Cochin was the first city I loved. Cochin is a small and beautiful stretch of place with a history to boot. Its many restaurants and places to see make you wish you had seen this place earlier.
My life in Cochin began when I joined my first job. I had a friend in Cochin and I needed a place to stay after my stipulated 15 days in Harbour View hotel, opposite the shipyard. The hotel was the first place I liked. Good food, a spacious carpeted room and a big bathtub. I wanted to stay on but then I had to leave. So I called up my friend who asked me to come to the Tavern near Padma. I caught an auto and reached the Tavern only to find to my amusement that it was a bar and my friend was previously never in the habit of drinking. I climbed its stairs and entered the quaint but somewhat old-looking place to find Sabari seated with a few of his friends. After making acquaintances with his buddies I settled down to a peg of vodka and told him the purpose of my visit. It was his little abode that I later shared with his friend in Padma behind the theatre. And aah! it was the smallest room 2 people could have to themselves but we were a good team and days passed in merrymaking.
This was the time I explored and found my beautiful Cochin. There was the Pai dosa where we went often at unearthly hours for dinner. The token system was not for regulars like us and my friend was a popular guy so we often ordered what we wanted and paid at the end. The menu had items like kada bullseye dosa, podi dosa, egg dosa and some very exotic cousins of our plain little dosa. If you felt a little more adventurous you can go to Kalamasseri and take a left from Appollo tyres junction to reach Punjabi dhaba nestled deep inside a petrol pump with lots of trucks parked around. You get some of the best Tandoori rotis and chicken in this place. Bhindi masala is a classic here. Lunch was sometimes in the Chinese restaurant in the ground floor of the old Mercy hotel. The name if I remember correctly had a dragon in it and it served some really nice dragon chicken and momos. My first taste of momos was in this chinese looking restaurant with chinese looking waiters. Oh and not to forget hotel Unnikrishnan, the old restaurant that featured in Floyd’s India aired in BBC, Discovery, TLC etc. Puttu and beef curry in Unnikrishnan was something to die for. Of course the quintessential porotta was also available. A little further up MG road, was Chillies serving up an excellent spicy mutton dish and thali meals. And if I felt like having vegetarian, then on weekends I took my friend for breakfast to the very ancient looking building behind the Ernakulam temple where we used to get some of the best masala dosas in the town.
If you want to drink Cochin has a number of bars but very few pubs. One of the best is the rooftop of Mercy hotel where you get good liquor not the spurious ones that are served in most of the other places. And if you are ordering some snack with your whiskey then go for the fish finger, a favourite for anyone drinking here. If you wanted something a little more exotic you can go to Fort Cochin and take a right from the park to reach a bar overlooking the bay.
If you are into sight-seeing, then fort Cochin is the place to be. You have the Old Dutch palace, several churches and a Jewish synagogue. The only synagogue in South India. A testimony to the rich cultural heritage of Kerala and its links to the old western world hailing back to the times of Romans. If you want to bask in the sun then the beach is quite far in Cherai around 30 kms from downtown Cochin