I have been in Kochi or Cochin for the past three days. Am writing this through the balckberry ! Thats something that am doing new !
From air, Cochin looks so beautiful. Green seems to be de-rigueur. On landing, there still is green. I have been here before. I realise i have been missing this place !
Through the taxi’s windscreen, i still see green. But now, green is interspersed with large hoardings calling you to loosen your purse strings and buy either jewelry or an apartment !
There are so many hoardings for Jewelry and Apartment complexes that it bewilders me. ‘Gullff money’ says the van driver. I want to believe him. ‘We are a 100 % literate state’ he says. I smile. A weak smile.
Through the window, I read the names on the stores. Keralites have some ‘different’ names. Between a Joe, Joy and Jose they seem to have covered up the commercial establishment. I count four stores for each name, within a space of two streets. The Keralite J!
We are on a backwater boat ride. Our guide takes us through some ‘interesting’ places. He calls. Our boats stop at villages, where few folks demonstrate toddy tapping, rope making etc. Having seen such & similar activities, I think that this was part of conducted tours for the ‘foreigner’, who perhaps would look at the whole exercise with awe.
I look around, only to find some of our own group members looking at these in ‘awe’! I juggle the meaning of ‘foreigner’ in my mind. And alter it of course.
A foreigner. In native land !!
I sit in the boat and as the boatman rows. I access my mail on the phone. I see a mail. I see it is from a fellow blogger : Dinu. He hasn’t seen me. I don’t know him, other than through his ‘Offline Blog’ !
He asks if I am on Cochin, and leaves a number for me to call. I wonder how he knew. And then, I realize, that ‘Twitter’ has been fed well !
I get excited. And call. I hear his voice. We speak.
This is the first time, I plan to meet a a fellow blogger who I don’t know. Virtual connections shed their illusory image and gets real !
Supercool. I think. Whew !
Coconut trees dot the skyline. Inbetween them, are waterways, and we continue to be on the boat. The bulging biceps of a thin boatman, seem to have a magical effect on boat as it cuts though water & weeds give way.
‘Till 1992, all these were paddy fields’, our guide says. My eye brows raise. ‘1992 ?’ I ask.
He understands the surprise in my question, and quips, ‘in 1991, Kerela became 100% literate and that has meant that the sons and daughters of farmers no longer work here. So, these are all coconut farms now’, he says.
He says ‘1991’ with a level of definiteness, as though, one morning in 1991, Kerela achieved 100 % literacy and reading this in the morning newspaper, the farmer stopped his kids from going to work over breakfast. And converted his paddy fields to coconut trees by lunch time !
Sure it didn’t happen this way, I think. That’s besides the point. For the boat has moved on. To another part of the Coconut farm, which was once a Paddy field. Till 1992.