A different India

By the time we left Mumbai we were questioning our decision to go south this time of year. Five minutes on the street, even moving in slow motion, left us dripping and dull-witted. Nevertheless, we flew even further south, to Kochi in the southernmost state of Kerala along the Malabar Coast of the Arabian Sea. We’d read that it’s unique and a change of pace from where we’ve been so far. Truth be told, each of our stops has its own character, culture, food, and general vibe. India is a big country and we wanted to get a taste of different regions for this first trip.

I initially parked us in the business district of Ernakulam, just to get our bearings and clear our lungs of the residue of Mumbai air. We soon realized we really want to be in Fort Kochi, close as the crow flies but a world away, and right on the sea.

First, of course, we ticked off the required Marce Tour of the city market. It was a long and sweaty walk but even in these conditions I love to poke my head into the various stalls to see what’s on offer.

Kerala is where most of the spices are grown. Seeing these tubs of fresh whole spices and breathing in the exotic aromas made me long for a kitchen and a pantry big enough to stock with bags full of everything.

I don’t know what these little clay cups are for, but there didn’t seem to be much English spoken in this market.

I’ve never seen so many varieties of dried fish.

When we left the market we were stopped by a colorful gridlock right where we wanted to cross the street. Locals walked right through, weaving their way around trucks, cars and motorbikes. We stood aside like the tourists we are, laughing and waiting for a little more room to move. It was like one of those sliding block puzzles where only one piece can move one space at a time, allowing the next to move one space. Even the drivers and passengers were shaking their heads, some in amusement, some in frustration. Eventually we got where we were going, which was back to our hotel to pack up and cross the backwaters to Fort Kochi and a little peace and quiet.

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