Monsoons had arrived in Kerala. I was staying in Ernakulam, the new Cochin city, which was crowded and full of shops, theatres, restaurants and malls… like any other city, for that matter. The city had everything to offer – new place, new people, different culture and even more different food. The traveller in me was restless to explore. So, I rented a Royal Enfield and set out alone with a plan to explore Fort Kochi and Alleppy via Mararikulum. And thus began one of the longest days of my life, full of new experiences, adventure and a thrill which pumps you up for the otherwise monotonous life.
Fort Kochi is no fort, as I was expecting, but an old city with beautiful architecture. It was
once a Dutch colony. A 15 km drive from Ernakulum, it has the big Cochin port, the Indian Naval Base, two bridges over the sea to its a railway line and also an old air base credit.
My plan for the day was to have an early breakfast in Fort Kochi, and then leave for Alleppy, stopping en route Mararikulum, famous for its virgin beach.
My journey from Ernakulum to Fort Kochi was dotted with regular photography breaks. I was loving it! – the water, the greenery, the weather, everything. No one was running behind me and I took my sweet time to savour the beauty around.
As I moved ahead, a beautiful curvy road, canopied with magnificent trees on both sides, greeted me. The diffused sun rays were pouring in beautifully through the leaves; I had to capture this magic moment!
But… why do so many buts creep up, always? A policeman came running to stop me from taking pictures. I hadn’t realised I was standing in exactly in front of the gate of the Naval base. No amount of explaining satisfied him; I ended up being taken inside the naval base.I was interrogated for 3 hours by different ranks of officers with me trying to convince them that I was not a terrorist and they, taking me to be a foreigner, emptying my bag, checking my camera, and… deleting all the pictures I had taken. I almost pleaded them not to do so.
Sad about the photographs, I cheered myself up with the prospect of exploring Fort Kochi. I reached there famished and rushed into the first restaurant that caught my fancy – “Upstairs Italian Restaurant” was a small little place on the first floor, serving yummy food. I had a delicious lasagne and coffee; and started a conversation with the manager. He was a trained chef, who had spent a lot of years in Italy and other places, working in restaurants and 5star hotels. He knew 45 foreign languages and told me how he charm the foreigners, party with them and is loving his life. The restaurant itself was owned by an Italian, who spent 6 months in Italy and 6 months in Cochin (an ideal arrangement. Even I would love to do so).
Half the day was gone in these pursuits. I wasn’t sure if I should go to Mararikulum or Alleppy. The bike had to be refuelled, so I asked someone for the nearest petrol pump. It was close to the Upstairs Restaurant, but nothing prepared me for what I was about to see – the most amazing petrol pump location!
Next to the backwaters, it fed the boat jetties as well. On the left side, I could see the famous Chinese fishing nets. Not only were they breathtaking, but had a completely new experience to offer me. I parked my bike next to the petrol pump, took out my camera and started clicking pictures, almost forgetting about my plan to go to Alleppy.
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