Kochi: The Queen of the Arabian Sea
January 1, 1970
by Nithin Anil
Hello, my fellow explorers. I come from the Ernakulam side of Kochi, India. Sadly no, not the side where you can find the remnants of the Portuguese colonization and the European settlement. I come from the rather, “metropolised” (if that’s even a word), side of the district.
Here, I am not going to talk to you about the most noted destinations and all that jazz, rather as the shoestring budget traveler I am; I am going to dive in to those round the corner spots. Those spots which are known by a major lot of Kochiites as close to their hearts. Spots which offer you not just a taste of the culture by itself, but a chance to feel what a localite feels in this hometown.
To me that is traveling. So here we go, first up, the much heard of Kulukki Sarbath.
1) Kulukki Sarbath Special of Shajikka;
This Cochin special drink, which was once upon a time exclusive only to Cochin, is a spin off of the famous Nannari Sarbath which is famous all around Kerala. As famous as the Kulukki is, it is nowadays widely available at almost all outlets close to the beaches and especially around the vicinity of Marine Drive.
But no one has forgotten the infamous man, Shajikka, who us Kochiites consider as, the father of Kulukki. A mobile wooden shop, a swarm of people around it, the sound of a ladle ringing while being hit on a block of ice and the resonance of an almost similar cocktail shaker in action.
Priced at just 5 rupees during those days, the drink and Shajikka along with it, attained quick success and fame, and for those few years, his shop was a major tourist point for many.
Today shops around the place has got different varieties of the same drink; but on a personal note, I believe that none of them come close to the ‘real’ Kulukki of Shajikka.
Sarbath, mixed with crushed ice, water and a half lemon for us to reach into and squeeze as a topping, is a drink that I would say, is the official of the Queen of the Arabian Sea, and the man Shajikka, its father. Do not miss out on this one.
2) Milk Sarbath / Paal Sarbath with a twist;
Milk Sarbath (Paal in Malayalam), is yet another spin off of the famous Nannari Sarbath, but this time, a drink that is most the popular drink of Calicut. Much like how Kulukki is Kochi’s official drink, the famous Milk Sarbath is the same to Calicut.
That however, didn’t stop Ikka to bring it back here to us. The recipe is fairly simple; Sarbath mixed with Milk. The twist however is that, we get three varieties of the same; Plain MS, MS with Bru coffee powder, and
MS with Boost. This drink personally, is my favorite from around the globe.
Trust me on this one though, don’t bother asking around for this direction from just anywhere in Kochi. It really is, what I would like to call, an underdog hideout.
- Get to CUSAT, Kochi
- Ask for the Milk Sarbath booth/Parlour to the localites or find somebody wearing a football jersey (trust me, they’re in abundance there.) and ask them for directions.
- Drink your hearts out.
3) Chicken Fry at Rappai’s Fast Food;
The Rappai’s Fast Food joint, is perhaps Kochi’s most heard of Fast Food joint ever. A scanty build from which the whiff of their deep fried food emanates from, and pours into the busy intersection of Palarivattom. Just ask around once you get to Palarivattom.
I once had my tuitions for Maths, opposite to this joint and each time I passed through them, I couldn’t help but help myself with a full whiff. I could almost feel the taste, running through my tongue.
The store however, is not like most food outlets. They open shop only after 5:00 and stays on till midnight.
So before you go ahead and spend a couple of hundreds on a Kayees Biriyani or the Chinese noodles from the opposite Golden Dragon, move away sixty bucks for a piece of Rappai’s deep fried chicken. Ask any Kochiite, and they’ll approve.
4) Take a whiff of the scent from Modern Bread Factory, Edappally;
Yes, that’s right. Stand outside the Modern Bread Factory in Edappally, and just simply take long, massive breaths. I promise you, the smell is well known to every Kochiite with a smile of joy.
Much like what the irresistable taste of smell from Rappai’s is to me, the Modern Bread Factory’s scent is to Kochiites. An absolute piece of heaven.
The recent ongoing construction of The Metro across the factory however, has made it quite difficult to enjoy this piece of scent artistry.
(P.S to my fellow budget travelers and hitchhikers, it’s free and still worth a shot. )
5) Catch a movie in Savitha/Saritha/Sangeetha theaters;
The three sister theaters, are set right next to each other and is the penultimate of local theaters. Priced at a maximum of 120 bucks, the theaters run Malayalam, Tamil, and at times Hindi and English movies as well.
Take my advice for this one, catch a Malayalam movie especially if it stars the likes of either Mammootty, Mohanlal, Dulquer Salman or Nivin Pauly and trust me, you will feel the crowd more than you will, while watching an international football game, live. Exaggerated? Maybe, maybe not. Why don’t you find out? 😉
(P.S if not available, the Padma theaters are another option.)
6) A visit to the reopened Mahogany Thottam;
The Mahogany Thottam, sited at the outskirts of the Ernakulam district, in the valley of Malayattoor hills was a once famous tourist spot especially for the residing locals of Ernakulam until nearly twenty nine months ago a tragic accident that killed five cadets of the NCC drowned and lost their lives. The site was from then closed, until recently a couple of weeks ago, was yet again opened up to the public.
There has been several other deaths reported in this site, but none of that rusticates its natural beauty, clean fresh air and the hike worthy land it holds. A visit? For sure.
And finally and my personal favourite;
7) A walk in the streets from Ernakulam till Kakkanad at 3:00 in the morning;
Here is my philosophy; I believe that a person doesn’t know a place’s soul until he has walked its streets, when it sleeps. This is of course a subjective feel, but as I said; my travelogues will be shabby, personal and informal just like a travel journal.
I walk from Ernakulam till Kakkanad (Around 3-4 Kilometers) quite a lot of times at around 3:00 in the morning. The visuals are mind blowing. Snoring security guards in front of every ATM’s, a cluster of people sitting squat in the sides, dividing the newspaper bundles for each of them, for delivery, and those little hut hotels, brewing coffee for the coming sunlight.
It is when before a city wakes up, that the city really breathes, is what I personally believe. So walk those streets, and walk till the city wakes up.