Friday, January 22, 2010

Cochin Bazaar - Early in the morning

Have started morning walks with my friend Vimala. Actually we started walking a year ago but stopped during the rainy season which lasts here for about 3-4 months. The route we take is through the old Cochin Bazaar - it is quiet, clean and not so crowded that early in the morning. Also as it is alongside the channel you gets wafts of cool breeze from the gaps between the houses.

Cochin Bazaar was at one time a bustling, vibrant place where goods were received and dispatched by "Vallams" (country boats) so most of the buildings on the channel side have their own small private piers. This was in the days before road and rail transport became convienient and popular. Once that happened and the Ernakulam bye-pass was built, Cochin lost its importance as a Bazaar and the businesses moved to Ernakulam. Now some of the buildings house handicraft shops and cafes to attract the few tourists who might wander there from the more popular Fort Kochi.

Early morning, as we walk along we get the smell of spices - chilly, pepper, cardamom and once garlic!!! As the sky brightens, we hear the call for prayers from the many mosques in the area. The Koonan Cross has early morning visitors on Fridays who light lamps and make supplications. The Koonan Cross is at the Church of Our Lady of Life where in 1653 a group of Saint Thomas Christians took an oath never to bow down before the Portugese.

As we walk along we get the smell of the sea and unfortunately also of the canal which is not quite so salubrious. We have to manoeuvre past trucks waiting to be unloaded or to pick up their merchandise. The cabins have multicoloured little lamps and we often get to walk a little way to the tune of the latest Rehman or Illayaraja number (in tamil!).

By the time we return, the first of the school children are on the way to the bus stop. House wives, clad in that quintessentially malayalee outfit ' the nighty' return from the milk booths carrying packets of milk. We are regulars now, and can expect a smile or a greeting from our fellow walkers.

The resolution is to walk every day, but already we have had hiccups. No matter... the determination should see us through!

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