Coach B to Kotchi

Trip Start Oct 16, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of India  , Kerala,
Sunday, February 15, 2009

After learning the ropes on our first train journey the next trip on the overnight Netravati Express to Kotchi, or its other name Cochin, was a breeze. Actually there was a breeze in our compartment - we were sharing with the Netravati Snorer - he snored for the whole train; thank God for IPod. Although she won't admit it, I know Gill now realises how well off she is with my lighter than light purring that she seems to regard as grounds for divorce.

Some 15 hours after kick off we arrived at a civilised 2pm. In the grand scale of things this is a normal sized journey in India where the longest train ride is a mind boggling 66 hours. Now there was a choice; pay x for a taxi to Fort Cochin or x/100 and catch the local ferry. We are good travelers so we chose the interesting route and learned a new little quirk of this country. The ferry ticket kiosk was closed and there were a couple of young lads standing under a piece of paper that had had LA written on it but the rest had been torn off. After 10 mins I realised that the DIES was missing and I was in the ladies queue for tickets - it was too late to change, some 20 men at the adjacent window and 5 stroppy looking women behind me. I thought they would forgive this ignorant foreigner; no way the kiosk opened and I had to start a full scale blocking manoeuvre while the boys in front of me were served; I moved left and right and just as I thought I had cracked it shoving my 5 Rupee note through the little hole in the wall somehow the woman behind with a neat flanking move got her hand further into the hole than me and was served first. Well she taught me a lesson but I still haven't got over it - just had to now make sure we didn't sit in the ladies area on the ferry. Gill of course knew all about this queuing business because she reads guide books.

Fort Cochin has changed hands many times in the past with RC Portuguese -(Vasco da Gama lived and died here) being replaced by the Protestant Dutch and being a huge port there were Chinese fisherman (they still use huge Chinese style fishing nets when the tide turns) and Jewish merchants. We happened upon a huge basilica and were amazed at the size of the Saturday congregation which formed a 2000 strong procession out of the church looping all around it a couple of times and to a melodic chant interspersed by several deafening volleys of firecrackers until Mother Mary was safely delivered back to her shrine.

To balance things it was time to catch a rickshaw to Jew Town. - can you imagine asking for that as a destination in England, no PC here the newspapers refer to Pak this and Pak that - and we visited an ancient synagogue. It seems that after another expulsion a Jew and his wife swam into Cochin and was allowed to bring his mates to live next door to the Maharajah's palace. I met an Indian tourist who explained there were 70 Jews still in Cochin and 3000 in Mumbai; are there any Jews in England? he asked. I explained that there were slightly more than 3000 and he was surprised they hadn't gone back to Israel.

More wandering and we came across a Bollywood film being filmed
and for the second time this trip we were filmed albeit in the background. I also filmed the action and of course beautiful heroine who turned out to be not just any old actress but none other than Aisha Jakaia - well this chap was very impressed when I showed him my photo of her and told me she was the most famous actress in India - I always did have a good eye, I told myself!

Time to quit Cochin and cool off in the hills.
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dave_easty on

Hello folks, glad to hear your having fun! sounds like your getting stuck in with the hindu culture, just remember indians love the 'bling', theres no such word as tacky even for the temple decorations!
Didn't I warn you about the snoring? earplugs are essential on the sleeper trains.
Alls well at this end. Take care now xx

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