Shawn and I arrived in Alleppey a few days ago. Alleppey (Alappuzha), like most Indian cities, has multiple names, which are often used interchangeably by locals and tourists alike. When the British Raj (“Reign”) ended in 1947, a process of the renaming of Indian cities began, which continues to the present day. Although renaming cities closer to their Indian origin is in essence a “reclaiming” process, several proposed renamings have created controversy and many Indian people still call cities by their Anglicized names. I guess old habits die-hard (I especially found this to be true in Mumbai, formerly Bombay. If you are a local and have lived in the city most of your life it is almost always Bombay… and lets face it Bombay just sounds cooler).
Alright, enough of the history lesson, I digress…
Yesterday, we left Bangalore to head to an old Portuguese trading fort in the province of Kerala. To get there, we took a 13hr overnight train in a semi air-conditioned car, which was shared with 6 other people. After the first 6hrs or so of reading I became fidgety and decided to crawl into my bunk and try to sleep. This decision was partly due to the constant singing and chanting coming from the man next to me, which was beginning to get on my nerves after about the 5th hour!
We arrived in Ernakulum at 5:50 in the morning, took a bumpy auto rickshaw ride to the docks and walked down a dark and narrow dirt path, past chai wallas to an empty ferry station. The ticketing booth didn’t open for another half hour so we headed back to the chai wallas for an early morning tea. The hot fragrant chai made the humid air seem even more thick and sticky.
Bangalore was busy, load, polluted, and also wonderful in an odd sort of way. The Lonely planet guide didn't have too many good things to say about it, but we decided to start here because it was the best place to access the south from. Despite the bad reviews, I generally liked it (minus the pollution) because it was full of life!
I left for India on March 4th, 2010. It was my first trip to Asia and my first time travelling with a 'significant other.' I felt some trepidation over travelling with Shawn in a Country that was sure to test our patience, independence and relationship. Little did I know I was in for the most rewarding travel experience of my life!