It's a major stroke of luck that I have a lazy streak as wide as the grin on an Indian salesman's face. It means that although I love planning my travels and enjoy poring over guidebooks and maps, when it comes to actually making a decision and booking anything in advance, I'm a total ditherer and tend to avoid the issue until I'm faced with an ultimatum. In the case of this two-and-a-half week visit to India, this meant that I booked a return flight to Trivandrum... and precisely nothing else. I figured we could make it up as we went along, as that's what I managed to do quite happily for six months back in 1998.
This turned out to be a very good move, because I'm finding it hard to acclimatise to the heat and the time zone, but luckily we're sitting in a friendly beach resort where we don't even have to crawl out of bed if we don't want to. The combination of hot weather and jet lag has completely sapped my energy, and if I had to plan another trip to the tropics, I'd totally fail to plan anything in exactly the same way again.
Things are made worse by the fact that we flew here from England. India is five-and-a-half hours ahead of GMT, which means we're lying awake at night until the wee hours and fighting to get out of bed before lunch. Add in temperatures in the high 30s and a humidity level that is tempered by the sea breezes but still manages to feel like the inside of a long-distance walker's leather boots after a long day, and I'm starting to feel like I'm on a particularly harsh detox regime, lying each night in damp sheets, dreams peppered with images of suffocation and mild panic.
It isn't helped by India's casual attitude to noise pollution. I'd forgotten how oblivious the locals are to noise, and as a result the thumping bass of the nearby bar's trance music rattles through the small hours of the night while crickets screech and fans swish above. This morning wins the prize for the most cacophonous wake-up call, not because of the distorted muezzin's call to prayer that blasted through the still morning air at 5.30am and again at 5.45am, but because of the effect it had on the local wildlife. Shocked into life like the rest of us, the local crow population – who are large, very black and have the same sullen behavioural problems as the dysfunctional seagulls of English seaside towns – thought they'd fight back with their own call to prayer, and for a good hour they screeched and screamed and yelled at each other, sounding for all the world like a theatre full of children, all laughing along with the funny man in the panto in that slightly over-zealous way that only five-year-olds can muster.
But none of this is a shock, and I have to keep reminding myself that this is actually India Lite, and has practically no relation to the hard, dusty and utterly rewarding travel experience I had nine years ago. In fact, I know that in a few days, when we've done a little more travelling and stayed in a few urban centres, I'll look back on our nights in the Kerala Bamboo House with great fondness. After all, who remembers the sleepless nights when you've got such enjoyable days in between? Precisely...