In the 90’s, the town of Fort Kochi was a simple sleepy one lane street with large Dutch buildings, mostly yellow and white churches and lined with incredible large canopied trees. The sea was blue and touched the edges of lovely Fort house, next to Seagull Hotel, run by Mrs Teresa. Everyday i would walk for hours and sit by her stone benches along the sea watching the naval boats go by. Mrs Teresa taught me to cook some exquisite Kerala dishes.
In the intervening 30 years and more, it has crammed more houses, shops and restaurants than any other place of my travel haunts… yesterday I walked through a new beach promenade and wondered at what we do to places. Even the sea was grey and rough perhaps as it was pre monsoon and my earlier visit was in winter. The chinese fishing nets, once the only activity on the beach now were crammed with food vendors, boats, buses, cars and little shops selling shells and shoes.
The one unchanging view and a complete delight are the wide canopied trees along the beach- its amazing how close they grow to the sea. The gulmohars, tamarind, peepul, banyan and the pink flowering raintrees… these trees were the only beings that matched my memories. I recall coming with a book and sitting under them undisturbed all day long.
Now they play popular music on huge speakers and the families take selfies all along the way. Even the famous chinese fishing nets look different with the new blue plastic netting: i think it used to be rope nets then.
All along the beach the most popular food vendor was selling Pineapple and Mango salad and spicy raw mango were filled in glass jars- I could imagine the burst of tangy flavours and the saliva rushing to fill the mouth. Alas I was fasting. But every other person walking the promenade was holding a platter of this raw vegan delight.
Fort Kochi now belongs to tourists, artists, egrets.
The seagulls have found another haven.