Not waving but swallowing rather a lot of water

Back in January 2004, my daughter and I had a week in hand after a friend’s wedding in Chennai. She suggested we went to Kerala.

Goodness, Kerala is gorgeous. If you haven’t been there, do go. I didn’t spend any time in any of the main cities, but it is the only place in India that I’ve visited where no one seemed hungry and there were no beggars – although children still ask for pens. Actually, South India is better in that respect (in my limited experience*) than the North; I suspect it is because the climate is kinder and because they are less accustomed to tourists in the places I’ve been.

A friend of mine had spent Christmas in Kerala; her daughter, then training to be a doctor, had been doing some work experience in a hospital out there, and Anna and her son had flown out to visit. They were the first guests at a wonderful hotel, the Raheem Residency at Alleppey Beach. Their own website doesn’t tell you much, so it’s worth Googling too**. So we used it as our base. And, as well as a splendid bookcase in the hall (my all-time record was reading four books in a day), it had a delightful swimming pool***.

I’m the worst swimmer you will ever see. I’m becoming worse still, as I get older and more nervous. I’d told El this, but she didn’t entirely believe me, especially when she saw me splashing around quite cheerfully. It was apparent that I always found something to hold on to and never risked floating out of my depth, but she accepted my explanation of poor co-ordination when needing to use all four limbs simultaneously. This means that I have almost no control of which direction I’m swimming in. I also mentioned my astonishingly overdeveloped buoyancy which meant that, once I was afloat, it was almost impossible for me to stand upright again.

But I seemed to be managing to flounder around happily. Until the time I tried to stand up and had nothing to hold on to.

I couldn’t put my feet down. I had to fold at the waist. I sank helplessly. El splashed towards me and grabbed and we both rose, chokingly. I found a foothold.

“Blimey, Ma” said El, “I knew you were a bad swimmer, but I never expected you to drown in the shallow end of a swimming pool.” We nearly went under again, laughing.

I’ve never let go since. Maybe I need a lucky piece of wood to hold on to? Please let it not be ebony.

*I judge prosperity, in any country, by the dogs trotting around the street. If they look well fed and uncowed, it seems that poverty hasn’t bitten too hard.

**such as this one – – I tried linking it, but it wouldn’t work. So, sorry, I’m a dreadful hostess, but please copy and paste it yourself.

***I should mention that I don’t always stay in such luxury. We really fancied some pampering just then. It cost about £60 per night (without food) for the two of us – the previous week we had been in a hotel that was £60 for two for the whole week.

5 comments on “Not waving but swallowing rather a lot of water

  1. Z

    Hello Sophie and welcome. I’m so glad for you and your son, you will love India. I can tell that from your blog.

    I really want to go back to Kerala, we only had a few days there and, as we badly needed a rest, we relaxed and didn’t go everywhere we would really have liked to.
    But every time I go to India, I want to revisit the places I’ve been and explore the places I haven’t yet gone to!

    Hi Geena – you could be right. In fact, the mask and breathing tank would be useful too. Although that might look a bit OTT in a metre of water.
    As you can imagine, I can’t possibly go into the sea further than knee deep. Nothing to hold on to……….

  2. How do we know

    Hey.. i had no clue you’ve been here(to India)… this is wonderful!!
    Personally, I have not been to Kerala. Am more of a hills person. Next time, if you choose to come down, do let me know. You’re among the blog friends that I really do want to meet!!

  3. Z

    I’ve visited India three times, twice to weddings of friends in Chennai (a complete coincidence, the families didn’t know each other). I’ve not got another visit planned yet, but when I’m coming I’ll certainly let you know – I’d love to meet you.


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