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mercredi 2 septembre 2015


Homecoming to Cochin
It is incredible how quickly everything begins to look so familiar and that which once threatened you, no well incorporated into your life
There is always love and kindness
The flight from Johannesburg to Seychelles and then on to Bombay were just ordinary even though I had a full row of seats to myself.  The lounge at JNB was good but the service on board from JNB to SEZ was nothing out of the ordinary, nothing to compare with Qatar or Etihad Airways.

 concierge/doorman/friend at Hotel Protea Balailaka at Sandton, the place to stay for its atmosphere and history and service
 The Club at Johannesburg Airport was ample and there was a good variety of food and drinks to be had.

 My first flight with Air Seychelles, an Etihad Airways subsidiary, But I wish they had the Etihad mentality towards service, but I was rewarded on the connecting flight. The food on board was okay

The club at Mahe was pleasant and I grabbed a couple of things, a nice glass of sauvignon Blanc from South Africa among them. The flight to Bombay was crowded and unruly but I managed to get an exit row to myself.
 The Club at Mahe. Very pleasant people, but it was crowded.

 Slightly better offerings on the Mahe to Bombay flight.
(Sylvanne M of Mahe, she should be working with Etihad on their long routes, she had that Etihad quality)
The flight attendants on this flight seemed a little bit softer and one particular caught my attention.  She was surprised when I asked for my wine in French, as the national languages are English and French and the people speak creole. The next time you come, you have to speak Creole, she said, I answered, if you teach me creole I am happy to do that.
Before I left the flight she wanted to know whether I would write about my experience on the flight and I was happy to do that. I remember Seychellois students studying Medicine in Cuba and Cuban doctors working in Seychelles. It would be nice to visit the country
The immigration and Customs in Bombay was cursory but waiting for the domestic flight to Cochin was anything but pleasant. We were herded to a room, after walking through a maze of corridors and after a long wait a bus took us directly to the aircraft. Bombay is best avoided as a transit point between domestic and international flights and do allow plenty of time, as the peak times, which could be anytime of the day, because of strange arrival and departure times in Bombay International, they request three to four hours to make sure you connect with your flight.
 Onam is a harvest festival and it is not the time for tourists to visit Cochin
(not a good quality indian food, this time on Jet Airways)

The Jet Airways aircraft was a reasonably new 737-900 piloted by two baby faced pilots and the crew serving the fully packed flight on this short leg seemed to be just out of school. They were kept very busy and before we knew, the bumpy flight announced itself descending into Cochin.  At Cochin airport you are allowed 20 minutes of Free Wi-Fi (the infrastructure of IT in India is poor, despite an otherwise reputation) and I was able to get an UBER car which arrived within minutes. None of the UBER drivers I have had so far were able to converse in English so that long drive, this time to Vypeen only to find out that the ferries were out of order either because of the holidays or the accident which killed six passengers the day before.
We back tracked to Ernakulum and at that time of the day I was able to reach the Hotel Niyati with plenty of time to spare
 Hungry and tired after a long journey, the room was not ready, so I decided to take a Tuk Tuk, with the usual unpleasant chatter with the drivers, they usually quote you twice the price and if you know the right price they will accept in the end. I got off at Dutch Palace and walked towards the offices of my friend R N and we had a couple of hours of pleasant chat. Coffee and cakes at his café downstairs and then a sad walk along the Jew Street now gaudy with Kashmiri stores and with six Jewish residents, more Jews living on the other side of the water. A very sad feeling came over me, very soon Jew Street, Jew Town all would pass on to memory, the  Kashmiris packing up their gaudy wares at exorbitant prices and moving elsewhere with the backpackers. Ernakulum or Alleppey may take over the place now occupied by Fort Cochin as the main attraction of the area is the Backwaters of Kerala.
I had a nice snooze and when I woke up it was already 6 pm and I was supposed to be in Ernakulum by 7 pm. A light drizzle was falling. No Uber in sight, any tuk tuk or taxis in sight. Sanjan the Bhutanese receptionist, took me as a pillion passenger to the bus stop just as one of the last few buses to ply tonight was taking off to Ernakulum,
I enjoy riding public transportation and in India it is an anthropological delight Everyone tries to be friendly and tries to help, but the language is a problem but with limited vocabulary and sign language I ended my nice journey through the rain and pleasant smiles of Malayalees at Ernakulum and then a lovely evening awaited with Mr. R N and his family. Multiple home cooked dishes and extremely pleasant and attentive family. They are aristocratic in their demeanors and will not be out of place in many parts of the world. It was a nice family scene, with the women hovering in the background and never aggressive but brought into the conversation and a delicious meal was served. I enjoyed the evening very much.

The Uber driver arrived quickly and within 20 minutes of leaving I was back at the Niyati Boutique Hotel in Fort Cochin where everything was so quiet, prophetic of the impending holiday weekend.
 In my opinion, inhabitants of Cochin are some of the friendliest people you would meet in the subcontinent of India!