Counter Planning – Gaming the System

November 13, 2009

Today’s plan was to make no plans.  In completely surrendering the very most basic of control we hoped to avoid the loss of control that seems to be the norm here. It was an ingenious counter-plan if I may be permitted the immodesty, and it worked like a charm.

We started the day by puttering over to Varkala Beach.  We asked around in the shops for a wooden printing block, and were told that we would have to go to Trivandrum for that.

From the shops we decided to hit the beach. When we arrived there was a slew of local kids playing in the surf, chaperoned by a handful of adults. They gathered around us and one precocious youth extended his hand to me in greeting, “Hello Sir, How do you do.”  After his bold introduction, other kids started gathering. When dad took out his iPhone to take pictures the kids all watched on eagerly.

Soon the children were imploring me to go swimming with them, and I was just warming up to the idea when two bikini clad women ambled  into range. The parents s immediately started to shoo the boys away. The boys, being much like boys everywhere resisted until one of the dads gave one of the boys a swat on the butt. They all took off running, looking over their shoulders at the women as they left.

The women sauntered by us, completely unaware of how they had scandalized the locals.  I must admit that I was somewhat gobsmacked myself, having become so accustomed to women being covered from shoulder to ankle. As they passed I took a look around, the beach was desolate save the four of us.

Once the women had disappeared from view the locals slowly returned and things returned to normal. We decided we had had enough excitement for one day, and headed back to the comfort of our air conditioned hotel for a nap.

Around 2pm we rallied for a trip to the cliff for a leisurely, plan-free afternoon. We stopped in to our tailor and found my shirts ready and perfect, but the pants a bit tight in the butt. The tailor assured me that they would stretch in the wash. When I laughed and assured him that I didn’t just fall off the apple cart, he agreed to let them out a bit. I wasn’t sure that he had left enough seam allowance for that, but trusted that he knew better than I.  We left the owner and tailor and headed down the path to our little coffee shop.

The Cafe Del Mar was about half full when we arrived at 2:30. The oppressive heat seemed to have the same effect on the other patrons, many of whom were listlessly passing the time over an iced drink, and trying to conserve their energy. We fell into sync with our fellow dilatories instantly and spent the rest of the day ordering a variety of drinks and foods.

Finally the rain came and the heat abated somewhat. It was enough to allow us to think about a hot bite of dinner.  I looked around and was surprised to find that the restaurant had more or less the exact same customers as when we had arrived. We had spent a good six hours sitting in one spot watching the world go by, and the dozen or so people that surrounded us when we left had shared the experience with us.

I can’t quite put words to what a liberating experience this day has been. We set out with the whimsical goal of beating the game and I am proud to say that I think we succeeded.

Life lessons:

  • Take myself less seriously, whimsy is my friend
  • Take time to do nothing. Nothing is the paramount of low expectations, and one is never disappointed by setting low expectations.
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