This past weekend I went to Kerala. Kerala (“God’s Own Country”) is a state in the southwest along the coast. It has the highest literacy rate in India and the highest Human Development Index rating in India. Also has the best sex ratio. It’s a highly socialized state; up to relatively recently was governed by Communists. A lot of people work in the Gulf so that’s basically where they get all the money; industry doesn’t really have much presence there because the unions are so strong. It’s also more religiously diverse.
We flew down on Thursday night, were picked up and taken to the hotel. The first thing I noticed is that it wasn’t hot! It was pretty damp and rainy and everything was green, that’s what I remember best. Our hotel was a small 4 room building, more of a guest house, I guess, and was very nice. Friendly people, comfortable rooms. We left early the next morning and drove a couple hours to the Athirapally Waterfalls. It was POURING rain. The falls were not that big, but still noisy and misty. I loved being around nature again, so many trees and birds and everything was clean and green! Such a welcome change from the city.
Then we drove to Kumarakom, a few hours away (we’re not covering great distances here, but it’s not highway driving). The hotel we were at was beautiful. It was right on the Vembanad Lake, it had a canoe you could paddle in the little canals, and a pool, and lovely grounds.
We had a nice relaxing evening there and the next day, got on our houseboat. Houseboat tours are very popular through the backwaters of Kerala, and I can see why. It was so peaceful, just passing fishing boats and rice paddies while people living on the banks go about their lives, swimming, doing laundry, and washing dishes in the water. It actually reminded me a lot of camping, in terms of the weather, water travel, and overall pace. We even had Tang, camping and cottaging beverage of choice.
We shored up for the night along the bank and went for a little walk.
The next morning, we got into a slight boating accident near the wharf and ended up taking a water taxi the last 5 minutes of the way to Alleppey. We got picked up again, and went for a drive through Cochin. We stopped at Fort Kochi and walked along the coast of the Arabian Sea and saw the Chinese fishing nets and some goats.
Then we drove through Kochi some more, and saw some stores and churches then headed to the airport. It’s a really nice city, has a sort of Euro feel to it due to the early colonialism by the Portuguese and Dutch. Food-wise, the South is quite different from the North, and in Kerala it tends to be more fish based. It’s supposed to be a lot spicier than Northern Indian, but I actually found things pretty bland for the most part. Maybe they see white people coming and take out all the heat or something. They also use coconut oil for everything. The smell of it burning is pervasive, and I didn’t really care for it. My travel companions went for massages at our second hotel and they poured coconut oil all over them, even their heads and hair. It took four shampoos for my friend to get it all out.
Today is Independence Day here and I have the day off. To do homework. We had a little party in the office yesterday afternoon. They played a singing game in Hindi (I kinda ducked out for some of this because I knew they’d probably ask me to sing some song “from my country”) and we all had to dress in flag colours and national dress. Then we took my friend Kristin for sushi and sent her home to the US… I was very sad to see her go. 😦