Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Random Notes from Kerala

We touched down when it was drizzling… the entire area, as always, was very green. So beautiful! But, surprisingly clean too…
·         As we drove to Guruvayoor, the cleanliness stuck me. Driver mentioned, it was partly due to the heavy rains the state gets, year after year! I would still like to give credit to common man, esp. in view of high literacy rate. After all the ‘literate’ public are generally more conscious of hygiene and cleanliness.
·         But I was in for a big shock when we drove in to Kochi – at the outskirts of the city was a very sore scene of garbage-dump, right on the highway! Sad, the financial capital of the state and one of the top tourist locations in the country, does not have a more environment-friendly garbage-disposal L
·         As we went around the state, we hardly drank bottled water. Everywhere we got boiled ‘jeera’ water. We were sure of water quality. If only we have that all over India, we would save on plastic and its high environmental cost.
·         Kerala also seem to have high penetration of solar energy options. At least for hot-water. But on rainy days, we had to go without hot water baths!
·         If Kerala was always a preferred tourist destination, it is more in news recently, thanks to the treasure unearthed in Sri Padmanabha Swamy Temple! The sleepy town of TVM can be sure of more traffic inflow!  Treasure found in Puttaparthy and TVM… but the way we react… quite different!!??
·         During my last trip to Tvm, over four years ago, I made a quick trip to the temple. The grandeur of the temple and the majestic idol of Lord Vishnu always generated awe in me. Unlike Tirupathi, the crowd used to be very less and hence very quiet, except near sanctum sanatorium, where people get frenzy in their spiritual high. Quite understandable!

·         Travelling in Kerala, the consumerism was very evident. Huge hoarding along the highway (for gold-jewellery, clothing, real estate, etc) was one indicator. There was an on-going NRI festival, with aggressive promotion! My heart went to the majority of blue-collar workers in Gulf, who save against all odds, to go back and blow up! The average gulf-based NRK (non-resident keralite) continue to exhibit illiteracy in financial planning,  by continuing to spend most of savings & now even loans, to purchase ‘dream-homes’. With increased competition from other nationalities, reduced investments across gulf, more pressure for localization, etc., the average NRK need to think of a life back in village. I still feel, Kerala is yet to find a lasting solution to its migrating youth be providing gainful employment. Of course, the migrating youth should also be willing to accept any job, they would otherwise do in Gulf, with total dignity of labor.
·         One hoarding that usurped my attention was the one featuring  Maradona, inaugurating a jewellery shop in UAE! I was amused to see the prominent campaign, smartly very visible understandably (but was sad to see one of the greatest among soccer-stars doing the honor!)
·         Did some shopping and extensive window-shopping…Picked up few devotional music CD’s and books. At one book stall, the sales agent spoke about a popular book, ‘Heaven on Earth’ by Pepita Seth. But she added, the price tag was a hefty Rs 3K and usually NRI/gulf-guys only pick up. I was reminded of a Blondie comic strip, when he falls for a similar situation and picks up whole lot of books… not me! I was tempted, wanted to see. But, she would not, saying ‘it was a sealed book and nothing to see on cover’!! Perhaps she lost an opportunity to sell that to me and I will have to research more before deciding. (Amazon has just one comment, so no help there yet!)
·         It was sad to note three topics were hotly discussed in Kerala- felt not fair for a state popularly known as ‘God’s Own Country’! An article in Express said, “Kerala’s envious records in literacy, life expectancy and infant mortality rates are now matched by the highest rate of suicides, alcoholic consumption and social and economic crimes’ (Kerala is Frauds’ Own country - http://expressbuzz.com/opinion/op-ed/kerala-is-now-frauds%E2%80%99-own-country/300696.html)

Kerala is God's Own Country, whatever is current distractions...we just need ensure same : Clean, Green, Beautiful or Just Divine!

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