While I wait for the skies to clear so that I can get to Tokyo, I thought I'd upload a few more photos from our India trip. Here's us on the beach north of Bekal, waiting patiently and with uncharacteristic serenity for the sun to set. Northern Kerala is almost entirely free of large scale hotel and tourist development, yet it has some of the best beaches in India – vast, empty and palm-fringed. True the sea is fairly rough and not great for swimming, and the majority Muslim population does tend to frown upon bikinis and beer, but I suspect it isn't going to remain undeveloped for much longer.P1050177

We stayed at the Lalit Bekal, a brand new, out of the box resort which we had literally to ourselves. We were the only other guests as they had only opened a couple of weeks earlier and hadn't started marketing the place yet. It was a little strange, rather like The Prisoner, but with much better service and no giant, white inflatable balls chasing us on the beach.


The chef had plenty of time on his hands and kindly allowed me into his kitchen to watch him make a classic Bengali dish (like many of the best chefs in India, he was Bengali) from the banana flower.

The dish is called mochar ghonto and requires meticulous preparation, including removal of the stamens. It is splendidly spicy and aromatic. Sorry about the photo below. I didn't realise it was so blurry until I uploaded it and wonderful Typepad doesn't allow photos to be deleted once they've been uploaded.


From north Kerala we caught a cockroach-infested night train to Cochin. He we are looking nervous but hopeful at the start of the ten hour trip. We didn't look quite so fresh at the end of it but it was a great experience and our fellow non-bug passengers – as always in India – couldn't have been more charming and generous.

 Here's the obligatory shot of the famous Chinese fishing nets that are maintained on the seafront at Fort Cochin purely for tourists to take the obligatory shot of them.


I saw no evidence of any of them being used, and am pretty sure none of these were caught using them. These stalls were, again, for tourists. You choose your fish, and then it is sent to a restaurant across the street to be cooked after which you deposit a sum roughly equivalent to a 1000 per cent mark up on what locals would be paying for the same dish a couple of kilometres away. 


While in Cochin Emil's shoes began to wear out. He couldn't decide whether to have new Puma trainers or Adidas as a replacement. Luckily, those enterprising Indian counterfeiters had an answer to his problem:


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