If you want to feel like a rock star all you need to do is jog along the beach in southeast India. Scores of children from fishing villages along the coast will run to your side and yell and cheer and want to slap skin – it’s a pleasant ego trip and endorphin high all wrapped into one late afternoon of exercise!
I am writing to you from a lazy, ecologically friendly, ayurvedic resort just north of Pondicherry, India. (Cool in concept and surprisingly child friendly – even though the ketchup is homemade!) It’s been such a crazy five months that we decided at the last minute to flee Delhi and recharge with clean air and sunshine. We were also motivated with news that we would lose an NYT paid-for R&R if we didn’t use it by the end of the year.
The coast here is undeveloped and beautiful but a bit weary from neglect. It’s dotted with fishing villages and polluted with the refuse that comes from them, but the natural beauty here is very real and just needs the healthy protection of sound environmental laws and tourist money put to good use.
During my run yesterday, I passed through a stretch of beach used by locals as their bathroom. It was a shelf of sand, steep from erosion and it rested about three feet from breaking surf. There was only room to run in the soft sand along the top of the shelf which made my run difficult and sluggish. Dotted every few feet along this spot was pile after pile of human poo. I literally ran through dozens of droppings – all resting in scooped-out sand bowls and waiting for the surf to wash them away. Yes, it was gross but I’m growing hardy to such sights. What I thought of most as I ran through this poo-field was that the depositors have quite a view of the Bay of Bengal! I also wondered whether I should let the kids frolic in the sea… but that thought passed as quickly as it came. Here we are – all having a good play:
We’ve had quite a few laughs here – like when we ordered a banana split (listed on the menu) and were served a banana sliced in half. And when Jim ordered “two bowls” of spaghetti for the kids and two empty bowls arrived. I think the English among some of the staff here is only two-words deep into a sentence.
We’ve ridden the local elephant, Laxmi…
…and milked the resort cows:
Lounged around our thatched hut…
And swam in the eco-friendly, elevated pool…
But this was my favorite spot:
I’m reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “Love in the Time of Cholera”… one chapter between naps.
I’m hoping 2010 brings lots of time to read and laugh!
Happy New Year, all….