By this time the trip had begun to take on that If-this-is-Tuesday-then-this-must-be-Delhi vibe. Even though the last couple of days had involved less of the frenetic hop-scotching from one monument to another, the rigors of traveling at least every other day, along with some persistent digestive issues that Irene and I continued to suffer from, were taking their toll. I doubt that even as an anal-retentive toddler, I ever paid such close attention to the machinations of my lower digestive tract. But with plane tickets to Delhi awaiting, we pushed on with the final leg of our loop through Kerala, returning to Cochin.
To our surprise, the driver informed us that we would be touring the Hill Palace, the principal palace of the Maharajas of Cochin, and since we didn’t have time to accomplish much else before catching our plane, we complied. The artifacts of the palace, now a museum, ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. The value of the displays were marred somewhat by insufficient cataloguing and dating, but there were some impressive examples of very early Indian writing both on skins and stone and a very interesting collection of jewels and jewellery donated by the Maharajas’ families.
On the “ridiculous” end of the spectrum were some “art works” donated by the royal family to the museum. Coincidentally, I had just been listening a day earlier to a chapter in the David Sedaris audio book in which he mocked his parents’ tastes in “art.” The museum collection included such valuable masterpieces as poster prints of a number of famous western paintings, including Whistler’s Mother. To see paper posters included in an art collection seemed to have value more comical than historical.
The palace itself was impressive enough in its size and in the grandeur of its gardens, although these were not kept up as well as they might have been, but it lacked some of the architectural and artistic interest of the smaller palace we had seen days earlier on our first visit to Cochin.
After feeling the pinch of eating in more expensive hotel restaurants for the past week, we had to give the driver credit once more for finding a lunch spot that was inexpensive and served good food. I hope the 3,000 rupee tip we left him to show our appreciation was sufficient. It’s hard to judge this kind of thing in India. It’s impossible to translate it into North American terms, since we would never have been able to afford touring with a personal driver in North America.
He left us at the airport and we continued our journey by catching a mid-afternoon flight to Delhi, which, unfortunately, involved a stop-over in Hyderbad. That translated into a 9:00 arrival in Delhi. Fortunately, our hotel room proved to be fairly close to the airport, so we were able to squeeze in a late supper before hitting the sack to rest up for another bout of sightseeing the next day.