The waterfront in Fort Cochin is a great place to wander around and take in the pace of life of the locals. However, be aware that they've seen you coming and are really keen to make a few rupees out of your richly lined tourist pockets. Don't get me wrong they're not intimidating or aggressive in any way but they are perhaps more predatory than anywhere else that we'd visited in Kerala.
Cochin’s “seaside” is not that desirable, but we did pull into a desolated area to view the “big water”. The area did resemble a council tip but we looked beyond the immediate surroundings to the horizon and the becalmed sea near to Cochin harbour. This was a quiet area devoid of tourists (I can kind of see why!) and a short car journey away the reverse was the case.
We passed by Cochin’s oldest residency (between St Francis’ church and the river front) and were soon swamped by the vendors of the street market next to the river. This was clearly a popular haunt for visitors as once we’d managed to “run the gauntlet” we were on the riverbank overlooking the rows of Chinese fishing nets.
Now, it is possible to inspect these nets close up, but you will be besieged by interested fishermen who are prepared to explain the intricate counter-balancing of the nets and give you a demonstration of how they “exactly work”. This will require you to take a short walk and hand over some rupees to their outstretched hand. Our driver counselled us out of this suggesting that it really wouldn’t be a particularly educational experience although it would substantially lighten our wallet. Indeed just strolling around the maze of small boats, watching, at close quarters, the fishermen repairing the nets was I’m sure much more “real” than watching a technical presentation of the lowering and raising of the nets. But still we could see the demonstration from our vantage point and see the graceful manoeuvres as the nets majestically disappeared below the water line. I really would have liked to see them being raised with a full catch, but unfortunately we were never around at the right time (that is high tide).
Local women sat at the road side with small fish spread out before them on cloths and I wondered if these were the discarded catch from the Cheena Vala (fishing nets) or if they’d been caught using rod and line. It was certainly hard to think that this measly collection of fish would supplement the housekeeping money.
A short walk along "the front" and we saw the remanants of the historic town's fortress wall - the majority of it having been destroyed during the many attacks on the town.
Alongside the “fishing village” was the might of the Indian Navy who have, what I believe to be, their headquarters at Fort Kochi.
This was a walk of contrasting interests and worth the effort.