The first time I had visited Fort Kochi, rather I should say WE, being our family trip to Kerala, we took a day tour of Fort Kochi from Kochi city. I was in some sort of reverie with the look of the town; the old European colonial look, the cottage style houses, the old market alleys; the entire appeal of the place was different and so new to me. This town caught my eyes and I never wanted to forget this place ever till I would come back here again and I was determined enough, ‘there has to be a next time and the stay has to be at Fort Kochi’.
Luckily the next time came and another silent but seemed-impossible-at-that-time wish was also came true. So, I did plan another Kerala trip, SOLO. And first stop, don’t bother to guess, was Fort Kochi. More than being excited for another solo trip, I was hip-hip happy to go back to Fort Kochi.
Fort Kochi is usually a preferred choice for western tourists and most of the time gets a day visit to the island by Indian tourists. In order to keep my mental strain function at it’s lowest of the altitude while on tour, I prefer pre-research as methodically as possible and pre-arranging my accommodation. So my stay was booked at a home-stay almost at the heart of this island, reviews were way too good to trust my own selection and it was just a few days’ waiting.
‘Hi Payel, thank you for your booking. Though I don’t know how the website showed availability of the room, as I already have booking confirmed for this room on those dates. However, I will offer you another apartment at the same place with the same price; looking forward to your arrival.’
I received this above message the day next of my booking and as the booking wasn’t denied by the host from the island but amended, it generally didn’t have any effect on me, I just had to wait for the day to come. A day before arrival, as by my normal practice, I got the location and how to reach the place details from my to-be host from the island; on which he reconfirmed on the number of guests accompanying me.
The lane was easy to find, my host from the island was already waiting for my arrival, came to receive me before I would reach his house.
‘I hope this is the house you booked?’
‘Yes, but you said I will be staying at another apartment as this one was already booked?’
‘Yes, that booking got cancelled and as You are travelling alone, I thought it would be best to offer you this very apartment. I stay with my family down-stairs, so whenever you need anything, somebody will be there to help you.’
‘Oh, thank you very much. That’s really nice of you.’
‘But if you want to have a look at the other apartment, I can show you, may be you decide where you would like to stay?’
‘No, I’m fine actually, I like this place.’
‘So, let me show you the room then?’
The rooms was shown, every amenities were taken care of, he helped with some sightseeing details and then a question came,
‘You are here for Biennale, right?’
‘Oh You don’t know? I thought you are coming for the Biennale! Tourists at this time are mostly coming for this exhibition?’
‘I don’t know what you are talking!!’
‘Ok, are you interested in Art?’
‘A bit may be..’
‘So this Biennale, is an art festival, takes place in Fort Kochi for about 3 months and in every 2 years.’
‘And, you are saying, by some coincidence I am lucky to choose my visit this year?’
‘Well, kind of, if you want to see it.’
‘I shouldn’t mind actually. Can you please help me with some more details?’
All possible information was shared; he left me to rest for a bit and re-assured me to knock his door for any help I might require.
In the evening, while I was back from my beach visit and dinner, he was there at his veranda doing something with his mobile phone. Seeing me, he welcomed me to his house and introduced me to his family. His family consists of his beautiful wife, a cute little daughter, his old cheerful mother and a son, who lives in Kochi city for his higher education (How good I am in extracting information so effortlessly!). The family was so affable; the wife was so surprised to know that I came for a solo trip (like duhh!)!
The day next, I was treated with hot and appetizing puttu with Chana for breakfast. This family loves to spoil their guests, not only they made sure that I was comfortable with the food, whether I needed more, they gave me company all the time.
‘Did you go for the Biennale?’
‘Oh yes, I did. Thank you for telling me about it, otherwise I would have missed this.’
‘How was it?’
‘Well, I won’t say that I understood all, as I have very minimal knowledge on art, but I can’t deny that I loved it. I have never seen representing art like this!!’
‘I went once; even I don’t understand art that much, so I don’t go anymore.’
‘But I think I have to come back again with more time in hand. I have to give more time to Biennale next time.’ (Ooo, there! I said another ‘Again’! I just can’t shake a place off my head!)
‘Be my guests next time as well!’
After Fort Kochi, I had to make arrangements for my next destination. And for which I asked for the help of my host from the island. Remember it’s Vagamon I had to go from Kochi? He tried few contacts, from where he couldn’t get much information but taking a private car. After some discussion, it was decided that I would start early in the morning, would go to Kochi by bus first, from where I was supposed to get my next connection. My host form the island however was not quite confident on this decision of mine.
‘Hey Payel, did you reach Vagamon? Where are you now?’
‘Still on road. I am on my third bus so far. Hope will reach soon.’
‘Let me know once you have reached.’
‘Have you reached Payel?’
‘Hi, just reached. I am checking in to the hotel. Was about to inform you in some time.’
‘Great to know that. So how many buses you had to change? How was the journey?’
I gave him all the details he had to know and he ended the chat by, ‘Take care, stay safe. If any problem, do call me.’
In my entire trip, my host from the island used to buzz me every alternative day to check my where-about, how was I doing and whether I was safe.
‘Hey Payel, where are you now?’
‘I am back home today.’
‘Oh, your trip is over?’
‘Yess!’ (Hey that’s a harsh one!!)
‘Well! take care of yourself. Do come back to Fort Kochi, we will love to have you as our guest.’