Today in India, I ventured out to find some coffee as per usual and wound up finding none but making friends with a man called Shecky. We bonded over the fact that our names sounded the same and after marvelling at some giant Chinese fishing nets together he took me out on his tuk tuk to all the ‘best places’, including a multi-level shop with a rooftop view of five islands.
Expecting to see tropical paradise I sweated my way up five flights of rickety old Portuguese steps, only to find a view of some industrial oil tanks across the water and some bird-shit splattered rooftops. Not to be deterred I made friends on the roof with another man called Eban, who showed me his flying carpets. He even stood on one with me and let me sing ‘a whole new world’ but he wasn’t quite so happy when I didn’t buy one.
Next up we went to a laundromat, where I paid a small fortune and was humbled by the sight of fields and fields of billowing sheets and some labouring ladies scrubbing clothing over stones. Their heavy irons were heated by burning coals inside. I saw a spice factory and breathed in so much cinnamon I could almost taste it, and then I saw some goats frolicking on a hill next to a dead one.
After the tour, I was hot and still in need of coffee, but it’s low season and everything seemed shut, except for more flying carpet shops, so I went to the nearest five-star hotel where a crew of roughly ten smiling men led me to a cavernous restaurant devoid of people. The space was so gargantuan you could have fit a Boeing 757 inside and still had room for a barn dance and as all ten men pulled out one chair for me I felt quite special, if a little lonely. I asked for the WIFI password, only to be told it was only available for guests. I joked ‘what guests?’, as the echo of my own voice travelled for miles and a tumbleweed floated across the creaky floor and they all smiled and nodded but still wouldn’t give me the password. Not particularly wanting to hang out in an aircraft hanger on my own I continued on my mission and ran into another nice man called Vikram who wanted to take me out on a tuk tuk.
I said alas, I had already been on a tuk tuk tour with Shecky, at which point I realized a group of bored men and a pack of dogs were following me, and I was seemingly some kind of white Pied Piper leading the Kochi masses by the smell of the money in my wallet.
Eventually, Vikram led me down an alleyway. I wouldn’t usually follow but he promised coffee was at the end of it and by this point I had used up all my nice tokens and was suffering at the wrath of my addiction, so I followed him to a funky coffee shop, where at last, my prize awaited. As I ordered my sweet black nectar and felt my usual self return at the promise of its arrival I realised the café was filled with white people in saris frowning desponently at gadgets – which was when it hit me I wouldn’t be finding WIFI there either. But hey, at least I know where to buy a magic carpet.