You know Keysar Soze?
Keyser Soze said “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
Keyser Soze was wrong.
The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the public that Kerala is God’s own country.
Think about it, when you think of god’s own country what comes to mind?
Heaven, with the clouds and angels and doggies and those babies wearing diapers and music from Mozart and Beethoven.
Now what comes to mind when you think of Satan’s own country?
Hell, with the heat and the devils and demons and torture and Bangladeshis and did I mention the heat and music from Justin Bieber and Himesh.
And guess what you get in Kerala?
Oh lord the heat
I know because I recently went there.
That’s right people, the Fatman went to Kerala.
Kerala, the land of rivers and Commies and spices and elephants and the coconuts.
Oh the coconuts.
Its a love affair for the ages.
It all started back in the mythic times.
In the really ancient times, Parashurama, a man with breathtaking anger issues – the original Hulk if you will – created Kerala. Legend says that due to some natural calamity, the ocean rose and swallowed the landmass of Kerala. This made Parashurama angry and he threw a coconut at the ocean. The ocean got scared and gave back the land. Thus, people of Kerala love and worship the coconuts.
A few thousand years later, Kerala was ruled by a ashura or demon king called Mahabali (the elder brother of Bahubali, whose exploits were filmed recently). The demon king became too powerful and kept on defeating the devas or gods. As usual, all the winnings went to his head and he became too cocky and arrogant. He claimed that he can give any boon to anybody. A poor dwarf Brahmin called Vamana came and asked for bread. But Mahabali had no bread, so he said “If there is no bread, let him eat coconuts” and gave some coconuts to Vamana. Vamana became enraged at this insult and curb stomped Mahabali straight into the underworld.
The Mallus still celebrate this event every year by dressing up in their finest and gorging on coconuts in a festival called Onam.
A few thousand years later Christopher Columbus turned up with Portuguese navy to conquer Kerala and control the spice trade. There was a great battle but after a few days the mallus ran out of cannon balls. The Portuguese were on the verge of victory when the Mallus hit upon the idea of using coconuts in their cannons.
The rest, as they say, is history.
So, it is to such a land that I went.
But I am a prudent, intelligent and realistic man.
So I went with my helmet.
I landed at Cochin airport, got myself a cab and told him to take me to Honolulu.
But the journey was long and it was night.
It was darker than the earl of hell’s waistcoat.
Apparently Mallu people are scared of the dark and go to sleep early.
Since the shops were shut, my driver suggested that I get my food.
All in English mind you.
[Here’s one thing I enjoyed throughout the tour – everyone understood and could speak English.
I am not one of those la-di-dahs and Gudduda who belittle Indianness, Indian culture and Indian languages at every opportunity; one of those who feel that speaking in English and copying Americans is the height of fashion and culture.
No, I appreciated the Mallu people’s familiarity with English simply because it indicated that they have all been to school and paid attention there.
Look, I come from a state where our Communist overlords decreed for decades that English is a fascist imperialist language that will lead the Bengali youth into the dregs of moral turpitude. So they decreed that everyone should only learn the proletarian Bengali language during the impressionable years when in school. English was taught only in high school, by which time most Bengali men usually gave up even pretending to give a crap school and instead got themselves engaged in the highly profitable activities of drinking, smoking, eve-teasing, auto rickshaw driving and politics.
As a result, there are millions of people in my state to whom English is more or less at par with Huttese. As a result Bengal has some of the highest rates of unemployment in the country.
So I get happy when I see people who have done the right thing as far as education is concerned.
There is no substitute for good education people.
On the flip side, for whatever reason, Mallus have a criminal obsession and addiction towards a genocide of dogs]
Anyway, to get back to the story, he took me to a shop and guess what I found there?
Bangladeshi waiters (they claimed they are from Murshidabad, but we all know that’s 50 shades of shite)
Now I know how Macbeth felt. Everywhere he looked there was Banquo’s ghost haunting the shit out of him. Everywhere I look, there are Bangladeshis.
These Bangladeshis are haunting my every living moment.
Its a Bangladeshi Bangladeshi everywhere kind of situation. The Ancient Mariner knows what I am talking about.
Abhimanyu from Mahabharata, when he found himself surrounded by Kaurava army inside that chakravyuh, had a similar problem…”OMG! Forgot to ask dad for the exit! My bad! Lol #fucked”
Anyway, the food was biriyani, curry and some weird preparation with potatoes – all cooked in coconut oil.
After a journey of about 2 hours – only in Malluland will you have airports that are about 50 kms outside the city – I finally reached hotel. After entrance formalities and dinner and unpacking, had to start working.
I work as an ID at SKILD people, life is not an option.
Worked till 2 in the night, went to sleep, woke up because even under the full blast of ac, it was a sauna.
So got back to work.
Soon it was time for breakfast, that too a traditional one.
As far as weird food goes, it wasn’t that bad.
After that, it was time for sightseeing.
Mr. Abu arranged for a lovely gentleman called Samson to drive me around in his auto.
First stop was a beach – a sorry excuse for one, but still a beach. Vasco da Gama beach. Unfortunately, the water was oily and a huge turn off.
Then it was the Dutch cemetery.
You know I love a cemetery- in fact I like all tombs, memorials, cemeteries, necropolis – anywhere where the dead reign. In my experience the dead are nice people and I feel comfortable around them, they don’t judge me or shout at me or abuse me.
After the cemetery, it was time for a tomb.
And not just any tomb – the tomb of Vasco da Gama.
Next up, the world famous Chinese fishing nets.
I was so looking forward to this place and so naturally it turned out to be a complete dud.
Here’s the thing with the nets. They are complete tourist traps. There is zero chance of them being commercially viable as far as fishing is concerned. Their sole purpose of existence seems to be to get money from the tourists. Moreover, its all very dirty.
So far it was bad-good-meh-bad.
How was I know that it was all leading upto something spectacular?
And boy it was spectacular.
Not for any architectural or artistic beauty mind you, but for its historical significance.
It was the Paradesi Synagogue – the oldest functioning synagogue in the Commonwealth nations, more than 500 years old.
And then there were elephants
Three of them – chained to tress.
Destined to spend their entire lives as chained up slaves of the greed of humans.
Just look at their condition. They are starving, injured and miserable.
Look I am not a vegan fundamentalist nor am I a romantic idealist.
I understand that humans are obsessed with money and in order to get money they will use and abuse even children, never mind animals.
But there really is no justification for torture!
Keeping a sentient intelligent being chained up is torture, pure and simple.
Elephants are highly intelligent kind social beings who live in forests. Ideally, they should be free in forests. If we have to use them, at least use them in forests in the timber industry or tourism industry.
But cruelty of man knows no bounds.
Final stop was a naval museum. The exhibits were crap, more so as the entry ticket was INR 40. But, one great thing was the murals describing the history of the navy, especially the Marathai navy. It was there that I came to know about Kanhoji Angre.
Then it was the Santa Cruz basilica. Its quite a nice Portuguese style church with Biblical murals inside.
After a spot of lunch – cooked in coconut oil – it was back to work people.
Work till late night, only interrupted by a dinner of chicken fry – cooked in coconut oil – and burger.
There were plans, plans good people to see something world famous.
I thought it would be a big day, a good day, an interesting day.
It turned out to be a hot day.
A very very very hot day.
Here’s my query – how in the name of all that is short sweet and chimichanga are the Mallus able to survive in all that heat without becoming full nudists?? As per the ancient pictures and statues both men and women used to be topless, so what changed Mallu people?
I guess here’s another thing that you can blame on the Commies.
It was the day for the world famous backwaters.
I shall not lie people.
Having slept only 3 hours in the night, I had a headache and it was as hot as the inside of a tandoor.
So my view might be jaundiced.
But I did not enjoy the backwater trip at all.
It was all too meh.
Don’t misunderstand me, there is nothing inherently wrong with it, its just that being from Bengal rivers and coconut trees are neither that attractive nor that special for me.
I fully concede that people from the northern part of India or from other countries might really enjoy the trip.
I have been thinking about it, was it only the heat? Would I have enjoyed it had it been an ac boat?
The answer is no
The high point of the whole trip was chancing on those ducks.
Am genuinely sorry Cochin, but you did not make me like you.
And you know what the worst placein Cohin is?
The Ernakulam Junction Railway Station – possibly the worst in India. Definitely the worst in South India.
A. It has no proper shelter except in platform 1. If you are unlucky to be in any of the other 5, you would be slowly roasted in the sun.
B. The electricity went and during my two hours at the station, they could not get it back.
The Sitaphalmandi railway station is better.
The train journey from Cochin to Trivandrum was good though – mainly due to the plethora of food on offer.
And I tried them all.
To my intense relief, Trivandrum was better, much much better.
- It was raining, thus it was less hot
- They worship me there – https://fatunclecheapo.wordpress.com/2015/12/16/i-am-a-god/
- They have the Napier Museum, an architectural marvel, precisely the kind of thing I love
- Their beach – Kovalam – is about 8.1 million times better than the one in Cochin
- Moses parted the Red Sea; Mallus of Trivandrum, being literal people, celebrate that event by drinking the red water, literally
- Miss Papaya lives there and we had an extremely detailed and critical discussion on the uses of curry leaves in ice cream (she is in favor, I am against)
On the flip side, everything had coconut in it – including papads, which were cooked in coconut oil
But hey, what can you do, birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, Gudduda’s gotta devdas and Mallus gotta have their coconuts.