Before being in Kerala I read about it in a book called “handmade in India”. It states that white cotton sarees and other simple yet elegant craft of Kerala represents its true nature. And so I started a journey to explore the simplicity and sustainability of Kerala. Yes, Kerala indeed is a very self fulfilling state, Content with what they have. Where else in hotel rooms these days you would find just one charging point. :)
After Mumbai, Kerala was a very welcoming break not just because of its greenery but also population. There are hardly any people on the roads, fewer vehicles, lesser or no honking. Infact, i must have travelled quite a bit in buses but can’t remember even a single incident where the driver is incessantly honking. Happy people. Most of them were very warm and always welcoming with their smiles.
I haven’t met a single face with specs and worries except for the bride’s parents :) Yes I forgot to mention that I visited Kerala for a wedding and turned it into a business tour later.
Everyone had various opinions on Kerala and obviously I had my own mental blocks. As a tourist I heard that Kerala is damn expensive. I would beg to differ now. On the last day of the trip I paid just Rs. 34 for dosa and a cup of coffee.. I don’t remember the last time the bill amount was under Rs. 50. The rickshaw guys are so honest here. In a small village called Iranavu, a rickshaw guy had meter. He charged minimum 23 Rs. for 1 km. Another guy charged me Rs. 90 for about 5.5 km. Who does that today. As per today’s rule book, if you find a non local, extract as much as you can from her.
I am already in love with this place. I had a bad start as my tonsils started troubling me just a day before my trip began and was bad through out the trip. but what supporting locals. After wedding where I could hardly eat anything, I went to Kasargod. I just had one Co-op to meet there and they were not available on that day. So I went to visit the Anathpuram temple - lake temple, where a crocodile out of the blue came into being 70 years ago and feeds only on prasadam served twice a day. The person who feeds croc everyday took us to its pond and started calling the croc “BAA BA” “BAA BA” “BA.. BA…”
He got into the water and asked us to be by his side. He showed us the croc which was unwilling to surface due to heat. The croc was under water for all the 3 mins I was in the water. We could see the side of it as the water was clear but it was right below low branches of a tree. Though I was excited that it might surface, I was shit scared thinking what if it starts moving towards me. To make the situation even more complex, there was a dog standing right next too us. I am lil scared of dogs especially when they come to close and this one had no boundaries. :)
The feeder did not stop saying “BAA BA” and in excitement I too started saying “BAA BA” but soon enough I realised that that is not what I exactly want. We must be standing just 7 ft away from “BAA BA” and the croc was 9 ft..
I just asked the feeder to let the croc rest and insisted him that we should leave.
Anyway back to the simplicity of this state. So I was living in a hotel that had a restaurant called green leaf which served regular Kerala meals but all vegetables, spices and fruits used to prepare the meal were organic. I was excited to see such awareness in a such a small town. All the produce were locally bought directly from farmers. So I had salad in the morning as I could not eat anything else but by evening I had this strong urge to have maggie. I conveniently convinced my self that it won’t be spicy and it would be easy to swallow. So I went about looking for restaurants/tea stalls to cook maggie for me but could not find anyone. So i bought the maggie packet and went to my hotel and asked this restaurant owner. He gracefully accepted and prepared it for me. It tasted even better than ever coz it was made with so much love. The owner of the shop checked with me if I was not well and I explained him my situation. He did not charge anything for maggie coz they just prepared it. I insisted that he must but graciously declined stating that they are not suppose to take such request but they still honoured mine coz they knew I wasn’t well.
Isn’t it great how people connect even without knowing each other. Such act of benevolence will surely have long and lasting effect. This is not the only incident. I packed my parcel for Mumbai and went to Trackon courier office. He asked me about the parcel and the source and other details. By the time he was done it was 8 pm. He offered if I need a drop to my hotel. Who goes this extra mile for some stranger.
During this time I visited few weavers’ societies. Had a long chat with few secretaries of the societies. I am very happy to share that all the weaver societies I visited have mostly female weavers. Each one doing her job with lot of satisfaction and passion. I think the climate adds to this over all calm and composed attitude of Keralites. Kerala govt. last year started “Clean Kerala” Initiative. Some rules are very strict here. All the dyeing plants need to have a water treatment unit and has to get a certificate and permission from the Municipality before discharging the waste to main drainage system. I am sure something similar would be true for hotel industry too here.
There is lots of goodness, love and compassion in people of Kerala and it is infectious. A definite rejuvenation centre.