April 28, 1978,Th: We slept in a large upstairs conference room, together with a nice Indian family with overly curious but also quite helpful boys. I slept till the crows woke me up,
then noticed the dirty surroundings and rice on top of carpets. I sorted out and stowed my laundry, wrote up my journal,
and had breakfast in a large and almost deserted ding hall.
I then walked to the end of the lane where I found an unbelievably crowded and dirty coarse sand beach full of fishing boats and men repairing nets. I took several pictures (where are they??) and pondered about how we cater to our senses of sight and sound with cameras and tape recorders, but completely neglect smell ... a good thing in this case because the aroma of rotten fish and human fecal matter was overwhelming. The place was crow-ded with scavenging crows, even though some dead specimens had been strung up high on poles as scare...crows! This beach was relatively steep and the major pollutant was not tar but human refuse and excretions - many people just squatted down and defecated sans aucune gêne. I confirmed again that all people in a specific area would either face the sea while doing this, or sat right at the waterline allowing the 12 second breaking waves' backwash to carry their waste into the sea.
[NOTE: Things may have changed since, if the following quote holds true: "Apart from the immaculate beach, there are several other interesting places on land worth a visit in Kollam."]
I walked through the village street where everyone was friendly and urged me to take photographs.
I saw an attractive little church and an old man arduously sharpening a large two-person saw. Some young men invited me to the
"Coastal Recreation Club" for a chat. They all spoke English quite well and some had B.Com degrees but no jobs. We discussed
the problems of overpopulation and mechanized fishing which would indubitably lead to overfishing and unemployment.
I went to a travel agency and was turned off again by the red tape and lack of information.
||Next, I waited an hour for a bus and chatted with a fellow from the United Arab Republics till we reached "Indian Rare Earths". Here I was shown where to walk some 3 kms through surrealistically fine scenery, with palmtrees, cormorants, straw-pavilion boats and inland waterway.|
Little kids followed me and shouted the equivalent of the Thai "Pharang" (foreigner) till I reached a gate where the security chief, Mr. Nair,
told me I required permission from AEC to go further. He was kind enough to call the headoffice and they consented to my visit.
He then accompanied me with a large parasol, and we walked past numerous barges from which large quantities of black sands were
unloaded by rows of laborers carrying baskets on their heads. Piles of black sand on the beach were drying and I noted
but very little tar.
In some beach-sections, I saw many layers of black sands, mainly ilmenite. Two concession holders: Govt India IRE and Kerala Minerals and Metals mine, process and export the sands to Japan, Germany, Taiwan and the USA. Other minerals mined here along a 30 miles strip of beach are monazite (ssstTT!), zircon, rutile and sillimanite; there is but little quartz and no magnetite.
Plans were ahead for Orissa on the East coast to start a joint venture with Australia.
Some more notes: Production figures: 1 1/2 lakh (=100,000) ton ilmenite per year;
barge=Wallam (?), 14 tons transport a total of some 1,000 tons per day.
AMC Mukku, Chavara, Sangaramangalam, Kovilkhottam (?);
a guard makes some R 600 per month.
Beneficiation of ores
While waiting for a boat to take me back, I was served two coconuts and saw a group of young Indian nuns/nurses gettting into a separate boat. Some workers explained to me the uses of Titanium Oxide and of Sillimanite (refractory).
After the boattrip, I was put onto a truck and taken to the hotel where a Brahmin was chatting up the receptionist. I had a quick chicken meal after some bargaining, then took a tricycle to the bus terminal. There was the usual confusion of specials, fast buses, Express, reserved seats, priority tickets, etc. but pretty soon I was ensconded in a fine seat for a two hour trip to Trivandrum. The weather was fine, scenery marvelous, and I felt happy, except when annoyed by fellow passengers spitting and/or leaning back too far into my lap or knees.
Somehow, Trivandrum was larger than I thought and reminded me a bit of Ronco. I found a cheap hotel, took a shower and walked around for an hour before going to bed, after arranging for my laundry to be done for R 8.