Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Trip to India: Day 3: Into Cochin!
Today we got ready to go meet Stephen and Jasleen in the south at the Cochin airport. We waited in the airport and on the plane a bit and then arrived in the balmy 90 degree heat of Southern India. Quite a stretch from the single digit temperatures back in New York we had left a couple days ago. We got our bags and then spotted two white faces and a sign saying "Turk Family :)" amongst the throng of drivers holding signs outside the doors. We hugged and laughed and whatnot and all got into the taxi that Stephen and Jasleen had come with. It was so nice to see both of them (they've been traveling around India and Thailand for several months now). It felt like the same "Turk Show" as in Colorado (same people, same jokes, same wacky hijinks) only this was the "Indian Holiday Special"! We met our drivers, Noushad and Sayid, and headed out towards the city. The drive from the airport to Cochin was incredible. Driving in Cochin (even moreso than in Delhi) is a carefully choreographed ballet with little 3-wheeled mopeds called "tuk-tuks," hoardes of people, and lots and lots of honking. I never really felt the disorientation of driving on the left side of the road because our drivers were on the right side (or in the middle) of the road just as much as the left. We passed by bustling market places, over enormous bridges, past rivers, and fishing boats, and rows and rows of palm forests. Finally we came into the center of Fort Cochin and back to the homestay Stephen and Jasleen had found the night before. In the "suburbs" of the city, all of the buildings looked like they had been plucked out of Swiss Family Robinson. The brightly colored houses were interwoven amongst the coconut palms with rope ladders and sprinkled with magical folded paper stars that they lit up for Christmas (Cochin has a very large Christian population.) We headed straight out so that we could try to catch the sunset on the beach. We came around the corner to find a perfect ruby circle hovering over the sparkling waters and the crowd of families on the beach.
As I was drawing, a crowd started to form again. Three little girls in particular would run over to me and watch me until I'd look over and smile at them and they'd giggle and run back to their families. This happened two or three times before Jasleen asked if it'd be okay if I drew them. So they exploded into giggles and nodded sheepishly and allowed me to draw them.
After the beach we walked into the town center and came to a super trendy restaurant for dinner. The town center has a very strange atmosphere because it feels like it could be in any urban-hippie enclave anywhere in the US (Boulder, Colorado comes to mind). There are cute little bookstores and cafes filled with white American hippies, and not a South Indian person in sight (save the shopkeeper.) I guess that's what comes with tourism! The restaurant we ate at was much the same thing, but had excellent food and a nice garden-like feel.