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PART 1 - ARREST @ NAVAL BASE, BEEF LASAGNE AND THE AMAZING PETROL PUMP

INDIA | Friday, 27 March 2015 | Views [434]

It was monsoons in Kerala. I was staying in Ernakulam, the new Cochin city, which was crowded and full of shops, theatres, restaurants and malls like any other city. The city had everything to offer, plus I was in a new place with new people, culture and food to explore but the traveller in me was restless. I rented a Royal Enfield and set out alone with a plan to explore Fort Kochi and Alleppy via Mararikulum. And thus began one of the longest days of my life, full of new experiences, adventure and a thrill which pumps you up for the otherwise monotonous life.

Fort Kochi was no fort as I was expecting, but an old city with beautiful architecture, which was a Dutch colony once. Fort Kochi was a 15 km drive from Ernakulum, and on the way one would cross the big Cochin port, the Indian Naval Base, two bridges over the sea (you cross islands to reach Fort Kochi; Cochin is a group of 3 Islands), a railway line and also an old air base, I guess. My plan for the day was to have an early breakfast in Fort Kochi, and then leave for Alleppy, stopping at Mararikulum, a virgin beach, in between. Alleppy was 2.5 hours drive, 75kms, from Cochin, and Mararikulum lied on the same highway, around 25 kms before Alleppy.

With a passion for photography, my journey from Ernakulum to Fort Kochi involved stopping by and clicking pictures. I was loving it, the water, the greenery, the weather, kept stopping and taking my sweet time to savor the beauty.
 
As I moved ahead there was this beautiful curvy road with magnificent trees on both sides creating a canopy through which diffused sun rays were pouring in beautifully. I had to capture this! I had just set my frame, and was just about to click the button for that perfect click that I heard someone shouting. It was a policeman running towards me from the other side of the road. It took me a moment to realize that I was standing exactly in front of the gate of the Naval base and clicking a picture. The police man was a naval police guard, he made me park my bike and took me inside the naval base. 
 
I was interrogated for 3 hours by different ranks of officers, me trying to convince them that I am not a terrorist. First, they thought I am a foreigner, they emptied my bag, checked my camera, and damn, deleted all the pictures I took. I almost pleaded the officer to not delete the pictures. Pictures above were clicked on the phone, which they luckily didn’t check.
 
Sad about the pictures, I cheered myself up with the prospect of exploring Fort Kochi.
 
I reached Fort Kochi famished and rushed into the first restaurant that I found a little attractive. “Upstairs Italian Restaurant” was a small little place on the first floor. I had a delicious beef lasagna and coffee.
 
Loved the hearty meal and the conversation with the manager of the place. The restaurant was owned by an Italian, who spent 6 months in Italy and 6 months in Cochin during the on season. The manager was a mallu, a trained chef, who spent a lot of years in Italy and other places, working in restaurants and 5star hotels. He knew 4-5 foreign languages and told me how he charm the foreigners, party with them and is loving his life. I asked him for suggestions for things to do around, and promised him to come back.
 
Half the day gone, I wasn’t sure if I should go to Mararikulum or Alleppy. I had to get my bike refueled, so I asked someone for the nearest petrol pump. It was close to the Upstairs Restaurant, but the moment I reached there, woah, it was the most amazing petrol pump location I had seen.
 
On the left hand side of this petrol pump were the famous Chinese fishing nets which I had heard quite a lot about. Not only did they look breath taking but had a completely new experience to offer me. I parked my bike next to the petrol pump, took out my camera and started clicking pictures, almost forgetting about my plan to go to Alleppy.

Tags: beaches, bike ride, fishing, on the road

 

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