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Warm enough

15 January 2008 4 comments

India, Day 37 – Thiruvanathapuram

After a brief session on the internet this morning – curtailed by needing the toilet – I set off walking along Trivandrum’s Mahatma Gandhi Road (everywhere seems to have one – much like every British town has a Victoria Road, and/or Square, and/or Park) looking partly for a coffee shop, partly for anything interesting. I didn’t find any nice, air conditioned, Western-style restaurants of any kind, but did pass various smart old-ish buildings.

Mosque and Cathedral

At the northern end of the city centre is a large park containing the zoo, a couple of museums, a gallery. After stopping in a restaurant for orange juice, tea and parotta (naan, essentially) I decided to head into the zoo, although I was hot and tired and disappointed that I hadn’t found a CafĂ© Coffee Day or something similar.

Spectacled Cayman

I bought a camera ticket for 25 rupees, and when I went round to the entrance was asked for my ticket. Not my camera ticket, my person ticket, which, obviously, I didn’t have. So I went back to the ticket office and bought one for 10 rs.

Hippopotamus

The zoo was OK. Apparently it’s pretty decent by Indian standards, but I haven’t been to zoos much anywhere. Typically, some enclosures were empty and a bit run-down. The large birds – herons, pelicans, vultures, hawks – looked miserable in their cages. The monkeys, African plains animals had a fair amount of space with grass and trees to give the illusion of a natural environment. The most impressive animals were the big cats – jaguars, leopards, lions and tigers (they smell very doggy, too). One tiger was in a cage and had a pool about five feet across and 18 inches deep. As I got there it climbed in for a cooling bath. Shortly afterwards it got out to eat and kept slipping on the concrete floor.

Tiger Bath

The zoo paths were shaded by trees, but back in the park the heat was getting on for the temperature known as oppressive. Almost not wanting to, I went into the Napier Museum (5 rs). It had a nice collection of Hindu, Buddhist and a few Christian artefacts. More importantly it was cool.

Napier Museum

After that I was fed up with exploring, so I got an autorickshaw to the station. From there it’s a short walk to my hotel. I stopped at Indian Coffee House. Bit of a strange place – it’s a spiral building, with the floors on a fairly steep gradient; the waiters wear white suits and fancy turbans. I had a tea and my first masala dosa (a crepe-like thing with a filling of purple potatoes and side dishes of hot sauce and some sort of coconutty stuff).

So I’m feeling a little down at the moment, but nothing desperate. I had a busy time in Goa, so I’d like to relax a little – and the heat doesn’t favour going out and doing stuff.

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Sad dogs and an Englishman

11 January 2008 Leave a comment

It’s a good job I’m a cat person and not a dog person. City streets in India are full of (well, liberally peppered with) dogs. These animals are medium-sized, short-furred, and usually some mixture of pale brown and white. Often they look pretty mangy and scabby. Sometimes they’ll have some more serious injury like a broken leg. Evidently, they live off the refuse that is also ubiquitous in urban areas.

People seem to ignore them as one would ignore pigeons. The dogs spend a fair amount of time – the hot part of the day – just sleeping. I walked through a bazaar in Delhi once and a clutch of dogs came through having an argument, snarling and snapping at each other. That was the only time I ever felt anything like threatened by them.

Often you’ll also see puppies – which are, of course, as cute as any small animal, and haven’t accumulate the injuries of their parents. I took a couple of photos of some in the ruins of Fatehpur Sikri.

I’ve only seen two or three people walking dogs that I can remember. The hotel I stayed at in Agra, Hotel Sheela, had a couple of dogs hanging around that must have belonged to the owners – a smallish fluffy dog and an Alsatian.

Of cats, I’ve seen perhaps half a dozen or so in the month that I’ve been here.

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