Kanya Kumari

KANYA KUMARI & KOVALAM BEACH

RETURN TO ASHRAM LIST

At 5:00 am the alarms sounds trumpeting the approach of a new adventure.  At 6:30 we walk out the door of our ashram flat, across the bridge that spans the backwaters and a hundred yards to the waiting line of Tuk Tuk (auto rickshaw drivers) who are already queuing up for their day’s work of hustling and bustling people to the four corners of the universe. There is a constant stream of people from the ashram going hither and yon. The header picture above is Kanya Kumari.

The cost of the ride is 200 rupees ($3.20 US) for the 30 minute trip to the train station at Karunagapally.  We had purchased our tickets several days earlier from a travel agent just on the other side of the backwaters.  We had requested an air conditioned chair car like we had when we traveled north to Kochi.  The trains to Kanya Kumari had no chair cars so we booked passage on a two tier, air conditioned sleeper car.  At the station, the train arrived about 30 minutes late which is normal.Sleeper car

We are in car S1 which means Sleeper Car number 1 and we are assigned seats 45 and 46.  The sleeper car has little cabins with a pull drape that can close off the opening.  We enter and there is a pleasant, friendly Indian man and woman sitting across from us and they speak excellent English.  His first and middle names are Wilson Thomas.  She has a traditional Indian name.  After the train is under way, we exchange pleasantries with our traveling companions and, because there are empty cabins, they move next door and we all have privacy.

The cabins have bench seats on both sides and a pull down bed up above each of those.  These upper beds are all pulled down in position as there is not really a reason for them to be put up.   The windows have something to be desired.  Unlike the chair car from our Kochi adventure which featured luxurious big wide-eyed window-to-the-world picture windows, the sleeper car has a small window at either end of the benches.  They are maybe 18 inches square and very yellowed - really not useful at all for viewing the magnificent countryside.  Chair cars are much better and the seats are more comfortable. 

Before long, young fellows wearing sporty jackets with a big patch on the back that says, “Meals on Wheels”, patrol the aisles broadcasting the drinkables and edibles which they have for sale.  I drink 5 coffees.  They are tiny little paper cups and 5 or 6 of them are equal to one of our USA coffee cups.  Bruce has been given a special diet due to seeing an Ayurvedic doctor at the ashram and so coffee and tea have been removed from his world.

The trip to Kanya Kumari is about 5 hours.  3 hours into the journey, a nice Indian man comes in and sits with us saying he is getting off at the next stop and since we are right by the exit door he is going to camp with us to have easy exit access.  However, he doesn’t get off at the next stop.  Then his wife and a very elderly woman, presumably the mother of one of them and wearing a surgical mask, comes in to sit with him and again he tells us they are all getting off at the next stop.  The stop comes and they don’t get off.

Prior to the man sitting with us, I had been reading Awaken Children aloud and Bruce was listening (or at least he kept saying he was listening Lol!).  The man comes, sits, listens and he gets into it.  He is asking if we know what this Sanskrit word and that Sanskrit word mean and we discuss it.  You can tell he expects us not to know these words and he is enjoying enlightening us so we play along with him.  Then the wife and elderly mother join us.  The wife has a very loud, piercing commanding voice like she should be a football coach.  She is talking to her husband over the reading like the reading is nonexistent.  I plow on with the reading anyway figuring they could move to another cabin if they didn’t like the reading program.  Finally, the husband tells her to be quiet because I am reading aloud.  Two more stops go by and finally they get off.

 

station platform

We arrive at the train station in Kanya Kumari.  We are now in the state of Tamil Nadu and we are at the very southernmost tip of India.  This is as far south as anyone in India can go unless you are Hanuman the monkey god in which case you can jump from there to Sri Lanka per the Ramayana.  This is the confluence or joining of the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea.  Must be some cosmic power in there somewhere! 

There is also a very famous shrine on a rock that is about a half mile off the shore.  Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) meditated there for three days straight back in the late 1800s.  We have come to grok this shrine and whatever else the Divine Mother serves up on her banquet table of eternity.

Swami Vivekananda was a direct disciple of the great god-intoxicated saint Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886).  Swami Vivekananda gave a famous address at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893.  He was good friends with Nikola Tesla who invented AC motors and generators and discovered a mysterious energy he called Radiant Energy.  He had a number of patents revolving around this new energy.  After discussions with Swami Vivekananda, Tesla determined Radiant Energy was what is known as Prana in Indian philosophy and yoga.  It is also known as Chi in Chinese culture. It is a subltle energy that is as yet unrecognized by Western science.

We have our bags with us so we de-train and find a Tuk Tuk.  He takes us to the area by the ocean where there are a number of hotels.  This is a hot tourist area.   We decide to stay in the third hotel we visit – the Sea View Hotel.  It is luxuriously appointed, the food is excellent and the cost is 3500 rupees ($52 US) per night including WiFi and breakfast.  They are sold out of sea facing rooms so we settle for a road facing room with a balcony which turns out to be a highly entertaining view.  We are on the fifth floor.

The next year we returned and they only had a hotel room for Friday night but not Saturday night. So we took the Friday night room and it was very nice facing the ocean. We went across the street and to the right about a half block and booked an airconditioned room at Hotel Rajam for 1600 rupees per night. That's about $25 per night and if you are splitting it with someone, that's great! The rooms were very nice but we couldn't see the ocean. They had no restaurant but the was a really good one next door. Email is hotelrajamkk@yahoo.com, phone is 04652-246042 or 04652-246052. There are really a lot of hotels within a block or two of this location. The address is 2/17-D East Car Street, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, India 629-701.

 

Bruce and I agree on how nice Indian people are in general.  They are pleasant, never impatient or rude, and exude a marvelous air of humility.  We go to the room and in a few moments there is a knock at the door and a fellow is giving us free bottles of water.  They continue to do this the whole time we are there.  In the evening another knock and a fellow with clipboard in hand wants to know what the hotel can deliver to us in our room in the morning as far as tea and coffee are concerned.  Bruce asks for a thermos of hot water so he can exercise the green tea bags he is carrying (recommended by the Ayurvedic doctor) and he requests it be delivered at 6 am.

The hotel is doing some work on the top floor. In this picture, we see a load of bricks going up the stairs.

Here is a picture of the hotel front desk:

We explore a little that evening and see three dogs on a side street.  They all looked hungry and one was lactating and really needed to eat.  The next morning we resolved to find some food for them and feed them.  We go to a street side food stand and buy a dozen fried bread cakes (not sweet).  We tried one to make sure they were not too spicy and they were only a little spicy.

We venture out looking for the dogs and immediately Mukti finds us.  He is selling beads.   He has a black satchel with a long strap that loops over his shoulder.  It rides low on his hip like Wyatt Earp’s Colt 45.  Instead of bandoliers of bullets criss-crossing his chest, he has an armory of beads carefully arranged on his forearm.  His arm is bent 90 degrees with the forearm sticking straight out.  His arm can never relax or the beads will slide off so we surmise bead-sellers’ elbow joints have long ago become locked in position.  There must be 50 to 100 strings of beads – sandalwood, rose wood, rudraksha, and cheap plastic imitation beads – hanging from his arm.  We can’t imagine how these bead guys make any money.  There is one for every 100 Square Feet.  They are very persistent and I have yet to see anyone buy any beads. 

He asks us what we are trying to do and we tell him about the dogs.  He gives me a string of beads for free, also Bruce, and offers to help us in our quest.  He leads us around the side streets and we are not finding any dogs until we go up on the main street.  He informs us that the dogs probably won’t eat the fried cakes.  We find a hapless dog at last and I offer it half a cake.  Our canine friend approaches it slowly and he carefully, with utmost caution, places his lips onto the cake ever so softly like someone trying to pick up a delicate orchid.  Then pulls away without taking it.  Mukti was right.  Mukti tells us they will eat biscuits.  I am thinking he means biscuits like we eat with butter or gravy but he means cookies.  He pulls over to a small stand and he shows us a package of commercial foil wrapped shortbread cookies which are 20 rupees. I hesitate because I am having kneejerk reactionary thoughts of that being unhealthy for a dog.  In my moment of hesitation, before I can realize the absurdity of my thinking, he whips out a 20 rupee note and says, “Here, I’ll buy them.”

Just 200 feet up the main road there is a very pitiful looking dog. People must have abused him because he won’t let us come near him.  We toss the previously sampled fried half cake to him and this dog also passes.  Momentarily I reflect on all the dogs I have known that will not only eat anything, but you better get your fingers out of the way when you make the offer.  Then Bruce tosses the “biscuits” to him one by one and he eats the whole pack.  He still backs away if Bruce gets too close. 

The night before we had observed a backstreet area with maybe 10 street vendors working out of carts. They were lined up against a high wall and there were crude chairs and tables in front. It seemed almost like a party atmosphere. Today, while searching for dogs, we pass the same spot. Now vehicles are parked where there were once tables where phatoms of the ancient past had danced in the night and people shared their minds and hearts over a cup of chai. The carts are there but closed. Here is the daytime picture:

We have 11 of the fried cakes left which are themselves now without a home.  Our mission begins to morph.  We decide to give them away to homeless fellows.  There are several close by and we quickly run out of cakes as we are giving them two each.  Then Mukti takes us to a fruit vendor just 50 feet down stream.  He has a crude push cart parked 10 or 20 feet out in the road.  Mukti negotiates with the man who then pulls out an old fashioned balance scale that looks like it is left over from World War II.

He puts a weight on one side and begins to feed piles of grapes to the other side. We buy 50 rupees worth of grapes which is a fairly large amount and he hands it to us wrapped in newspaper.   They wrap everything in newspaper here.  We made a purchase down on the boardwalk in Kanya Kumari, and the bag was made from newspaper with the top edge folded and glued around a string that made a handle.  We bought some hot roasted peanuts and they were put into a cone that had been rolled from a sheet of newspaper.  This is clever recylcing.  We continue on down the street and Mukti is tearing the newspaper into smaller pieces and packaging bunches of grapes which he gives to us and we are giving these to the homeless fellows.  To respect them as the Divine we are taking the dust of their feet as we go.  To do this, we touch their feet and then place our fingers to our forehead.

We run out of grapes and homeless people and just past that particular intersection in time and space – not 50 feet from the last homeless person – there is a temple dedicated a woman saint who is dead now, but was famous for feeding dogs.  She was an avadhuta or God-realized soul and her name was Mayi Amma.  She rarely spoke and is said to have been 150 years old when she left the body.  Back in 1987, Amma took her ashramites to see her. Click here to read a short narrative of the visit.

 

Avadhutas behave in very strange ways that totally sidestep social conventions. Mayi Amma would walk into restaurants with a bag or bucket and literally go from table to table taking the plates of food from the patrons dumping the spoils into her container.  She would then leave and feed all the street dogs that followed her.  It seems somehow poignant that we began our adventure for that day by attempting to feed street dogs only to find her temple at the end of the trail.   We visit the small temple and bow to a picture of Mayi Amma hanging over a large altar.  The temple priest puts sacred ash in between our eyebrows and gives us a banana for prasad (food that has been offered to a saint or to God – the eating of which is a blessing for the partaker). 

Next Mukti takes us to a big Devi (Divine Mother) temple that is 1500 years old. It began then but has been added to over the centuries.  We have to go in barefooted and shirtless.  Mukti waits outside guarding our shoes.  The temple was really nice and fairly large.  It is made almost entirely of stone on the inside.  It is rich, warm and ancient.  The stones in the walls are dark in color and many of the stones have scriptures chiseled into them.  There is much ornate stone work that winds around through the many passageways and chambers each with the icon of a different God or Goddess.  It has the texture and feel of a midieval stone castle. 

In one area they are selling a plate of ten or so small pottery cups maybe the size of a quarter with oil and a wick hanging out over the side.  We offer these to the Goddess and say a prayer as we light each one.  We leave these burning torches of compassion to fulfil their mission on a large table in front of the Goddess. 

We come out of the temple and Mukti leads us down a narrow walkway beside the temple and to a special place on the ocean with stairs leading down to the water.  As we go, he picks a few hibiscus flowers that are growing on the side of the walkway.  He also makes sure we each have a one rupee coin.  He explains we are going to a place where we can make an offering for our dead parents.  Both Bruce’s and my parents have gone on. 

To the right is an open portico which is used in certain ceremonies. It is behind the Devi Temple and just on the other side is where we did the ceremony for our parents. The stone work is typical of what is inside the temple.

We arrive at the sacred spot and he gives us the hibiscus flowers and we repeat a propitiation to certain Gods and Goddesses (the only one I remember is Mother Saraswati the goddess of learning, arts, and music) and throw the flowers into the ocean.  Then the coins.  Then we take a dab of the salt water from the ocean and put it on our tongues. 

School children all wear uniforms. Everywhere we have been in India, this has been the case. And they are all different in colors and style depending on the school. In the background of this picture, we can see two ferries on the jetty and beyond that on the rock on the left is the Vivekananda shrine the the large statue on the right is a famous Hindu educator. Mukti said that when the tsunami wave came in, it was up to the head of the statue on the right.

Street vendors:

The next two pictures are of a tattoo parlor except there is no parlor. It is litterally all laid out on the sidewalk. Below are patterns you can select. They put ink on the rubber stamp and press it to your body to provide an outline for the tattooer. The picture below this one is of the "stickers." That's what the proprietor called them - stickers. You can see a little motor that runs a cam which makes a needle go up and down. There is also an ink container with several wells of different colored inks.

The sewers ran under the sidewalks. We don't know where they went. We could see in several places where they had dug up the sidewalk for whatever reason. Here is a picture of one such sidewalk opening:

About 40 feet uphill from the above hole is an even bigger hole. There is a trough at the backside of the sewer that entered a restaurant. Every minute or two we would see a flush of water and food scraps come out the trough and into the sewer. As we watched this cosmic dance, two beautiful rats emerged from the right, from underneath the restaurant and went straight to the trough for lunch.

Wandering around on the back streets, we saw several of these pumps on the side of the street. We tried one and water came out after only a pump or two.

On one of the side streets, a hotel was undergoing a construction project. There was a narrow scaffolding maybe 3 or 4 feet square that ran up several floors to a balcony. This was an elevator. A platform carried persons and materials up and down the scaffolding shaft. To the side of the scaffolding, sits a woman with her flip flops sitting to the side. She has a big lever which controls the up and down motion of the platform. Behind her is the gasoline engine that runs it.

Woman

After a little more sightseeing, we say goodbye to our friend and guide Mukti and give him a thousand rupees ($16 US) for his help.  Mukti means “liberation” in Sanskrit.  In India and much of the east, there is the concept of Samsara which is the seemingly endless rounds of birth and death – being born and dying; being born and dying – endlessly.  And it’s not that much fun because, in the realm of Samsara, we are in a state of perpetual separation from the Divine which is the cause of all suffering.  So suffering is the nature of Samsara – stress, anxiety, fear, hatred, greed jealousy, abandonment, loss, sorrow, grief and so on.  It is possible for one to be liberated from all this and that act or event of liberation is “Mukti.”  In fact this is the goal of both Sanatana Dharma (meaning eternally holding all together a.k.a. Hinduism) and Buddhism.  Hinduism is the only major world religion that has no founding person or central personality.

After resting and lunching, we go down to board the ferry that will take us to the rock with the Vivekananda shrine.  The shrine was well worth the trip.  Both of us felt a stong vibration of peace when we sat in the meditation room. Swami Vivekananda to the right:

Below is one of two ferries that are running that day. Each holds 150 people.

 

Ferry

The Vivekandanda Shrine.

We stop at a travel agent shop across from the hotel and arrange a taxi to Kovalam Beach.  Then back to the hotel. Below is Bruce in the restaurant.

 

Next day we get up shower and go to the free breakfast buffet line.  It is a large assortment of Indian dishes and all of it quite good served in fancy silver roll top serving containers. The taxi picks us up at 9:00 am.  It’s a big air conditioned SUV type vehicle and for 2700 rupees it is going to take us to Kovalam which is home of a wonderful resort beach area.

On the way we stop at the Suchindram Temple.  The tower at the entrance of the temple rises 134 feet into the air and the surface of it on all  sides is filled with astonishing carvings and in such minute detail.  The substance used to construct the outer tower surface is seashells which are ground to powder and mixed with sugar and water.  It sets into a hard limestone substance which is then carved.  This is a large beautiful temple.  Again, we can only enter barefooted and men have to be bare from the waist up.  There are many deities enshrined here each offering a particular brand of solace or boons.

Next stop is the Padmanabhuram Palace which is a bountiful display of art and architecture having been built around 1601.  It was occupied by a lineage of kings lasting about 200 years.  The kings were all celibate with the next king in line being his eldest nephew.  They were famous for their generosity and large halls were built as dining areas where 1000 people were fed daily.  The antique interiors are replete with intricate rosewood carvings and sculptured decor.

 

Palace main entrance. On the second floor, the king held court.

Inner courtyard of the palace

Ceiling detail in the throne room

Below on the left more wood work detal; on the right is a toilet

Next is the bottom floor of two dining halls. These bachelor kings were noted for their generosity and would feed a thousand or more people daily.

Now we are off to Kovalam and it’s magnificent beach area. We arrive without reservations but the first place we try is one a friend had told us about.  Maybe there are 50 hotels in this small beach strip with some of the hotels being on the beach and some further back but well within walking distance. We find the Adam Hotel and the proprietor, Aji – maybe 40 years old – is waiting for us.  We had to call him to give instructions to our driver on how to get there.  We are in luck!  He has a room facing the ocean on the third floor – in fact it’s his best room which is number 201 (ground floors are zero in India).   All this for 3000 rupies ($48 US) per night.  The Adam Hotel is small with 6 rooms. It is not fancy but nice. Aji's mobile is 808-619-8822 (India country code is 0091) and his email is adamaji61@gmail.com. Next to the Adam Hotel, is the Beach House Resort. On a second trip two of our party stayed in the top room facing the ocean and it was a very nice room - great view!. Thier email is beachhouseresort1007@gmail.com. Phone is 91-8590-7655-555. We stopped to check out another smallish hotel in the middle of the boardwalk called Hotel Sun Set 471-248-5136 (India country code is 0091), sunset_kovalam@yahoo.com.  An air conditioned "sea view" room with balcony on the ocean is 1800 rupees ($28 US) and a non-AC room is 1500 ($22 US).  See pictures of Hotel Sun Set. There must be 50 hotels in a small area with most of them a short walk from the beach (not directly on the beach). Another hotel that was recommended is the Sea Flower, contact Remya Ravi, 0964-563-6181, md@pappukuttybeachresort.com. We both think AC is needed during the middle of the day despite the nearly constant sea breeze that carries the love of Neptune inland. The Sun Set Hotel rooms were smaller than the gigantic Adam Hotel rooms but very adequate and nice and clean. Both hotels have large balconies with chairs but one must request sea facing rooms to get the balconies and the view.

In the photo on the right and just below, there is a green sign with names of shops and hotels with arrows pointing the direction. There are a number of these back in these quaint shopping labyrinths and that should be some indication as to how large is this area. All of it very fun!

The Adam Hotel room is quite large – maybe 30 feet by 30 feet - with a glossy tile floor typical of Indian hotels. The wall facing the ocean is all glass with a door that opens to the beach.  Passing through the door one is on a large balcony with two wicker chairs. This is a view of unparalleled beauty.  The surf roars constantly droning in the bliss of OM - the engine of existence. The nocturnal joy of sleeping with the door open to the surf is beyond description.

It’s 3 in the afternoon and we haven’t eaten since breakfast and we ask Aji where are the vegetarian restaurants.  A narrow walkway runs up the side of the hotel away from the beach and boardwalk.  The walkway is maybe 3 feet wide – just enough room for two people to pass.  Aji tells us there are several up this walkway.  Many of these narrow alley walkways criss-cross behind the boardwalk away from the beach.  It is something out of a John Steinbeck novel only its real. Tropical plants, vines, ferns, flowers and palm trees are everywhere making a stroll down any of these alley walkways a trip through an enchanting fairytale land of mystery and adventure.  It is common to hear people talking in foreign languages.   

View from hotel room balcony looking straight out.

The walkways are lined with small quaint shops selling everything a tourist would want.  Shoe makers sit on the ground with their tools just behind rows of freshly constructed footwear.  There are quite a few tailors sitting out just on the walkway with their machines whirring with unbridled fury as the Master Tailor weaves and sews the tapestry of the universe into one seamless whole. The author managed to buy one custom made shirt.  Choosing from hundreds of bolts of cloth is not easy.  The tailor takes measurements and we are instructed to come back the next day as the shirt will be ready then.  The cost for a custom made shirt, just how you like it, is 600 rupees or $9 US.  It would probably be cheaper somewhere other than Kovalam Beach as 75% of the people you see are well-to-do foreigners.  It would probably even have been cheaper at this shop had your author been better at bargaining.  The shop owner originally offered an already made shirt for 350 rupees but, alas, it was a bit too tight through the chest.  When I protested saying the new shirt should cost the same as the original already-made shirt, the shop owner replied that the cloth that was selected for the custom made shirt was of much better quality than the shirt that didn’t fit and so it was not a fair comparison.

View from hotel room balcony looking right.

View from the hotel room balcony looking left. Notice the lighthouse. This is a working lighthouse.

We discover 4 completely vegetarian restaurants down this alley way.  One of them is organic and is owned by an Amma devotee. There is a big picture of Amma on the wall. You can get fabulous masala dosa for breakfast and so much it is hard to eat it all, for 100 rupees ($1.50 US). These restaurants are small with perhaps 5 or 10 tables each.  We order Indian food for lunch which is excellent and about $4 US each. In our stay of 3 nights and 4 days, we would try them all.

At one end of the beach area, rocks jut out into the sea and sitting atop these rocks is a very picturesque lighthouse that still functions at night.  It is maybe 100 feet tall and painted with alternating bands of red and white paint.  The bands are maybe 20 feet in height.

The beach itself offers lots of good sand and one can walk quite a ways into the ocean – maybe 300 feet – before getting water to the chin.  The waves are fairly large and there are often 5 or 6 surfers riding waves when the tide is coming in.  When a big wave is about to crash on you, dive under it.  No problem then. 

There are many lounge type beach chairs and umbrellas set up.  Swimming for Indian women is constrained to clothing which covers the whole body.  They go swimming in what appears to be a sari or something like it – full coverage neck to ankles.  This is contrasted by the large consortium of European, US, Russian, Canadian and Australian women who are clad in typical bikini wear.

On the boardwalk at night.

Each morning we see groups of people and singles doing yoga on the beach.  There are many posters for yoga classes of varying types and intensities.  We notice some shops that sell food items, water, and other general consumption goods also are selling yoga matts. There are a number of Ayurvedic doctors and clinics doing Pancha Karma cleansing and exotic massage as well as the full gamut of Ayurvedic protocols.  We line up for a massage on the second day.  It was a one hour by hand massage followed by a pummeling with hot oil administered with a cloth tightly wrapped around special herbs – it’s about the size of one’s fist.  The oil treatment lasts 30 minutes. Total cost is 1500 rupees or $22 US.

The view of the ocean from our balcony is stunning.  We asked Aji if he was nailed by the Tsunami.  The area was not affected.  The water pulled way out but it did not come rushing in.  We found this to be peculiar due to the fact that the tsunami hit the east and west coast.  On the west coast it hit Amma’s ashram which is only about 70 miles north of here.

An Ayurvedic clinic is accessed by walking down several hundred feet of narrow alley ways.

Having veggie burgers and soda water with lime in a restaurant that overlooks the beach. A man selling burial cloths stops to get our attention. Just kidding. :-)

Today, we started up the alley next to the hotel and we pass a man sitting on the ground not 10 feet from the entrance.  As we pass him I swear I hear him say "marijuana" in a muted semi-whisper. I ask Bruce, “Did that man just say marijuana?”  He responds to the affirmative.  This is too much to pass up so we turn around and talk to him.  He is maybe 45 or 50 years old with longish hair down to his shoulders but conservative longish hair.  He has a short beard which is neatly trimmed and he is nicely but simply dressed.  I looked at him and said, “Marijuana? Ganga?”  He said yes and I said how much.  9 grams is $50 US.  Top quality sensimilla bud all locally grown.  I joke with him and laugh pointing out that it is illegal.  He assures us no one cares and everyone does this with impunity.  We tell him about our past as hippies and I ask him if he has ever taken LSD and he says he has.  The man speaks very good English and seems intelligent and almost aristocratic.  He is a pleasure to talk to.  We disappoint by letting him know we traded in pot smoking for meditation long ago.  Later Bruce and I muse that we must still have that wild look or he would not have chosen to approach two old dudes in their late 60s for a pot sale.  We were a little flattered.  Or maybe it was my OM t-shirt.

On the boardwalk.

Cobblers back in an alley way

Shops on an alley way

Another interesting event.  This morning, we observe a large narrow wooden canoe type boat with maybe 6 people in it (it was filled to capacity) rowing out through the waves.  There are two rowers with oars that work in typical oar locks.  One of the men is throwing what appears to be coils of rope in the water.  They row like the dickens to get past the breakers then it is fairly easy.  This is, of course, a classic metaphor for the path to the Divine.  We have to row like the dickens for some time then it gets easier.

The rope turns out to be a large net.  On the shore are 9 men holding or anchoring the end of the rope.  The boat rows out maybe a mile then begins to circle around making a large arc before turning toward the beach.  We see the net floats bobbing in the water.  They are making a large loop out of the net and eventually the boat lands down the beach.  The men then begin to haul in the net hand over hand.  We didn’t see what sort of catch they had.

The next day we take a taxi back to the ashram which is about a three hour drive. It is so nice to be back. Everything is so clean and calm.

The next year we returned and took a taxi at about noon to Trivandrum because our plane back to the US was leaving at 4 am the next morning. We could have had a taxi show up at midnight in Kovalum Beach but we didn't want to risk anything going wrong. So we checked into a hotel, The Kingsway, which is on the main road and about a half mile from the Trivandrum airport. It was somewhat expensive at 4500 rupees for a night. That's about $80 US. The next year we tried this and the Kingsway was booked so we stayed at the Greenfield Inn which is about 200 feet to the left of the main highway down a street not far before you come to the roundabout on the main highway. The address on their card says Opp. KSEB, Enchakkal Bypass. Phone is 0471-2500-510, email info@greenfieldinn.in, email www.greenfieldinn.in. Great hotel, very clean and nice. There were three of us and so we split a suite which had a kingsize bed and a single bed. Airconditioned of course. The cost was 3500 rupees or about $60 US. The hotel arranged for a taxi van to pick us up at midnight to take us to the airport.

We arrived at the Greenfield at about 1 pm in the afternoon and the nice lady at the desk directed us to the Villa Maya restaurant. We all agreed it is probably the nicest restaurant we have ever seen every anywhere. It cost us $10 US each to eat there which is expensive by Indian standards but the food was fabulous. Some entrees were over $30 US. We sat outside in the garden area amidst fountains and lush greenery. Highly recommend this. Their address is Airport Road, Trinandrum - 8. Telephone 91-471-2578901, email operations@villamaya.in, website www.villamaya.in.

Om Amriteswariyai Namaha

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