You get some really good hotels in big towns, and in Ernakulam, we ate our breakfast in a hotel that served giants. We were so full, that lunch was no more on the day’s agenda. MG Road leads to Fort Kochi after a myriad turns. It turned out to be – well, disappointment will be too harsh a word, but – something of a too touristy thing. Maybe after drinking the beauty of Kerala and some of Tamilnadu, Fort Kochi simply didn’t have anything that could top it. There are few text book spots. One is a church where in past some Spanish sailors were buried, and now the tombstones from those graves are placed on walls! I don’t know about you, but I find it pretty weird and scary to see the stones decorating a church wall, that once covered the dead.
Then there was this St. Francis Church, which once housed the tomb of Vasco Di Gama. His body was taken to his land Lisbon soon afterwards.
A customary shot of Chinese fishnets:
There is one last attraction, named ‘Jew street’. Some Jews settled in Cochin long time ago, and the area they lived in is now called Jew street. There is a Jew temple – synagogue – nearby, which frankly non Jew people will not understand at all. In other religion’s temples or masjids or church, you can at least guess where to bow and where to take the prashaad, but here it was a square room with a square podium standing in the middle. It was written that all its thousands of tiles are different in design, though I couldn’t spot the difference. The first time I sucked at a child’s game – spot the difference. Going by the display boards outside the synagogue, there are very few Jews that are left now in Kerala as well as in India.
Jew street has a lot of curio shops though. We started window shopping, and liked some stuff. I never fall for such ‘antique’ stuff in normal case, but here some things we saw were really very beautiful to pass by. After a long bargaining session, we finally bought few items from the shop.
I saw some old photos that were for sale in these shops. First I thought they would be photoshopped pictures of Amir and Shahrukh, to fool foreigners. But these seemed legit! Who buys others’ ancestral photos? It was really shocking, and I hope my great grand children don’t sell my photos in antique shops.
While coming back, we stopped at Kairali shops, the ones run by the government. The prices were so exorbitant, that I had to look really hard to confirm that the shop keeper was not joking and those were indeed the prices. Just for an example, a brass deepam that was costing some Rs.300 outside had a price tag of Rs.990. And this phenomenon repeated for each and every thing kept in the shop. All the things were priced at least trice their actual worth. The same story repeated in the government coir shops too, which had rates that were at least double of what they were in the Aleppy coir shop. It seemed the government was hell bent on fleecing the tourists than providing a value for money deal.
We returned in time for submitting the bike on the railway station. My worry about the language barrier was in vein, because I had forgotten that the world has a common language – money. When there was this opportunity for the station porters to earn money, suddenly they could communicate very well! Rs.300 seems the normal packing rate in all the railway stations. The parceling took about 1.5 hours, and we ended up drawing about two bottles of petrol from the bike. One bottle is usually good, because it is easy to carry and hide on train, but two was bit too much. I miscalculated the mileage of the bike, and ended up with one extra liter of petrol. But there, a person asked me whether I wanted to sell that extra one liter of petrol! I first thought he would be an agent who usually fleece unaware customers by offering very low price to the petrol, scaring them with stories of how the railway police will catch them and all. But this person was asking me genuinely. Turned out that his bike had recently arrived from train, and he required petrol to get it running. Otherwise he had to push it all the way to petrol station. I really wondered at the curios ways God works. That I have an extra unwanted stuff that he requires, and we meet at exactly that point in time which would benefit us both!
We roamed the city on foot in the evening. There was nothing new to do tonight, except to chat about the past 16 days, and wonder whether the bike would be placed safely in train. While chatting, we roamed too far, and were tired to walk back. So we got on a bus, asking whether it goes to ‘station’. It did go to station, except it was ‘bus’ station, and not the railway one. Thus we had to walk a fair bit anyways, but at least it was on some new roads.
We thought about booking a rickshaw today for tomorrow’s pickup from hotel. But the rickshaw stand at the station is operation 24 hours, and so we did not feel any need to pre-book it.
After a nice dinner at the Shalimar Hotel, we were packing till late night, because carrying all the stuff outside of bike was really troublesome.