Kerala celebrates her 57th birthday on the 1st of November. I thought I’d use this occasion to write a little about my home state, and why I love and hate it so much.
Kerala was granted Statehood on this day 56 years ago by the Republic of India. She was formed by merging the former kingdoms of Travancore, Cochin and other native Malayali origin sovereigns. We don’t have much to show for it though. It is rather euphemestically called
‘The God’s own country’. Don’t believe it.
The only saving grace for this economically backward state, the only redeeming quality for Kerala, is the fact that it has the highest literacy rate in India (around 95%) which is higher than several ‘developed’ countries, and a few quality-institutions of higher education can be found here.
Kerala is filled with people, communists, coconut trees, elephants, snakes and more people. It elected the world’s first Communist govt to power. Again, we have nothing to show for it except a lot of babies, red flags, coconuts, elephant babies, snake-bites, and more babies.
That is a photo of Timmy, my pet elephant. I’ve loaned him out to the Indian Army, to take care of those pesky Pakistanis.
I just added this picture to give the page a little colour.
Kerala is also home to the largest venomous snake in the world – The King Cobra.
The guy in this picture is Joy. Joy has balls of steel, or the brains of a baboon . Or both. I don’t know him personally. The snake he is fondling packs enough neuro-toxins in it’s venom to kill off Timmy the Elephant with a single strike. Don’t believe me? Look it up.
Touching-the-Cobra is a rite of passage into manhood in certain pockets of Kerala. The Govt. is promoting this particular rite-of-passage, in the hope that it will help curb population.
The view of this train, emerging from the valley, is breath taking. But if you are one of the unfortunate ones stuck inside the train, your breath will be taken away for a different reason. Make sure you bring your own food, and develop a tolerance for strong odours.
I found this website that says really exaggerated things about Kerala. Still, if you are planning on taking an ill-advised trip to Kerala (It will be an under-whelming experience), check it out first. It’s a govt. run website, so travel resources provided will be genuine, and will come from trusted sources.
Women beware – There are people here, who still think that harassment against woman can be handled better, if women dress less ‘provocatively'(not my words). They are a minority, but still, be prepared to be ogled, every time you hit the streets. And not in a nice way. Still, Kerala has one of the better Woman’s rights records compared to the rest of India. Kerala is the only place in the whole of Indian subcontinent, that has more females than males. Even the neighbouring China has an abysmal record in this area, and don’t have a favourable sex-ratio, with regard to women.
That is not to say that Women in Kerala have it easy. They don’t. Sexual harassment in public places is a daily occurrence. So ladies travelling alone to Kerala need to be especially careful.
The picture shows Arundhati Roy, the part-malayali journalist/social activist who won the Commonwealth Booker prize for her debut novel – The God of Small Things. There is a burgeoning feminist movement, and several woman’s organizations operate, to look out for the ‘weaker’ sex.
Kerala is one of those places, that is easier to love from a distance. Immigrants to other countries from Kerala have only good things to say about the state. That, of course, changes, the moment they set their foot back on home soil.
All said and done, there is no place on earth I’d rather have born in.
That’s it folks. I’m done celebrating our birthday. What do you think about our humble(literally) abode?
I think all of us feel, at some point, that our native place is lacking in some way, and could do with some improvement. It could be a universal feeling. If you think that you have the perfect place to call home, you are lucky. Never leave.
What do you think?