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Our world Travel On 10th May 2007 I fled the UK on a journey around the world with a long list of places to go. Got as far as the Philippines where I met my wife. We got married on 11th May 2010 and are now sharing the experiences of travelling the world together

Fort Kochi

INDIA | Friday, 20 August 2010 | Views [1349]

Wed 18th Aug - The strike that was due to take place today didn't transpire. Apparently, a guy from Bangalore who headed a sect, had been intimidating people and worse charges for various reasons, had been captured in Kollam, south of Alleppey and sent back to Bangalore to face charges, which is under different government than Kerala.
Where we are staying is central to all the places of interest. The only things it lacked was good internet and a kitchen, as we are desperate to cook for ourselves, having been forced to use restaurants for a few weeks now. This area has a large number of homestays, many with kitchen facilities, so  we looked around and found a nice place for the same price as we are paying at The Brisbane, but with a kitchen, warm shower and Wireless internet. Plus the owner's daughter is studying in the Philippines, so they knew the country somewhat. Plan to re-locate tomorrow.
One of the Autorickshaw drivers stopped and asked...'Will you do me a favour'... Will you go to a shop and i will get 1 Litre of fuel free? Oh no we thought...here we go! Well for some strange reason, we decided to go. It turned out to be ok, albeit pricey. They always are. The shops they have to ask people to go to are always overpriced. Anyway, as with all people, shopowners, drivers etc...they all have a homestay or know someone who does. They all get commission of course, but we went to see his homestay. Rs400 including kitchen, but a bit filthy and no Internet. At least it dropped us in an area where we could look around and find out where the market was. Where we ended up preferring was Rs500 but cleaner and quieter.
Then the rains began...time to retreat to the Inn. But first we were hungry, so stopped at the 'Talk of the town' restaurant for a great Biryani and drinks. It seemed to be one of those places frequented only by foerigners. The food was good, albeit a bit more sanitised than wht you get on the street.
Just a thought....i have been working on some ideas for writing a book, or maybe even two. For a while i have fealt that during the past few years i have amassed a vast range of experiences, not just on travel, but also about cultures, people, relationships and food. writing a journal is meant primarily as a form of notes for my future reference, and as an aide memoire to future revisits. It is also proven to be a source of help to fellow travellers who might stumble upon my journals through some random internet search. The subject matter is varied and sometimes, when i am in the mood, aims to examine from my own perspective the way the cultures inter-react, and evolve and also what everyday life means to some people. 
Do you ever get time to just sit and let your mind wander from one random thought to another...stimulated by what is going on around you at a pointin time. Of course you do. We all do. But how does that work. I think of my brain like a vast catalogue, with an index that is a little jumbled up. The key to finding what is on what page is like an old tree, who's branches are a bit twisted and some a bit broken. Occasionally, you find a new branch and some leaves, and maybe if lucky a blossoming flower, which erupts into some great memories and a change of mood. A truck passes and honks his horn...another thought. A motorbike starts below, and then hums away into the distance. People sit in a restaurant opposite studying a menu, wondering what to have for breakfast, or even just what it is they are reading as they have no idea what it means. Shop owners wait in their doorways waiting for the next customer, or at least for the rain to stop. One distraction after another, but all leading to more random thoughts. A rats nest of wires dangle from a post...oh my god...how come anything works around here. Birds building nests in amongst the electrical insulators. Every direction, more thoughts. 
We look at cultures who appear orderly with manicured streets, manicured people, and manicured minds. Everything needs to be just right...or we cannot function. Other cultures appear to be disorganised chaos. Nothing seems manicured, nothing tidy, and nothing clean. And yet in some way, it seems more harmonious and organised than the highly manicured world, somewhere out there. Why? Expectations, standards, cultures? Sometimes the most disorganised places seem to work. Almost no accidents no matter how chaotic the roads and how badly maintained the transport seems to be. Great food that will not give you food poisoning no matter how unclean the kitchen might appear. And yet the manicured world, is full of accident prone roads, food poisoning, poor inter-person relationships and cultural battles, stress and health issues. How is that then?
Left to its own devices, people have a habit of sorting themselves out. Survival is the motivating factor. Cannot rely on a pension scheme to provide for the future. Have to fix the vehicle if it breaks. Have to put food on the table every day no matter what. Who cares the colour of a person's skin, or the creed they belong to. Who cares how tidy as long as it works when we need it. Yep, it will fail....the electricity, the water, the weather, etc..but just work around it and get on with it.
I have always been fascinated by the way people adapt to their surroundings, and how some people are scared of change. How some poeple cannot cope if some minor element in their life goes off the rails even a little. They need advice and guidance from some soure, be it friend, family or religious and spiritual guidance. In the supposedly more chaotic parts of the world, this latter guidance brings harmony and direction to people's lives, and can be the underlying driving force that makes the chaos become manageable. Turns the unexpected into an opportunity to learn and develop, rather than something to cause unrest. I search and continue to find answers to many questions. Observation is a major key to getting answers. words are not always necessary, they can put some flesh onto the bones when you have begun to understand the basics. More thoughts, and more questions. On with the day....
More spending...cannot be helped. Door handles. Why door handles? Might come in handy one day. Got loads of them now. Will buy some cobra shaped metal ones possibly. Just got to find the right price. Some more cushion covers. Shiera likes them.
Fort Kochin is a great place to wander the streets. The Basilica is a major building from the Portuguese days. The waterfront is a fascinating stretch facing the thought provoking Arabian sea. Doesn't the very word conjure up an image of black stallions racing across a desert plain, and dusty desert camps with camels roaming around after return from a caravan trip to some far away place. 
Chinese fishing nets haven't changed in many decades. Designed like a cantilever using stone weights to drop a square net into the water. They work well enough. The Arabian sea here is a dark black, mixed with green colour. Water hyacinth lines the front like it does in the backwaters. Not likely to get anyone swimming in it, unless they are nuts. There is a nice path along the front that i don't remember last time i came here. They have fitted benches, facing out to sea. Good job they did, as the rains came fast and we had to take refuge on one of the benches and huddle under our umbrella sipping on a cup of warm Masala Chai that we had luckily just bought. The rains didn't last and we finished our walk along the front before heading back into town, to compare prices for spices. A rip-off is one phrase i would use. The price for spices seemed well above what it should be for India. We bought some spices in Kumuli that seemed very much higher priced here. That area was the centre for spice production though.
The next day we moved to the Chettan Homes apartment in Fort Nagar, where we have access to a kitchen, and the lovely company of John and his mother Lily. Something we have missed. After settling in, we headed to Jewtown by rickshaw. An area famous for its antique and souvenir shops plus spice market. The Dutch palace and Jewish Synagogue (Rs5 entrance) and Jain temple (only open in the morning), are also easily reachable for a break from shopping. The area is generally high priced for most things. Having got reference prices from other places, we were astonished at the high prices they were asking. Sure, they came down fairly rapidly if they thought there was a chance of a sale, but you lose confidence in them when you know they are still at least double what it should be after the drop, and they won't come any lower. After a while we stopped bothering to look. There are a few shops with the most amazing items. The Darshan Art cafe, with its sprawling rooms full of antique palace door frames costing thousands of pounds, with stunning carving. Massive pillared entrances. Awesome furniture items. Many of these items are bought up by wealthy Kuwaiti or other Arab customers who aren't bothered by price. They ship them over to put in their homes or hotels. Poor Keralans strip their homes of anything interesting to make money!
A home made pasta dish and soup this evening...Good to be back in the kitchen again. Of course it was spiced up a little. Shiera was happy again. We got great wi-fi at the new place, so time to catch up with posting photos and journals. And time to ramble a bit, and read a book whilst we take a break. The school opposite was rehearsing for the forthcoming festival, which take splace on sunday, monday and tuesday. I hadn't originally planned to stay that long, but it seems silly to leave and miss it.


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