Not a vegan green shake, some sort of sugared-up cracktail.
Ok so I'm jumping back and forth a bit here so reverse to what January this time last year looked like.
I arrived in Varkala a paradise beach resort making my way to beach huts set back from the top of the red martian cliffs for which the area's famed. I reckon it's also pretty famed as a "gap yah" destination but I was on my own personal gap despite it being less than a yah. I'd booked some charming little huts prior to my departure and they were no less charming when I arrived with ample beds perfect for my endless slumbering habits. Under the palm trees was a broad American sized hammock where I swayed away afternoons of easy time reading books and "tuning-in" to the sounds of the birds fan faring through the wind blown palms.
Also checked-in were a tour bus of 20 Serbians who were into some sort of Eastern European trance. The trance was limited and bareable and they became my new friends for a few days. I was glad of a little company. There was one woman with them in her fifties who stood out from the rest in their white jeans and adidas who kind of took me under her wing and knocked in when they were going to breakfast and invited me for dinner. And then they moved on to their next location leaving me in my little hut and the others falling silent. I booked in for some tour bus type things and we visited parks where we got real close to tigers who I now realise were probably xanaxed out of their minds and sleeping more than I was which was saying something. Like I said there were places I couldn't mentally go and animal welfare was one of them so I glossed over all of this when I encountered it because I was trying not to consumerany more pain.
One thing I made sure of was that I kept up my daily practice of yoga. It was my little grounding ritual and stirred up my heavy shaking them out of their slumber. I joined a class with an amazing man who could have been anything from 40 to 105(it's so hard to tell with these yogis) but was the bendiest person I've ever encountered with persil white yoga gear and the obligatory matching ding ding tooth sparkle. This guy was like Jean Claude Van Damme only more namaste and less way less belgian. His class was brutal but brutal was good. I recall doing weird backbends down a wall with him telling me to let go of the fear - little did he know the fear was barnacled to my body. He was also a fan of a bit of back walking to relieve sciatic pain I was experiencing stirred up by the backwards wall bending. This was challenging for me not because of my back but because of the bare feet, something that a western boot and sock wearing girl struggles with. I hate feet, they're weird. I've always thought feet are better heard and not seen.
Each day I'd bring my kindle and the barren notepad to breakfast lunch and dinner. Following the Ayurvedic retreat I ate and I ate and I ate. I mean the food was marvellous, I wanted to roll around in my decadent dinners, feasting like a medieval King celebrating like I'd won a massive battle. Throwing caution to the wind I chowed through divine seafood platters of lobster, crab, monkfish, rainbow fish, prawns, - when you talk about "fuit de mer" this was next level, an orchard or seafood and the poppadums were magnificent little spicy crunches of joy peppered with multilayered spices. Waistline started to expand again. God I love food.
I had about three days alone. Everyone was either in a couple or a "gap yah" group and I certainly didn't want to be that "character with life experience", the part of someone's "when I was in India" story. I was feeling a bit draughty company-wise so started trying to figure out how to make friends without having to slum it in a hostal or just walk up to someones table and sit down. It wasn't going so well. The books I was reading were a bit "Universe". I read "The Power of Now" and "The Secret" - when something awful happens you question and query and desperately try to find meaning and signs in everything as you come to terms with your terror. I was looking for little glimmers of hope in everything. Little signs that I hadn't been left alone, that I was being watched over by some kind of force. A lot of these books say that when you ask the Universe delivers. I haven't got that porsche or the million pound check(yet). They also say the Universe gives you what you need at the right timing which seemed like a bit of a cop out for the Universe not delivering on any promises or taking-on any kind of responsibility whatsoever. Despite the flaky Universe, I was walking home one eve after my feast and I spotted a long blonde haired girl and guy out of the corner of my eye - yet another couple. I'd only walked a few paces more when I thought I heard my name and again louder "Marion??" with a questioning intonation. Turning around I literally couldn't believe my eyes....it was none-other than my friend Leanne who I'd been speaking to three weeks prior on a Skype call to her place in New York. I was literally knocked for six that I'd come all the way to India and bumped into one of my best friends. We were overjoyed hugging, dancing, shouting, long limbs flailing like some gazelle mating dance(she's also really really really tall). To top it ALL off she was wearing a Bitching and Junkfood dress! My contemplative silence was coming to it's natural close and I kind of felt the Universe was looking after me in it's laidback kind of way.
They were staying in a similarly basic place near mine so we all decided to up sticks and check into somehwere boujis. Leanne and I have similar tastes in the finer things so this seemed fitting. The next place was stunning. A four poster bed all to myself in the middle of a huge room with a balcony looking out to the sea from which I watched the metlty red sunsets each evening.
Myself, Leanne and Tom hung out for breakfasts, lunches and dinners taking space and doing our own thing as we wanted. It was just so easy. Varkala is just amazing if you want to be really really nice to yourself. Massages cost about €10 so I had one daily. I also had my eyebrows plucked which I will never do again as the lady shaped them into flaccid semicircles above my eyes. I also had a facial and a pedicure which was also a bit weird because I felt like a giant in lilliput with big cartoon person features. One of the highlights was a boat trip where I went swimming with wild Dolphins. I'm always a believer of the "When in Rome" way of life which gets me in all sorts of trouble but also on all sorts of exciting adventures. It was really really hot and I hadn't packed suitably as you can't really buy summer clothes in Dublin in December and all my stuff was in storage so I did some shopping and bought the kind of clothes worn by the kind of people that I would usually steer well clear of, the kind of clothes worn by white people with dreadlocks that smell of damp and Brighton. You just can't be chic or cool in India - my Irish hair had identified a hostile environment and went into some sort of behavrioural shutdown(think Monica in that episode of friends). Since my hair was refusing to maintain any kind of European decorum I just decided to roll with it. This and the fact that you have to wear scarves in India to cover your bust in case a man might have some sort of overwhelming episode of lust over the curve of a breast(six years wearing hotpants remember, this was mad to me). So I had a little shopping spree of some generic items and some orange pants with hindi symbols printed all over them - the obvious choice for the inconspicuous traveller. I thought I'd top this up with some Henna on my feet and I persuaded the girl to gift me the ink so I could practice on my feet back home. The devil making work for my now idle mind whispered in my ear and coaxed me into painting my own hands. I tried my best not too but I knew it was there and I couldn't help myself. Finally I was on holidays and I had all the sartorial trappings to prove it.
When the time came to leave I decided to do all my travel in one day so I could rinse the last of the good vibes out of Varkala. My flight back to London at the end of Jan was at 12.30 am so I booked a train delivering me to Kochin where I would spend the day sightseeing before flying out that night.
Alone again I arrive in Kochin and check into a hotel for a few hours so I can leave my stuff and sleep some more if I needed - I didn't have the full confidence in my life as an awake person just yet so better safe than sorry. I'd read of the great port and the seafood in my travel guide and I was looking forward to exploring a city so I made my way around the streets towards the seafront to see the great fishing nets. Kochin is a kip. I'd never seen water so filthy or so much rubbish. It all felt a bit feral, like a great big family day out seaside armageddon with vulture birds feeding on fish carcuses and discarded plastics. Not the most pleasant place to wander. Clearly the Universe gets pinged on this one because I'm walking down the street and I spot my friend Mia sauntering down the road with two friends. I was so dumbsctruck that I forgot her name temporarily and splutterd out something weird like "hey girl" or "lady!!". This was just ace. She was with two friends with whom she'd been travelling so we decided to go for lunch which turned into dinner, which turned into after dinner drinks. Obviously if you're in the middle of nearly a day and a half trip home the ideal thing to do is start drinking beer at lunch and keep going until it's time to leave for the airport but that's what we did and I so I set sail out of India on sweet flowing river of Cobra.
Mia, Sean and Andrew - it was humid, we were drunk and shiny.
I didn't go to India expecting to be fixed or expecting it all to go away. I went to India to be somehwere else and during my time there my brain somewhat fell in line and gave me momentary respite allowing me to be somehwere else giving me a break from the churning mayhem liberating me from my existence as "the bereaved". I don't know what it's like for other people who suffer major trauma but I really focussed hard on the small wins, the little things, the nice things. I needed to feel like I was part of some plan, like the tragedy was something beyond my comprehension and little nice things like bumping into my friends on the opposite side of the world were, I felt, intimations of this. Cynics might say they were happy coincidences and that's ok, I respect that but for me there were angels.
Sugar update - the sweets I made last night were SO amazing that I just ate six and feel sick now. I'll post some recipes soon.