Strike in Kochi

There is some sort of strike happening in Kochi. It was very eerie at first when I stepped off the train and walked into town. There are troops everywhere but no cars, just military jeeps. It was even more eerie because all the shops, restaurants and hotels were shut down. The only people on the streets were a bunch of bewildered backpackers looking for food and a place to stay. I ran into packs of them trying to figure out what was going on, and all had the Lonely Planet in hand in multitudes of different languages. I hooked up with a backpacker from England. He explained some sort of political demonstration / strike. All the roads are blocked off and that’s why there are no cars.

Later in the evening while enjoying dinner at the Ancient Mariner Restaurant (a floating restaurant between Ekulam and Fort Kochin), my British friend and I sat with a young man from Tamil Nadu. He spoke articulate English and we grilled him for more information on the strike. People were on strike to protest increases in the taxes on goods like alcohol, tea, cigarettes and other materials. Opposing parties ask the people to do this once a month to put pressure on the government in power because they have not kept their campaign promises. It was a relatively peaceful demonstration; however, tomorrow a larger rally is planned and expected to be hot blooded. We’ve already spent the day listening to political diatribes being blasted over the loud speakers.

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