Do you know how New Zealanders call New Zealand? They call it God’s own country. Do you know how Keralites call Kerala? They call it … well … God’s own country. It looks like these two folks have something in common. That’s probably why so many people emigrate from Kerala to New Zealand.
The two countries indeed have some similarities, e.g. beautiful nature, unbelievably lengthy bureaucracy, street names.
Kerala looks well developed, not worse (or maybe even better) than some of those places where Keralites try to emigrate.
My family and I are now in Kochi, or more exactly, in it’s continental part called Ernakulam.
All guidebooks recommend you to stay in the Fort Kochi but I would advise to avoid it. Fort Kochi has become nothing but a tourist ghetto, and like other tourist ghettos in India it attracts the worst kind of Indians: touts, con artists who won’t let you enjoy your walks in the Fort. They will annoy you every second.
Also, there are no good places to eat in the Fort. You will only find tourist oriented restaurants where you will get a “tourist price”. In order to buy any necessities, you will have to go to Ernakulam by ferry which takes a lot of time. Another thing is that the air in the Fort is uncomfortably humid. It is drier in the continental part.
So it is better to stay in Ernakulam where people will see you as a human being just like themselves rather than a walking foreign sack of money. Don’t believe the guidebooks that advertise Kochi and say that Ernakulam is just another chaotic Indian city.
Ernakulam is wonderful! It has it’s own charm. Often it reminds me Cairo. Many buildings in the city are decorated in the Middle Eastern style. Some streets are good for a walk with your family.
There are many restaurants that serve Indian as well as Middle Eastern food.
In this hotel they serve black coffee that is as close as you can get to Arabic coffee in India. The problem is they make it from the locally grown coffee which is not good. At least, they cook it properly. The restaurant is located in the intersection of the T.D. Road and Cannon Shed Road.
In some restaurants you can find even shawarma!
The district along Cannon Shed Road is a good place to stay. Many lodges and restaurants around, everything you need is nearby. Main jetty, Indian Coffee House, fruit market, Broadway are within the walking distance.
Coffee in the Indian Coffee House is rubbish. However, the other dishes there are good. Actually, everything in the Indian Coffee House is perfect except coffee. We go there for a dinner every evening.
Kerala is ruled by Communists. There are many portraits of Marx, Engels and Lenin. I think this portrait of Lenin is cute (I took this picture in the fruit market that is near the Broadway):
This is Ernakulam main Jetty (you need it if you want to go to the Fort Kochi or some nearby island):
The ferry and its crew:
Ernakulam from the ferry:
The captain at work:
Something historic in the Fort:
If you read about Kerala, you will almost always find very optimistic statistics about it. The highest literacy rate in the whole developing world, the highest life expectancy and lowest infant
mortality rates in India, and so on. All this seem to be true.
However, I have a feeling that people here are more unhappy than in neighbouring, less developed Tamilnadu. The staff in shopping malls neither smile, nor say jokes. Even girls on the billboards often look sad as if they regret that they have spent so much money on the product they are advertising. Why is that? What makes Keralites unhappy?
I’ve read somewhere that despite of its prosperity, Kerala has the highest suicide rate in India. God’s own country is definitely not without its mysteries.
Here is one of the mysteries in our lodge:
The sign looks like a serious warning. But what is it trying to say? Is there a dog? Is it inside or outside? Beware of what?