Thanks to the bookings done the day it opened - 60 days back - we had train tickets to Ernakulam and back for the navarathri weekend.
We had a 7 PM train to catch. We took at taxi at 6 and were comfortably in K R Puram Station by 6.30. Our little one was excited by train travel and kept asking when our train would came. Trains did come - one after another - passenger trains to Marikkuppam, Kolar and so on... Ours was late and finally came around 7.45. It made up for lost time and we were in Ernakulam Junction at 6.15 PM next day.
As we unpacked, we found a portion of one of the boxes missing! A rat had invaded the A/c coach of the train and tunnelled its way through one of our bags. We had left the zipper of one of the side pouches open and it had used it to bye-pass the hard outer cover of the bag. Lesson learnt - carry food items in backpacks which can be hung. And zip up - the bags as well!
The kolu is an exciting time for the ladies - an occasion to socialize, visit each others homes, exchange gifts, besides the traditional vettilapakku. For the guys, it is a time to sample the delicacies got from each household.
Durbar Hall Ground is a five minute walk from my home. It is now a Park with well-maintained grass and a walkway, thanks to the efforts of the Collector (as well as the budget). Children play in the evenings and a lot of people walk in the mornings and evenings. The Ground has a large podium for hosting events and one of the evenings I saw a large screen being put up. Come 7 PM, the lights were switched off and off started Shankarabharanam (Malayalam dubbed version) - a popular musical hit movie of the 90's. The sound system was excellent for such a large area and it was an amazing experience to watch an open air movie in the heart of the City! Apparently, there are cultural programs every weekend.
What is a Kochi trip without a boat ride? We do not do the tourist ones with music which just takes one around the Marine Drive area. For best effect, take a passenger boat - one which goes to Vypeen or Mattancherry. We chose Fort Kochi and had to wait a bit in queue for the tickets. (The ticket cost is Rs.4/- per head for a 15 min boat ride) Hey, there is a separate Ladies queue - but we found both the queues equally long!
The timing could not have been better. Cyclone phallin was expected to make landfall around 6 PM and we were in the boat around 5.30 PM. Thanks to much publicised boat accidents, there is no overcrowding. There are a lot of life-jackets as well as a number of tyres (alternate floatation device)! The boat ride was thrilling as we went past dredgers, oil tankers, cargo ships... The wake from another boat made ours move side to side!
An auto from Fort Kochi jetty (yeah, that's what we call the equivalent of bus stops) took us to Fort Kochi beach. There is a dilapidated Children's Play Area with most of the swings and slides out of action. (These are important when you have a 2.5 year old boy who is looking for entertainment). The beach isn't great - if you want to go to beach in Kochi - it has to be Cherai. But we spent some time, looking at someone flying (or trying to fly) a kite, the sunset hidden by clouds, which seem to increase in size, thickness as well as darken in colour.
Rains appeared imminent. We hastened back to the Bus Stand where we just boarded a Volvo bus before rains started - our first Volvo bus ride in Kerala.
Mall culture has caught up with Kerala. A couple of new Malls have opened - the famous Lulu Mall and Central Square Mall, which is closer to our home. We did not lose the chance to make a visit to the latter. The Big Bazaar inside is no different from the Bangalore one, though it was less crowded! I was told Lulu Mall is amazingly large - maybe next time!