HCMC Dining Guide

Friday, June 3, 2011

Dispatch from Kerala

Cochin, India
27 May 2011
10:45 p.m. IST

The monsoon wind rudely slams one of the shutters in my large, vaguely yellow, room shut, jolting me awake. My eyes adjust to the light filtering in from the street below. A massive crack of thunder rips through the night. OK, I'm really awake now. A lone dog barks impotently in response. There's a group of young men noisily moving furniture onto a trailer outside. Bolts of lightning flash electric blue across the walls, blotting out the soft yellow street lights for a second.

Then, the rain starts; the kind that only comes with the seasonal winds. It stamps out all other noise, creating a singular, soothing drone. The dog stops yelping, the men go inside. Two mosquitoes fly languorous circles around me. I have three fans on, but the room is still steamy.

The power goes out. Plunged into complete, utter darkness, I can't even see my hand in front of my face. The whir of the fans has stopped, as has the rain; now only the chirps of bugs and toads accompany the rising heat.

It feels like I slept for hours, but my watch testifies that it's only been sixty minutes since I turned off the light. In southern India, the stifling heat oppresses even time.

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