The tea was comfortably warm. Coincidentally, so was I. The wind was running her fingers through my hair while the golden sun rays, the last martyrs of the day, were kissing their goodbyes. The lake rippled with the wind, looking magnanimous – as if mocking me to wake up creativity and inspiration. These were good days. She was the sole reason. For a host of different reasons I found myself gravitating towards her. She opened up her soul and swallowed me whole. Kochi, you’re an emotion.
I reminisce to my undergraduate days when I, like most of the usual Mallu crowd, was slaving away for my Bachelor of Technology. I studied not but a stone’s throw away from here. When we were bored, we took our motorbikes, bunked the classes and came over. Kochi never failed to amaze us. Welcoming us in all her grace, she always gave us some new spot to go to, some attraction we had missed. That’s not all though, Kochi educated us too. Our searches for internships, courses and examination centres almost always lead us to Kochi. It was said, all roads lead to Rome. In our case, all our streets were through Kochi.
What is Kochi? Though the answers vary, is Kochi the constant hum of people and machines running from place to place, with a Metro running overhead? Is it the software engineers, powering the world in a few keystrokes? Is it the port, the refinery or the harbour, playing their roles? Is it the JLN Stadium, waiting to host fans? Is it the coasts and the lake, the wind and the sun? What does Kochi have that the artists, the singers and painters want? Is it the blooming new culture that retains the heritage of the old? Is it the ‘freakans’ and ‘freakathis’ with interesting fashion experiments? I’m confused. I’m saying too much and still too little to describe her. Maybe she’s all of them and yet none of these. Perhaps Kochi is just you and me, running in her veins with our puny thoughts and actions.
We can agree though, Kochi merely is a city – minus the heat of Chennai, the pollution of Delhi, the traffic of Mumbai or the hype of Bangalore. Kochi has always had something to boast about, although lately, it has come down to 3 Ms – the Mall, the Metro and Marine Drive. Most tours to Kochi will take you through them, but those are just a portion of Kochi. Get out your bicycles and take a ride down through Fort Kochi. Smell and taste your way through a bunch of cafes and restaurants. Catch some artists in action, listen to their albums. Catch a boat ride from the ferry and experience it cutting through the silk-like lake.
Catch the sunrises and sunsets, but be prepared and learn some shortcuts – the traffic these days can test your patience. Go to a Kerala Blasters home match and scream your lungs off. Awaken your senses at the Biennale. If you’re reading this now, please know that the Biennale is in full swing. You can always drop by and count on it to blow your mind. A single stage for the arts and crafts, the Biennale is a portal to a world of imagination and creativity.
As I sip the last of the tea, I realise that my thoughts have wandered far. The lake still mocks me, knowing I’ll never finish describing the city. Maybe that is for the best. Only if you don’t know all the secrets will you come to explore for more. Kochi invites you to.
Light has fallen, the sky turning its hues from blue to gold to red to black. As the moon takes over the watch over me and the stars begin to pop, I shut my diary and look back at the lake, which now has fishing boats coming in and ferries going across. I’ll be back, I whisper, but she knows that better than I do, for my ode to Kochi remains incomplete.