I moved to Cochin recently after being in Mumbai for nearly five years. I had lived in Cochin earlier as well. So it was like a homecoming - or so I expected. I looked for familiar nooks and crannies and fragrances. It was jamais vu. Places strangely familiar. While the roads were oriented the same way, some of the places had subtly shifted. Where was the favourite icecream joint opposite TD Grounds? And wasn't the Mahatma Gandhi's statue taller? The Broadway certainly used to be much more crowded? Fort Kochi used to be a much pleasanter place! The traffic has only gotten worse, though mercifully one sees far fewer autorickshaws on the roads. Similarly, the malls of yore had faded to insignificance in front of the might of the gargantuan Lulu Mall. Some of the changes were due to the Kochi Metro. While most of the city still is unconnected to the Metro, it has changed the city-scape significantly. Also, one dishearteningly noticed several of the backwater stretches now filled up and uncharacteristically tall skyscrapers standing there.
Meanwhile, the frustrations of a recent translocation were playing havoc. Several things were missing. Some of them crucial. Like the screws of the dis-assembled book racks. Some had curiously changed shape. The TV stand which had hitherto never been used was found to be incompatible with the decade old LCD TV! Nearly every machine started malfunctioning. The refrigerator stopped cooling. The treadmill stopped moving. The washing machine stopped rotating. All these involved several calls to the respective service centres. Not knowing Malayalam meant invariably, when one greeted the person with, "English? Hindi?" there was a stunned silence followed by, "Oru Minute!" (One Minute) - possibly to hunt for a hindi speaking person. Also, there was the easy but exasperating answer, "Sorry! Illa!" (No!). While hunting for screws and a TV stand, one always used to get directed to another shop and then another till one reached a shop that was shut. And then on further inquiries from neighbouring shops led one to the first shop back again! Some things never change in Cochin!
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