I want to begin this write up with a couple confessions.
- I am terrified of high speed
- I suffer from major motion sickness
With all these already in my mind, I still agreed to go with my boss to Kochi in his car. We had a meeting at 2.30 pm in the afternoon. My boss is someone who loves to ‘drive down’ rather than taking a flight or a train. Hence I had to settle for that, very unwillingly.
My colleague and me had reached the Silk Board Junction at around 5.30 am and were waiting for our boss to pick us up. Somehow we couldn’t miss gazing at the sky. And there, we saw the moon – just like how they show in movies – large, round and absolutely romantic. How I wished I had someone special to share this moment with me. We were having our own share of fun and contemplating if we should just go to the chaai vendor down the corner and have a cup of hot tea while this white Porsche Cayenne stopped by us and started honking. There started my nightmare. It was my boss who had arrived!
Three of us head started our journey at 6 am in the morning. By the time I could even adjust comfortably I was thrown into one corner owing to the speed at which my boss was driving! I realized I had to wear the seat belt! That was my first ‘I hope I don’t puke’ moment!! Shameless!!
Soon the moon underplayed its beauty and let the sun come up. I must tell you it was one astounding sight. We were on that 16 km expressway and the sun was slowly trying to peep through the indigo coloured sky. An awesome twilight moment! There was one complete stretch of orangish-red in between the blue and it was worth my fear of sitting in the car. As we drove along we could see vast expanses of fields with cropts that were about 4 feet high (may be). Above them was almost this 1 foot of mist which was bouncing off golden yellow light that it received from the morning sun. If I had a poet accompanying me I am sure he would have said something like how the mist engulfed the sun!! My boss was no less. He kept teaching me how we could use the lighting and how wonderful it would look in the shot! I enjoyed that and forgot about my motion sickness.
We stopped at Salem for breakfast and jumped back into the Porsche. I avoided eating too much as I didn’t know if I would be able to handle the suffocation later. The drive all the way long was beautiful. The roads were good as well. As we were exiting Tamil Nadu we saw a line of rocks. My boss asked us to notice that carefully. As it came closer we realized that there was one rock that looked like an elephant. Anyone would believe me if I clicked a picture and put it up saying it was carved that way. But yes, it was natural, magnificent and large!
The minute we entered Kerala I noticed something strange. In less than a few (maybe 3) minutes of our drive the landscape changed completely. The rocks had made way to a greener forest like area. Teak and rubber trees welcomed us to ‘God’s own country’. We crossed one district after the other (each one almost separated by a stream). On our way, we saw elephants being transported in trucks. I first thought this was strange and unfair. Apparently there is a high court order that says that if the elephant was to be transported to any distance beyond 5km then it should not be allowed to walk that distance.
I began to notice the hoardings as that is what I normally do. I couldn’t help but notice similarities in branding that I could find if I were to travel to Mangalore/Udupi/ Kundapur. Ads on home appliances and sarees were predominant. However, most predominant of all were hoardings of jewelers! Not surprised at all!! This was my ‘Welcome to Kerala’ moment! I also saw a hoarding of Sunny Diamonds and thought of my friend Sunny Saxena and secretly wished he owned that store. I could borrow diamonds everyday and flaunt them! Wow!
Our meeting was at 2.30 pm. It was 1.50 and we had almost entered Ernakulam and a cop stopped our vehicle for over speeding! We were plain lucky that no one had stopped us earlier as we were not just over speeding but were OVER OVER speeding! We made it on time for our meeting!!! Hooray!! Meeting went off well. My boss was to stay back in Cochin while the 2 of us were to head back to Bangalore. We had opted for a train as we did not have flights that suited our timings. He dropped us off at one point suggesting we could kill time at the Bubble Café at the Taj Gateway. We chose not to as we wanted to feel the pulse of the city.
Oh yes, there is a huge Lulu Shopping Centre coming up there! After all, Kerala is second to Dubai! We had tea at a road side shop (I had Suleimani chai). I was so tempted to have their ripe banana bajjis but chose not to. We called up a few people, googled and checked where we could go. Fort Cochin would not be possible as we did not have enough time to go to the beach, enjoy the sunset and head back. We then decided to go to MG road – walk, grab a bite and head to the station. The auto guy asked us where he wanted us to go. With the little Malayalam that I had learnt I asked him to take us to MG Road and how much would the ride cost. They do not turn on the meters and demand whatever they want (just like most of the unreasonable autowallas of Bangalore).
Reached MG Road and started walking into shops. We passed by this place called FFC which looked just like the KFC branding. It served similar food and was called Fries and Flames Chicken. Soon, I saw a lineup of ‘Udupi’ hotels! Happiness! The thought of how my fellow being had reached the Mallu land as well just made me so bloody happy. I was completely drained out but couldn’t help deriving cheap thrills out of noticing the buildings, names and dragging down their origin. We passed by so many jewelers – Jos Alukkas, Joy Alukkas, Francis Alukkas and Paul Alukkas!! Bah!! And then there was Allapat that was hosted in Shenoy Buildings! Again, happiness!! The Mangalorean in me was deriving really really really cheap thrills. Oh yes, the city also reminded me of Mangalore. There was this large ground that belonged to Maharaja College that made me think of the Bandarkars college ground in Kundapur. The architecture was similar and the people looked similar as well – after all we are neighbours!
We noticed various name plates in front of houses. The ones I still remember are – Baby Paul and Baby Joseph Advocates!!! This was my ‘Christite moment’! Oh the Christite moment didn’t end there! There was huge hoarding that was resting on the street which had a face I could recognize. It was of the ‘Blessed Chavara’!! What a coincidence!! It was ‘Christ Kolege’ all the way!! Soon we spotted one antique store (isn’t that what most tourists do?). Went in and asked the price for a particular board game. In order to justify the extremely high price, the shopkeeper told me ‘this is real antique’ as opposed to fake antique!! We also saw some protests and red flags – we were in Kerala. I should have expected it.
We spotted an interestingly done up Chic King. Apparently they started off in Cochin. We were too tired to walk any further and we were keen on grabbing a bite and getting home banana chips. Stopped by a bakery and bought chips. While at the bakery I had one amazing idea that flashed by! Why not kill time by getting ourselves a good foot massage. We deserved it as we were dead tired. We googled for it and the list that came up made us laugh like hell. There was Erotic Massage Parlour, Gay Pleasure Parlour and so on! Hell No! Foot Massage went off our list of POA. We just decided to find a Coffee Day and sit in the AC. Did that. Finally walked to Woodlands for dinner. It was not the same group. I knew it because I know the logo and I know the family. However, it was still Mangalorean. They had a restaurant called Rangoli inside. We loved the ambience. Old pillars, traditional look and colourful. I really loved the look and feel. The food was mediocre.
We rushed to the station to catch our train only to find out that it was delayed. The station was a horrifying experience. It was dirty and unkempt. We were anxiously waiting for the train to come as we wanted to just lie down and wake up in Bangalore. The train arrived. We went in, took our seats, waited for the TC to check our tickets and just crashed!
It was one hell of a journey. Hectic yet fun!