Even though the Kochi airport code is COK and that is helpfully emblazoned on your boarding pass and luggage, it did little to cheer me up. And this when you consider the Mumbai code is BOM and so basically it says BOM COK, you can imagine I was pretty low.
I don't know what it is about Kerala or actually, just about family holidays, that instantly makes me metamorphise into a thirteen year old again. I find myself being sullen, and rude and cranky and nearly bursting into tears every now and then.
Of course, this could have to do with the lack of nicotine.
I kept waiting for some sort of, I don't know, call to my blood or something, something to acknowledge that my roots lay there, something like the feeling I always get when I'm in Delhi, a distinct feeling of this, this is where I belong. But apart from noticing that for once my hair didn't stand out as uncontrollably frizzy, and that everyone there looked like me before I had my braces on (seriously, that entire state should get free orthodontia) there was no burble in my heart, no call to my bloodline. And so like mongrels everywhere, I resigned myself to not really belonging anywhere. Like that Beatles song, Nowhere Man which incidentally, was insistently running through my head this entire weekend.
I thought perhaps being a coastal city, Cochin and Bombay would have quite a bit in common. Not true. They have exactly three things in common: a) the weather (which is dreadfully muggy) b) an Elphinstone Road and c) a Marine Drive. Although item c doesn't even count as the same thing, because the Marine Drive in Cochin is more like a Marine Path where people walk across this fancy suspension bridge and young men in lungis lounge lazily.
Between avoiding Effusive Aunt (who kept touching me and talking to me in Malayalam, despite blank looks) and Conservative Aunt (Life In Cochin Is Not Like Bombay Or Delhi, It Is Not Fitting For A Young Woman, No, You Can't Go For A Walk Down The Road), I managed to sneak into the bathroom and smoke a cigarette quietly, window open, air freshner ready. By day two, I was ready to kill someone, and luckily my dad and I were out alone so I said to him, "Listen, either I smoke in front of you, or I sneak off somewhere RIGHT NOW." So he deposited me in a rather nice little coffee shop (full of foreigners, so no chance of someone knowing who he was) and I drank my cold coffee and exhaled with jubilation. I stubbed out my smoke not a moment too soon, because my cousin and his friends entered. Seriously, I am so the best looking person in my family. It's rather gratifying.
According to my dad, we are related to practically everyone in the city. Even at this very posh hotel we went to for lunch, he pointed to a portrait of this old Brahmin dude, hanging in the lobby and said, "Related by marriage." I didn't realise my lineage was so distinguished. Y'all should treat me with some respect now.
And I saw Vasco Da Gama's original grave (before he was dug up and taken to Portugal). And bought myself tapioca and jackfruit chips. And two starfish, one for Chrisann (which should be a surprise, but oh well. We have a present thing going on, her and I, where whenever we travel we attempt to get back something pretty) and the other starfish for me. (I offered it to the Nonboyfriend but he was all like, dude, I don't want a cadaver to which I was like FINE then I'll just KEEP it. Men.)
Oh, and it rained, and Kerala rain is lovely and stormy and beautiful. The kind of rain poetry is written about, and the kind of rain, even in this day and age that you can run outside, head turned upwards and catch in your mouth,