Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Day 21, Jan 27 Cochin

Day 21 - Jan 27, Cochin - Miscellani - Cochin, more Cochin, Cochin all the time

Pic 1, Ralph and MHB in front of Chinese fishing net

Pic 2, Synagogue in Cochin, the entrance to the sanctuary is on the left

Pic 3, two houseboats tied together in backwaters, taken at sunrise

We’re feeling like the trip is winding down with little of note. Not sure why we’re in Cochin for another day. There are tons of tourists wandering the streets, which given the heat is a real act of determination. The consensus of the group is that we’re doing very touristy things without a lot of interest, the local guide is very accommodating though there’s not too much that needs accommodating, and Martin and Carol do not have any special insights here that would heighten the experience.

Humble apology: Basically, I have three main stressors around pictures: I don’t like to pose, I don’t like to take pictures, and as a viewer I don’t like to look at a ton of pictures all at once. One of the beautiful things about blogging is the ability to combine pictures with text. Sooooo, not too much posing, not a lot of picture taking (we are reserving a batch, you lucky dogs, just for us), and you get the pics doled out over time, in context. We’ve had some very limited success posting, mostly (I think) due to a lack of high speed wi-fi (any wi-fi!), technology inexperience, and bad luck. So, here’s what may happen: we’ll update the blog with pics tp gp with the right postings when we get back in the rockin’ free world, we might do some in Mumbai (unlikely), we will put together a flicker account and send that out, all or some of the above. ARGGGGGGHHHHH!

Perfect time to do a book review! Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson, takes place mostly during the VN war from the perspective of a rogue CIA colonel and the people around him. Long, very enjoyable read. Highly recommended, good travel reading.

Question: How do you know you are in a climate that is too hot for you?

Answer: Even the cold showers seem too hot!

This morning we gather a group of tut-tuts, and the first stop is 100 yards away, to again visit the Chinese fishing nets. Someone must have figured out that the stationary net dropped 100s of times a day will catch fish, somehow I would think the fish would figure it out, too.

On to a cathedral just down the street. The tut-tut group follows along and one of the drivers says our guide has taken us to shops that are paying too high a price and he is getting a big commission. What shops? All we see are more little stands and some hawkers that swarm all over us., Nobody is buying a thing…

Cathedral of note for the giant fans with lines that run to the outside where some poor guy pulled on the rope during the services. Rebuilt by the Brits in late 1700s, first Christian church in India when originally constructed in late 1500s.

Then we take tut-tuts to buy spices, it is right next door the gallery we visited yesterday and the whole group buys spices and visits Dorrie and the art. As we depart, the next stop is short walk to a ginger factory with much ginger in different stages of drying out. NOT very appealing process, more moldy and using lime than we want to know.
Tut-tut drivers are now in rebellion, too much standing around and we aren’t visiting the stores where they get a commission for each fare dropped off. Martin now in a shouting match with the lead guy (the guy who complained earlier about our guide). We’re all way too hot and dehydrated to get much worked up about it, though it makes for quite a good street theater for the neighborhood.

We visit the Dutch Museum to see 450 year old murals that are a) wide open to being touched, sneezed on, etc. and b) under no semblance of humidity control. The shock is they lasted this long.

Some head back to hotel, subset go out for lunch in neighborhood. We join the neighborhood group and eat in the a/c room! Well, ok, the room with ceiling and wall fans. Dhosas (crepes filled with potato mix, I believe) and talit (the array of small dishes around a mound of rice) and 4 mango drinks between the two of us. $9 total for 9 meals and 15 drinks, would’ve been $4 if we had been in the main dining room.

MHB goes with another couple to do a bit more shopping and on the way back the tut-tut stops for gas…and the driver gets a cup of gas, and while waiting they are approached by someone who sez if they visit a specific shop he gets a t-shirt and small gratuity, no need to buy anything. Novel approach, the gas-hustling tut-tut driver/huckster combo!

We take the sunset harbor cruise, only 9 of us including Carol and Martin and Sri Raj, the local guide. We visit the fishing boat tie-ups, seeing small shrimp being shelled by hand by about 20 women. Then the shelled shrimp are put back in a net and dipped right off the boat several times, to get that local flavor? The key moment, all the cruises are lining up so that the cruisees can get a shot of the sun behind the Chinese fishing nets. About 5 boats jockeying for about 45 seconds of screen saver shots. Best part from our perspective (we didn’t even bring the camera) is the nice breeze throughout. We also see dolphins with pink snouts and tips of the fins, on grey bodies.

Another pre-dinner party to finish up the last of the scotch, beer and wine. Then dinner, too many times at the hotel, we’ve each run through the items on the menu we like several times, and then to try and get some sleep before the 5:15am wakeup knock on the door (there are no phones in the rooms!).

Ralph and MHB


  1. i can't believe you liked this book. i love denis johnson and i hated this book. in fact, i wrote a blog post about it here and recently took a picture of it here for a photo of "perseverance"!

  2. What can I say, I was delusional and suffering from the chills...GREAT BOOK!