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Cochin - 800 year old Chinese fishing nets, terrible palace

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Nov 6-8 Cochin - 800 year old functional Chinese fishing nets

Cochin (now Kochi) is comprised of 2 main parts connected by boat: Fort Cochin, the historical district; and Erakulum, the modern city part. We stayed in Erakulum but spent 2 days (1 morning and 1 evening) in Fort Cochin.

In line for the ferry across, we saw the best Euromullet of the trip.

The main road in Fort Cochin is covered with wholesalers of things like tea and rice.

2 churches and a synagogue, in Fort Cochin. The second church has a Jesus draped in Indian clothes, riding a horse, and carrying a sword. That church is located in Jew Town, and was blessed by His Excellency Rt. Rev. Dr. something, Bishop of Cochin. India is big on titles.

The old Dutch Castle is ok value for money for the 2 Rupees (4 cents) entrance fee, but given that it is one of the main draws to Cochin it's very disappointing. It's basically a 2-storey industrial-looking building with peeling paint and a small museum on the inside. I didn't take any pictures, but it looked like half the (budget) places where we stayed.

At night we went to a Kerali play, which is preceeded by applying make-up on the actors. The make-up is extremely elaborate, taking about an hour. The white parts along the neck of the green guy are stuck on using tools and clay in such a way as to completely hide the seams along his face, and the yellow guy has a coat of purple face paint under the yellow, which gives kind of a two-toned effect when he's on stage. No words are used in the play; instead communication is through dance, hand gestures, and facial expressions which are explained at the beginning of the show. Apparently people that study the genre can understand entire dialogues and plots, but to us it was a bunch of dancing with a few wonderful facial expressions. For the next couple weeks I was looking at Sue with an expression of romance, as demonstrated, which involved keeping my eyes big, moving my eyebrows, and looking around a lot. The story, explained in the programme, is more-or-less as follows: the green guy is a good god; the black guy is a demon; when the demon is making a delivery of maidens to the god, the demon falls in love with the god. The demon then transforms into a beautiful woman, tries to seduce the god, fails, and turns back into the demon. When the god sees that the demon was trying to seduce him, he vanquishes the demon.

The Fort Cochin area was on a trade route with China, and one excellent piece of engineering that they kept from 800 years ago are the fishing nets. They are massive nets that balance on a hinge, counter-balanced by rocks of roughly the same weight on a pulley. The net part goes in the water, and is pulled back up some minutes later with any marine life that was swimming above it at the time. The system was economical for large-scale fishing until a few decades ago, and is still used for small-scale fishing (more effecient to have 5 people working this fishing net than using fishing rods, but less effecient than using trawlers or other modern large-scale techniques). As the sun began to set we happened upon a fish market, where the catch of the day was being weighed and sold by the box. We wanted to see the trading the next morning, but woke up too late.

Cats joining in the fish-eating fun

There were a lot of exotic (possibly illegal) fish for sale. Here is what I believe to be a baby hammerhead shark.

Unexpectedly, a fancy mall boasts Abad Food Court, while slightly repressed induividuals may live in the Bay Pride Tower and shop at the Bay Pride Mall.

Posted by chrisvasil 21:00 Archived in India Tagged tourist_sites

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