to call it a night. I’d had enough. I thanked them and set on my way back to the other end of the beach.

I had to walk back along the beach at 11pm by myself. It was a 15min walk. I was a little wary about it, because I’ve heard a few stories about what has happened to tourists in these places. But it actually was the nicest walk ever! While they were sat in the pub, I was having a mid-night stroll. It was a full moon so the beach was lit up and it was almost like daylight. There was nobody around, except for 2 lost souls I could see far off in the distance. It was so warm and all the natives who, in the daytime, would be sitting around filling their hours with doing nothing except for drinking tea, eating fried food and watching the people coming and going, were all either curled up somewhere on a hard bench or a wooden bed or a stone pavement. And there was little old me, seeing this beautiful place by night, all on my own; walking along a beach in the South of India, by night, with only the sound of the waves in the background and the moon guiding me back to the guesthouse, safe and sound. It was so nice! For that walk alone, I’m happy to have gone for dinner with these Irish and English travellers, because I otherwise I would have missed out! Amazing.

More to come.. ;)

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