Memories are a fickle thing. And even then its shocking how much we rely on our memories. Our memories pretty much shape up the people we are. Good memories, bad memories-the whole lot of them. For a long time growing up I remembered my fathers ancestral home as huge with the gigantic trees under which I had sat and painted for hours. When I visited the place after 10 years the house was definitely large but not titanic and so were the trees. When many of us were newly reconnecting on Facebook with long lost school friends/classmates we hadnt seen or spoken to in a decade plus,my mind would bring back memories of young girls in skirts- some thin, some fat, some bucktoothed, some gorgeous. Time apparently has been a great leveler and yesterday’s bucktoothed nerd is today’s fashionista in a leading MNC, some are mothers to multiple kids and it was a shock to see those varied personalities in a totally new avataar. And that’s the trick your memory plays on you.
My undergrad days always bring back strong memories for me although the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia have kind of tempered them down. Last month Hubby and me went for a visit to Kochi and I couldn’t resist taking him on my own WSW tour of all my hot spots. Kochi has changed and how! The whole area around my campus has got a facelift (biggest Nissan and other car showrooms I have seen In India! ) that I missed the main gate. But the campus itself had aged. The brand new building had worn down with incessant Kerala rains and everything looked smaller and more small townish. I excitedly showed the eatery which helped me attain modelesque proportions in college with semi starvation owing to bad quality food and the photocopy shop where we photocopied entire books a week before semester exams. Many of the familiar landmarks were gone like the Indian Coffee House and I had hard time fitting the new reality with my memories.
I was anything but a travel freak during college days and so this time I thought let me do the touristy bits of Kochi. Thanks to pretty much doing all our bookings all the time on Agoda.com- we had a gazillion points lying which helped us get awesome seaside rooms at Taj Gateway (Friendliest front desk staff ever!) for a throwaway price. As soon as we checked in, I dragged hubby to MG Road to Goodwill, which was my holy grail for accessories in college. Once inside I realised I had clearly crossed the age for plastic baubles and settled for some nifty female utilities- colored safety pins and like.
The next morning we trooped to Fort Kochi on a ferry. Hubby was surprised to see our car getting loaded along with us onto the ferry. I remember being surprised at this totally different face of Kochi when I went there first many years ago and now with some travelling behind me I was mesmerized even more by its old world colonial charm.
Fort Kochi is a tourist magnet, not so much Indian as foreigners. Streets are littered with open air cafes, art galleries in addition to stately bungalows and heritage structures- The Dutch palace and St.Francis Church. The Jew Town of course is Fort Kochi’s start attraction. It was strange to see David’s star and the distinctively different facial features of the shopkeepers in that part of the town.
We ate at one of the more famous art cafe called Kashi’s, window shopped antiques and wandered around the beach. Surprisingly a large number of roadside vendors were from Rajasthan (strange are the ways of human immigration). We saw the Chinese nets. Hubby tried catching some fish unsuccessfully and we then drove back to the hustle bustle of Ernakulam. And no we didn’t visit Lulu or Oberon mall as advised because we pay weekly obeisance to consumer culture back home. That night we caught a bus back to Bangalore and I again wondered at the countless times I took such buses alone for interviews and such (I used to feel pretty safe at that point in time travelling alone and dozing off next to some stranger).
I guess reality can trump memory at any point in time. But then memories hold sway because they are subjective like most of human life.