Row, Row, Row your tricycle

Day 18

My first experience of the hospitality of the Indian rotary club. Thomas organised the Rotary president of Thanjavur to help me with accommodation. I was very happy to be given a clean room and not spend all night looking for it. Trying to mend my stomach I thought American chomein would be a safe choice for dinner. This turned out to be a bowl of tomato ketchup with a couple of carrots floating in it and reiniciated my tummy problems.

Day 19

I set off towards Kumbakonam expecting a short days travel of 45km and perhaps some rest for my tummy. This day was a Hindu festival. Every truck and shop was adorned with palm leaf decorations and music blasted from large speakers across the rural land scape giving the sensation of riding within a bollywood movie. I was looking forward to visiting a bronze factory I had herd of on the way. Upon asking "bronze Factory" to the locals at the small settlement I was maraculasly taken to a tiny shack with a young boy. He showed me the plaster molds, wax models and the bucket of mud which was to encase them for casting. There was a small pit in the back yard to light a fire to melt the bronze and a set of punches and files for finnishing work. All was done on a muddy floor yet beautiful figures of multi armed and trunked Indian gods were being created skillfully. I gave the boy 50rp and was delighted to see a great white toothed smile appear on his seriouse face. My short days travel was taking much longer than anticipated, due to my achey tummy, persistant rain and pot holes. It was now getting dark and I had to race on to Kumbakonam where another Rotarian said I may spend the night in his hotel. Night fell and the rain became a waterfall. Poor drainage meant I was soon plowing through shin deep water, my back pack half submerged. I would gladdly have traded my hand powered tricycle in for a row boat. Passing trucks threw up thick sprays of water reminding af the sensation of popping out of a water slide and splashing suddenly into the pool at the bottom. All I could do was laugh solitarily at the rediculouseless of my soggy situation. After a lot of questionaing I finnaly located my hotel and was show to a luxouriouse room with the first hot shower I had seen since arriving in India. After draping my wet worldly possesions about the room I curled up into bed with a shivery feever and a stomach that despised all food. Ding Dong. I was disrupted by the hotel man inviting me to the festival celebrations. It was my duty to attend so I hobbled off to the reception room where the hindu ritual took place. For the next hour, floweres and bananas were chanted to by sainly looking gurus. All people touched the items of offering then touched their hands to their faces. Sandle wood, red paste and ash were applied to the chakra spot above the forehead and numerouse insence were burned. All was done with little sign of conciouse emotion as if it was a mindless act of necessity such as brushing ones teeth. It is a strange sort of religion where it seems all that matters is the ritual is completed and there is some idle to focus on, be it a gold statue or a tinsel covered road cone. Even this computer has a hindu spot above the monitor. It was also one mans birthday so a giant part popper 10 times too big for the room was exploded accross us. I was happy to have been invited this comunity spirited gathering yet happy to hobble back to bed as a tired, achey, insence fumigated, confettie snitzel. After another 5 minuts sleep. Ding Dong. I was now greeted by the rotary man and his friends who crowded onto my bed for a chat like a mens slumber party. Finally I was left to squeaze in a quick sleep for recovery before having to leave early in the morning as there were no lodges for the next 80km.

Day 20

An enlightening exposure into the mind blowing possibilities of incredible diarhea. Travel was slow due to little desire for food for energy and every 5 minuts and appointment with increddible diarhea. After shaking off my enterage of growling zombie dogs and laughing children, I would then locate a tree which was not inhabited by a shoe repair man or a small family to relieve my intenstinal pain. As the day progressed, I was forced to select my toilet spots more liberally and was soon chatting to a local audience from the bushes as they crowded around to observe my curiouse machine and bare white man's bottom with no sign of embarisment. 11 hours after leaving I finally rolled into Vadalur sick and tired where a rotarian offered me a hard wooden bench to spend the night. I thanks him for the offer but said I will find myselfe a comfortable lodge to recover. "No problem, I can arange it", he said. some more rotarians arived for conversation and by 10pm I was shown to a softly bedded hotel room very greatfull.

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