Stepping off the plane at Trivandrum airport was like being hit with a stick. The powerful tropical climate, the wall-to-wall press of crowds together with the sleep deprivation of a 16 hour transit flight sitting next to an enthusiastic Indian Middle Eastern worker called George bungled me sideways – so much so that I almost walked out of the airport without my pack. Somehow I was persuaded to take a journey with George’s cousin with the route plan of meeting up with him and his family to buy a chicken from market and to cook it fresh at his house. Needless to say the connection failed and the abandonment by my non-English-speaking friend in the middle of a foreign satelitte town somewhere outside of Trivandrum a little after two hours after my arrival was a sharp reminder of the vagaries of life’s dice – sometimes stories like this start out really well and other times they start in the shit. Somewhat demoralised I took some means to get me back into the centre of the city where I collapsed in a hotel after a long needed cold shower. Later I ventured out cautiously food – taking leave of the lonely planet to find somewhere safe and secure.
After the afternoon’s reprieve I journeyed down the road to take some photos where ran into two young students Midham and Stalin (named after one of the great Communist leaders to which many in the Keralan state still pay homage). Somewhat unremarkably for Kerala (although shocking it seems to us) Stalin has a brother called Lenin. Together we went to a community festival up in the northern reaches the city where I enjoyed an incredible session of traditional dance. The music was genuinely transporting and confirmed my senses in India as I sat amongst the crowd of entirely local people. We closed the evening by reflecting on our mutual experience of being university students, although worlds apart, and talked of our futures and aspirations. It would be a few days before Adam was to arrive during which time I had a whole side adventure in the fantastic town of Varkala. In the meantime I took stock of India as both shocking and exciting.