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CUBA IS THE FUTURE FOR LATIN AMERICA AND PERHAPS THE WORLD

CUBA IS THE FUTURE FOR LATIN AMERICA AND PERHAPS THE WORLD On my way out of Cuba, from La Habana, on COPA airlines flight to Panama, I w...

dimanche 21 février 2016

FORT COCHIN A SUMPTUOUS FEAST FOR THE MIND BODY AND THE SOUL

FORT COCHIN   A SUMPTUOUS FEAST FOR THE MIND, BODY AND THE SOUL. ONE DAY IN FEBRUARY
My choices of places to stay at Fort Cochin are the Old Lighthouse Bristow Hotel which is arguably the best situated hotel in Fort Cochin facing the Arabian sea and the Niyati Boutique Hotel of my friend Joseph C. I have been staying at the Bristow since I arrived from France via Brussels few days ago. The manager Mr. Murugan and the Front desk manager Mr Prince have been more than congenial.
I wake up late, just in time before breakfast ends. There are lots of choices of European breakfast but I am partial to the south Indian specialties. This morning began with a local delicacy Uthappam, with sweet milky coffee, fruit platter. Days here have been long and dinners finishing late in the evening and the long drive back to Ft Cochin from Ernakulum, made convenient by Uber!


Soon after Thoufeek Zakariya, the Chef who now works at Taj Dubai arrives. He is an amateur historian, self-taught, but the best there is in the current climate of “tourist oriented shallow history” by necessity and also foreign fake journalism parading as history. For nearly three hours we discussed various innuendos of historical note of Fort Cochin with an emphasis on Jewish History and fascination with the Portuguese maritime expansion in Asia. Several points were under discussion, the possible Jewish donor of wood to the Chempita Mosque? The site of arrival of Jews after Spanish dispersion? The letter from Moses de Paiva who visited from Amsterdam? The rebirth of the Kadavumbagam synagogue in Ernakulum, the history of the destruction of the Black Jewish presence in Fort Cochin? We also touched upon Jewish connections to Fort Cochin from Yemen, cities of Mesopotamia as well as that of Abraham Ben Yiju, a Tunisian Jew who lived in Mangalore in 1248 CE.  I gave him a coin from Morocco with Star of David on it with 1289 AH written on it. I have to admire this man’s honesty, analysis of the researched facts and refusal to accept heresy and more importantly open mindedness in face of his personal pious conviction in Islam.
It was close to 2 pm when he left, I slowly walked towards the Princess street, crossing Napier street on to the parade ground, skirting St Francis church. Stopped at the IDIOM bookstore and chatted with the genial owner manager.
My destination was Walton’ Homestay, a very popular hostel with foreigners and friends of Mr. Christopher Walton whose family has owned this Dutch era building now housing his namesake homestay, much like a B and B. Fortunately for me, Mr. Walton was in his seat in the office
It is my lucky day, I greeted him, as I entered the office. I would label him a facilitator of knowledge and in the American Indian way, a Hollow Bone through which spiritual messages flow. Today’s conversation more than emphasized this designation of him. After the initial conversation about the history of his city (in a way mine too), our conversation took a deep plunge into spiritual topics. I can say without a doubt that this afternoon that I spent in the company of Mr. Walton was one of the most spiritual experiences for me. It transcended the normal level of communication, to a higher level where dwells feelings in the forms of spirit engaged thoughts and action. With his understanding of spirituality, not related to his adherent religion, Christianity or Hinduism of India, but one of a true universal nature, I was able to enter a world which I had not entered, hallucinatory with deep knowledge, a connection to an eternal future based on an endless past. It was an uplifting conversation, very gratifying and felt light headed at the gravity of the conversation.
Such a conversation took place in Fort Cochin is of special significance for me, as it binds me to this small pocket of land , isolated as it is from rest of Kerala and India but connected to unknown points across the ocean, on which it sits.



I walked back to the hotel, retracing my steps, along the Parade Ground. I kept my gaze on the ground as I was trying to fully comprehend what had happened at the office of Mr. Walton in Princess Street.
Soon afterwards, Mr. M and my Jewish colleague Mr. E arrived from Ernakulum. Earlier in the day, Thoufeek had fed my mind, afternoon saw my soul being filled by Mr. W.
The world of Mr. M completed the circle, made the day whole. He and I share ideas of travel, food, journeys and destinations. We talked about his educational projects in South Africa and he invited me to come with him on one of his monthly visits. I would like to learn more about his projects. He wanted me to taste typical syro-malabar Christian cuisine but none was easily available today. The Christians here are observant of Lent, thus we ended up in a pesco vegetarian restaurant, the Pavilion near Fort Cochin, where I had mahi in a delicious curry, okra in spicy fried coating, fish fingers to pick on. It was nice to see another aspect of the cultural history of this place.


Each night I have been invited out to dinner, last night it was Brindavan, a highly vegetarian restaurant; two consecutive dinners at the two clubs, The Lotus Club and The Yacht Club.
Mr. M promised me a syro-malabar Christian meal before I left. When I got back to the hotel I booked my connecting flight on Sri Lankan airways to Colombo to connect with Etihad Airways flight to Abu Dhabi and then to New York, where I would connect with a flight to Miami. I look forward to my family and some dear friends in Miami before moving on to the American Indians especially the UmonHon.

I AM EXTREMELY GRATEFUL FOR A DAY LIKE TODAY
GRATEFUL FOR THIS WORLD FULL OF PEOPLE LIKE THOSE WHO SHARED THEIR TIME WITH ME TODAY