dimanche 22 mai 2016
WELCOME TO FORT COCHIN: YOU HAVE INHERITED A LONG HISTORY OF WELCOME TO VOYAGERS
Arrival in Fort Cochin
For a country that prides itself in IT, the public offering of IT is very poor, much poorer than a country like Cambodia. An international airport like Cochin does not offer free Wi-Fi, but if you have a local phone they will send you an SMS with a thirty minute Wi-Fi! Big help! And when you are in a hurry to get to your destination, which in my case is Fort Cochin...
In the air conditioned car, you are not aware of the heat as you traverse through a scenery so lush with recent rains and stretches of water. Garish outdoor advertising everywhere to such a degree that one cannot avoid them: lots of advertisements for hospitals but not for individual doctors, none for lawyers but lots of advertisements for bridal jewelry which is a great status symbol regardless of religion here. A brush with modernity with very sexy symbols but the society is so rigid that the frustration for young men and women must be huge, I looked at the throng of people and survival of the fittest indeed and they wear their social caste on themselves and easy to see ones status in life just by looking. Perhaps that is why they wonder why the European tourist adorn themselves with cheap jewelry or clothes even the poorest Indian would not like to be seen.
The run from the airport to the hotel took one hour, it was Sunday so the traffic was light, lots more of small cars on the road, everywhere thick with humanity, people stand very close to one another, shops are very close to each other, there is a competition for land here as the demand far outstrips the supply.
While waiting for the room to be cleaned, I went around the corner, greeted warmly by the owner as well as the Nepalese waiter. A humble Masala dosa with Chai to accustom my stomach to the fare for the next few days. I suppose it is unusual for someone who lives so far away from Cochin to be seen here with some regularity that the greetings are familiar and warm.
The owner of the hotel soon appears and we have a nice chat together. My body demanded rest and the heat was unrelenting and wanted to escape into the air conditioned and ceiling fan assisted room where I could catch up with two long nights of travel.
While still groggy, at around 8 pm, as the streets were being emptied out, I walked to the Talk of the Town restaurant owned and run by Bensal Sany. I took his suggestion and had a local dish AVIAL which is pea based and has vegetables cooked in a mild sauce accompanied by parotta which is the original version of Roti Canai which is so common in Malaysia.
There was a sense of homecoming to this visit, however alien India feels to me, this piece of territory, Fort Cochin, which had welcomed guests from elsewhere longer than any other part of this geographical but not cultural entity called INDIA.
I am just the latest of a long line of visitors who are richer by their visits.