i walk by, wondering, thinking, wondering…
approach, almost touch, peep into the holes on the sides, get shocked by the garbage, step back, almost touch again, step back.
what are these two iron drums i say to myself?
not wanting to leave, i wait there. maybe it’ll strike me?
before minutes turn into hours, a man walks up to them.
he looks, smiles knowingly, then turns to his companion and jabbers away.
i barged in. stranger on the beach. stranger in my country. stranger.
excuse me, do you know what these drums are? i…
yes they are the boilers from a ship.
boilers, you know, in the engine of the ship, steam ship.
wheels turn, cogs fit into each other. ahhhh titanic. boilers! yes, i’ve seen them before. synaptic junctions snap (hope the science is right!)
These two tall, rusted drums, now bursting garbage bins thanks to the disrespectful passerby, were once boilers on a ship. They once powered a ship across the ocean into new lands. They moved people, moved communities, moved cultures and brought yesterday marching into today! They might not represent the Age of Exploration if one were to date them, but from where I am, they do. They are as close as I get to the generation where travellers were explorers — seeing new, finding unfamiliar and still managing. Today they stand forgotten in their silent retirement, watching over the sea that they once crossed.
I step forward and touch the drums. You’ve travelled far, I said to them.
If you are heading to Fort Kochi, of course check out the famous Chinese nets, but don’t forget about these two relics from the past — they too speak about trade, exchange and culture… they too tell a story, if you are willing to listen.