Sunset over Kochi
Sunset of the course

CTC Bike Tour Leader Award course in India Day 7

The course concludes with some Exodus-specific training and a lot of photocopying for me!

Exodus guide training

Today's course for the trainees was specific to the provider Exodus and involved a lot of looking at how to best implement procedures, meeting clients' needs and setting expectations.  This meant that I had some paperwork, reviewing and photocopying to do, along with a brief break period - phew!

Amazing thing of the day:  I walked past an 11,000 volt substation, all caged off, with a guy sleeping on a bench inside it, leaning up against the transformers!  Buzzing wasn’t the word!

The sun was strong today - the cloud cleared and blue skies emerged for one of the first times during the week, along with the heat. As I went out riding for a couple of hours, for the first time I was sweating enough for all the sun cream to be washed off, with obvious (though not absolutely desperate) consequences to the state of my arms and even just the backs of my hands, one area I've never been burned in my life. It's been a long sunless winter in the UK!

For those with confidence, Indian traffic is something to be relished. There's no hassle - horns just let you know what those behind are planning to do. No one actually cuts you up or takes you out. In fact,through a full week of riding, I didn't see any accidents, or even actual close calls.

It took a while to get the workbooks copied due to the now standard weekday 2-hour load shedding power cut. However, once collected at 4pm, these were good – it was one purchase I didn't barter for today, unlike the pashmina and silk presents.

The trainees on the course did a great job today and really got lots out of the Exodus leader training course - a generic company-based day course. Olly had done a good job on the resources with inspirational pictures and videos.

The local provider set up a boat trip for us in the evening; it was fantastic - directly from the restaurant. We watched the sun setting over the Chinese fishing nets on the mainland, saw more original Kerolan fishing canoes, combined with some more modern versions. Their bows were so high and prominent, the captain couldn't see where the boat was going so had to take direction from a guy sitting on an ubiquitous plastic garden chair (widely used everywhere I’d been through the course) positioned right at the bow.

Of course, with 5 Kerolan tour guides sitting at the table in and amongst the rest of us, the food choice was utterly fantastic.  Prawns, sizzling chicken, dhal (proper Indian dhal is really tasty, not the version inspired by ‘The Young Ones’), aloo gobi, fish in coconut milk sauce, Kerolan paratha, chapattis, beer or lime sodas and all this after some cracking starters too.  The thing that strikes you is how communal eating is. It's not just about sitting together and talking, but sharing parts of the food too - almost a self-made buffet on the table. I love this way of eating.

With an early flight to catch, and bags to pack, we said our goodbyes , which took a good while! And I set about getting more moisturiser on my arms!

What I learned today:

I had seen a lot of union buildings for lots of different levels of role in and around the port of Matancherry where we were based.  The union system in Kerola is strong, aided by the democratically voted in and long-standing communist state government.  And it's not just the manual workers who were represented, I saw plenty of places representing officer and manager roles, too.  As a result of this and the very high literacy rate, which is claimed to be 100%, a labourer might earn 600 rupees/day in Kerola, as opposed to 200 in other states and as little as 40-50 in the very far north.  Quite a frightening disparity.


Fancy travelling?  Exodus tours run by the guides on this course:

All photos © Dan Cook and Olly Townsend

Dan Cook