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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...Part 2

INDIA | Monday, 23 August 2010 | Views [1187]

Today we aimed to chill a little, after being busy for many days. A late start and made ourselves a cooked breakfast / Brunch for a change. Not that healthy, but food for the soul for a change from spicy Indian.
I recollected from my last visit an area where there was a higher concentration of spice vendors than we had seen already, so went out in search late in the afternoon. Mattancherry is the main area for that, bordering on the Jew town area. It took a little while, but found the places i had been before. This time though, the prices seem to have escalated to silly proportions. There is a nice place run by a women's cooperative, but it is being driven by commercialism, rather than common sense i think. Very pleasant ladies though, who served us four cups of spiced tea in a row. Each good for a different purpose. Felt great afterwards, so didn't need to buy any! The guy who was in charge seemed to have an attitude problem...maybe through dealing with too many tourists? It is funny how many people we come across who will not negotiate. Take it or leave it. I guess that if we were Indian then it would be different. They almost insult sometimes as if we shouldn't argue about their prices, because they think we have so much money. When i get that attitude i just walk away, as it is their loss. We know enough now to know when someone is ripping you off, but they think they are smarter. Funny when we come out with the truth about the prices and where to get the best deals. They shut up fast.
The highlight of the area are the rooms tucked away down alleyways, where the ladies sit cross-legged sifting through hundreds of kilos of spices all day, grading and bagging them. The aroma is beautiful, and their job tiring, but they have such great character, and so pleasant towards us.
Didn't buy any spices as we came to the conclusion that the prices here are too high. We later heard that they probably do so much business shipping hundreds of kilos out to the United Arab Emirates and Russia, that the tiny amounts purchased by the tourism market is small bsuiness for them. You see truck loads of spices being loaded, heading for the port. One area seemed overflowing with warehouses crammed full of Rice, Onions and Chillies. Some of that might be aimed for local consumption, but plenty aimed overseas.
After taking a break in a rough and tumble local cafe, and indulging in some freshly cooked Gulab Jamun in syrup and some other sickly stuff washed down with Chai, we headed for the market to buy some vegetables for dinner. The plan was to have some meat with it, and we asked the Rickshaw driver to stop at a shop to buy some chicken. He did...a shop selling live chickens in a really dodgy area. We only wanted a half kilo not a whole one, and the guy looked at us, smiled and then promptly signalled to one of the workers to get a chicken for us, which he put on the scales holding its wings together. The cleaver was almost approaching the poor squirming chicken, when i asked him to stop. There was no way i could let them slaughter a living chicken for the sake of half a kilo of its extreeemely fresh meat. I would have nightmares about this partly plucked chicken crawling around, wondering where its other leg had gone. And asking its mates in chicken heaven to haunt that foreign ba$tard who stole its other leg! So we had another vegetarian dinner this evening. My principles will lead me to turning vegetarian...will try and slaughter a fish tomorrow...unless it looks at me before i buy it!
Turned out to be a nice one. My wonderful wife cooked up one of her famous soups, whilst we supplemented it with a spiced up stirfry and melon for desert. Ahhhh....
The business ideas are flowing at the moment and the calculator is getting used more often. India offers much potential for some trading opportunities and also helping friends out a bit to save some money here and there. All in the melting pot at the moment.
Managed to chat with my mother in the UK. Always wonderfully chirpy for her age of 85 or so. Raining in the UK and folks are miserable about the lack of a summer. It has already been and gone, and they hadn't noticed it. Feels good to chat with her.
The Onam festival peaks around Sunday, and the floral round carpet is becoming more common a sight around the town. There are specific flowers used for it, but the designs are different. 
Saturday 21st August - Had a good night's sleep, and being Saturday the school opposite wasn't screaming its head off at a silly hour, so we slept a bit longer. Had been to bed late last night after we had spent many hours researching for our potential business. As if our heads weren't full enough of details and possibilities, i opened my e-mail to find an invitation from a TV company in the Philippines to feature our travels as part of their regular magazine programme. Early days and responded to find out more about what they want and how it would work. Exciting opportunity we think!
We are poised in a position where we could take so many opportunities and make a business out of it. We need to focus on what fits best into our future plans, and the wish for continued travel. If the profit from one can cover the cost of the other, then that would be the ideal outcome.
We had read about a shop that supposed to sell nice clothing and material stuff , so went out for a walk to check it out. FabIndia is near to the Naval base and an easy enough walk. We went the long way there to check out another part of town. Really nice and plenty of quality homestays around. Got the the shop and ended up buying some shirts and soft furnishing. The museum shop across the road was like an Aladdin's cave of good quality stuff, so spent a while in there. Left before my credit card managed to escape from my wallet. That was close!
We stopped at one of those outdoor butchers to buy some beef. The sort of place where you question the hygiene. The wooden chopping block was probably 20yrs old and multi-coloured with the stains of age. 
On the way back to the apartment we stopped for a tea at the Vasco cafe. Isn't it weird when you don't believe in horoscopes, like i don't. Whilst drinking tea we were thumbing through some recent magazines, and low and behold....a horoscope that was scarily accurate for what we are experiencing right now. Me Pisces, Shiera Scorpio. Spooky! It mentioned that we are going to make it in TV, and travelling is a big opportunity for business and success plus some other stuff i cannot reall right now. Well, it's nice to know that the future seems bright.
For dinner we disguised the meat and made a great meal with it. An Indian equivalent to a Chili con carne. Amazing what can be done with a few spices.
I had bought some tickets for a cultural dance show at the Kathakali centre for this evening. We dressed up Indian style...Shiera in beautiful Punjabi suit, and me in Kurti pajamas. Looking and feeling great.  At the show two ladies were wonderfully dressed in old Keralan style and performed a number of traditional dances. The backing where a tabla player, a lady singer who was also the dance teacher and choreographer, and a guy with an excellent voice. A show well worth seeing. Shame that the girls didn't stay for photos after the show. As soon as their pieces were finished, they disappeared.
Sunday 22nd August - Today marks the beginning of the Onam festival here in Kochi. The school nearby was alive and kicking early with some cheering, so i got up and went to investigate. The kids were all dressed in their posh clothes and playing a game, hit the pot which is suspended in the air blind-folded. It was fun to watch, especially the ones who had no sense of direction and wandered off towards the crowd. The kids ran for cover and had a great time taunting their friends as they took their turn. 
The young Indian girls dress so pretty. A large group of them is a riot of colour, and with garlands of Jasmine hanging from their hair plus the usual gold jewellery it added to the occasion.
I heard some singing going on at the St Francis churh. Turned out to be a succession of weddings, with the next queing outside for their turn. The one i stayed to watch had a crew running around with video cameras and spot lights. A relatively simple arrangement, brought to life with the beautifully dressed audience. Many Indian women invest in some stunning Saris for special occasions. Thousands of rupees worth, plus an array of detailed gold jewellery. It really is one of the world's most beautiful dress styles.
Not much else happening around the immediate area today, so did some catching up the rest of the day. Went out in the evening to eat, seeing as we had cooked for ourselves the past few days. I am getting choosy about Indian food now. There is some poor to average food around here. Possibly due to the budget tourist nature of this place. To get really good Indian food they seem to charge an excessively high price for it in the top-end hotels. 
Monday 23rd - Was going to check out what was happening with the Onam festival, but there didn't seem to be anything happening. A few groups making floral arrangements at the entrance to their businesses, but that was about it.
Made a random choice to catch the ferry to Vipeen Island instead. The car/passenger ferry costs only 2 rupees and only takes a few minutes. The water seemed a bit cleaner on that side of the crossing. There is a small beach near to the jetty, although not very clean. There is a constant flow of rubbish being washed in from the sea, so it is hard to keep it clear. As with the Fort Kochi side, Chinese nets line the water front. We wandered around the nearby village. Quiet and not much to see, so we headed back over to Kochi. Getting hungry we decided to buy some fish and shrimps from the waterfront sellers...straight from the Chinese nets. Another spicy concoction from the Brashaw kitchen. I guess our systems are getting a spice overdose, so wouldn't be surprised if we get a reaction soon.
There had been an incident happen in Manila where an ex police officer had taken a bus full of mainly tourists from Hong Kong hostage, to get media attention for some corruption claim against him which seemed he disagreed with. He was due to retire next year. Ended up with four people dead, plus others in hospital for treatment. He ended up being shot by a SWAT team. So i guess he lost his case! Made quite big news on the internet and in the Philippines. As a reaction to the situation, it seemed that Filipino people were being banned fro travel in Hong Kong. Why such a reaction to what was one crazy guy's personal mission. The world isn't logical sometimes.
Tomorrow we plan to move on to Coimbatore as an overnight stop for the early 'Toy Train' Nilgiri Express to Ooty. Stuff to do before we go like posting off the stuff we have bought over recent weeks.. Will lighten our load by 11kg!
More in the next posting folks. Bye for now.

 

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