New Year’s Eve

Well I guess this will be a different New Years Eve to any we have experienced in the past. As Ali and Maisie often go to their Dads in Bournemouth at New Year we alternately either spend it at the pub with friends or go to a party at mums depending on whether we have the kids with us or not.

It was around 8.30 when we woke up this morning and we made our way over the road for a Poonja breakfast which consisted of fresh pineapple juice, cereal, eggs, toast and coffee – plenty to keep us going until tonight and not bad for 120 rupees.

We got our tickets for tonight’s African themed party and decided to visit to the beach which is apparently best accessed through a hotel called The Silver Sands Resort around a 20 minute taxi ride away. Unfortunately when we arrive there is a sign on the gate saying hotel guests only for the 31st December. What a pain and the fella on the gate is having none of it when we try and persuade him to let us in.

We ask the taxi driver where to go and he takes us to the public beach 1.5 km away. It turns out to be quite pretty and we feel like real travellers as we are certainly well off the beaten track here. A deserted beach comes at a price though and we soon realise this also means no sun lounger, umbrella etc and there is very little shade apart from a few scraggy palm trees. We decide to stay for a couple of hours max and this turns out to be long enough. Simon and the kids have a good time playing in the sea but I feel far too self conscious to strip off to my bikini and stay covered up. Despite this I feel like the local tourist attraction as men and young boys all keep wandering over for a good stare.

On the way back from the beach I take the opportunity to have a good look around. Despite there being very little to do I like Mangalore, it seems to be a very laid back and peaceful place and we have been laughing at some of the sights we have seen here.

Maisie now has a bad ear and when we asked for a pharmacy we were directed to “Chemist for all sex problems”. We have also seen lots of signs advertising “The Worlds Last Cannibal”  not too sure whether this is a film or live show but we decide against trying to find out. There are also signs everywhere for palmistry and I would like to go and have our palms read but Simon thinks it’s all a load of crap and refuses to spend a single rupee on it!

At 8pm we make our way across the road to The Poonja International Hotel. The party is on the rooftop and we sit in the bar for an hour first having a drink. I’m developing quite a taste for gin and it goes down well with fresh lime juice and soda water.

When we go through we are fairly bemused to find cat masks on the tables and hats with Happy Birthday on them but put them on anyway and enter into the spirit of it. You would be hard pushed to find any evidence of an African theme but the evening starts off well when Ali beats a group of little girls in the musical statutes competition and wins himself a Bacardi Breezer umbrella. There are a number of competitions some of which we enter and the kids are pretty game considering we are the only westerners there.

These are followed by singers, dance acts and a live band which are all entertaining. Although I don’t think they are necessarily meant to be funny, we can’t help laughing at some of them and have a great night.

As we haven’t eaten since breakfast we are hungry, but by 10.30pm the food still isn’t ready and we get quite drunk on the complimentary whisky and soda. By the time the food arrives I’m too pissed to eat much but I do remember it looked quite nice with lots of different types of curries, fried fish, mixed salads and rice and noodle dishes.

There is no countdown to midnight but suddenly there are fireworks in the street and everyone is shaking hands and saying Happy New Year. The four of us must have looked a bit strange linked arms singing Auld Lang Syne on the dance floor but as we are a bit of a novelty here anyway I don’t think the Indians are particularly surprised by any thing we do.

We try and make some calls home but the lines are all busy and we decide to call everyone in the morning. Can’t remember going to bed guess the Indian whisky must be quite strong then.

Mangalore

We arrive at the bus station in Mangalore and try to ring a guesthouse recommended in The Lonely Planet but it is full so we ask the rickshaw driver to take us to The Hotel Parkway that Simon found on the internet yesterday. It turns out to be nice and we take one large room with three single beds all pushed together. There is a TV which we have all missed especially Maisie and by 7.30 am we have showered and lie on the giant bed watching a film with Ben Afleck called Surviving Christmas.

Mangalore is on the west coast of India in the state of Karnataka and only 15km from Kerala which is where we are heading. We are going to try and book our onwards train tickets later but don’t want to travel overnight tomorrow. We go out for breakfast but can’t find anywhere open apart from a hotel over the road so we go there. They are advertising a New Years Eve party, interestingly with an African theme and are selling it as the looniest and craziest bash in town. As it will cost under twenty quid and is only over the road with live music and food and drinks included I guess we will probably go for that.

When we are walking back to The Hotel Parkway I’m upset to get groped by some fella. He pretended to bump me and then stepped in front of me and stuck his hand in between my legs. It happens so quickly and although I shouted at him and shoved him on the back he just waltzes off like nothing happened and although Simon and Ali are only just a few steps ahead they never even noticed.

I’m not easily offended but I feel really pissed off about it and angry. I haven’t dressed skimpily anywhere except Goa’s beaches where it is acceptable and would like to have to the opportunity to tell the cheeky sod where to get off. Still I think you have to keep it in perspective and not get too uptight about it. After all I had read that many female travellers get sexually harassed in India and until this point we have had a relatively hassle free time.

We spend the day dossing around, we have searched the book for somewhere of interest to visit whilst here but there really aren’t any attractions to speak of. I guess it’s like visiting Derby having been spoilt in London. The train that we need to get to Kerala only runs three times a week though, so we are stuck here and will use the time to catch up on some school work.

We have an early dinner of a very hot and spicy mushroom masala and rice and then catch up with emails and update the website. I chat to mum for ages before we head back to our room. On trying to bolt the door I jam my thumb which hurts so much I can’t even cry so I swear a lot instead, take 2 paracetamol and eventually get into bed.