As I am reading it, I felt its important enough to be shared with all those who read my virtual world. May be my views in one of my earlier posts will change once some of the recommendations are implemented.
My take on the music and the movie will definitely feature on this virtual world upon release of the movie. The presence of a dear friend – Muthumani Somasundaran and current craze – period are more than one reasons to dedicate a separate space for the movie.
For now – it is about Fort Cochin and more so my childhood memories about the place!
As always, I asked Wikipedia about the city just to top my experiences with some history. Thought I did read about the city in detail- what interested me most was the origin of the name Fort Cochin:
“The name Cochin implies “co-chin”, meaning “like-China”. It looked like China when the Chinese came to the region during the 14th century and installed Chinese nets. Mattancherry is the nerve town of old historic Cochin. In old Malayalam it is maadan-cherry, cherry meaning town. Maad or cow was the stamp of Old Royal Fort of Rajah of Cochin, who built his palace after the fall of Kodungallur or Mussaris port due to a gigantic tsunami in 1341 AD”.
This is one bit of information I was not aware !
Leaving history behind lets visit Fort Cochin as I remember it!
My trip to Fort Cochin was at the age of 6 when I attend a wedding of one of my father’s colleagues. I don’t remember the visit in great detail. Just vaguely remember the Cochin Airport which was back then close to Fort Cochin, crossing the Mattanchery bridge and seeing the Chinese fishing nets. What I remember clearly was that I wore a blue dress – a birthday gift!
At the age of 7, it was decided that our family shall be moving into the accommodation provided by the school in which my father worked as the Principal – The Delta Study, Fort Cochin. Thereafter, I was to continue my education at Delta . Unlike my sister, I was super excited. She was in standard 7 did not want to leave her old friends, her school, and teachers. I remember we even went and enquired about the hostel facilities of the school we studied without letting our parents know. She preferred staying at a hostel rather than joining a new school and being part of a new environment.
I was on the other hand excited about going to a new school. The primary reasons being- I hated my old school and more so hated the one hour travel to school every day. The new house was inside the school campus and hence zero travel.
Back to the city:
Fort Cochin according me is a mini Goa! Some of the lanes, buildings, houses that share the same wall – all look very similar to Old Goa. It exudes a charm, a beauty that is unique and very different from the rest of Kerala.
I would start the description of the city with the house I stayed in . It was an old Portuguese built bungalow and HUGE! By ‘huge’ I mean very ‘huge’!!This bungalow is a part of The Delta Study which was once a warehouse – built in 1808.
As a 7 year old, who has lived in a moderately small ancestral home – the first look of the house left me stunned. The highlights of the house were wooden flooring, a ball room, a gigantic bathroom, bathtubs, huge balcony! I used to get lost in the house due to its sheer size.
Though we never used the ballroom for the purposed intended it was an apt playroom for me!
The boat ride from Fort Cochin to Vypeen has been my first ever. It was exciting and scary. Scary trips as the boat never used to be in the best of conditions! If a ship happens to sail through the route any time the waves used to become so unruly and restless that the boat used to start dancing in the sea.
Living five minutes away from sea was, I think the best part of being in Fort Cochin. Our parents used to take us to the beach side every other day and also treat us with a mango ice cream from Chariot Hotel!
At one point in time major beautification and restoration works were conducted around the beach and police security was present at the beach 24/7. Felt safe to be around the place. No idea how it is now.
Every time any cousin came to visit us, we used to take them around Fort Cochin – the Jew street being one of them. I used to love going there as a child and beyond – for the sheer old city charm that it has. The narrow lane , the small shops selling antiques, the Jew synagogue at the end of the lane holds a charm unique to that place.
Kapithans was a very famous ice –cream shop – more famous as a hangout area. The cassatta and mango ice cream from Kapithans were yum!Couples went there to treat each other, ‘school gangs’ went there got their birthday treats!
Shop n’ Save was the one shop stop for all stationery items during my school days. I am sure a number of other shops might have cropped up now. Going to the shop to buy new notebooks, pens, brown paper to cover the books excited me as a kid.
As the name indicates the apartment faces the sea and has one of the most beautiful views of the sea. This apartment holds a special place as some of my friends used to stay there and I used to go there in the evenings. I remember seeing the deck of a ship through a binoculars from the balcony of a friend’s house. That was probably the first time I used a binoculars!
I have not had tastier plum cakes from any other part of the World. Elite hotel in Fort Cochin used to bake one of the most tastiest plum cakes in Fort Cochin! Talking about cakes I remember we received more than 50 cakes, during the first Christmas in Fort Cochin. People greet each other for Christmas with plum cakes.
Cochin Carnival conducted on 1st of January every year is one of the biggest events in Fort Cochin – processions, dancing on the road – an evening full of fun and frolic. The Carnival comes to an end at the beach where a huge Santa is set on fire – indicating burning away of the bad. Strange – because Santa is set on fire – but unique.
People from across the state come to see the carnival. We were lucky enough to have one of our balconies facing the road on which the Carnival proceeds. Our house used to be full of friends and family who wanted to watch the Carnival!
A land of keralites, numerous foreigners which includes Europeans, Americans, Africans,Chinese and just about every nationality, a nepali watchman, a class full of tamilians, marvadis, konkanis, Punjabis, gujaratis – hindus, christians, muslims and Sikhs – what more of a cultural and religious diversity do you require!
Kethu ram – our watchman is someone I would never forget. All credit for the little hindi that I know goes to him!
Though I have seen it for about 10 years of my life, it has never ceased to fascinate me.
Be it the Santa Cruz Basilica or the St. Francis Church, these churches have always fascinated me for its vastness and beauty. I have been there a number of times as travel guide to my cousins and friends. Surprisingly, I have never attended the mass there.
There wouldn’t be a single person in Fort Cochin who hasn’t tasted Kayikaa’s Biriyani. If KFC chicken is patented it is a sin not to patent this recipe. I am not sure if the future generations has been able to carry forward the unique taste – the last time I had it was more than 10 years ago!
Kashis Art Gallery /Coffee Shop
Though Kashis was a part of the city during my school days, it shot to fame during my college days at Ernakulam. We used to travel an hour from Ernakulam just to have a good breakfast or the famous chocolate cake at Kashis.
Fish and Fish Fry
Sea fish used to be a part of our staple diet since we used to get fresh ones. Many a times the fishes were alive when it was brought home. As soon as amma placed them into the water it used to start swimming. Since mom was scared to kill live fishes we used to wait for our maid Tulsi to come the next day. I used to love watching the fishes swimming in the vessels till it became ‘meen fry’ on the dining table-loved them even more after that 🙂
Sip –ups are not Fort Cochin specific . However it forms an integral part of my experiences in the city. I used to collect money from mom and dad to buy them. It used to cost 50 ps. To 1 rs.- back then! Do I sound too old?!
Christmas and new year decorations
I have not seen any other city in Kerala decorated in so much grandeur as Fort Cochin is during Christmas, New Year time. The streets are lit by hundreds of stars, every house will have a Christmas tree!
Pani Puris and Bondas
Under the pretext of attending computer Classes I used to go with a couple of friends to Pandikudy. Konkani Saraswathi Brahmins reside in a the area around pandikudy. With a temple in the vicinity and array of houses around the temple the area had a Palakkad feel to it! More than the computer classes we used to enjoy the walk through the streets, the hustle bustle around the temple, the knee length water in the area during monsoons, the pani puri competition at the chat shop and the bondas from one of the thattu kadas!
The memories associated with Fort Cochin in the form of places, people and emotions are numerous! I would require many more posts to describe my childhood there!
The recent heinous incident that happened at the Delhi led me to refresh my memories and take on the city.
Delhi has never been in my list of favourite cities- from the very first time I have been to the city.
I have been to Delhi only a couple of times – the longest stint at the capital has been for about 2 weeks in 2007.
The main reason for not liking the place was of course a lack of sense of security. Every time I step out, I used to feel that the city is not welcoming.
The first time I lived in Delhi, I was very keen on experiencing the ’charm of Delhi’. I must mention that the first Metro travel, the sight of India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhavan was beautiful and exciting. That was on my first day, with a couple of good friends.
The real Delhi experience began on day 2, when I began my internship at the Supreme Court of India. I stayed close to the Supreme Court and hence did not have to use the public transport to the courts in the morning. In the afternoons, my the Senior Advocate whom I interned with – was kind enough to take me in his car to the office. A young Keralite girl – first time in Delhi was a compelling enough a reason to ensure my safety. He ensured that I left office at around 6.30 p.m on the first day, and requested his assistant to ensure that I take the correct bus to my hostel. This routine was followed till the last day office. At that point in time I did not understand his concern and found it amusing. But now I truly understand the cause of his worry. Delhi is not safe. Thank you sir!
The second incident, I recall was a couple of years ago when I went to watch a movie with a few friends post having dinner at Oh! Calcutta. After dinner one of the friends who came by car insisted on dropping us back home even though he had to take the opposite direction. I insisted on taking an auto since there were three of us (2 girls and 1 guy), however it was out rightly rejected by the friend on the ground that Delhi is not safe. Now, I understand. Thank you Abhinav!
I was to take up a very lucrative job at a law firm three years ago at Delhi, which did not work out. Had it worked out, I probably would have been living in Delhi and probably in a different phase of my life. Thank you to those who ensured it did not work out!
That as it may be, I must admit that every trip to Delhi has been special. The city has witnessed many important life changing incidents of my life – good or bad (not sure till date!). I may not love Delhi, but loved the days I spend there.
Delhi is one of the favorite cities of my current craze –period. [Courtesy: Twitter]. I would love to know his take on the heinous crime committed in the city.
Without taking away the charm it exudes, the lovely winters, the beautiful gardens and the history attached to it – I still believe the City of Djinns remains unsafe and unwelcoming.
I don’t know if Mumbai misses me – nevertheless I do! I do admit that am loving the quiet and peaceful life at Seville, the time I get to be with myself, the walk from the office to home. But Mumbai remains closer to me!
That has led me to place on agenda a few ‘to do’ things as soon as I soon as I land in Mumbai!
(i) DDLJ: Go to Maratha Mandir and watch DDLJ. I feel ashamed to say that despite of being a hard core SRK fan – I haven’t done so. Inspired by a lovely couple who narrated their recent experience !
(ii) Jab Tak Hai Jaan : In the same breath I declare – Jab Tak Hai Jaan! I have read every single review on the movie available online. One thing that I noticed across all reviews is that SRK has been appreciated for doing what he is best at – romance!It is a must watch!
(iii) Byculla Zoo: Visiting the Byculla Zoo has been on agenda for a long long time. I have mooted the idea with many, but never received a favourable response. This time, irrespective of whether I get company or not, I shall make it to the Zoo.
(iv) Between the Lines : Watch ‘Between the lines’ – A play directed and acted by one of my favourite actress- Nandita Das. Oh btw – I find her extremely beautiful!
(v) Sridhar Shankar, Parul Sharma – I should spent some quality time with them if they are willing to do so!
(vi) Kitab Khana : Heard a lot about the bookshop and managed to be there for roughly three minutes. The book shop closes at sharp 7.30 p.m and I managed to reach there along with a good friend ant 7.27 p.m. Later on, the friend ditched me and visited the place with family ! I still choose to visit the place with her. Her plea for forgiveness has been accepted.