19th of every month seems to be an adventure for me, including my own birth on 19th of August! 19th of February was awesome, and now today, it was more of a tiring journey to my room, rather than an adventure. First of all, I was asked to go to the Mattancheri Hidesign store called Ethnic Passage, where Hidesign has a consignment point. And I was asked to do the visual merchandising over there. I expected the ferry-ride to be exciting, but little did I know that the whole day was gonna make me sick of commuting for a little while at least.
My day started with me looking through Google Maps to find the way from my apartment near Vyttila to the boat jetty at Marine drive. When I figured that out, I started the ride, just getting it wrong at one place, but finally ending up at the boat jetty. I was told that there was parking space, but whatever I saw was a KSRTC Bus Bay, with a board that prohibits other vehicles from entering. So I went ahead, missed the left-turn towards the real entrance of the boat jetty, and went all the way up till Bay Pride Mall and parked my scooter there by the roadside, doubting whether it will be there when I come back.
After a quick visit to the ATM, I started walking through Marine Drive, where I could see many people gathered there for God-knows-what-purpose, at around 10 o’ clock in the morning. I’m sure that it was not for a morning walk, considering the time. I was the odd one out, considering the way I dressed – shirt, pants, high-heeled pumps and my hair in a high pony tail. I covered myself with the stole I had, not just to escape the stares, but also from the scorching sun. Soon, some youngsters began following me, talking within themselves in Hindi, and as they started walking almost by my side, I couldn’t think of anything else but to call a friend and talk. When I too was lost in a conversation, and looked less worried, they stopped following, and I finally outpaced them. My friends in Ernakulam had asked me to watch out for this exactly, and said it was best to ignore them rather than going for an offensive stance.
Anyways, I reached the Boat Jetty, took a ticket for Mattancheri and got into the boat. The journey was rather interesting, since it was first of its kind to me. I wanted to wear my sunglasses, but then it was too beautiful a scene to see with a tint! There were two stops before reaching Mattancheri, one being Fort Kochi. So many people take the ferry every day, and for the first time in life, I took the ferry to go to work. hehe! I’ve seen this in so many movies, and it felt nice to feel what it was like for real. I mean, to take roadways and waterways both to go somewhere. hehe!
When I reached Mattancheri, I felt like I was in some other part of the world. The place was swarming with foreigners, and it felt a bit like Pondicherri. Anyway, the store was situated almost opposite to the Boat Jetty, and it looked more or less like an old fashioned bungalow. It brilliantly dissolved in the whole ambiance of the Jew Town street. That further made me feel like I’ve taken a ferry to some place in some movie, the people, the places, the prices and all very different from the ones in Cochin.
Before seeing the store, I was asked to meet the manager upstairs. A spiral staircase, one, from the looks of it, simply wouldn’t fit a person using a shirt size greater than 42″, led to the office upstairs. Probably propagating an idea of fitness among the employees? Anyways, I started climbing up the stairs, and realized that it was not built for high heels either. I stuck to the wider side of the steps in order to save myself from an embarrassing accident, because mishaps caused by high-heels are always embarrassing incidents, despite the severity of the mishap.
I was offered coffee from the Manager’s office, and I could ask for a glass of cold water or something, but yeah, it was certainly a Malayali thing to offer coffee or tea to a guest irrespective of the time of their arrival. hehe! He talked to me for an hour or so, and gave me an idea of sales reports and stock reports. I think neither of us was aware of the fact that we were talking business about a store which I haven’t even seen yet. Anyway, I thanked him and made my way to the stairs of prospective embarrassment again to go downstairs. Man, climbing down was trickier, and I cursed myself for wearing formals and high-heels that day. Shops out here propagated an idea of holiday, rather than elegance, class and vanity, like the other Hidesign stores. Again, I was the odd one out.
The whole day was spent redoing the visual merchandising of the store, and the sales executive, a nice and polite girl, Ms. M, helped me rearrange all the fixtures and bags and shelves. It was a lot of work, and finally, we were able to put together something that made the store look a bit more visually-appealing. The shop called Ethnic Passage had many stores within; an antique furniture store, antique figurines, curios and statues, Ritu Kumar’s store, a cafe and many other things which I’m going to visit in the coming days. The shop is also a passage to the synagogue situated at the back end of the shop, and the name Ethnic Passage couldn’t be any more apt for this establishment. People from the other stores had gathered around to see the work-in-progress, and complimented me a lot when it was finally done. They said that the store never looked this nice, as opposed to the dull and lifeless setting which was there before. And even I felt the change, wondering who had done the visual merchandising before, hiding many of the products from the customers who passed by.
Anyway, by evening, I was making my way back to the Boat Jetty, in order to go back home. This place didn’t have a ticket counter, and after about 5 seconds, it struck me that tickets are probably being sold inside the boat. I looked at the chart for the ferry-timings, and there was one at 17:05, and I checked the time and it showed 17:05. I ran towards the boarding point, yes, in high heels and the boat was just moving away. The guy shouted at me to jump in quickly and in fear of falling into the water and the fact that I don’t know swimming running through my mind, I climbed in with all my might. I expected the boat to sway, but it was as solid as a rock. Wow. All my Bollywood style running and jumping for nothing? The damn thing could have swayed at least a little bit to acknowledge my receipt?
The return journey was far more interesting, mainly because the boat was full, and there was a lot of chitter-chatter going on. It went past a cruise-ship that was anchored nearby, and I suddenly figured out the reason why there were so many foreigners all around. When we went past the ship, people on the deck started waving at us. I was wondering what they were doing there, when they could have gone out instead. Also, what it would be like, to go on a holiday to some unknown place and wave at boats passing by. I tried to control the smile which came at the thought of me sitting on the deck chair, wearing a bright colored skimpy outfit, and a dressing gown on top, sunglasses and flip-flops, my hair tied up, clutching a magazine and all. hehe!
When I reached Marine Drive, at around 5:45pm, I thought of visiting the Hidesign store in Bay Pride mall in order to meet the Regional Manager, Ms. R, who had become more of a friend to me. Our personalities matched and clicked just like that from the very first day onwards. She helped me a great deal with my project, and I thought it was only right that I report to her before going home. But when I reached the store, only the store manager Mr. S was there. R had gone to Calicut for official duty, and he was bored to death there, since the other employee Mr. J was on leave, and was quite relieved to see me! hehe! I sat there and we talked for about an hour or so, only about Hidesign and business, but I was later wondering how much a part of Hidesign I had become in so less time. At about 7pm, a customer walked in, and was looking at office bags and travel bags, which meant around twenty thousand rupees of sales, so I thought I’d just be out of the way and got out of the store.
I went to the place where my scooter was parked, and as I had expected, people who had no idea about how parallel lines work had parked their vehicles in skewed lines, trapping my scooter in. I had just enough space to get just my scooter out, that is, if I was pulling it from behind instead of from the side, or by sitting on it. I tried a couple of times to get it out, but it won’t move since the road was at a higher level. Suddenly, the scooter started moving backwards, as if by magic, and when I looked around, I figured it was not magic, but a concerned and thoughtful guy helping me pull the scooter out! He asked me to keep the handle straight, and together, we pulled it out, scraping a bit of the Activa parked next, with my scooter’s footrest. He said if people didn’t know how to park their vehicles, they deserve it, and asked me to forget it. hehe! Anyways, I thanked him, and was on my way back home.
I knew only one way from Marine Drive to Vyttila. And that was the way which my friend had shown me once. I dropped him one day at Marine Drive, and he instructed me which way to go. Since he pretty much got the idea that I had understood nothing, and also since it was around 10pm then and there was no one to ask the way and all, he said we’ll go together once and I’ll just have to drop him at Marine Drive again, and that time, I could try and go alone. I rode the scooter as per his instructions, and observed carefully the way I was going. I dropped him again at his apartment in Marine Drive, and reached Vyttila correctly. So, that was the only way I knew to get back to Vyttila from Marine Drive.
I thought I’d be getting home in some half an hour or so. But no. Before reaching some bridge in between, two policemen asked me to take a left-turn if I didn’t wanna pay a fine of Rs. 500/-. I didn’t know what they were talking about. I looked a bit puzzled, and they told me that two-wheelers and three-wheelers were not allowed on the bridge. That seemed funny. Normally, it’s heavy vehicles that are not allowed in some bridges. What was the logic behind such a decision? Anyways, I didn’t seem inquisitive about the logic, but did seem to be about the way back home. They said that I could take the Pachalam route instead. I know I’ve heard the name of that place in a movie, but didn’t feel like familiarizing with it at about 7:15pm, alone.
Anyways, I went ahead and stopped near an auto-rickshaw and asked the guy how to get to Pachalam. I started moving along as per his instructions, and passed by all kind of roads, level-crossings, secluded areas, and a lot of helpful rickshaw-people to finally get to Kaloor. It was a junction, and I didn’t know which way to go to reach Vyttila. So I asked the last rickshaw-guy for the day which way to go to reach Vyttila. Finally, when I reached Kadavanthra, I heaved a sigh of relief and acknowledged the fact that I was lucky enough to not lose my way, or run out of courage. Or petrol, for that matter. After Kadavanthra, it was an easy ride back, swearing to God that if I had to do this same thing tomorrow, I wouldn’t probably remember any place whatsoever I had passed through today. At around 8:15pm, I reached home, my neck and back hurting like hell after riding through the maddening traffic and covering around half of Ernakulam.
All I was looking out for was a fun boat-ride to work. But Ernakulam traffic outpaced all that, when it came to levels of adrenaline rush. Bravo! ;-)