Fort Kochi (also Fort Cochin) is the first city I visited in the state of Kerala. It’s really only known for the Chinese fishing nets that local fishermen use to catch a wide array of fish from the Indian Ocean, which they then sell whole to locals and tourists. After purchasing the fish, you can walk it a short distance and have it cooked at a nearby restaurant. Because these large, manually-operated nets are the #1 attraction in Lonely Planet, they have been turned into a bit of a tourist trap. If you walk near them, several fishermen will approach you and show you how the net works and allow you to operate it for a few minutes, and then turn around and ask you for a tip. Unfortunately, although Fort Kochi is a peninsula and therefore surrounded on three sides by water, there are no swimmable beaches in the city because they are all littered with either fishing nets or trash.
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One evening in Fort Kochi (Cochin, Kerala) I decided to check out this cultural center that was advertising traditional Indian performances, specifically something called Kathakali.
Kathakali is described as a “dance-drama” and I thought that sounded interesting, so for about $5 I bought a ticket and went to the show. They said to arrive at 5:30pm for “make-up.” I wasn’t really sure what that meant, but I knew I didn’t want to miss it.
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The other day I was roaming around Fort Kochi when I popped into a tiny art gallery and met Victoria. Victoria was the artist of all the paintings and owner of the gallery. I never got her age, but I imagine she is in her late 50s or early 60s. She introduced herself and immediately invited me to sit down and join her for a cup of chai and medu vada (a savory South-Indian snack that is made out of lentils and looks like a doughnut).
We talked for about 45 minutes, mostly about her artwork. She showed me a book that she had made of at least 25 pieces of her art, paintings and poetry. As I learned more about her art, I learned more about Victoria. And as I learned more about Victoria, I learned more about Indian culture.
Continue reading “Victoria’s Unintended Lesson on Love” →