Read Now, The Himalayan Tsunami - a gritting new novel by Vidyut Rautela
It was my first weekend off Bangalore, since I arrived in the city somewhere in the middle of Feb. I was quite reluctant to leave NCR, in-fact I had not even given any thought of moving out. And then it happened I got an opportunity, an offer that I couldn’t refuse. Guess, that’s life, huh?
I was working in a high pressure environment with a very demanding client and was really looking forward to a break. When I just couldn’t bear it anymore, I decided to` be ‘sick’ on a Monday and make it a three day away weekend. April wasn’t the best time to go visit Kochi, but heck it was only going to get worse as the summer progressed.
The night train from Yashwantpur dropped me on Ernakulam station early in the morning. I remember calling a few of my Bangalore friends telling them I was going for a holiday, that was my level of excitement!
Part of what I like traveling south India is those Udupi style veg restaurants that seem to sprung everywhere like mushrooms in the rain. My friends teased me that I’d be eating idli-vada sambhar three times a day, and I can tell you I have come to love it.
But be it paratha dahi or masala dosa, I can’t imagine living on any other food but Indian. Indian food has so much variety that no matter you food preference you will still have plenty of items to love.
Since, I had no smartphone I had only a vague idea of where to go and how to get there. My plan was to stay at Fort Kochi, one of the top places to see in Kerala. I had heard so much about it on Tripadvisor and other travel forums. To reach there I had to get to the jetty station, and without Google Maps it seemed like a daunting task.
So, what happened to my cellphone again?
I had a nightmarish experience a few weekends before when my brand new smartphone was stolen. I was in Mysore with my sister and got pick pocketed while getting in the bus at Krishna Sagar dam. Not to mention the much advertised dam and its garden was a big dud. I had been there before but I took my sister this time, big mistake!
Back to Kochi, from Ernakulam station I hopped onto a bus going to Kochi. The bus dropped me at the main thoroughfare of the city. The day had started to get hot, and I walked miles to finally find a cyber cafe. Within ten minutes I booked a hotel and walked out.
When I finally found the jetty station I was shocked at the ticket prices, Rs. 2/- was unbelievably low, as good as free. Only later I understood it was so because Kerala is a socialist state. But as everything in life come at a price, free wasn’t really free, thing come at a price. It’s the money of tax payers that ultimately go to fund subsidies and freebies.
My hotel was right on the Princess street, a little peek of west in India. Can’t say I wasn’t impressed, though a very small strip it let out a rather unique, relaxed vibe. The room I had gotten was a non/ac which really got hot during the day. I decided to stay in for the day but the heat still was unbearable.
My engineer brain started working. There was a/c in the room but there wasn’t a remote to operate it. I got on the stool and opened the flap of the a/c. Lucky for me, it took only a little tinkering in the a/c and it started to work like a charm. I slept-off the afternoon, and headed out late in the evening.
The blazing afternoon Sun had given way to cool summer breeze. Right at the Loafer’s corner (named so because of the guys used to stand there gawking at passing women) on Princess street was a mini mart, I had go in and check it out, urges you know.
Fort Kochi is truly unique, old bungalows, historic churches, calm streets, and casual cafes takes you back to the colonial era. I had been to Hyderabad (one day in Hyderabad), and that city too emanates a similar feeling, though of the Mughal period. Though nothing to be proud of those dark times, but it surely was one of the best times for people with means.
Through the meandering streets I slowly make my way to the beach. Interestingly, there were lot of locals around, who were otherwise missing in the central fort Kochi area, enjoying the sight of setting Sun with a backdrop of waves crashing against the Chinese fishing net (gifted by Chinese traders as the story goes).
On my way back I stopped at the cyber cafe, I needed to book the train. Of-course I found no tickets to Bangalore, just as Ebba (and not Abba!) and her sister couldn’t get a seat to Goa. I suggested them to look for foreign quota seats, that was their only shot in such a short term.
The duo looked bit anxious but good thing that they had an India number which they had gotten when they arrived. And trust me, if you know how to get a sim card in India (specially if you are not a resident) and that too get activated in time, you can probably get other things done too! Even us Indians can’t figure that out sometimes! [ Update: It’s 2017 now and getting a no. activated at least for Indians is much more easier with Adhaar and all ]
The very next morning was my trip to the backwaters. Somehow, I managed to crawl myself out of bed and off I went in the camper van herded along with bunch of other travelers. While we were on a boat going to an island, this girl smiled and approached me. What the heck I thought, she was wearing a sort of pink knee length dress with flower patterns.
It didn’t end here, she came to me and thanked me. “Thankyou” Said the blonde graciously. Thank you? But for what. I was completely bewildered.
So, who was she?
Have I met her before? Or was she mistaking me for someone else? I felt like asking, who was she, but then dismissed it as being too stupid.
And then it was finally revealed…
“The foreign quota thing worked. We are going to Goa day after tomorrow.”
Damn! Face palm moment!
I should really start taking Brahmi, period.
… only if I could ‘remember’ I had to have it.
– – –
Kochi Backwater trip
The full day Backwater trip at around 900/- was completely worth it, boating to a backwater island, having a taste of taadi right from a palm tree, watching the swede fall as she tried to imitate the local climbing up the tree, canoeing in the narrow canals through the mallu villages, children running around asking for pencils, the shitty tea at a tourist home, the Bong family belittling the whole trip… and so on…
Do I sound like a marketing guy for the Backwater trip?
Well, I certainly don’t have any qualms promoting it. After all why should I keep the good things just for myself?
– – –
Recomnded Kochi Hotels/ Hostels
1. Rampart Homestay
Rated at 9.1 Rampart homestay is located near the Kochi Bus Station, also the Princess street is only a km away. Bed in a 6 Bed Mixed Dormitory Room costs 300 INR (less than USD $5)
2. Tree Loft
Rated 8.3 Tree Loft comes highly recommended from the backpacker crowd. Budget Double Room costs only INR 325 (less than USD $5). There is a nice restaurants on the roof and a cozy cafe downstairs. Breakfasts costs an 100 INR but isn’t mandatory. Staff is friendly and helpful, and rooms are very clean.
A beautiful hotel true to its name, the tastefully decorated hotel is a delight to your senses. Princess Street is only 5 minutes of walking distance. Stay here if you are looking beyond a box to sleep, the budget prices is too good for the experience. Booking.com rating: 8.7
Basic Double Room (Non A/C) costs 450/- INR for one and 600/- INR for 2.
Hope you liked the post, if so don not forget to share. Have a nice trip!