Friday, April 19, 2013

God's Own Country - My Travelouge

It was pleasant afternoon as our Spice Jet flight touched down at Kochi at around 1 pm on 4th April. Just before touchdown, got a panoramic view of God's Own County - Kerala. The greenery, the laid back feel, uncluttered road,  as we drove straight to Hotel Abad Metro, right in the heart of Ernakulam, was in a way beckoning  us to 'good times' in the days ahead.

Abad Hotel and Resorts have economically priced business class and upscale Leisure class hotels in all the major tourist places spread across Kerala. We found the service courteous and the rooms well maintained. It is off in a quiet lane off the hustle bustle of M.G.Road.

One noteworthy aspect is that the Hotel accepts provisional booking over phone, and confirms the Booking by sending an e mail. I was pleasantly surprised to receive their call 4 days prior to our travel, to reconfirm the booking.

We are travelling in lean season, hope they maintain this service in the peak Holiday season that is October to February.

After lunch and rest, we went to the see Fort Kochi, the old town famed for its Chinese Fishing Nets, the living quarters predominately in blue and white, having porticoes and fused with nature and Santa Cruz Basilica, the first Portuguese Church built in 1555.

Ernakulam has much changed since my last visit many years ago. The swank M.G.Road is lined up with glittering Gold and Diamond Boutiques, at places the entire building houses just one Jeweler store. I think with most of the Malayalees working in the Gulf,  the Dubai Gold souk effect is evident.

With two ladies in our entourage, the temptation to window shop was inevitable, but as we had to leave for Munnar next morning, I somehow managed to convince them that Fort Kochi and the Chinese Fishing Net are a must see.

The Gulf effect is very evident. Lulu has recently thrown open a swank Mall and I was surprised on my return, to find that there are three Mac Donald outlets, one in the Basement Parking, the other on the ground floor and the third one in the food plaza !! These fast food chains will surely change the food habits, in the coming years. I found 20 people lining up, much before the store opening time of 11.30 and would you believe it, it was Thursday.

It will not surprise me, if for the city population,in the coming years Puttu - Kadala - Iddiyappam - the traditional Kerala cuisines will be well forgotten.

Much before KFC and Mac Donald monopolized Fast food, our enterprising fishermen, with the help of these nets used to catch fishes from the shallow waters, 20 or so fisherman would clamber up on the pole, the huge net will be pulled up from  the shallow waters, with a good but small quantity of catch ensnared, and this would be sold immediately , fresh to the locals. The quantity of the catch would be small, but they would operate the net many a times. Fast food right from the shore to the nearby kitchen, and fresh too.

Now, no fishing is done, these large nets lined up on the river front are mere exhibits for tourists like us, while the Fast Food Chains cash counters are raking in.

As I set besides the fishing nets and admired the setting sun in all its majesty, I reflected on how an Eastern idea has been monopolized by the West, and in stead of fresh stuff we are hooked on all that is rich in trans fat leading to obesity and all the problems associated with it.

With this sobering thoughts I returned back to the Hotel and the next morning onward to the Tea Gardens and the cool climate of Munnar.

We are indebted to Bhai Murtaza sk: Hakimuddin Rampurawala for helping us plan the tour, and booking of Sterling Resorts at Munnar and Thekaddy and House Boat at Alleppy.

(to be continued Insa Allah)


Anonymous said...

What about the food? Is it halal at the hotel and all over town or do you have to go to specific paces for it?

MIND MINTS said...

Fortunately our Driver was Salim Bhai, so we had no problems. Kerala has a sizable Muslim population in all the tourist places.

At Kochi you can try out Naushad - the Big Chef, Kayees Rehmatullah, Kaikkas. Google to get it.

The trick is to find a hotel to eat out to your liking, ask them about a good hotel for your next destination, and so forth.

Unknown said...

Living life, King size!