By Rachel

After our houseboat stay in Alleppey, Samir and I hopped a bus to Cochin – our first bus ride in India. Non AC bus, in the back and I’m pretty sure I was the only female on it for awhile! But, it was perfectly fine and without incident. When we got to Cochin, I had used my points to book the Holiday Inn Cochin. When we walked in, I saw the pretty lounge furniture, large glittery light fixtures and clean marble floors and thought ‘ah, I’m home’. I’m still a little spoiled from my travelling consultant days and while the homestays and hostels we have been staying at have been nice enough, they can’t quite compare to the luxury of a nice hotel. We pretty much sat in our hotel room all day, took hot showers (with nice soft towels AND the ever elusive bathmat) and napped in our super comfy bed.

Insert by Samir:

For showers, Rachel likes her water to be hot. I like mine somewhere between warm and hot. In India, most places require turning on a geyser, which warms/heats the water, though the supply of hot water is limited by the size of the tank / capacity of the geyser. It takes awhile for the tank / geyser to re-fill after being used up. Thus far, on our trip, there’s been a running comment about the first person using up all of the hot water before the second person gets to take a shower. So, in the Holiday Inn in Cochin, I take a shower first. I take a long, hot shower, and afterward, jokingly make a comment about using up all of the hot water in the 15+ story hotel. Rachel goes in to take a shower … and there is no hot water! There is no water, period! We call down to the front desk, where they say that they’ve just received a similar complaint from another guest. We wait about 20 minutes, and then a technician comes and ‘fixes’ the problem. Apparently, the hotel’s tanks hadn’t re-filled from the morning/day’s use. I may or may not have used up what was left. I’m still surprised that I might have temporarily wiped out the water supply for the hotel, all by myself.

Back to Rachel:

Clearly, he didn’t actually run out the hotel’s entire water tank system J Ok, maybe it’s not a huge coincidence that right after his shower, the hotel runs out of water, but there was probably some other glitch as well!

The next day we took our flight back to Delhi and rode the metro rail from the Delhi airport into Noida (very nice rail system – one of the only if not the only that runs at a profit supposedly).

January 26 is Republic Day in India (the day India created its Constitution vs August 15th which is Independence Day). My parents had a small flag hoisting celebration at the park in front of their house in Greater Noida. The kids from the surrounding village, most of whom are students at my parent’s after school program, came and performed for the celebration. It was fun to see my parents in action, especially dad giving his speech and lecture on the importance of education, especially of girls, to the kids and some of the local village adults. As the newly married couple, Samir and I got to hoist the flag as we all sang the Indian national anthem. After a few songs by the kids, we started chanting praises of India (like a pep rally!), passed out sweets to everyone and went about our day. Since people were mostly off, a rousing game of cricket ensued in the park (my brother’s daily fun!).

Hindustan, zindabad! (Long live India!)

Dad saying a few words for Republic Day

Indian Flag

The kids singing

The next day, we went off to Jaipur, both to start our trip to Rajasthan and attend a family wedding. Jaipur was a bit of a disappointment so not going to spend much time on it – the pics are in our photo gallery! Aside from attending the wedding festivities, we went to Amber Fort (where the royal family of Jaipur used to live for several hundred years), the City Palace (where the royal family currently lives), shopping and Chokhi Dhani (this would have been fun – we got there late in the evening so we kind of missed some of the events – it’s basically a Rajasthani type village with different stations for food, performances, arts, etc.). Also, in Kerala, Samir and I were playing a modified version of Punch Bug (where you punch the other person when you see a VW Bug on the road) called Punch Cow – in Jaipur, this expanded to a game of Punch Hathi (elephant), Punch Oot (Camel), Punch Goat and Punch Sheep!

Punch Hathi!