On Thursday, Ashley came to my room and asked me whether I wanted free attendance without all the mental damage from lying down in a coma for the whole of next day. I of course said yes. Infact Ashley was picked to accompany the exchange students from Singapore who were to go to Kochi the next day. He had given me the chance to accompany him. Very soon we had AKP too in the bandwagon. We were to leave on Friday morning at 5 30. So, we went to that city that day and booked general compartment tickets for the 28 students, 2 of their faculty, 3 of us and 2 girls from the second year (Helen and Reshma) who too were accompanying us.
The next morning as expected the bus that was to pick us up was late. But the driver with some skilful driving got us there in time for the 6.30 train. But since we arrived late we werent able to get enough seats for all of us. But our Sing’ friends were more than upto the task and made themselves comfortable on the floor. Now, even we had some qualms about sitting on the floor!!
We arrived at the Aluva station at around 11.30. Ashley and Akp went to the Aluva YMCA to take care of the nights acommodation while I went with them to the Infopark for a visit to a TCS facility in the Vismaya complex there. There, we were given a 1 hour presentation on TCS and the various other activities of the TATA group. But, sadly there was nothing much to see around there, as it was a software facility, and, on top of that they were very touchy about security. The students were a bit disappointed by this, but of course they really enjoyed the Air Con. By the way it was so bleeding hot that even we were uncomfortable. After the TCS visit we had food at a nearby place called Kitchen Farm. It was a nice and homely place. We all had Biriyanis there.
After that we went to the KTDC center on Marine Drive and from the Marine drive we started our boot tour of the popular Kochi destinations. We went to the Dutch Palace, St.Francis Church, the Chinese fishing nets, Jew street (here we did a little shopping for perfumes and stuff and also saw a rice boat in one of the shops) etc.. We were back by around 6.30. The boat ride was very pleasant and did a lot to refresh us all after an unusually hot day. Then we all had food at the Abad Foodcourt in the Baypride Mall and after that a few of us did some more shopping on the broadway street.
By 8.30 all of us were back on the bus and started for the Aluva YMCA. We reached there after 9. That night we finalised our plans for the next day with the help of Suresh Sir (by the way, he and Willie Sir were accompanying the students from Singapore. They are faculty members ofNgee Ann Poly).
On Saturday 7 am, we left for Pattanam in Kodungalloor where an excavation was going on under the aegis of Kerala Council For Historical Research. The Director of KCHR, Mr.Cherian had agreed to give the students a talk on Kerala history and the importance of the excavations. It was a very engaging discussion and we were amazed by the level of care and precaution that was necessary while handling the site. Also the fact that the excavation had as much importance as the Indus Valley finds, as this one had material belonging to different civilizations, due to the fact that Pattanam was an important trading center was truly fascinating.After the discussion we were shown the pits and were told how the local people were engaged in the excavation work and how the work was actually carried out. Each pit was around 3 meter deep and each depth corresponds to a particular era. As we go deeper the level of recent disturbances decreases. When they stop finding anything they stop digging deeper. It was amazing to see well preserved wine jars and brick walls that were built centuries ago.
After that the students were taken to the Oberon Mall to unwind themselves and prepare for the tough journey back on train. The train back was starting from Ernakulan at around 4 o clock. We got to the Ernakulam Jn. Station an hour before. We were back at NITC by around 10 o clock. After that we all had dinner at the guest house.
It was a nice experience overall and we got to make a number of new friends.