Fort Cochin today. A short ferry ride from Ernakulam, but a world away. Fort Cochin is a clean, expensive resort enclave. Lunch today cost me almost ten times what I’m used to paying, although my hotel room is not so bad. I’m enjoying the relatively cleanliness and quiet of Fort Cochin, but its surreal aspect is irking me slightly. I was hungry this morning and just wanted a snack from the street, but there weren’t any; there aren’t any girls selling flowers for your hair.
And the tourists in Kochi are getting my goat a little bit. I’m aware that most westerners aren’t interested in wearing a sari or Punjabi, and that’s their choice. But don’t they notice that the only Indians who wear shorts are schoolboys and men of lower castes? Isn’t it evident that hygiene and grooming are important to Indians? Do they care that Indians prefer formality and beauty to bulging masses of flesh protruding from stained t-shirts? This isn’t Florida. Grr.
I decided to eat chicken today after a month of no meat, for the simple reason that I’m sick of eating the veg food. There’s not a lot of variety in South Indian vegetable curries: you get rice and bread and potatoes, then some combination of cauliflower, peas, spinach and cheese, but all of them taste about the same and the dhal is fairly tasteless. The one South Indian staple that I love (and remembered from the Indian restaurant my family went to when I was a child) is the dosa, a huge crispy crepe with potatoes and onions and spices inside. Most Indian restaurants around the world are North Indian, so I could never find dosas in the States and Britain. I always wondered why, but now I know: for the most part North Indian food is just tastier – or, shall we say, more suited to the Western palate.
Speaking of goats, there must have been a mess of baby goats born a few weeks ago as they are all over the streets, and man are they cute. I was always a bit afraid of goats, assuming they were about malevolent mischief (like monkeys), but I’ve found that animals in general in India seem less aggressive. Dogs don’t chase cars, bulls just stare at you, and baby goats beg to be cuddled.