Saturday, July 23, 2016

When I set out to find out what's so special about the place people keep raving about..

I had days when I would take my books and get out to study under the shade of a tree. Study table was never my thing. Even days when I slept over at my friend's for combined study, we would choose to walk around in the rubber trees or sit on the roof. I still remember me dropping off a leaf in a stream at my mom's place and telling to myself, " I will have remembered one complete paragraph by the time this leaf goes out of sight". Revisiting those places bring back so many memories and you love those places don't you?. See?. Feeling good about a place does not just come by it's fame or beauty. It is definitely associated to the amount of love and affection you have built with them over the time.

When I once went to Shimla, the travel was mesmerizing. But would I give it a higher weightage than the places I hung out in during my childhood?. NO. Will the images of the place flash in front of me at times or the memories recur?. NO. Yes Earth is wonderful and there are amazing places for you to visit that may leave you spellbound for some days. But a real connection comes only when you form memories. Meeting a stranger who influenced you in a short time, some unforgettable incident that taught you a valuable lesson. Those are the things that come back later to you.

So would you rather travel to feel alive or just because your friends are travelling?. Honestly, when I see a lot of pics posted by people and when they say how extraordinary the feeling is to visit those places, these days I highly doubt it. Travelling has become a pressure these days than pleasure do you think?. To an extend people leave their loved ones behind to travel and gain enlightenment. Trust me, this is not an overstatement. The scenario exists. And just so you know, if you abandon someone you love to gain wisdom by travelling, I can only pity. What you really need is not travel to exotic places, but may be to some poor African countries so you get the soul you are looking for. For abandoning your love is a no-soul act according to me. Sometimes even I am caught between the right and wrong, because the thin line seems to blur for me. And as they say, you never know "In search of the truth, you often become the lie".

Yesterday, my cousins and I decided to pay a visit to Fort kochi. For a person who has been living around Ernakulam for more than 4 years now, not to have visited this place till now is a shame I know. But Kochi has not been my kind of place. As soon as I landed here, my friends began to disperse to different locations. Yes,you make many acquaintances and people plan team trips. But office trips?. Because you are bound to follow a set of rules during the trip and play games with people you are not really comfortable with. If I have to visit a place, that has to be with some people I am really close to. Your close friends or family. People who will let you stare at some picture without pushing to keep up.

So we took a right turn at Kundannur and crossed the Mattanchery bridge.We had a few places in our head to hit in Mattanchery and Fort Kochi. I had heard a lot about Kashi cafe and Dal Roti for instance, but had not been to this place in daylight before. Only GPS to assist. We reached a fork at Thopumpadi and took a wild guess that Mattanchery should be to the right. A hot guy with tattoos and beard stopped in front of us in an even hotter-looking car. With that pride of having-it-all, he took a jerking-show-off turn at the divider. Brrr!. There goes a scratch to remember on his door. "Aww. Poor guy", we cried in unanimity secretly laughing at his awkward moment, totally unaware then that the same something was to happen to us in sometime.

As we traveled a little farther, the alleys began to change their looks to a congested and clustered maze. While I'm the kind of person who would howl back at men who take a dig at women drivers, this time I stayed calm and took care of my business to avoid any kind of future "What-did-I-say-about-dealing-with-people-there?".. A lot of twists and turns and we managed to enter the alleys with brick pavements on them, a sign we have entered the Jew town. We had planned on visiting the synagogue first, but we couldn't stop our car by there, so we headed forward. Managed to park the car in a clear and safe area and stepped out.

The Dutch Palace was on our list too. But to our disappointment, the Palace was closed. Apparently it stays closed on Fridays. 'You must be kidding us' is all we could say. But that couldn't take our mojo away. could it?. Because to the left were the tourist-luring kiosks. Something like these.

Shops like these excite any one with amazing trinkets and knick-knacks at display. But man do they go down in prices?. NO. I thought bargaining was allowed and they'd fall for it. Seems like they didn't want their stuff to sell and were so damn arrogant. But I couldn't return empty-handed and I got myself a souvenir. Never leave a a place without one as they say or as I say :P. 
Pretty right?. in just 20 bucks.
How I wish to have a home of my own and fill it with things like these. If only I had some free money, time and love to go with it. Sigh. But on the upside, the fact that you are travelling at your will in your own car no matter how trivial the place is and that you are alive is a blessing in itself. So no complaints.

The things you see at display will tempt you to the bottom of the ninth. Had I been the girl 3 years back, I'd hog them all and spend with no regrets. But life lessons have been teaching me quite a bit these days and I spend less (comparatively). So, might as well make do with the fancy-looking pen.
There were doilies, carpets, clocks, clothing, what not. But for the price :/. Abstaining is the word:(. But even though you know you may not buy any item, you don't hesitate to enter a store. And the store keepers don't mind too. They are fine as long as some one comes to visit. For a moment I thought these could be stolen items or something they got at a very cheap rate from somewhere else that they might do fine without having to sell them. Hmm, I will come back one day for things like these:
Imagine these guys in a corner at your home.
My dream house as I tell my folks has carpets all around, funny guys like these in nooks and corners, a cottage-like look and wall painted in sponge and designs. I am not a big fan of modern house plans with perfect squares and plain upholstery. Immersed in thoughts and that's when it struck us that the synagogue won't be open after 1 pm. We rushed to the place on the parallel lane and lurked inside the place reading about the Portuguese and the Dutch and the Rajas and looking at the altar that seemed empty behind a curtain.
Chettinad-like tiles?. Please no photographs. "Oh ok". What's behind the curtain?. Time up, Please step outside. "Ok" :/
When you walk around in Jew Town, you will find art galleries. And conveniently you may want to skip them. But don't. If I must tell, you shouldn't miss Sarah Hussain's for the world. The entry may not excite you for you may feel like climbing a ladder to an attic. But boy what's waiting there will sure take you to a different world. Look below and you should know there is no exaggeration.

Acrylic painting. Look at the details. Those rosery beads. Oh wait!. How did she blend those two colors?. I mean why don't I see any visible merging clues? A picture so alive, you stare for minutes and won't realize..

We got so impressed and began to read about her. About how Sachin Tendulkar was drawn to her paintings displayed at his hotel and came over to visit. 
Ok, I want to meet her!. 
And that's when the lady over there told us Sarah sits in a gallery nearby and that she is probably finishing a work now.

With much presumption we walked towards the place, only to find a lady very modest in looks. Every inch of intimidation faded away in a second. The lady herself midway of her lunch got up and greeted 3 not-so-serious-looking girls with so much warmth and humility. As if the fame did not mean anything to her. As if she did not know how talented she is. Imagine if one of us had come up with such masterpieces. Won't we be spamming our fb or instagram page crying for attention?. This lady just did not know to show off. The one thing she knew was to create magic with her hands. Only such a good heart can have the patience and talent to paint her way through.

FYI: The paintings are sold for prices ranging around 30 to 40,000 Rs/-. They are sold in and outside India. They have a webpage. Look it up.
The lady with her master.

Overwhelmed and wanting to come back here and learn a few tricks of acrylic painting, we stepped out from the place. We were tired and decided to have lunch.  

 "All clear in the back ladies?". - YEP.

I took the steering wheel in my hands and stepped on it with overconfidence and a thud followed. :/ . A post out of nowhere scratched the beauty off my car!!!. I know I should have been careful. Shouldn't have laughed at that chap who scratched his car earlier. I rested my head on the wheel for a while, shook it off and stepped on it again like nothing happened. After-all, you should not let one bad thing ruin the rest of your day. 

We reached Fort Kochi and parked our car by the parade road. The lanes were beautiful to walk around on and were given beautiful names like Lilly Street, Burgher street etc. On the burgher street, we located Kashi Cafe.


The Restaurant had a wonderful old-time charm to it. But wasn't sure why there was a lot more hype to it than it deserved. May be for the people who hang out here. Mostly foreigners. Or for some locals playing cards who go out once in a while to smoke up some weed. Like Cocoa tree is a favorite hang-out for teens in kochi, Kashi is for Fort Kochi. For the "status" associated. Or as they say. 'Country-side girls can never get it. The freedom, the liberation'.  "OK. IF THAT'S WHAT YOU SAY. OUT OF YOUR WAY". We ate the bare-minimum and got out soon. 

Then we got into St. Francis Church where the body of Vascoda Gama was once buried. Except that there were many tombs on the floor and the walls, the church didn't provide the peace to sit and pray. Got out pretty soon.

On our walk to the fishing net area and the beach, we spotted some actors like Prithviraj shooting for a film. More than seeing him, the way people twisted their phones to get him on the frame with them to get a selfie was funny. The chaos didn't get to him and nonchalantly he got onto his caravan. 

The fishing net scenes were more stinky than picture perfect. And so was the beach. I like beaches in the Malabar area of Kerala than down here. Comparatively cleaner I suppose. Nevertheless, we let the wind talk to us for a while. And for the out-of-the-world experience when you zoom into waves for a long time. Wellington Island may be next time.

And what are my take away?. Definitely Sarah and her paintings and the colors of the Jew town.

And for what I would say - Don't visit for Kashi or the cliches. Visit for the left overs and the remnants.

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