January 20, 1976Dear Family,
Am now in Alleppey – came by bus today from Cochin. It was with comfort in mind. The journey just took 3 hours – but if you consider it is only 64 km (about 90 miles I think) you see that travel in the roads are slow. The roads themselves are not good – narrow in alot of places – where only 1 way traffic could go at 1 time. I was really taken in by the beauty of the land – should have taken alot of pictures but instead talked to a Catholic priest most of the way here.
None of my tourist books gave any hotels for Alleppey – when I got here I asked an older couple sitting behind me if they could recommend a suitable hotel. The wan went off & asked a policeman – soon there were about 10 men gathered around discussing where would be the best place for me to spend the night. Finally it was decided the YWCA would be the best – so they put my suitcase & sleeping bag in the police "car" and I jumped in – and they personally delivered me to the YWCA. I felt a little funny getting out of the police car – more like a jeep – all eyes were upon me as I got out!
My room here is adequate – 1 chair, 1 Indian type bed – no sheets – no pillow – Do have attached Indian style bathroom.Am paying 5 Rupees for the room – and could have had 3 meals for another 3 rupees. But I decided against that as I wanted to go out this afternoon & check the town out. Also I'll be leaving tomorrow AM before breakfast is served.
Alleppey is a water-borne city – it is the coil center – of Kerala. Coil rope is made from coconut husks – then made into mats & carpets. The food here is also cooked w/ coconut oil – had an egg omelette for lunch – for supper had vegetable Biryani. That is just a fancy name for RICE – It's like fried rice – has good stuff mixed in w/ it – a nice change from white rice. I have 1 request – when I get home NO RICE, POTATOES, or BREAD! I would love to see a Ponderosa right now – eat a big steak & good salad. I think I would leave the potato though! Also ICE would be a treat for me.
Lamb (mutton) is very cheap here – also fish – but I'm careful where I eat meat. Chicken is always the most expensive thing on the menu.
Tomorrow I leave for Quilon by boat – – it takes 8-10 hours – cost 1.50 (18¢), that's a pretty cheap days entertainment & means of getting somewhere at the same time. The boat is to leave at 7:00 AM – but I am to be down there by 6:00 AM as they don't sell tickets ahead of time. I could have left tonight to Quilon by boat at 10:00 PM but I decided I would rather put the $ out for a hotel room so I could make the trip during the day time. Since I don't have an alarm I have to go to bed early so I'll be sure to wake up!
I got your letter yesterday – written Jan. 1st – THANKS – was good to get news from home.
–– It is now Wednesday – 21st of Jan. Have to laugh when I reread above paragraph as to going to bed early – Last night as I was writing this 3 girls at the YWCA knocked on my door & wanted to know I wanted to go with them to hear a revival – so I went. Happened to be an American preacher from PA – but did not have a chance to talk to him. Service wass suppose to begin at 8:00 – we got there early at 8:15 – it got started a little after 8:30. About 10:15 we got back – the mistress made some tea and we sat up & talked till almost 12:00, came to find out one of the girls was from Trivandrum – but working in Alleppey as a teacher All 3 girls work in Alleppey. I seemed to be the only transient guest there.
So this morning at 6:00 they (3 girls) woke me up and then went down to the boat jetty w/ me. Very few times have I had to see myself off – the boat left about 7:30 & the trip was beautiful – just – little slow! the boat was full of people – and All types of things – we made it seemed a hundred stops – w/ people getting off & on – Most of the time the boat was packed – I'm glad I made the trip – I'll never forget it. Got to Quilon about 5:00 – and bus station was right next to boat jetty. I had thought of staying there but all my books had no place to suggest so I went to see about next bus & it was ready to pull out – I got to Trivandrum about 6:30 – made some phone calls – YWCA, 2 other cheap places but no rooms. So called up MASCOT – and from last night to tonight went from Rags to Riches! Fodor's book has it mentioned as 1st class – reasonable! It's also in the India on $5 & $10 a day book. My room is 41 Rupees – but it is the NICEST I've had in India. Has little extras like – soap, towels, even stationery (but its heavy!). The bedroom is as big as most of the restaurants in India – I have a big sitting room and a WESTERN style bathroom w/ tub that has both HOT & COLD water!
1st thing I did was to take a bath. And I needed one too after being on the boat & bus today.
It cost me less than $1.00 to go from Cochin to here – $1.00 + 2 days – HA! Kerala is a beautiful state – but full of my friends the mosquitoes – Last night at the YWCA there were lizards in my room about 3-4 inches long. Mary V. you would have liked them.
So now I'm in Trivandrum – haven't seen much of it – except the bus station & then to here. Tomorrow I'll go to the tourist office (which is right here in the hotel) then plan to go by bus to KOUALAM Beach – it is said to be one of the finest in the world. Only about 8 miles from here. Then Friday plan to go to Cape Comorin [Kanyakumari] – Southern most tip of India. Will go & come back same day. Will go on bus from bus station – not tour – K.B. (don't know her name – but girl at Y.W. from Trivandrum) gave me explicit directions as to what buses to take – etc. Then on Saturday I am to meet her as she is coming home for holiday – Republic Day – Jan. 26th. I had planned to go to Ceylon that day – from Rameswarem (by ferry – city runs on Mondays & THursdays) but won't go now till 29th or 2nd. Will finish up the South 1st – except for Madras & Pimpri-Chinchwad. Will probably leave here Sunday or Monday for trekking. Will talk to tourist office tomorrow about best schedules (bus & train) there.
I'm ashamed how few letter & cards I've written – esp. to Grandma & the Hortons. I hope you pass on the news in my letters – or the letters themselves.
It is HOT in Southern India – today in the boat you could see alot of boats go by & the people in them had umbrellas over their heads. My room has 2 big fans – nice right now – but come mid-afternoon – another story.
People are dark – look very close to a negro. They stare at fair skinned people –
I'm enclosing some pictures from Otty – please send them on to G'ma. Now don't I look good & healthy in them – TOO HEALTHY – too much bread, rice & potatoes!
Again – thanks for your letter – I'm anxious to see (after March 13) the new offices at Wells! I have plenty of film – alot of times a photo doesn't get taken because it either seems inadequate or I'm too busy talking – etc. India would be a good country to have a movie camera in.
Bombay seemed much more modern than Dakar. Bombay is THE CITY in India. It's the fashion city, the Industrial city, the "Hollywood", etc.
I finished up the soybeans [?] my 1st couple of weeks gone. The space in my suitcase is OK – I did mail a small but heavy package to you all from Bangalore. You won't be getting it for awhile – hopefully when it comes you won't have to pay duty on it.
I'm sleepy tonight – after my short night of sleep last night! But I was glad to have the chance to talk to some Indian girls. You do not see India girls (my age) travelling – I don't know what they do w/ themselves!
I've had 3 letters from Jackie Phalen – each time w/ only a 10¢ stamp on them and they come just as fast as yours! Only Jackie would get by w/ it! Every time I can plan for enough I let Banerjee know my address – then he forwards my mail on – he wonders what I'm up to – as he said I could cover the South in 3 weeks. I'd like to get back to Bombay but I feel that while I'm in the South I should see what there is to see – also as I've said before – travelling from place to place is no picnic & I find I have to give myself time to rest up in between.
In the South you eat off of Banana leaves – after each person thrown out.
Got J.B. letter – written Dec. 25. I thought about him alot today as I saw many row boats coming down the river. As I said before – it was beautiful trip – coconut trees lines the waterways.
Hope each one of you are fine – my trip is more than half over – next year (or maybe 2 years from now) I'll take a LONG trip – covering the Middle East and India Again!
My greetings to one & all –––