I once visited Cochin during school. It was a hazy three-day trip of which I only recall hot days and cold nights.
Oh, and the boat ride.
Like most tourists in Kerala, we took a boat ride too. And the best part of it is that we had to walk through numerous boats to get to the one we’d ride in. We stepped onto the first boat in the lake, and from there onto another, and another, and then another. After walking through about 6 or 7 boats, our teacher called out saying we had found our boat at last.
It was the largest mass of wood I had seen that floated on water. And on it was a hood-like structure that kept the rain and sun away. As soon as we embarked the boat, it began to rain. We filed into the “hood,” and saw our jaws drop. There were about 50 chairs placed around the interior of the boat, with glass windows to make us feel like an island.
A little adventurous, I stepped out of the hood and onto the dock. There were some wooden poles to hold on to, and the cold monsoon breeze kissed my face. I peered down from the boat, to see clear water in some places, and muddy patches in some other places. Little islands of seaweed flowed here and there, breaking the vast, rippling water.
And as our boat thrust forward, concentrated salt water gushed from the boat’s edges like swimmers racing in opposite directions.
I leaned in with my camera to get a better shot at the flowing water when another, much smaller boat made its way toward us. Two men stood on that boat, one of them handling the sail while the other blew his shrill whistle signalling to our guide.
They seemed to me like challengers daring us to race them. And I was all game before I saw the print on the boat: Coast Guard.
We heard it later: According to government rules, every passenger on the boat should have a life jacket, and none of us adhered. We were just a bunch of over-excited school kids being kids. Besides, what’s the point of taking “security measures” when you’re at the mercy of nature?