Vayalar, Kerala, India.It’s not like we weren’t told. Our friend Sunita warned us that we would see things here on menus and other places where they use words, and they would look very familiar. “Ketchup” comes to mind.
But, she continued, they will not be what you expect or taste like what you are craving. Such wisdom, such truth.
We do know better now, but sometimes the language/cultural barrier just seems too high. It’s no one’s fault, but it just happens.
As we are in a high-end resort, I thought it safe to plan a pedicure today in their very chic-looking spa. “Pedicure” now goes on the list of words with a great variety of interpretations. Instead enjoying a restful hour with lovely music playing while my toes were being pampered, my blood pressure soared as I tried to explain my version of pedicure basics to a very sweet young lady with no English. I will accept nuances of technique in every country. But I can’t forgive ancient rubbery nail polish being lumped onto my toes.
The good news is that the single coat of that polish has started to wear off already, so I will try again at the next spa. I now know to inspect the premises, query the process, and review the candidates for nail color. Yes, I know – I can hear people screaming that this is the most minor of problems in a country where many are starving, and I would agree. I would offer in my defense that if one is providing a service at a price where a customer has a right to a certain level of expectation – in any country – one should do it well, or at least meet some basic standards. Had a manager been present in that lovely zen-like environment where young ladies spend hours carefully arranging flower petals (see top picture), I would have expressed that thought to him or her.
The food issue is something entirely separate for now. Again, I am learning.
For me, a bit of travel fatigue may have set in, but that always comes and goes in waves, so I’m sure things will pick up soon. Tomorrow, we will be doing a lot of traveling, but probably without internet services. We will be on a train for ten hours, and that alone should be quite an adventure – our first Indian train ride. We get to our next destination late in the evening, and then depart again at 6:30 the following morning, so it’s unlikely we will post again till Sunday evening, our time.
In the meanwhile, we will continue to be dazzled by this lovely country, and I, for one, will try harder to surmount those cross-cultural divides.