Monday, March 08, 2010

Kochi Tourists

This will likely be my second to last India blog post. We leave tomorrow, and I’ll post one more when I get home, assuming we don’t get eaten by tigers. Or at least I don’t get eaten by tigers.

We were not as helpless as we thought we might be without Usha. We managed to ignore the guy trying to sell us a boat ride for 100 rupees, find the ferry, pay our 2 rupees (about a nickel), and make our way to Fort Kochi to look around and be tourists.

The ferry

We chose to walk to the Jewish Synagogue, the oldest in the British Commonwealth, dating back to the 16th Century. It was late morning, before things really get started, and we were treated to a Kochi that was just waking up.

Not pictured is the sauna-like heat and the occasional waft of pungent waste in the gutter on the side. But walking was a good way to get around at first, because usually we are behind the windows of a car and don’t get as much of a feel for the place.

However, we were bedraggled by the time we found the synagogue. So, we found a taxi and were able to negotiate a ride across town for 30 rupees (about 70 cents). Usha would have been proud.

The streets looked like this by the time we got our taxi:

Our taxi driver had his kerosene stored in a plastic soda bottle, which he took out to refill in the middle of our trip. Martha, who is on a roll with great one-liners, remarked that our taxi was apparently powered by a molotav cocktail:

We also managed to feed ourselves without Usha. We found Dal Maki, one of the Frommer-approved restaurants. We collectively had chicken biryani (rice and chicken dish, with other spices), paneer wraps (which tasted like yummy paneer chimichangas) and paneer mughlai, which was paneer and egg inside a pastry-ish dough (which I liked best).

One of the things Kochi is famous for is its spice shops:

Spice is one of the few things I did not buy in India, although I’m sure there is something I should have picked up. Sorry Jill, no spice is coming home.

I took a break to watch some kids play cricket. Boys play sports with the same enthusiasm everywhere.

On one of our taxi rides, our taxi driver kept stopping at various places and telling us we should shop here – “very good prices. You like.” We kept saying no. Then insisting no. Then shouting no. They obviously had some kind of deal worked out with the store to funnel tourists there.

But while I was watching cricket, a taxi driver was hanging out and simply asked me if he could drive us to a shop right across the street, because he would get 2 somethings of rice to bring people there. He said we didn’t have to buy anything, all they had to do was write his taxi number down. Whether he was telling the truth or not, I don’t know, but I found it refreshing that he was simply upfront about it. So, we decided to go. It had a $9,000 swing in it:

We didn’t buy the swing, or anything else, even though they offered free shipping. And it only cost us about 10 minutes to see the shop and maybe help the taxi driver out. Nonetheless, I can see Usha doing the Indian head nod right now, which in this case would mean “don’t let these guys take advantage of you.”

We arrived back in the afternoon wet and soggy from sweat, but ready to lounge around until our flight leaves tomorrow.

We did take a boat ride out in the bay, where there are a lot of Chinese–style fishing nets. I really think Clark should think about a second career as a photographer:

So, thanks to everyone for following along. It’s been an exhilarating trip. As I mentioned, I’ll post something when I get back, before returning to my life as the Schreiber Family Taxi Driver.


Hilary said...

I'm sad to see the India story coming to an end....although I will be glad to have my parents back in the states where I an call them again. :)

Keep your schedule open, Dan. I'll now insist that whenever my parents go on a vacation, that they take you along so you can document it all. It's been a fun ride. Safe travels!

Beverly said...

It' been great to travel along with all of you, and I have truly appreciated every word and picture. Each day, logging on to my computer, this blog has been the first thing I have checked, and I have never been disappointed. This has been so great because once everyone gets home, the details dim and the time flies. So following along, day-by-day has been a real treat. Thanks so much, Dan (and Cindy) and I can't wait to see all of your sweet and smiling (and tired?) faces. Love, Bev H.

David Wright said...

Dan--The special sari you bought me? Does it have a cell phone pocket? If not, please get me a different one.

Thank you,


Dan S said...

Hilary, I've decided that I am available document anyone's vacation, for a modest hourly wage and all expenses paid. Let me know if you and Jason plan on any exotic trips.

Dave, I am notorious for buying clothes that don't fit anyone. We'll just turn all those into fabric for a sari for you, which I'm sure would accomodate a cell phone pocket.