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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 57: New Year's Day

INDIA | Tuesday, 1 January 2008 | Views [681]

Tuesday 1st January

Fort Cochin is famous for the Chinese fishing nets that line the shoreline at the north end of the peninsula, so I took a walk along the seafront pathway after breakfast to see what was going on there, take some photos and look at the fishermen auction and sell their catch. It seems that very little has changed in the way of life here, and old customs are very much still alive.

Other places of interest in the area are the districts of Mantancherry and Jew Town, which are inhabited by a large population of Kashmiri immigrants. In fact, Kashmiris can be found living and working all over India, leaving their homeland for the usual reason of going where the work is (or where they think they can make money off of their own backs). Of the Kashmiris I have spoken to about Kashmir, each of them has proclaimed that their homeland is like a ‘paradise on earth’. So, it’s a similar sentiment to the one I feel about Derry. These two areas are full of shops trading in spices, rice and other heavy goods such as machinery. It was like stepping back in time; as I walked the streets, you could see neatly turned out men sitting at desks, behind stacks of well-ordered accounting ledgers, recording everything on paper, trading in the old-fashioned way that has disappeared at home.

During my walk around the town, I also came across a field full of western-looking people milling about rows of about thirty or forty brand new rickshaws. The rickshaws and their owners were getting ready to set off on ‘The Adventurists Rickshaw Run’, which I found out was a race between Cochin and Kathmandu in Nepal. There were Irish, Brits, Americans, Aussies, Kiwis, amongst other nationalities, and it looked like a lot of fun. No doubt the Irish would limp over the finish line well down the pecking order (if they finish at all).

Later in the evening, I went to a ‘Kathakali’ show, a traditional music and acting performance that is particular to the state of Kerala, and clearly a must-do activity for any tourist on a trip in the south of India. The actors are also the focus of the pre-show, when they sit on stage and apply the intricate and colourful make-up in view of audience members who wish to turn up early to see the actors do this. The show itself started with an introduction to the art, with a narrator providing a guide to the facial and body movements of an actor who was simultaneously providing a demonstration on how to convey emotions and commands in the absence of speech. The exclusively male actors and musicians have to undergo extensive training over many years, and are taught in acting, drumming, singing-in and the application of make-up, and all of these elements are impressive. However, the ‘play’ itself was very slow moving, and I found that the novelty soon weared after half an hour. I don’t think they have ever heard of the concept of ‘always leave the crowd wanting more’, as I high-tailed it out of their in the hope of waking myself up and getting some dinner.

There were many people on the street when I left, a parade involving elephants and acrobats entertaining the crowd of primarily Indian tourists who lined the roadside in what seemed like another New Year celebration. In fact, it was too crowded and the restaurants were all as busy – and the service as slow – as the night before. When the food did arrive, it was of a fairly poor quality, and much inferior to the nosh enjoyed in Goa.

I was planning to move on the next day, to a place called Kumily, about 150kms inland on the bus, so was facing another five or six hour journey. I hoped to get there by the early afternoon, so needed to be up early the next morning to get the ferry back to Ernakulam, so headed back to the hotel for some sleep.

Tags: Sightseeing


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