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Vishakapatnam; beaches, dhobi wallah’s and delicious dosa’s,

30 November 2010

So yeah, a bit of backtracking to Vishakapatnam in Andra Pradesh state.

Vishak was a relatively calm coastal city (not bad for 1,3 million inhabitants!). A lot of Indian tourists all coming to splash themselves in the sea, sit on sea rocks and taking pictures at Ramakrishna beach (known as RK beach). This also included us as we were the exotic folks that everyone wanted to take a picture with. Hordes of young boys and men crowding around us, especially to get on a picture with Ness. It got a bit too much and we escaped to a nearby sea temple of all gods (& religions), where we found refuge and Ness was met by a sweet woman who gave her gifts and kind spiritual talk. When we then walked into a themed corn restaurant (all food made with corn!~) where kids were playing Nintendo Wii’s, Playstations etc in comfy rooms. Such a bizarre hypermodern Indian holiday place to find ourselves in, in heavy contrast to our more natural adventures of the past 1,5 month. For fun’s sake, we played a bit of WWF wrestling before the young clerk noticed us and came to check. “Oh, we have pay for this?” and we got away with playacted naieveness.

Rama Krishna beach, or RK beach.

boys in wet clothes sitting on rock in sea, waves engulfing them

Andhra Pradeshi’s are a much different style of people compared to Orissa and the northern/eastern Indians, truly South Indians with their Dravidian-Australoid genes and language, totally different from the Hindi roots; like yes/no is avunu/kadu,
and not haa/nahi anymore. Also kind of funny when it came to talking English with them, which wasn’t easy. What was funny too, was that the girls here were much more outspoken than girls from Orissa and rest of northern India. Quite some young girls came to talk to us and giving nice compliments about our hair and eyes -so exotic to them- whereas normally it were always men coming to say these things to us.

sign at a kiddy play park, for real!

November, it’s the wedding season and you get to find many weddings taking place allover India. Also here in Vishak, right around the corner of our hotel. It was just early in the afternoon and people had put a classy party tent in the middle of the street. I already knew that avoiding weddings in India is impossible as a tourist and soon enough some guests dragged us in. Just for fun. The party was in full swing with the young bride and groom posing for photographs while receiving money gifts from family and friends. What better than to do as locals do and participate by taking some snaps and signing the gift book, “with much happiness from Belgium” and our names, as what must be an odd foreign entry along the long list of Indian names and Telugu scripts.

bride & groom

shiny wedding bangles

Later in the afternoon we went to beach of Rushikonda, a magnificent beach stretched along a bay of green hills and surrounded by tropical trees. Good time for some dipping into the sea and enjoying the views of the Bay of Bengal, looking across the horizon of the sea waterline with Burma somewhere invisible on the other side. It actually was just a few days after
Aung Sun Suu Kyi had been released from her Yangon home emprisonment and as Vishak lies almost on the same line as Yangon, it was a perfectly placed moment to think about her freedom. So close in my thoughts, yet still so far off in the distance of this vast sea.

Rushikonda beach spheres

But ofcourse our short time in Vishak wasn’t without a special adventure. Earlier that morning we had given a big stack of laundry to an elderly dhobi wallah (laundry man). But that was before we had to buy our sleeper train ticket to leave that evening already, because no trains to Puri were available for next 2 days. The dhobi wallah had told us that our clothes would be ready the next morning, so we had to go back his stall to get the clothes back before our train would leave, whether they were washed or not, or still wet. Ofcourse by good Murphy’s law his shop was closed and -as we were informed by the biker workshop guys next door- he wouldn’t open again until next morning. Luckily, one of them knew that he lived nearby with his family and instructed a cheeky young kid to bring us there. We got taken into the dark small alleys behind market street and suddenly we were in a hidden world of small family homes and where people sat in front of their house. Everyone we passed was surprised to see some white folks walking around and following a young boy. At the home of the dhobi wallah we were received by the man himself and I offered my best possible apologies in unpractised phrasebook Telugu. Not only was our laundry there, but it was washed and almost dry, such luck. We got invited into his small, cosy house to sit down and meet his wife and children. Soon enough we got a cola bottle pressed in our hands for which they had a young kid sent out to fetch for us. Indian hospitality truly comes with a big heart, even for customers who come knocking at your door unexpected and by their own fault. Could you imagine people giving the same helpfull service in our western world after closing times or in such conditions? I don’t think so.

posing with the dhobi wallah family

Food in Andra Pradesh was super! We ate a lot of crispy cheap dosa’s (south indian pancakes with spice ‘n’ chutney for just 25 eurocents per plate!) and some great Andra Pradesh veg & fish thali’s. These first days of good South Indian spheres made us hungry for more, so it was a pity that we had to leave already and go back north to Orissa, to the tropical Puri coast. Not bad either. Sure we’ll come back again in the future and do all of South India.

More pics below. Next posts about Telugu folkpop, Puri and some other loose ends.

yummm, Andhra veg thali served on palm leaf

going for a skinny dip

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