Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Not worth the chicken

Kerala was a bit too touristy for our taste. The Western women were wearing tight tanktops and mini skirts and some of the men wore wife beaters and shorts. The local men wear long wrap-around skirts that they fold up to make half as long and they tuck the ends in at their waists. This to my Western eyes looked a lot like a diaper, but still, men in shorts and tanktops -- not appropriate. We took a boat ride to Ft. Cochin, but there was no fort. Just a lot of tourists milling about and locals trying to get us to buy stuff.

We were tempted to buy a fresh fish to have cooked at a local restaurant, but we suspected that might be dangerous to our health. I'm sick of drinking luke warm drinks with no ice and having to be a snob about the bottled water. Even my Indian coworker had said to only drink the Aquafina. Certainly not the McWilliams with the shrink wrapped seal around the cap and the water filled right to the brim. "You forgot your water!" the waiter called after me. "That's okay, I don't want it" I had to say. What a prissy American.

It is a seaside town, though, and we began to feel some guilt for not having any fish. At dinnertime, back at our hotel, we asked the concierge where he would recommend we eat. "Have you tried our restaurant?" he asked. Yes, we had. We did not add that it was our most disappointing meal yet. The food in the Mumbai domestic airline terminal was better. He offered to get us a taxi to a different hotel. "Where would YOU eat?" I asked. He hesitated. He did not want us to blame him if we didn't like it. "It may not be up to your standards..." he warned. Pah, we said, we were sure it would be fine. See? We are not snooty tourists. We eat where the locals eat.

We shared a veg biryani and a fish curry for all of about $2. At 3am Jeff began the dry heaves. Nearly 24 hours have gone by and he still feels like utter crap. At least we didn't drink the questionable water!

As the sun was coming up and neither of us was able to sleep, we admitted that we were playing chicken. If one of us had said the word, the other would have immediately agreed to leave. We assured ourselves that we are not bad travelers for eating in hotels when there is no middle ground.

Now we're back in Mumbai at a fancy pants hotel. We arrived at 10 pm, and since Jeff was not hungry, I ordered room service. No $2 meals here. My chicken sandwich cost $14.

I need to figure out what I'm doing in Mumbai the rest of the week, especially while Jeff is working.


jen said...

oh no poor Jeff! How come you didn't get sick? We drank different kinds of water but Aquafina tasted the best.

craige said...

Who know? Dumb luck? To make us both miserable by proxy?

Anonymous said...

He wasn't sick from the food. He was sick cause I got the singer from Quiet Riot's death!

craige said...

Yeah, right, Matt. You wish.

This thing wasn't supposed to accept anon comments. Gotta fix that!


Aww, man, sorry to hear you didn't enjoy Kerala as much. The town of Cochin is slightly interesting but the best is getting out into the hills some. Thekkady and Munnar, the two good spots we've been to, are pretty far away from you, though.

I will ring up my friend Karl from the New School and ask if he recommends any must-sees. He is from Mumbai.

You're good for soldiering up to the car rides and the loneliness a bit. I had the extreme good fortune of meeting some friends the first time out, and being with Jenny for most of the last trip. But being alone in such a strange, faraway place does things to you.

Most of all people are going to be curious about you - as much as you are about them, and probably more. So, take the good experiences with the difficult ones -- and leave the latter there with you. AND - see if there is ANY way to get a meal in an Indian person's home! :)

Let us know if there's anything else we can help with. Hope Jeff's nursing himself back to goodness.