Cochin, or Kochi, as it is officially called today, is very laid back. I like this place. As I ride along its shady tree-lined streets, I’m assailed by wild colours, incredible smells and a cacophony of sounds at every corner. Life seems to move at an easy relaxed pace here.
The promenade by the sea is a particularly nice place. Just where it starts to wind along the shore southwards is a jetty where a roll-on-roll-off ferry discharges its cargo of motorcycles, cars, autos and trucks. I think this is the ferry that will take me to Vypin island tomorrow when I start heading north.
The sun is shining brightly in the cloudless sky. It’s hot and I’m feeling hungry. I haven’t had breakfast since I checked out of Taj Mahal. I think I’ll head for that not-too-fancy eatery just next to the jetty. A young man is busy preparing little balls of dough to make pratha. I order some, with a glass of milk tea, or chai, as they call it here in India. The curry for the pratha is very good, as is the chai, so i order seconds. No spoon or fork, it’s fingers-only cuisine. In India, do as the Indians do…
Cochin has a very chequered history of being colonised by first the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch, then the British. It’s not unlike Malacca and the rest of the Malay peninsula, which was also colonised by the the same gang of Europeans. To me, colonisation is merely a politically-correct term for economic rape. They lord over the ignorant natives, enrich themselves with the land’s abundant natural resources, then leave when it looks like the next greedy bunch of colonists have a made a new deal with the native rulers, and so on… until the natives finally revolt.
These Europeans did, however, leave an enduring legacy behind — their culture and heritage, especially their architecture which gave Cochin its distinct personality. All these, in effect, made Cochin what it is today — a popular tourist destination.