We're sitting at an outdoor café on the edge of a cliff. I’m enjoying a slice of toasted homemade bread spread with Nutella and a pot of strong milky cardamom tea in which spoonfuls of sugar disappear without sweetening. The café has an Italian name (Trattoria’s), and the sign advertises “Oriental Food Court and German Bakery.” There’s a glass case displaying French pastries- croissants and baguettes. There are silk Chinese lanterns strung under the overhanging porch.
We disembarked at Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala state, around noon. We needed to take another short (one hour) train ride to get to Varkala. While we waited, I parked myself on an aluminum chair on the train platform with our luggage while Mohit went off in search of lunch. Two cute little girls, maybe three and five, sat with their mother in the chairs in front of me. Both wore pastel dresses and silver anklets with bells. I was doing nothing, just sitting still and sweating. But the girls were transfixed- they stared at me for at least half an hour. I smiled at them but they didn’t smile back. They didn’t even blink. They were studying me.