This write up has been sleeping in my file for long. Saw it only last night, thought its worth sharing with you all.
Its been while me and husband were thinking about taking some vacation. Searched for places both national and international. Looked almost every country on earth, starting from Paris, Vienna, Thailand, Dubai, Sri Lanka…. and in India places like Jaipur, Shimla, Agra and so on. But couldn’t finalize a place. At last we came down to two last options Mysoor and Ooty (almost near to us for a road trip ). Mysoor is famous for its palaces and there is Chamundi hills. We’ve been there before and kind of liked that place. Hassan, Sharavan balagola, the Buddhist monastery all these places are accessible from Mysore. Ooty was the nearest, only 4-5 hour journey from our home town Palakkad. But our destination ended up being Fort Kochi. An old city in Kerala just around 150 Km away.
We booked a home stay at Fort Kochi and started our journey a good Friday. My home is on the way but we didn’t tell anyone that we are gonna roam around Kochi. Sometimes being a stranger in your own area tend to give you views that never occurred when you roam as a native. It was a fun ride. After a quick welcome and tea from our host Anthony we walked to the famous Santa Cruz Basilica. Built by the Portuguese in 1500’s. It’s an enormous church with Gothic architecture ( rebuilt by the British in 1700’s). The interior is also beautiful with murals. There are masses in Malayalam, English and once in a month in Latin. Many Anglo Indians live around this church. As it was Good Friday we set ourselves in a cafe just opposite to the church to see the Rituals. It was crowded in and out . There were a lot of prayers and mass I guess. Watching many elders in spiritual mood, kids running around not bothering about what’s happening at the church, we sat at the cafe for long sipping our ginger honey tea and something like a pizza. It tasted so dull that I don’t know…. without cheese, veggies, without anything actually ( I wonder how come they named it Pizza). But we were enjoying our view, the church, the people, a beautiful evening was turning into dark when we left for our roof.
After a movie in our laptop and a quick dinner we went to sleep. Next day our hosts prepared a delicious breakfast and after that we went to Mattanchery (just 2 Km drive from Fort kochi) . That’s where the famous Jewish Synagogue, Jews street and the spice market located. We couldn’t enter the synagogue as it was some holiday for them. A Portuguese palace is near by the Synagogue and we paid a visit there too. It’s comparatively a small palace with some Portraits of the Kochi Maharajas and the Kochi town plan sketches. Found a boat jetty just opposite to the palace and a government service boat was ready to start. Husband and I decided to go for a ride and in 5 minutes we were inside the boat. The most jaw dropping part was that we paid only 14 rupees ( private boat rides asks you rupees 350-500 for one hour boating). Our ticket was to Ernakulam . Our journey had four pit stops, Mattanchery, Fort Kochi, Wellington Island and Ernakulam. It took almost 30 minutes and we were looking at the timely change that happened in the city. We were travelling from the old clay tiled one or two storied buildings to the concrete 50 or more storied flats. From the road side wooden doored shops to the glass walled shopping malls.
Saw folklore museum on our way and we went in. It’s a three storied building with many old musical, ritualistic instruments, old arts. Top floor is a stage for performing Kerala art forms. It tend to give you an ache in your heart as you go through the two era. Yes we are developing ,yes we are and have to be modern but sometimes I feel we are leaving so much behind us. Its not a feeling we really are leaving so many good things behind. Can I pin point ? Yes. For starters culture, spirituality ( not religion related ), traditions and last but not the least personal attachments. Its never the same how much you talk through WhatsApp ,skype, google than A face to face conversation, a beautiful get together right?..
At Fort Kochi there were none to bother us or asked if we needed a guide. But at Ernakulam things were different. It was noisy like any other city, street vendors, private boat ride agents you name it everyone were surrounding us at Marine drive. We strolled through the walkway for sometime and get into the Abad plaza for refreshment. By noon it was real hot outside and we rode back in the same boat to the past. Hunger started to make sounds and we found a roof top restaurant at Mattanchery. The food was real bad, the only reason we went in as it was the house of the famous Malayalam singer Yesudas (used to be his house, now its a hotel named Mango tree with a board ” house of Yesudas”). The only remnant is a Mango tree which the singer’s father planted. They haven’t cut it and built the hotel around it or with it. Its confusing.
Well after a boring lunch we tucked ourselves in bed and slept for a while. We had sometime left before starting for our home. So we again went to the Jews street Kashmiris run business there bought a pashmina, a kaftan, rode through the aromatic spice market, came back to Fort Kochi walked aimlessly between the old Portuguese homes and ended up at waffle shop. Had mouth watery waffle and iced tea and got mixed in the noisy crowd. Then again we were in the modern age from the bygone era.