Letter from South India – Safe, sound and settled

Getting here to Calicut was easier than I tough. I have to admit, I was feeling a little bit insecure about arriving in India on my own, in a country I have never been before. The journey ahead of me was long – a short flight after which I had to catch a local bus and then a train for another 4h to get to my destination. Especially since I would be arriving late in the evening which meant travelling in the dark left me a little bit anxious. But thankfully, it all went perfectly and was easier than I thought! But lets take it step by step.

So ones I heavy heartedly said goodbye to the people I always stay with when I am in Negombo, Sri Lanka (they are simlply amazing – it feels like being home when I am there and they couldn’t be more caring.  And the food is great! They even prepared extra lunch for me at 11 o’clock because I had to leave around noon and they tough letting me go without lunch would be inacceptable) I made my way to the airport and hopped on the 50min flight to Cochin in Kerala. With a little delay we arrived, I grabbed my backpack, changed some money and went looking for anything on more than one wheel (and a roof since it was raining) which would bring me to the railway station from where I should catch the train to Calicut.

It didn’t take long to find the right bus – with the help of a Canadian who is living in India for many years and also just came back from a trip to Sri Lanka- and so I sat in the bus and enjoyed some great conversation with Mr. Canada who already gave me some useful tips and tricks for India-beginnners. I was happy about this company in my first hour in India and after he got off the bus, it also took only a few minutes more to get to the place where I had to get off (the very friendly ticket guy in the bus thankfully told me when and where I needed to get off because announcements or station names somehow do not exist here I think).  So I arrived at the train station, a loooooong trainstation and ones I found out on which platform my train was leaving, I had to find the one spot where the coach would stop in which I could find my reserved seat. So I asked several people and everyone was friendly and   directed me to the right place, just like people in Sri Lanka where always ready to help. In contrast however, I felt the locals here where less “pushy” than in Sri Lanka. Of course everyone was looking since there was no other foreigner anywhere (with a huge backpack which usually does not really help to “hide” in the mass anyways), but no one would approach me and start a conversation (or ask for a selfie) like it always happened in Sri Lanka.

So after I while I found the right place and from this moment on, the major issue I had to face was an army of aggressive mosquitos. Really, who needs those annoying bastards? Anyway, ones the train finally arrive (with nearly an hour delay, so enough time to collect maaaany bites) I easily found my seat and made friends with the guy who sat beside me. So thanks to some interesting conversation with Shareef, an Indian-muslim law student, the ride passed relatively quickly and around 11pm, a tired and sweaty but happy Martina and her backpack arrived in Calicut where I was picked up by Sumesh, who basically is my boss for the time I am here. Hurray – I made it!

In the first few days I did the typical things which need to be done to “settle” in a city. First shopping trip to a close by bazar where you can find everything you need (despite a moskito net, but I found that later too because this thing is really needed to survive), got an Indian SIM card, experienced the first days in the office and tried to get an overview about who is who in the team – oh and I also signed up in a gym – finally! After 7 weeks of not moving at all in Sri Lanka I can’t wait to get some of my Siwss-routine back and get some exercise– yipiiyeey!

The evenings here are the complete opposite to my Sri Lankan life. While I was mostly on my own in Nilaveli, there is a lot of socializing going on here. The people of the company I work with (“Kabani – Community Tourism and Services”, check it out – they have great travel offers!) are like a family and are spending a lot of time with each other. The place I live at has several rooms, so Sumesh (my boss) stays here as well. And since it is in the same building than the office, it is something like the team-gathering apartment in which we would cook and eat together nearly every night. Pretty nice!

So my first two days here are over and I am ready for the weekend! I will be taking a city tour with a lady who is working in Calicut and has been trained by Kabani to be a guide. I am excited to see and learn about the city which will be my home for the next 6 weeks. For the day after, a kayaking tour is on the program – hurray again! Ans even tough I am missing Sri Lanka and the people I met there, I am feeling very happy here as well and I already think that the 6 weeks I am planning to spend here are way to little! That’s it! More about whats going on here in Kerala coming soon!

(P.S. Since I just arrived I might skip the DOs and DONTs part for this time because it is too early to “judge” on things or give tips)

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