It’s amazing what you can see whilst travelling on the roads in India. We were still on holiday in Kerala, and had enjoyed visiting elephants, swimming in the sea, and living on a houseboat for two days, now it was time to return to the airport. You see lots of things traveling all different ways, but travelling by car for long distances on these roads, nothing you see seems to be a surprise.
We passed four vans playing very loud music, and Prekash informed us that it was a funeral, and judging by the amount of followers it must be someone important that has died. It turned out that the person who had just died was a very influential priest. But as we past the precession we couldn’t believe that we could actually see the dead priest sitting up in one of the vans, while people were praying at his feet, holding his hand as the van moved along the road.
Further on, and moving no more than 30 MPH, because the roads were so bad, we saw some police.
‘What’s happening?’ I asked.
‘I am not sure.’ Prekash replied.
Then we saw 30 policemen holding sticks and marching, a flash back to army days. The policeman were wearing a horrible coloured brown uniform, ironically the same as the rickshaw drivers wear back in Mumbai. Then we saw a guy with a black cloth bag over his head being led by a crowd of people and all the police. It like a scene from the deep some in USA, in the 1900s, and it even reminded me of the Klu Klak Klan.
‘What’s happen Prekash?’
‘It’s a criminal,’ he replied.
I thought maybe this sort of out of date humiliation could still have a place in the world and even in the UK.
Within the same journey and only a few hours later we saw another parade of people walking along the street. We asked Pretash to stop and we could see maybe 100 people some dressed in the religious orange ropes men first and the women and children following behind them. Pretash explained that these people are on a pilgrimage and are walking from temple to temple. I had seen people before walking along the side of the road, and walking as a group to take a rest at the next temple before they continue to walk for days. But somehow this parade was different. We asked Prekash to pull over at the side of the road, so we could get out of the car and take a closer look.
Then we saw something that was really odd, and even shocking. The men walkers at the front of the precession were walking very slowly, and it wasn’t until we got closer that we realised why. They had long metal poles measuring up to 2 meters long poking through both cheeks, entering in and out their months. To make it worst at the end of pole was fruit connected making the poles bend with the weight. The poles were cut into both cheeks, and the weight made me look away as to the pain this must have caused. They were walking along the road and each step made the fruit at each end wobbling causing pressure in the cheeks. Prekash said that these men will walk for miles with these sharp poles sticking out of their mouth to show the faith to their gods. It was something that we witnessed, and I am sure because of its unusual and painful to watch nature, it would be an experience we would never forget.
Finally we reached our hotel after being on the road for nearly 6 hours. It was a hotel that I will never forget, but that story deserves a blog on its own. The location was near a beach, so after checking in the hotel. We need to venture out to the local beach, all the travel guides said that the beach wasn’t that clean but we decided we go there anyway.
We found a local rickshaw that took us to the beach, and soon we were the highlight for everyone to see. We paid the driver and walked down to the beach, we wanted to swim in the Arabian Sea, and even though we had a crowd of watchers that was going to put us off. All sorts of people were coming up to us and asking for a selfie, and soon there were 30 people just staring at our white bodies swimming in the sea. Michelle was not comfortable with the situation, and I knew that this swim would not be a long one.
We soon left the beach and got a rickshaw back to the hotel, it was at this point that everyone started to approach us. Staring at us as if we were from a different planet. They had never seen a white person before, and especially not a family, we were rare in these parts. We were like rare abilnno white monkeys. It reminded me of the rare white bat, in Jims Carey’s ‘Pet detective’. Everyone wanted to take a picture of us, people approaching to take selfies, I felt like I was in a zoo. I felt I could sympathise with monkey’s sitting behind their cages and just being stared at.
The driver in the rickshaw almost had to fight the public off of us, he was a friendly driver and he protected us from the crowds. One minute I felt like I was in a zoo the next minute I felt that I was a famous film star that needed to get away from the press. We thanked the driver for helping us to get away from the crowds, and sighed a breath of relieve and we were all looking forward to getting back to the hotel for a rest.
But we were fooled, the driver wanted a piece of the white monkeys himself. As soon as we left the beach the driver was so happy that we had chosen to sit in his rickshaw and he was going to show us off. Whilst driving he would shout in Hindi to all his friend, I don’t know what he said, but something along the lines, of, look at the white monkeys I have got in the back of my rickshaw, we could not help but laugh. Several times he stop and we had to meet his cousins, brothers and uncles. After we had driven down one street, we were near a main road, where our hotel was located. But the driver wasn’t finished with us yet.
‘Would be ok if I turned around and took you back down the same road again, one more lap?’
He certainly wanted to show us off, we all smiled and agreed. It would have be a 5 minute journey back to the hotel from the beach, it took us nearly 30.
Finally the driver got us back to our hotel but before saying goodbye, he himself wanted a selfie, we obliged. Finally the white monkeys, entered their zoo and it was time to rest……. However that was not the case……………………….!