The very first official activity of the OU Adventure to India took place at the airport even before we got on the El Al plane headed to Mumbai. Each of us, in a very informal type of ceremony, received an enormous folder of information about Jewish India – which we could read at our leisure – and a daily itinerary, every day’s activities printed on a separate 4×11.5 inch card, all of which were fastened together with a ring. So, looking ahead (or back), what was scheduled for Fri. Feb. 12 (otherwise known as 3 Adar I)?
Enjoy a boat ride on the backwaters of Cochin, where ocean salt water mixes with fresh inland water. See the spectacular forest, water birds, wild flowers, and lush greenery. Along the way see small villages, rubber trees, and an area of water where no fish can live.
I can picture somebody at the OU Israel Center having a good time writing this imaginative description (with added points for using the Oxford comma). I can honestly say that we did take a boat ride and that everyone did enjoy it, so that nobody seemed upset that the reality wasn’t as fanciful as the description.
That Friday morning, Feb. 12, we boarded our bus and rode over to the R-E-A-L-LY fancy Taj hotel in Cochin. Usually, only guests are allowed on the swanky premises – which include some very impressive grounds and a boat dock – but remember, we were with Ralphy, for whom all doors open as if by magic! And what was waiting for us at the boat dock? Not a few small boats that would have gotten us in and out of the backwaters of Cochin in a trice, but a decent size yacht: one that had several staterooms and the makings of a kitchen.
So it was a tradeoff. On the one hand, we were traveling in the lap of luxury. You could even stretch out and take a nap in one of the staterooms – which several people did; and if you needed a pit stop, you didn’t have to wait until the boat docked. But the size of the boat required us to travel safely in the main channel; so we were rarely closer than fifty or one hundred yards from shore, not close enough to see the small villages and rubber trees, as advertised. It would have been like taking a Circle Line Cruise around Manhattan Island and wondering why you didn’t get to see Central Park.
But everyone simply relaxed and took in the view from afar. Once in a while, a fishing boat would pass us, or we would get a glimpse of a tiny figure or two on the shore. Otherwise, it was just us smack dab in the middle of the backwaters of Cochin. After a respectable amount of time had elapsed, the boat turned around and made its way back to where we had started. We got off the boat and found an area large enough to have our picnic lunch. Then we retraced our steps past the cottages that were part of the hotel, back through the lobby, and onto the bus. Sunday morning, we would take a very different boat ride, but sandwiched between these two excursions would be Shabbat, our wonderful day of rest. And that is an important story unto itself, which will be posted soon enough – now that my iMac has been released from the computer infirmary with a clean bill of health!