Sunday, March 8, 2015

India Travel Journal Part 6: Kochi

I hope you're enjoying these posts! I realize a travel journal is a bit of a departure from my normal posts, but I usually keep a journal when I travel and typing it is so much faster. I enjoy sharing my experiences with you and now that I'm back in the habit of writing, I'll be posting more regularly.

I still have a few more days in India to write about, even though I'm back in the US. I'm in Anaheim at Natural Products Expo West and I'm loving every minute of my time here. The positive energy in this community is inspiring and I can't wait to share my behind the scenes look at the natural products industry with you in the coming weeks and months. There are such great sustainable, nutritious, and delicious foods being made by people who care about the health of people and the planet. So tune in again soon, for pictures, stories, and product reviews!

Flashback to India...

Kochi. Oh, Kochi. Where do I even begin? How about at the Courtyard Marriott Cochin Airport since we'll revisit it later? Another really nice hotel full of hospitality. My colleagues left on Thursday evening after my presentation at CUSAT, but not until after we enjoyed some iced coffee together. Over coffee, they gave me more tips on what to do and see over the rest of my trip. I took notes and consulted my guide book and sketched out a list. I hired a car again to take me around Kochi and our first stop was Cherai beach. It was probably around 9:30 when I found myself looking out at the Arabian Sea. It was quiet and peaceful. A real change of pace from the busy streets. I walked the beach and smiled exchanged smiles with the few I shared the time and space with. A little girl took an interest in me and I snapped a photo. I wondered why nobody was there laying out on beach blankets or sunbathing. I took some more pictures, enjoyed the waves for a bit, then started making my way back to the car. The driver told me the beach is more of an evening thing... maybe the sun is just too hot to hang out there during the day?

As we headed toward the ferry, we passed the ancient Chinese fishing nets that date back to the Kahn Dynasty. Apparently, they're not used much, but they transported me back an ancient time for a moment between honking horns. I thought the ferry was near the beach, but it turned out to be a half hour away. While we were on our way, we passed a temple with a huge crowd. Men riding an elephant adorned with bright fabric and lots of jewels caught my eye. The music was enchanting. I observed until the elephant rode away and the music died down then got back in the car.

When we got to the ferry, I went to repack my purse to make sure I had the necessary supplies to explore my next destination, Fort Kochi, by foot. Camera? Check. TP? Check. Wallet? Check. Hand wipes? Check. iPhone? Where's my iPhone? Seriously Andrea? I tore my backpack and purse to pieces. We flipped up the back seat and searched every crevice of the car. Where could it be? Back by the temple? At the beach? I look at the time. It's almost 12 and my flight is at 4. It takes 15 min to get back to the temple and 40 min to get to the airport.

I ask the driver to take me back to the temple and the search for my phone leads us into the celebratory worship.  We take off our shoes and head to a table near the back of an open-air space full of life. People are lined up to make offerings. Others are on line for food. There are some women chanting on the stage. The people at the table seem to be selling tickets. Maybe this is some kind of festival and there's a 50/50? I doubt it. My driver speaks with the people behind the table. A few men wave each other down and then one grabs the microphone, and makes an announcement over the PA about my missing phone. I was grateful for everyone's help and sympathy. I was clearly such an outsider and they were so warm and helpful. A middle-aged woman came out from behind the table and sat next to me while we waited to see if anyone might come forward with the phone. She asked me if I was married and wanted to know about my husband. She was so sweet and suggested we file a police report.

We drove for a couple of minutes and arrived at a parking lot. There was a crowd of people waiting outside the police station. I had no idea what the process was for something like this and everything I saw made me feel like this could be hopeless. The driver spoke to the uniformed man standing in the door. Then we walked across the street to a little shop who pointed us back towards the police station. What was going on? I was so confused. We found another shop near the police station. Words were exchanged and eventually, my driver bought a piece of thin, white, computer paper. Interesting. We head back to the police station where I basically write down what I lost, where I lost it, and how to reach me (email?). The odds of them finding my phone can't be good. My handwritten paper gets put on top of a stack of papers just like it on the inspector's desk. It's almost 1:00 now. Do I still have time to see Fort Kochi? The driver takes me back to the ferry. I buy a ticket and wait for about 5 minutes then watch in awe as a ferry unloads. Every square inch was packed with people, motorcycles, scooters, tuk tuks, cars, and small trucks. I don't think any livestock deboarded. Once empty, we all file aboard in classic Indian chaos which is extremely efficient. I find myself in Fort Kochi a few minutes later. I have no idea what to see or do here and have no time to consult my book. I just walk.