It was a Friday evening and I had a long weekend
ahead of me waiting with no plans. I did not wanted to spend all of it in
Coimbatore, my training location. I looked up for the places around and found
out my cousin in the Navy stationed at Kochi. “You can catch the morning
bus if you get up early”, that’s what my mind said but my habit of
sleeping late kept everything in suspense. I went off to sleep packing my small
bag sincerely hoping to get up and make it to the nearby bus depot. To my luck,
it was some day as I got up by 5 in the morning and by 5:30, I was in the bus
sleeping again hoping to see Kochi by noon.
The Journey from Coimbatore started by 0600 hours
and I was awake by 0730 when the Volvo stopped for breakfast. I removed my
curtains and it was a bliss, in the middle of nowhere with all the greenery
around, shading the bus completely. I got down, splashed my face with water and
here was my morning – Serenely placed in the greens of Kerala. When in Rome, be
a Roman, and so was I, sitting at the breakfast table with a banana leaf topped
with Idli – Vada – Sambhar and Coconut Chutney, in short heaven.
The bus took off after a while and the journey
witnessing the splendid landscapes continued, the journey from Coimbatore to
Kochi is mostly dominated by boring straight national highway with few
stretches of beautiful state highways. I could see backwaters and coconut trees
hanging low on them throughout and it was refreshing. The Weather was slowly
becoming humid, expected due to the shores and I could see Ernakulam boards
hanging around. Being a native of North India, I had heard Ernakulam mostly
with a suffix “Express” for the trains which commuted down south. I
asked one of my fellow passengers and he told that Kochi is a city in the
Ernakulam district of the state. I did not know that, was a new one. The bus
stopped at Willingdon Island ending the journey.
My cousin was staying at this island which was
close by to the historical locality of “Mattancherry”, the island was
full of huge ships of Navy and proud officers in uniform. Patriotism hits a new
high every time I get into such surroundings. My cousin came to pick me up at
the Gate where I had to show my identity card and log my details. We went to
his house, typical huge government quarter and surprisingly well maintained. We
got out for a late lunch at Naushad’s, a famous food chain there and had a steamed
pomfret with spices in banana leaf. It was amazing, till date I long to go back
to Kerala and have the same dish again. “We work on Saturdays you
civilian”, he said and left for work again after dropping me back. He had
given me instructions on how to take the ferry to Mattancherry and go around,
as expected from the independent defence brother.
I took the ferry to Mattancherry from a dock near Taj Malabar, another marvel of the Taj Hotels. This was a new experience,
travelling alone, exploring a new place alone, the ferry, the people and
Mattancherry. It took hardly about 10 minutes to get on the other side and I
was on my feet, exploring the old town.
Mattancherry is mostly a historically
rich site hosting the grand Mattancherry Palace, a Synagogue, Classic Old
Churches and a beautiful beach with all kind of flea markets. When you walk
here, you can feel time sliding into the older eras seeing the old houses with
vintage doors and windows. I took plenty of pictures, thanks to my Canon point
and shoot camera.
I covered all of it and sat on the bench at the
beach for a while watching the fishermen catching fishes using the Chinese
fishnets, the sun too went low and it was a beautiful evening as I took the
ferry back to Willingdon island where my cousin was waiting at the dock. Later,
we went to few local eat outs, had dinner and crashed to sleep by 10 as next
morning we had planned to drive around Kochi and Old Ernakulam town.
And as planned we were on the streets exploring
the town, but weather had a different plan as it started pouring, so we had to
return back. It was a blessing in disguise, as my cousin took me inside the
huge naval ships and one word for it – unbelievable. It was really unbelievable
how complex these ships were and the operational procedure they had, it was so
much of patience and hard work managing the whole ship.
I soaked it in, it was
really a proud moment to see one of our biggest defence weapons in its
The day passed by exploring more about the naval
base and its history and the tasty tandoori chicken at the canteen, and it was
night. One thing I did not like about Kochi was that the commercial areas shut
very early, it was almost lull by 2100. We had another meal at Naushad’s as I
was asked to choose. Had the same fish again and went back and slept.
Next morning, I took the Volvo back to Coimbatore
after my cousin gifted me- I love Kochi t-shirt.
It was a refreshing trip and Mattancherry remains
the place in my mind for another visit whenever time permits next.