Remember this: everywhere in India it is your duty to try to get off, get on, get out, get in, go up or come down first. And it is the norm to stand so close to the person in front of you that you touch them with every bit of your body. This innocent frottaging happens in queues for tickets, queues in shops, queues for the lift (getting in and out), queues in the airport, queues for taxis, queues for the ferry … you get my drift. I must add that I use the term ‘queue’ loosely.
Cochin (as its inhabitants prefer to call it) is a collection of islands and peninsulars jammed along the shores of tranquil Vembanad Lake and the Arabian Sea. Each district has a distinct personality, from the colonial trading post of Fort Cochin and concrete towers of Ernakulam, to the sandy beaches of Vypeen Island. A multicultural bubbling hotpot of humanity, Cochin has a place for everyone.
A wide and well-tended path stretched upwards to the main group of buildings. We had walked into another country: there were no plastic bottles, crisp wrappers, bright blue tangles of frayed nylon rope, plastic bags, sweet wrappers, turds or stinking puddles anywhere. Just nice green grassy borders either side of the well-trodden path, and a hand-built wooden stairway.
The vendor wanted ten rupees (about 12p) for a gloopy crimson drink in a hastily wiped glass. In a nod to hygiene the sidekick wore a grubby cloth tied round his head, but over his sweat stained shirt a grimy woollen vest was streaked with Jackson Pollock stains. After nine hours of almost uninterrupted walking […]
Kolkata’s South Park Street Cemetery, with its 18th and 19th century monolithic tombs, is full of the tales and tribulations of Britain’s earliest pioneers. I turned into the last avenue in the graveyard, it was darker here, the air damp and uncharacteristically cool for Kolkata. Outside the twenty foot high mossy stone wall enclosure, the […]
We zigged and zagged our way through narrow alleys lined with tall buildings, wandering roughly in the direction of UNESCO-listed Jantar Mantar. Gazing upwards we saw countless skeletons of brightly coloured kites tangled among the spaghetti of cables and wires, which hold all of India’s cities together.
“Would you like to have lunch in Nepal?” said Pramod, the headmaster of RIBS primary school in Manebhanjang, Darjeeling district. We had just spent the morning talking to his bouncing pupils, aged three to ten, and were ready for a break. So we strolled up the road, nodding to the disinterested border patrol guards, and […]
The ultimate paradise island? We thought so. To get there just follow this position: Lon: 041 55.81E Lat: 13 52.77N Since completing our 4500 mile sail from Turkey to India Jamie and I have been asked, on frequent occasions, what our ‘best’ experience was. It’s an impossible question to answer: the historic sites of Egypt, […]