it’s been a while but here i am alive & well & finally ready to write down some of my experiences from last week which has mildly spoken been absolutely amazing & overly overwhelming !! i simply haven’t had time to sit down & put all that into words until now. & still i haven’t really realized everything that happened. i’ve seen so much in the past week, i’ve been overflowed with so many impressions my eyes could barely take it & yet i haven’t felt that free & happy in a long time. i won’t be able to describe my feelings & thoughts in a sufficient way but i will try & give you a little insight into my current little world out here in india: so after `hampi´ we went to `bangalore´ which is one of the biggest cities in the country & is also known for its modern approach on sciences. `bangalore´ was an inbetween stop for us as the night train connections appeared to be quite good between `hampi´ & `bangalore´ & `bangalore´ & `kochi´. so this is where i want to start off right now: in `kochi´ the so-called queen of the arabian sea & the venice of south india & no these phrases don’t do justice to this city !! `kochi´ is one of the key points in kerala as it forms the center for commerce & trade & is also famous for fishing & its beautiful backwaters. however, `kochi´ is also located on the coast & so we are finally back to the sea again which i was really looking forward to !! i don’t know why but i didn’t expect much of `kochi´ probably because i thought it would be just another of these big cities but what actually awaited us was more i could ever have asked for !! kerala is the most southern indian state next to tamil nadu. also kerala is one of the rather touristy and therefore more wealthy places. commerce and tourism play a major part here and we also found ourselves confronted with many more options concerning accomodations, restaurants & tours. it was the first time i actually realized the huge differences inside of india itself: especially between the north of india & the south. the people talk another way: they seem to be more open & friendly than in the north but again that is only one indicator for the probably much harder life in the north. but i think it is very important to be aware of those gaps inside of society, to see the change & to ask oneself why that is. one should always keep track of the surrounding: it can teach you so much & it opened my eyes & my mind in a very intense way !! but back to what i actually intended talking about: kerala welcomed us with its sunny side up: we arrived in `kochi´ with blue skies & sunshine. as we took the night train from `bangalore´ to `kochi´ we had some time in the morning when we could just sit on the train, staring outside & observing the deep green inner landscape of kerala. we were already hyped by then: everything seemed so full of color, banana trees were growing everywhere & we were more than amazed by the total change of nature once again (& i was more than excited to be back by the sea again lol) so eventually we arrived in `kochi´ at 8 am (we even got morning coffee on the train which was really tasty: wasn’t expecting that haha) then we went from the train to the bus station & from there took a local bus to `fort kochi´ which is the center of `kochi´ located right by the seaside. it was the indian day of independence that day & so on our way through the city we discovered so many crowds singing together early in the morning. flags were raised & the busses were literally covered in baloons, flags & flowers in the colors of india: orange, white & green. it was such a beautiful sight !! in `fort kochi´ we went straight to our accomodation alias our first homestay on the journey (homestays are quite a big thing in kerala & i really like that) `jojie’s homestay´ was hidden inside a small street labyrinth with palmtrees & banana plants in every corner. it was only 8:3o am but we were welcomed with open arms. sophie & her husband (the owners of the homestay) felt like family from on day one: they were so caring, friendly & helpful & the sweetest hosts ever !! we could move straight into our room & instantly fell asleep for one hour. the train ride wasn’t too bad at all but still it’s just not the same as sleeping in a comfi bed :)) when we woke again we felt very hungry & ready for brunch. so we made our way into the heart of `fort kochi´ where we strolled through beautiful narrow streets again (it felt a bit like little italy tbh) & eventually found the perfect breakfast spot: kashi art café. art gallery & coffee place in one: who could say no to that ?! well i certainly couldn’t :)) we were pretty lucky we got a table for two as the independence day attracted quite a lot of people & `kochi´ was quite crowded with indian tourists that day: we sat in the sunny courtyard, soft music was playing & we had an amazing brunch with avocado toast, tofu scramble, fresh juice, iced coffee & a slice of chocolate cake to make it round lol c’etait très délicieux !! then we were ready to start the day & to go for a first exploratory walk in `kochi´. of course we went to the beach first. i was happy now :)) the deep blue water was crashing on the shore like ever before & only the sound of the waves was filling me with pure joy. we walked along the `mahatma gandhi beach´ where all the fishing boats were lying on the sand waiting for their next journey. fish was sold everywhere: fresh from the boat !! however, there are several ways to catch fish in kerala: traditionally by boat or with chinese fishing nets that are fixed in one place on the shore & can be brought up & down. it was the first time i ever saw this chinese technique !! funny they use it here in kerala i thought but in fact they’ve been using these nets in `kochi´ for ages & also i was told that `kochi´ provides a perfect place to use this fishing method. i was amazed: the nets somehow looked so aesthetic (you’ll find a pic of it under this post) i really liked the sight of them !! then we walked further to `fort kochi beach´ watched the waves & the people. we enjoyed the sun & the sea breeze & felt really happy about being in `kochi´. everything felt so open & wide & fresh & even though `kochi´ is quite a big city it didn’t feel like that at all: it rather seemed like a tiny fisher village :)) another new thing we discovered on the beach were the many light green wate plants floating on the ocean. they simply grow on the water: funny right ?! they are spread all over the beackwaters of kerala as well & sometimes create quite a struggle for the local ferries but still they look very pretty :)) after our long beach walk we went to a place called `fusion bay´ to try the local fish: it’s a must do by the sea right ?! our hosts recommended this place to us as it serves fresh fish every day, prepares delicious traditional dishes & is very popular with locals: well they didn’t promise too much. we had the best seafood platter with portugese rice & fried fish at `fusion bay´ & rolled back home afterwardss for a little siesta. we spent the afternoon reading & recovering from good food lol but there would wait something very special for us again in the evening: a real kathakali show !! kathakali is a typical art of dance & performance in kerala where the actors are wrapped in very costly clothing & their faces are painted in intense colors. only the preparation for the show would already take one whole hour !! then the actors dance to indian music & tell a story through their performance: without saying a word but rather with moving their eyes, hands & feet in a very fast & specific way. we couldn’t take our eyes off the actors !! it was such a special show & i’ve never seen something like it before: in fact i didn’t even know that people are able to performe such crazy & intense movements !! we were completely dazzled after the show: what a crazy first day in `kochi´ !! but the second day started with another surprise as we spontaneously decided to go for a morning meditation. at 8 am we went to the local arts & culture center where we were welcomed with candle light & incense smells: we sat down on our meditation cushions & then the music started to play. it was just us two, one man singing & playing the sitar (a traditional indian instrument resembling a guitar) & another man playing the small indian drums that sound like waterdrops. for one hour we just sat there listening to the sounds of instruments & vocals & slowly sank into the sounds of water & wind of land & sea .. we lost ourselves in the sounds of india for a while. when it ended we felt like waking up for real .. like we haven’t been awake before: we felt so good !! this meditation is called morning raga in india & we were more than thankful we had the chance to experience such thing: couldn’t imagine a better way to start a new day. at 9 am we returned to our homestay just 1o minutes away & were already awaited with coffee & breakfast: sophie prepared a special kerala omlette (fried in coconut oil & served with fresh pineapple) for us & treated us with homemade specialties like only a real mum would !! after this little feast we went to `mattancherry´ which is the area next to `fort kochi´ & which is known for all its local arts & crafts. especially woodworks are a big thing here !! we strolled around, looked at various galleries & shops, had fresh juice by the seaside & visited the so-called `dutch palace´ which was built by the portugese armada in 1555. a little throwback in time !! then on our way back home for siesta (it was a really hot day) i made another great encounter: a parotha factory. did i already mention i love parotha ?! it’s the best indian bread: crispy & chewy at the same time & so tasty !! now you can probably tell i was quite stoaked when we saw the small bakery baking nothing but fresh parotha right from the oven :)) one parotha for 5 rupees (ca. 10 cents) i couldn’t say no to that kind of offer, of course !! we filled our bellies up with parotha (probably the best we ever had) & then spent a rather lazy afternoon at our homestay. it really felt like a little home for us. the next day we went to kashi art café for breakfast again & just as last time it was absolutely delicious. then we went to the ferry stand of `fort kochi´ & from there took the ferry to `kalamukku´ the peninsula right accross the sea passage (we paid 3 rupees for the ferry ride: less than the price of one parotha lol) `kalamukku´ is the fishing area par excellence. we walked along the seaside with the chinese fishernets every few meters & watched the nets going up & down & the fishermen securing their catch in big boxes. it was a busy work atmosphere yet it seemed so calm & natural: we really enjoyed it there !! then one of the fishermen waved at us & invited us on the deck of his fishing hut with the chinese net at the end of it. we asked if we could help him & together we brought the net back into the water again. he would leave it there for 3 to 5 minutes & then pull it up again to see if any fish was inside. we talked a little & he told us about the life of a fisherman in perfect english. we listened closely & again learned so much about this life so totally different from ours !! then we pulled up the net again. we even caught some fish !! the fisherman showed us how to sort them: the good ones into the left box, shrimps into the right bix, small fish & jelly fish back into the water. i loved the way he handled the fish with a routine of ages: he was doing this for all his life !! it was such a cool experience for us helping & watching him catching fish. plus holding a jelly fish in our bare hands was quite an awesome feeling, too. i’ve never seen a jelly fish before. so many new things at once wow: i could barely keep track !! after saying goodbye to the fisherman & thanking him we continued our day tour & took the next bus to `ernakulam´ which is the commercial center of `kochi´ on the other side of the sea passage. once again we walked along the windy & sunny seaside: along markets & juice stalls & really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere on the promenade. then we decided to have a look at the famous shiva temple in town: with no expectations at all we entered the temple (without shoes of course) & found ourselves in a holy place all decorated with flowers & candles. a monk came to welcome us & showed us around the temple complex. then he told us we had come at the exact right time as `shivakumar´ was here for the week. who is `shivakumar´ we asked almost simultaneously. turns out `shivakumar´ is the most famous elephant in kerala who was currently kept in the shiva temple in `kochi´. we couldn’t believe it. a huge gray elephant stood right in front of us calmly snacking his bamboo leaves. he had a huge stall all for himself & every now & then someone from the temple would enter to bring more food & water. of course, he wasn’t living in freedom or in his natural habitat but at least he was taken very good care of & that’s what i was very glad about. we just stood there & stared at him. he was immense & as one of the monks told us he was 52 years old: not too bad for an elephant !! then the monk asked us if we would want to touch him. it would be blessing for us & for this temple. of course we did !! just for a second we touched his dry & thick skin: wow what a feeling !! i couldn’t believe i just touched a creature as big as this elephant. we brought some more greens to him & thanked the monks & then left the temple again. it felt like we had just escaped a real random movie scene !! wow we were so done & overwhelmed by all that happened to us. it was time for a snack alias the `said to be best burger in india´ at the burger junction: one indian guy we met the other day recommended the place to us & so we had to try it out & once again we weren’t disappointed !! maybe not the best burger in the whole world but maybe the best burger in india :)) thanks for the tipp rajeev !! then with full bellies & a big smile on our faces we would walk back towards the ferry point. but the day wouldn’t be done with surprises yet: i spotted the `durbar hall art gallery´ accross the street & suggested going in just to have a look. we did & well it was the very first day of a very special exhibtion with art works by nemom pushparaj who is a very well-known film director, writer & artist in india. his paintings were insane !! a mix of expressionism & surrealism. deep modern paintings broaching issues of important topics in our society: politics, climate change, covid crisis, hunger, war .. each painting stroke in another way !! i was out of words & for a while we just wandered through the gallery & looked at the walls. then a man came in & asked us how we liked the paintings. it was nemom pushparaj the artist himself who was very happy also non-indian visitors would come to see his exhibtion !! we talked a little & he showed us around. how crazy we even got to meet the one in charge of these insane paintings ?! i was done with the world haha :)) from the gallery we walked to the `subhash park´ located right by the seaside & next to the ferry point. the park was full of young adults playing music, chatting, sitting in groups & enjoying the evening sun. we sat down on a bench by the sea & took a breath: the view was so beautiful !! in front of us it was just the sea, some boats & the sun. for an hour we sat there, read a little & watched the sea. the sun slowly went down & when the golden hour glow reached us we went on to take the ferry back to `fort kochi´. we managed to get on the ferry right before it departed & slowly sailed over to the other shore. the golden sunlight filled the whole boat & when we got off in `fort kochi´ one sunray was pointing straight on my shirt with a printed sun in the middle of it. a printed little sun illuminated by the golden glow of the real sun: oh yes that day was pure sunshine for sure !! last day in `kochi´ has come already & weren’t ready to leave. however, we knew our next destnation would be amazing as well as in `allapuzha´ the backwaters were waiting for us. sophie prepared one last traditional keralan breakfast for us: dosa with coconut chutney, kerala omlette & fresh fruits. then we had to say goodbye & it was the most heartwarming farewell ever: they still waved at us when we turned around the corner. thanks so much for everything !! by bus we took on our next little trip from `kochi´ to `allapuzha´ located in the further south of kerala & in between sea & lakes. ready or not: backwaters here we come !!