Life In The Bus Lane
Honk if you want some peace
After 21 hours travelling from Heathrow via Dubai and finally Cochin we were greeted by a mass of cheery faces at Cochin International. Beaming eyes and saucer smiles embraced returning loved ones and energised our weary expressions. A small board bearing our names was framed by a our driver, Trini Lopez, he wore the mandatory black bushy moustache in a Tom Selleck fashion. His big white teeth shone like beacons and his pleasantries eased us into our flash packing adventure. Our chariot emerged from the car park a gleaming white ambassador, reminiscent of a bygone era, when traffic police wore white gloves.
The two hour drive to our hotel afforded us an opportunity to observe rush hour life. Driving was hectic and the only prevailing highway rule was to hoot the horn at every given opportunity and took on a language of its own. Short bursts were to alert other traffic as to your presence, long bursts were to alert other drivers, particularly oncoming traffic as to your presence. Several consecutive bleeps were the equivalent of Hindi expletives and intermittent blasts were simply for the hell of it. Refreshed from the comfort of air conditioning we arrived at the Marari Beach Hotel and were settled into reception by one of the petite and elegantly clad House Manager. Resplendent in a white sari, she gave us our first taste of India cool, fresh coconut milk.
Our thatched cottage blessed us with a vista towards the unspoilt private beach where the Arabian Sea curled up against the shore, Our enclosed courtyard al fresco shower confirmed the distance between our 32oC and the -30C we left behind at home. What normally took five days to unwind, occurred within 24 hours, three days were spent between the beach, the pool, the hammock the veranda and consuming prawns the size of dinosaurs. Marari Beach is quintessentially Indian with echoes of colonial influence. The perfectly manicured lawn with wrought iron furniture punctuated between swaying palm fronds and air scented by ayurvedic herbs all in symphony to ease the most frenzied of minds.
Candlelit dining across opulent dishes brimming with succulent fish curry and shellfish perfectly balanced masala, fresh, clean spices, sharpened with jaggery and tamarind. The chefs ensured the restaurant reflected the pure taste of Kerala, coconut, cardamom, pepper, nutmeg, clove and ginger and a toddy to focus the senses. Time here moves at the speed of a bus lane, whilst attentive house staff and waiters scurry to meet the whims of its residents before they’ve even thought them, the perfect starting point to explore India.
I’m sure Becks will treat you.