Upon entering Cochin, you’ll hear a “collective sigh of relief”. At least this is how our guide-book described the “serene” city in southern India. Seen from the comfort of our sofa back home this seemed strange. Relief from…what exactly? India?
After four weeks of backpacking, zigzagging around the country, I knew exactly what the author had meant. Cochin is not India. Well, it is, there are chai tea wallahs, road side vendors, the usual white-knuckle-tuk-tuk-drives, and most importantly, lots of smiley faces wherever you look. Cochin is not so much different for the absence of things, but because it features traveller havens you would simply not expect: Western cafés, art galleries, picturesque and quiet beach side walks, amazing hostels with extensive collections of well-loved books to swap. It’s a bubble. People struggle to leave. It’s just so comfy.
No, this is not what we left home for. But it’s a nice-to-have after a few weeks on the road.
But something else is different in Cochin. There’s a progressive art scene, more precisely, street art. If you’re familiar with Banksy, well, this is the Indian Banksy, ‘Guesswho‘. Just as his UK counterpart, he remains anonymous. The art is all there is. It pops up in unexpected places, it’s public, it annoys the authorities – and always triggers a chuckle or raised eyebrows. Check out a selection below or head over here to read an interview conducted by the BBC with the anonymous artist who exposes all the shortcomings of the status quo.
Are you in Cochin? Here’s a graffiti location map!