So I ended up giving myself the afternoon off from being a tourist today. I wasn’t going to, I came to Kannur to see if I could find a Theyyam possession ritual to wrap my eyeballs around but I ended up scrapping that idea in favour of miming to power ballads in the mirror in my hotel room. I was just tired. You know when sometimes, just sometimes, you want that night in? You want to indulge yourself with movies and ice cream and a spot of Bonnie Tyler? Yeah. That. Though folks keep telling me that you shouldn’t eat ice cream in India in case it’s made from unpasteurised milk but I reckon this chilly taste of heaven I stuffed into my facehole would be worth getting the squits for. Having said that, nothing makes you feel like more of a fat bastard than when you’re clearly alone and they serve your banana split with two spoons. No, Mr Restaurant Guy. I am not expecting a friend. This is aaaaaaall for me.
Kannur itself is a hugely Muslim town. A lot of women either wear a full burqa or are completely covered in black clothing apart from their face. Some men have a dark patch on their forehead, a callous from years of touching their heads to the ground during prayer. Now that’s a dedicated religion ay. Christians? Once a week on a Sunday morning for an hour or two and I think it’s even acceptable to nod off on the back pew. Muslims? Well sometimes call to prayer is a beautiful thing depending on who’s doing the calling. Sometimes it just sounds like that pisshead who sleeps outside of Tescos in town got hold of the microphone after his second bottle of Scrumpy Jack. At 5.30am when the first call to prayer happens you generally just lie awake making mental notes to check the location of all places of worship when making accommodation choices. If I ever find god I hope it’ll be more of a late riser kind of god. Y’know, around midday. After a nice brunch. And maybe the blood of the prophet could be vodka and the body could be cheesecake. Yeah. That’d be my kind of worship.
Anyway, before I decided that I’d rather dedicate my evening to practising my power grab I’d taken a stroll to St Angelo’s Fort which is a squat little thing and actually more of a garden surrounded by walls you wouldn’t want to try knocking down with a sledgehammer, and there are cannons. When I grow up and get a garden I’m totes having fucking cannons in it. My garden will be awesome. A little creepy perhaps. But awesome.
I was accosted by about a million (probably not a million) kids too who all wanted the usual photos and handshakes and no, small child, I will not shake your left hand. I know what you do with it.
But this fort. It’s a Portuguese effort built in 1505… aaaaand that’s all I remember. Oh Portugal, maybe you should have hit the Rajputs and the Mughals up for fort building hints and tips before you threw this bad boy together. And that was it. I was over Kannur. I headed back to my hotel where I watched Slumdog Millionare for the first time ever because I felt like being a tourist-in-India cliché and didn’t have a copy of Shantaram, broke out the 80’s tunes, pretended my hair comb was a microphone and lamented the sad demise of shoulder pads.
In other news, I love is how chilled people are, or at least outwardly seem to be, when trains are late in India. In England, if a train is late you fucking know about it. I’m not even shitting you, if a train is so much as seven minutes behind schedule you end up with a platform full of people dramatically checking their watches and tutting a lot. Trains in India travel huge distances for hours and hours so every small delay adds up. The longest I’ve had to wait so far is four hours as the automated announcement repeatedly advised that “the inconvenience caused is deeply regretted,” in two or three different languages, but I’ve gotten off lightly so far. Sometimes they can be six, or ten, or even fourteen hours late. I think the worst delay I’ve heard of was a friend who had to wait 24 hours. But no one seems to get mad here, they just seems to accept that grass is green, sky is blue and if Indian Railways runs on time you may consider it a small miracle and give a cheeky thumbs up to whatever god you happen to worship. My train to Kannur from Udupi was three hours late and a guy I got chatting to simply shrugged and said, “It comes from the north,” by way of an explanation.
Next time I’m at a station back home and the train is running late I shall merely sigh, grab myself an overpriced tea and a limp bacon sandwich and just be grateful that I don’t have to wait by a track covered in litter and human excrement and that there isn’t a cow looking at me funny.
Kannur, Kerala, India
Stayed at: Hotel Meridian Palace