Saturday, April 4, 2009

Kerala -- Fort Cochin

We made a short long weekend trip to Kerala. It remains as magical a place as any on earth for me. Bazaar Road in Fort Kochin captures the allure of spices that drove Columbus to try to find this place (but land in the Americas instead, of course) and that Vasco da Gama actually did find a few years later. I wish I could capture the smells of the place, but the pictures should convey a great deal of the feel.

The street, Bazaar Street:
Kerala, which means lots of Christian and Catholic churches. On Sunday they were overflowing. Here is a little shrine kind of place, that feels like a cross between Catholicism and Hinduism.

Spices, pulses, rice, and tea in the pictures that follow.
Above, pulses (lentils, etc.). Below, the traditional spices of the Malabar coast displayed in a boat.
Of course, you need to weigh what you are selling.
Pepper, perhaps what the Malabar Coast is most famous for.
The first time I visited (15 years ago), the Pepper Exchange was a lively and chaotic place. Now it is computerized and silent.
Checking out different types of rice.
A rice merchant.
More pulses.
Transporting spices, tea, and more.
Of course, you need to pack up the goods. Everything here gets reused.

Here are just a few shots of buildings in various stages of use and decay. You can feel some of the old Portuguese, Dutch, and trading influences from around the world.

Our traveling gang checking out some huge old tanks (I can't remember the correct name for them) as Sub explains their traditional role.The emblematic Chinese fishing nets. Very labor intensive, and at least during the times when we watched, very few fish seem to result from all this work.

I could go on and on with pictures. Later I will post more, of Jewtown, antiques, and the like within Fort Cochin (or Kochi as it is now known), and also of our trip in the backwaters.

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