Sunday, August 21, 2016

Coffee Matters

I have realized that Tea drinkers simply do not get the concept of coffee. Tea drinkers wake up bright and cheery at some unearthly hour like 5am and drink their tea meditatively while watching the sun gently rise up in the sky. In contrast, coffee drinkers, night owls that they usually are, groggily stagger to the kitchen at about 8 am, more or less incoherent until they’ve drunk their first coffee of the day. Then they tackle life with energy and gusto until the mid-afternoon crash whereupon they need to be revived drip by drip with a second coffee.

My hints to my Kerala host (would you like me to get you good coffee powder from Banglur?) simply did not ring a bell. The first morning I was given what I considered a cup of milk mildly flavoured with coffee. Not wanting to seem a demanding guest, I mumbled that it was just fine and we made our way to Fort Kochi.

Until mid-afternoon when we stumbled into Kashi Art Café, I must have been in a semi-awake stupor. When I read French Press coffee on the menu, I mentally gave it a thumbs up. It came with hot milk on the side. I poured the exact amount of each into the cup. The coffee was strong, robust and very good. When my host took a sip of my coffee she practically fell of her chair and glugged down an entire glass of water immediately afterwards to mitigate the effects. After that she kept looking at me drinking my coffee with a mixture of awe and terror and then managed to take this photograph where I am giving her the eye.

                                 Photograph by Sajana.J

The next morning at breakfast, my host pushed me down on the sofa and commanded, “Wait!” Then, like the waiter at Kashi Art café, she emerged from the kitchen with a tray which she placed before me. Placed on the tray was a mug of super strong black coffee, a small cup of hot milk and a dabba of sugar. I was ordered to drink what she had prepared. I think the expression of satisfaction on my face was enough for her. She simply said, “I used FIVE spoons of coffee powder in the filter this time!” and then she left me to drink in peace. I drained my coffee, my brain staggered towards clarity and then I looked down into my empty coffee mug and decided I was very, very touched by this thoughtful gesture.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Fish and Ships - A Visit to God's Own Country

Anyone who follows me on instagram knows that I spent four lavish, jam-packed days in Kerala where I ticked everything off my list of things to see and did lots and lots more than I ever imagined possible during my brief stay. Back in Banglur I still feel like a contented Boa digesting a large ingested animal and while I am trying to sort through the abundance of vibrant memories to make into coherent blog posts, I was unable to answer my host’s question on the second day of my return.
Where is the blog post?

Well, here is one finally, the first of many Kerala blogs, all dedicated to my superb host Whizzkid, who the moment I mentioned the words Fort Kochi enthusiastically hustled me over and gave me the time of my life. A wise traveller once said that if you do not have the right local host to show you the place, then you merely skim the surface without experiencing its true delights. In this I was utterly fortunate to find the host with whom I shared not only a similar wavelength but sense of humour as well. We like a bit of edge to our jokes here.

The first thing that struck me on my drive from the airport was how utterly lush and green Kerala is, and in the fading evening light, dotted amid the dense greenery one cannot help but notice the tiny, tiny fish stalls the selling freshly caught catch of the evening which is a must for the last meal of the day for Malayalees. No self-respecting Mallu from Kerala will eat the fish in Bangluru. It is not fresh enough for these ultra-fastidious fish eaters. (Which of course is how I behaved towards the vegetables in another country, but we won’t go there...).

When we made our way towards Fort Kochi by ferry, my host pointed out the classic Fort Kochi shoreline which I have tried to capture in this picture. I thought the colorful boat was a tourist thing, but they are actual fisherman’s boats.

Here is a selection of the photographs that I took. Some of the memorable things we did were exploring gorgeous old buildings converted into boutique hotels, visiting artists’ spaces at Pepper House, gasping at the textures of crumbling old buildings, trying out raw mangoes soaked in brine...

And another day we explored Jew Town. Here below a picture of Jew Street.

While the synagogue was closed there were plenty of other delights to occupy us. Below, a Museum boutique hotel we stumbled into somewhere along the intriguing narrow streets –

Above, booty from a Spice shop to fill up my Spice jar.

More beautiful old buildings and a visit to the very interesting Dutch museum.

I’ll save the rest for subsequent posts, but to end this one, here is a picture of dusk on the sea.

More coming up as soon as possible!