Since we arrived in Kochi by the train last week, I have found it very easy to lose track of the days. We are here for nearly two weeks in Kerala, which is an exquisitely relaxing place, I am happy to report. Last Thursday, we stumbled off the train and took a tuk-tuk ride to our homestay (an Indian B&B) in Fort Kochi, on the tip of the island where it meets the Indian Ocean. Our room has a small balcony on one side, and on the other, a small sunny verandah that holds a few tables and shared as a communal breakfast space.
From where we like to sit, I can see the flower pots on the edge of the verandah, a few rooftops next door, lines of laundry, the green tops of coconut trees and a hazy blue sky. Our second day here, I sat out in the heat to do a brief watercolor of it, which I’m going to pass on making public for now. Truthfully, my photography skills still far exceed whatever I can do on paper, but it’s relaxing to work on mixing the right shade of green and drawing miniature palm leaves. Kerala is a jungle-like environment. A few nights ago, we shared drinks and a long conversation about India on the balcony. As we talked, we saw and heard bats flapping from palm to palm. There is a strange birdcall sometimes, like a whooperwill (or maybe just what I think a whooperwill sounds like). Steve scoffed and said it was fake at first – that’s how weird it sounded to us. And there are crows all over the place too.
There are all manners of stray cats around in the residential quarter we are staying in. Most of them are tabby and calico colored with slanted light green eyes, scarcely out of kittenhood. They beg for food adorably and break your heart. On the verandah, there is also a large water tank in one corner, inhabited by a large silvery fish more than a footlong. He must be old, because he has a very sour, pursed mouth. We like to sit at the round table by the fish tank because it’s in an alcove with a ceiling fan above. Summer in Kerala (March and April) is rather severe . It stays in the mid-80s to low 90s during the day, with no cloud cover, and the humidity hovers around the 80% mark even in the evening when the temperature drops down to the 70s. The moment you walk outside, it feels like you’ve been wrapped in a thick, moist blanket. Most of the time during the day, we hole up and praise whoever invented A/C.
Our homestay, run by a couple named Gini and Bastian, who have two children, is really quite beautiful and relaxing. They are extremely pleasant, very accommodating, and serve a delightful breakfast in the morning at the very leisurely cost of 100 rupees each. Steve and I take turns walking downstairs in the morning to request breakfast, and ten or fifteen minutes later, we sit down outside to eggs and toast for him (the continental) and usually appam or iddlies with a sambar or potato chutney for me (the Kerala breakfast). It comes with ladyfinger bananas, either oranges or sliced pineapple, and a pot of coffee and masala tea for each of us. Pair that with a book, and I don’t know of a more exciting beginning to the morning.
In a few more days, we’ll head to Alleppey in the south for a night on a houseboat, and eventually we’ll need to head on to Europe. But for now, it’s extremely nice to not have to wonder where to go next or wish we were somewhere more comfortable. There are several very competent restaurants serving fusion, Indian, and Western food downtown. People are much nicer, and the culture is quite different in Kerala. All in all, Kochi suits us just perfect.