It's not malaria.
I bring you this update from the South. On numerous occasions, I felt the urge to write and provide the accounts of our trip but instead traveling took over as our modus operandi. I'm also getting chances to write postcards to those who requested them, although they got soaked in what was known as the “big blank” when we were in Kodaikanal.
I wanted to emphasize the grit of India after reading White Tiger but after living through the cleansing mist storms up at 6600 feet in Kodaikanal, I quickly forgot what it was to be disgusted. You see, the mountains were covered in completely opaque rain and fog for nearly two days and it suddenly became too hard to remember the filth while the world was washing us clean. And to emphasize how clean it should become, it conspired with our laundry and travel mission. We had a soaked bucket of dirty, sooty clothing for a few days, as we were too sick from that week's temporary influenza to deal with them, when clouds moved in and ruined any opportunity to dry the attire. Jordan and I were bedewed and cold for the two days before New Year's, unable to put on our then-sudsy longer layers. I'd improvised a clothesline in the toilet room but the moist, chilled air prevented anything from drying. Remarkably, the clouds dissipated in time for our ten second countdown and we spent a half hour sometime in the early morning drunkenly awing at the now seeable sky. It was as if the mist and rain of the past days had washed away the shit year I'd had and was now allowing us to proceed with a tabula rasa.
I'm not sure if it was the numbing of the Northern cold that clouded our minds enough to distract from the filth, but venturing South exposed a number of unpleasant layers we'd deal with soon. Holiday travelers had booked many of the trains we researched and previously relied upon, changing our viable transport to buses. The bumbling shit-carriages are surprisingly convenient, what with their constant departures, opportunistic rest stops, and cheap fares. We were avoiding their locomotion because we read about expensive pricing but found silly fares in place of those written in books and the web. For instance, in Pondicherry, we used a local bus to get to and from town for, wait for it... six cents a head. Longer tours ran from a buck to four. Snagging one wasn't ever really an issue except at late hours and we saved a bunch of money by not eating for long stretches, instead focusing on reading and looking out the windows.
Gone are the days of worrying about hot water heaters working and the efficiency of our woolen layers to keep us warm. Though we've stayed at higher elevations, which are a joyous anomaly in the swelter of the south, we're going to slowly acclimatize to being sticky, finding relief in cold showers. We've also tacked on a group of globetrotters, a new dynamic to our regular solo method of travel. A couple from Australia, Pete and Vanessa, were met couch-surfing in Pondicherry and later met up with us for New Year's to join us and our other new friends, Felix from Germany; and Noga and Michelle from Israel. It's festive to be in a group but coordinating for 7 people is quite cumbersome so we split up and relay travel plans to meet up. In a couple of hours, we'll be together on a houseboat, navigating the Keralan backwaters. We're eating well and sleeping well, if we can deal with the mosquitoes effectively.