No, we didn’t come up with this, the State of Kerala did. Signs and brochures are quick to coin Kerala as God’s country. I imagine much of this is due to its beautiful scenery, which in all honesty we haven’t had the chance to see much of as of yet. For me, this phrase best describes the people, their history and their way of life. They look out for their own here.
One of the reasons we decided to come this way was because, as I mentioned in an earlier post, it’s “less crazy.” So far this has held true. There was a woman from Kerala in my graduate school program at GWU. After she accompanied a group of students to Haiti over spring break, she dropped out of our program. She was overwhelmed by the poverty she saw there. I never could understand this. She was from India. But as Dave and are realizing India is a very big and very diverse country.
Kerala is said to be one of the most progressive states in India. In the late 50s it was the first state in the world to elect a communist government. From what I understand they eventually fell out of favor with the hard liners in China, but their influence is quite visible here. There are many unions and cooperatives, a relatively equitable distribution of land and income, low infant mortality and the highest literacy rate in India (91%). Signs of education and job training abound – including instruction for lady truck drivers!
Sure there is still trash on the streets, but for the most part it’s been swept into piles to be burned. Yesterday, we came across a “plastic free zone.” There are even places where you can fill your water bottle with potable water to avoid yet buying and throwing away yet another plastic bottle. And yes, there are even trash cans.
Dave was beginning to worry when we’d been here a day and no one had begged us for money. (A few, but not many, have since.) If you’re interested, the well known book, The God of Small Things, is set in Kerala and offers a flavor of its culture and history.
It’s quite an interesting place to be. A far, far cry from our experiences in Mumbai. For us, the only drawback so far is the heat. Let’s say it’s more like God’s Own Oven! Note to those considering travel to India, DO NOT come during the hottest months of the year like we have very unwisely done!