The Good, bad and ugly
By Sneha Pillai
07th December 2011 02:31 AM
KOCHI: To understand the heart of a city and make it home, one needs to figure out the pulse of the city. Delhi is known for its vibrancy, Mumbai for pace, Bangalore for underground music, Chennai for tradition and Hyderabad for biryani.
Lately, Kochi has been running the race along with many second tier cities to join the club of elite metropolitan and it has been running fast. Kochi has already established itself as the commercial capital of Kerala and the first tourism destination for most who wish to experience beach, backwaters and hills within a radius of few kilometers. But what is the pulse of Kochi? What is it on which Kochi thrives? What's the one thing that comes to your mind when you think Kochi?
“Right now, Kochi is a perfect balance of traditionalism and modernity and it is also highly ambitious. Here, the growth is sudden and is happening overnight. Big brands and bigger investments are finding its way into Kochi every day. But as of now, Kochi is in perfect harmony. On one side, it is a common sight to see people all dressed up visiting temples early in the mornings while there is a happening evening and night life as well. And this balance is what makes Kochi work for me," says Renju Sasikumar, executive housekeeper, Ramada Resorts, who was previously based in Pune. Kochi may have come far in terms of bending its rules for outsiders but it is yet to accept outsiders' bending the city's rules.
“I am a Keralite from Delhi. I used to love Kochi on my visits to Kerala. Somehow, living here is different. Kochi may look and feel like a metropolitan, but it yet to act like one. I have come to realise that people are generally suspicious when it comes to outsiders living here, especially single girls. I had a hard time finding an apartment for myself as nobody was willing to rent out an apartment to a single girl,” says Siya Pillai, an IT professional working at Technopark in Kakkanad.
However, Nandini Krishnan, who recently moved to Kochi from Pune for career reasons, is struck by the kindness exhibited by perfect strangers here. "I think the close-knit feeling of a community still exits. In other big cities, people are formal. Here people address you with affection, which makes you feel at home immediately. However, people tend to carry this same
attitude to the work place as well, which can be a problem. I found people not that professional at work. They address one another as 'chettan' and 'chechi' (brother, sister), which kind of makes it very casual." But she has a word about the city's
fantastic monsoon season. "Oh the rains are so beautiful! Nothing like a wet, lush Kochi in July. Everything looks so divine. Of course, it gets humid in the other months, and surviving without an AC is tough," she says.
Meanwhile, for most Malayalis who have lived a major part of their lives outside, if Kerala means home, then Kochi means the 'dream' home.
“Kochi is the best place for Malayalis, who spent a major part of their lives in big cities outside Kerala to come back and settle. Kochi has been developing fast and the changes can be seen in short period of time. It does not feel too different from the northern cities I am used to. Kochi has everything that any other city can offer you, like mixed culture, high exposure to outside world and grand lifestyle options. I love Kochi's evolving culture and it is easy to feel like home here," says Sujatha Nair, housewife. Sujatha and her husband Vineet Nair were in Ahmedabad before Vineet decided to quit his job and move to Kerala to start his own business.
Interestingly, there are some who recently shifted to Kochi and found all that glitters is not gold.
“Kochi is certainly growing fast, what with all the exposure to the outside world, especially Gulf. However, I feel at times that Kochiites are trying too hard to be cool and act modern when they are actually not. For a city that promotes mall culture and where people go gaga over easily accessible supermarkets, it's not a safe city for women and you hardly see them on the road post 7 pm," says Gayathri, who recently moved to Kochi after completing MA in Communication from Bangalore.
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