Fort Kochin is one island among a number. It’s considered to contain the major sights and is a 3km ferry ride from the mainland. On arrival it’s a different world. Most accommodation is in the form of home stays, each one looking as pristine as the next. Fashionable shops line the streets amongst the swish dining options. This is Kerela’s Udaipur, filled with couples and people treating themselves. Predictably I was queuing up outside a working mans restaurant to eat a superb chicken biriyani with fingers! I’m getting the hang of that now! I did get into the spirit of things for breakfast though opting for French toast, with a drizzle of wild honey and assorted fruits. Oh and a Late. Get me!
Fort Kochin was an interesting place to visit for two reasons. Firstly tradition. On arrival I ditched my bags and rather then hitting the pillow I went to the waters edge to see groups of men operating huge Chinese fishing nets. There use dates back to the traders in 1400. It’s interesting to watch them in operation but more fascinating in terms of the context that they are in. People throw crab lines off of the rocks. Others release nets from the beach. Small wooden boats pass the Chinese nets. All these people are fighting to get enough fish to earn a very basic living. Yet all this is happening as huge tankers exit the port, with towering office and hotel blocks in the background. It’s India’s problem first hand. How to continue to develope at a rapid rate without leaving behind the poorest in society. Currently it’s not doing a good job as the gap between rich and poor increases.
It was also interesting because of religion. Walking around on a Sunday, I visited both St Francis’s church and the Santa Cruz Basilica. Both were built in the 1500’s. They are grand and imposing buildings with immaculate interiors. Seeing them mid-service was by far the best aspect though. Packed to the rafters, people were a number deep outside as well. When I had visited Mcleod Ganj and saw Buddhism in India, I noticed the total change in appearance and feel to the place. It is after all filled with people from Tibet. Looking upon Christianity in India I could easily have been attending a Hindu temple. Except I wasn’t. It was a church with songs and readings. Later that day I visited the Jewish sector and the synagogue. Female Indian nuns queued outside waiting for its afternoon opening. It all felt very strange. It all looked out of place but the overwhelming feeling was one of admiration for how they follow their faiths. The importance and level of devotion that the Indian population dedicate to their religions is incredible.