Joined by Liran from Israel, who I met in Alappuzha, I headed to my final stop in India for this trip: Fort Kochi, formerly and still known as Cochin, and known for being a former Dutch colonial town that’s preserved its old flavour. Liran had already spent some time here before, so it was more for me to take a quick look around for a day before we both made the jump to Sri Lanka the next morning.
I admit, the first few hours felt a little uninspiring. Tourist shops everywhere, tourist hordes everywhere, and nothing felt authentic, more for show. Drained of energy, we hired a $1 tuk-tuk to take us around all the main sights for a few hours just to get them over with… with the catch being that we had to stop and walk around some shops for five minutes. Heh. Church here, cemetery there, palace here, temple there… and a shop. The shopkeepers know exactly what’s going on there, and so did we (even before getting in the tuk-tuk), with our driver getting commission from the shop owners for taking passengers there. With everything either straight-up unaffordable or obviously wrong for us (like women’s jewellery), we just made some small talk to kill the timer. That didn’t work, and sick of fake-shopping and checking off some sights I couldn’t really care much about, we ditched the tuk-tuk.
But then we wandered off on our own, and found a beguiling Jewish quarter complete with a synagogue, Bazaar Street with plenty of people going about their daily lives, a lively promenade, the busy evening scene of fishermen selling their catches, and most surprisingly, a vibrant arts scene, with galleries, murals, and a peaceful coexistence with the colonial charm. Definitely won me over. We enjoyed the sunset over the famous Chinese fishing nets, had ourselves some seafood, and toasted to India.