Saturday, October 22, 2005

The train west

Night train.

I spend about 20 mins talking to the woman in the bunk below me - typical indian chit chat: her kids, the weather, my work, etc... after a while, some random strangers walk up and ask her for her autograph. I'm quite puzzled.

Eventually, one of the strangers tells me that the woman is a TV/Movie star in the Tamil (south/eastern) industry. At this point, I lose my tongue, not really knowing what to say. It seems rather stupid to talk to her about her kids when she's a famous star. Random people keep walking up and ask for her autograph.

Eventually, I fall asleep upstairs... and wake up in Cochin.

I take a taxi to the ferry stop, catch a ferry across to the island of Cochin Fort, and pick out my guesthouse.

There are loads of kids in the green outside my hotel, playing cricket, football (soccer), and surprisingly, baseball/softball - quite a shock.

I take a rickshaw into the main town, to go and see the old jewtown, and the synagogue there (which is closed, due to the sabbath). I meet a brit there, and we hang out for the rest of the day...we trade books (Kafaka for a crappy Grisham book.. a great trade). He's a lawyer, and has been working for the last 5 years investigating money laundering, and so we chat for a while. I'm interested in some laundering-ish techniques for my PhD, and so we have a pleasant chat as he tells me all my ideas are thoroughly illegal. Still, it's nice. I learn the term "smurfing", which describes what bigshot criminals do, when they have each of their underlings setup bank accounts with under $10k each, which they transfer around. It seems that under 10k, the IRS/UK Govt doesn't care, and this term, smurfing, describes the act of sneaking money under their radar in small chunks.

Nifty. I can use the word in a paper somewhere :)

We nip off to a beer shop, pick up a few drinks, and head to the beach, where the famous "chinese nets" (see picture later) are setup. We sit at the beach, chatting for a while.. until, yes. more bloody rain. Eventually, a french girl shows up, who is not particularly beautiful, but being female, my friend beings to hit on her. Eventually, I tire of this, as she, as most french people, has god awful english, and I mourn the loss of interesting high level conversation. He and I will meet again for breakfast - perhaps giving me the opportunity to learn a bit more about the world of money laundering, and the awful hours that lawyers seem to work (note: Do I really want to work in this field.. 60 hours a week, hrm?)

I head back to my hotel, and begin to enjoy the Kafka book. Good riddens to that awful Grisham.

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