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dimanche 22 mars 2015

I can recognize two types of Tourists: one group that is passing through, they didn’t come here because they have any special interest, they are going from place to place, looking at what is presented to them, with no great or deep interest in the culture of the place they are in,
A typical stay in a tourist area of India, a country with such a deep culture, would be no more two or three days, during which they would like to include a trek, an Ayurveda massage and a visit to the Backwaters or look at a Kathakali performance.
I am mentioning these things because I am in Cochin in South India at the moment.
This type of travel is usually due to some PUSH in the lives of the tourist, usually a backpacker. They are not in Cochin because of the unique nature of this heritage city but because they are on a trip through India and Cochin happens to be a popular spot.

This superficial brush with India gives them no time to understand the great philosophy behind the various culture, they trivialize YOGA into a stretching exercise; Ayurveda into Massage therapy. Thus a quick rush through India or a similar country will have not given them the greatest gifts of understanding and harmony and peace this country can bestow, instead they go home with the same depth of intolerance and arrogance they came in with.
One example of this myopic view of the world is the question I am asked: it does not matter it is India, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia or Myanmar. By these tourists, which part of that particular country I am from?
If mood suits me, I would make up a country and say I am from that country, but their pride prevents them from asking the location of this magical kingdom I am from!
outdoor exhibit at the cochin muziris biennale 
The other group, while still being a tourist, takes an interest in the place where they are. They stay in places, where they are accorded respect. Who is shown more respect in London? Someone who stays at 50 pounds a night hotel or hostel or someone who stays at a hotel which costs 150 pounds? Who is served better? The Chinatown café in London where you dine for 10 pounds or the restaurant in Knightsbridge where it would cost you 30 pounds?
These norms apply in Cochin as well.

 I have enjoyed my visit to Cochin tremendously; I am sure this is my fifteenth or so visit in as many years. The caliber of people I have met have been nothing short of superb, the knowledge they have imparted have been full of value... they are diamonds in this dune of sands… as is the case everywhere else in this world.
The second group of tourists to Cochin is on the increase. In two days I met, while not looking to meet them, an official of the Belgian government based in Hong Kong and a senator from the Thai assembly ( of course the current political turmoil there  has left him with time to travel!) These people have a genuine interest in learning about the history and culture of Cochin and they would cherish the knowledge they gain and would encourage others to come and visit. They are also not budget restrained like the backpackers.

My writings about the culture of Cochin and the history that I have gleaned are for this second group of Tourists, which I would put as tips on travel in the pages or Trip Advisor pages. This is my contribution to the welfare of the City of Fort Cochin.