Saturday, 13 December 2014


This past week we voyaged to Mandapam, a teeensy town near Rameshwarem, a bigger town. Both are on that little peninsula that sticks out of India towards Sri Lanka, meaning in ten minutes you can walk from ONE OCEAN TO ANOTHER.

Ok, technically it's the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, which is, technically, part of the Indian Ocean. So technically it's not two oceans.

Mandapam is a tiny little fishing town, with no hotels. We stayed in an amazing homestay in a 150 year old mansion called BISON House (British India Steamship Oriental Navigation House?  ??). It looks insane:

and apparently it's made of CORAL?? which is horrible and weird and cool.
...and it acts insane. Or the grounds do. There are what look like bald eagles (actually Brahminy Kites, or what the caretaker/manager of the house called Vishnu Eagles) swooping all over the place. There is at least one goat every way you look. There are pieces of coral and beautiful shells sticking out of the sandy ground. Oh and peacocks...everywhere. Which sound majestic and wonderful, and totally is, but what peacocks literally sound like, especially at night when you're trying to sleep, is cats being strangled. For the most beautiful bird, they make awful sounds. Like a drunk cat trying to imitate a rooster but then being stepped on halfway through.

And oh yeah, fresh fish.

The first night we stayed there we had a vegetable curry, but we were told that the next night there would be freshly caught fish, because the boats were coming back in.

They came:

this boat's name is Kevin
And we ATE

The couple who run the house live downstairs, and Vasantha, the wife, cooks. And she is amazing (and she knows it. She was great.) This was prawns curry (and the prawns were incredibley soft and tender) with BARACUDA! I had definitely never tried baracuda before. A+. Also homemade chapatti and a cabbage/onion/peppercorn side-dish that I've had many times now but this was one of the best.

For breakfast on the first day we got homemade dosai and chutneys, also some of the absolute best I've had. For breakfast on the second morning she made Upma:

it looks like mush but really it is so much more
Upma is a weird food because it can't decide whether it wants to be sweet or savory and that is okay. The base is a kind of dry porridge, typically of Semolina or dry rice, mixed with green chilies, peanuts, cumin, ginger and onions--like a curry, except the proportion of grain to these things is big, so you end up with a mild but savory mixture. BUT THEN it is served with sugar, grated coconut, and sliced banana. The banana adds a more moist texture, and for some reason this strange mixture of foods is actually delicious.


bought some flowers for my hair in Rameshwarem.
I couldn't tell if this woman was amused or annoyed by how tall I am. 
this was my favourite goat

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