Highlights

Not a journal of the trip because most of the trip was spent doing nothing. Only random moments that surprised. Or sometimes touched, moved and inspired.


DAY 1 - Easing into Fort Cochin

The trip started with a bit of panic. It was 4am, I was still at home and I had a flight to catch in 90 minutes. I decided to check the departure terminal (the sort of thing you have to do when you book early morning Air India flights). And it turned out that our flight departed from the international terminal and not the domestic one. That meant checking in at least 90 minutes before departure. Good luck with the check in counter now!

Luckily the taxi was waiting downstairs and lady the behind the checkin counter was kind enough of let us check in with only 60 min to go.

Our second surprise came when we landed at the Cochin airport and checked the distance to our hotel. It was 55 kms. Fifty five kilometers? Who builds airports that far from the city?

Saturday

Early morning - Chinese fishing nets Ferry to Ernakulam in the day. 4 rs.

Late night walk Discovered a new luxury - boutique heritage hotels stella at gallery + cafe - dregs, violin, scotch, chatty friendly baldy Thakur House Dutch cemetary The beach Merlin and Arun at Malabar House - never been out of kerala, taj, mumbai, been to Dubai. MG Road. Malabari. Beef fry + parotta. Rice in cyclinders and noodles in idli shapes Indian cities - wonderfully safe The charm of cochin beginning to grow on me - beautiful British bungalows, Portugese and Dutch influence on architecture. Surprisingly quaint now - something that has been fought over for centuries by Chinese, Portu, Dutch, British and locals. Slow travel - going to extend 3 more days in Cochin. Just stay.

Sunday Great morning run. several sides of the town in a 6km run. Large hall with wooden flooring. The sparrows chirped and the crows cawed. four sofa sets in four corners of the room, yet looks empty. I curled into one of the sofas with Conde Nast Traveller and was almost invisible in the room. Sitting by the beach - drop old stuff. get inspired to do something new. rejuvenate. Swimming in the pool beneath the bamboo trees - travel is to man what new is to customer. 'New' is one of the greatest ideas advertising presented. Dinner at Brunton Boatyard. Superb teak room. That Portugese, Dutch and British would fight for a place so they could trade pepper? What is the pepper equivalent in today's world? Oil? Iron ore? Rare minerals? Maps on the walls of BB. No doubt, the Europeans were a brave and adventurous lot. Cochin jews?


DAYS 8-9 - Further South

I started my day with a run. The Samudra beach was exhausted within 1 km so I turned around and picked up a narrow road winding its way through the palm groves. The road ran parallel to the sea. It was the sea, then a narrow strip of land, and beside it a long lagoon, and then the palm groves. Here was a classic love story - the palm trees achingly leaned towards the sea while the waves bashed up the rocks on the beach to reach the palms. Reminded me of the shama-parwana. They could never meet and when they would, one would die. And if they did, they would die.

Women in their maxi dresses were buying fish. Kids in mundus bathed beside a well. Families were decorating their frontyards with floral arrangements (it was the Onam week). A heady smell of cocunut oil mixed with the moist air from the sea. Teak homes with terracota tiles looked charming. The backyards rolled down into the lagoon where a boat or two were tied to a pole, their bamboo oars thrown recklessly around. But there was also interupting contrete too that looked ugly. Ugly it might look, but that is our definition of "development". Somewhere nestled in the hilly groves was a granite quarry. I think I now know where all the large rocks on the beach came from. The run gave me a glimpse of a beautiful slice of Kerala.

After my run, I came back and sat on the rocks by the beach. The sea was deep and choppy, waves lashing hard on the bund. A small old man tip-toed on the rocks with a small bag in his hand. I had seen him an hour earlier on the beach and he was picking something from the sand. Now



Tags: Heritage Hotels, India

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