We started off the day with a group photo session including all 15 teams and the mayor of Tuticorin. After the mayor and her staff adorned us with colorful scarves, we saddled up and prepared to head out. Team Tuk and Roll had picked this day to dress in theme with our garb being that of the typical rickshaw driver. The get up included: dohtis, tuk and roll t-shirts, brown rickshaw uniform shirt, head wraps, bidis (the tobacco of choice), and even, the ubiquitous folded up newspaper under the arm.
We stopped for a tour of coconut oil processing factory where Bose took part of his sample bottle and rubbed it into my scalp in hopes that it would further my tan/lessen sunburn. After that it was on to a plantation where all 15 teams were treated to a feast of a lunch after first sampling on a wide variety of exotic fruits including: star fruit (dipped in chili powder), jack fruit, and custard apple. With a good meal under our belts, it was back in the rigs for the drvie to Courtrallam.
This drive took us west and inland and the terrain gradually changed as we left the coast and headed into lush, green hilly landscape. Along the way, our timing was good and we caught a lot of kids heading home from school. We had stocked up with heaps of candy the night before and we made it rain sugary treats every time we passed big clusters of kids. When we stopped for petrol along the way today, one of the gas station attendants asked me for some candy, another guy asked us along the way if he could have a pen. We gave away: stickers, Red Bull, and pretty much anything else that we had to offer and always received a sincere thanks and a big smile.
Bose put his Tamil to good use as at one point we stopped to chat up a cop and give him some candy. Bose gave the cop a big bag full of candy and asked him to pull over any teams that passed along the way, grill ‘em a little bit, make them sweat, and then ask them if they wanted some candy. Unfortunatley, it didn’t seem like anyone got snagged in the dragnet but it was worth the try.
After reaching the finish line, and getting settled in at the little cluster of cabins in the middle of the junble that made up the resort that was our resting spot for the evening, we headed into town for a place that was highly recommended as a must-see eating attraction. The place in town translated to “Border Cafe” aka “The Truckstop.” The things that we were told about this place is that they basically serve one meal, all the time: chicken and bread and that it was kind of rough beyond the edges. As we walked up to the place which had kind light blue colored walls, fluorescent lights, an open store front, a grill on the sidewalk to fry bread on, and massive grilling operation on one side, we saw another team exiting. We asked the guys how it was (both of these guys were from the US but are of Indian descent and have spent a fair amount of time in the country). Their words were “kind of daunting but the food was really good.”
What’s daunting? There are about eight kind of shady looking guys walking around with stainless steel bowls full of steaming hot, grilled bird carcass (chicken… this is not your “Colonel’s chicken that I’m talking about, and quail) another guy with rice, and then there’s the bread guy. They bark at you and ask if you want something from each bowl, give you one piece if you say no, and two or three if you say yes. You get more barks or glares if you don’t eat fast enough. Bose asked for an omelet and soon was served a big plate of scramble with the rest of us also getting in on the action. One guy started berating Udayan because he wasn’t applying the correct technique in using his crispy bread (think taco shell) to scoop up eggs, rice, and chicken. So the guy picks up Udayan’s piece of bread crushes it in his hand, and then smashes it in his food and mixes it around a little. We all got a good laugh out of that, and nobody slowed down eating one bit.
After a night cap of a warm Kingfisher and a room tempartune Bacardi and Pepsi (the first thing I’m eating when I get home is a big bowl of ice cubes because there are none to be found in India) back at the villa with a few other participants, it was off to bed.
Tuk and Roll!!!