Showing posts with label Kerala. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kerala. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Taking the journey..

Street smart salesman selling dreary government forms by selling dreams of social empowerment. A couple bidding adieu, trying to steal a quiet private moment in a crowded compartment with a dozen eyes staring them down while trying to judge their character and declaring them guilty of marrying.
Virile young men casting penetrating glances at ‘suitable game' which is nearly every women he surveys.
Leary middle aged men stealing glances at girls young enough to be their nieces.
Newly married young men, that hurry into the train, only to realize the trains are packed, have to stand. You can spot them by their complete disregard of the other PYT’s in the train and the tired yet happy glow in their faces and the fresh new gold ring in their finger.
And then there is the quintessential 'kappi' karan who breaks every passenger's reverie with the calls of his trade and the strong aroma that lingers like the sweet fragrance of the ‘dubai karan’.
The students who are catching up on last minute 'trainwork' but still wont miss the opportunity to check out all the senoritas in the compartment.
The middle aged guy at the wrong end of 40 munching on an undated vada that the vada/vazakyappam karan sold a few moments ago.
The clean shaven nerd who appears so engrossed in conversation with fellow nerd that it looks like he's discussing ways to solve international terrorism, but is instead trying to steal glances at the most beautiful girl.
And then there are the accompanying kids who are either busy annoying the crap out of their single traveling parents or are sleeping.
All this while traveling through the most pristine shades of green, brown and concrete. The gazillion coconut trees, the bazillion thatched houses, the hundred lakes and the millions backwaters. Passing through a hundred stations, all that look like its been built by the same architect, mason and brick. A hundred paddy fields with full grown paddy swaying in the breeze and sparkling with the morning dew and the rising sun.
And then all the activity is interrupted when the train starts slowing down a quarter of a kilometer away, when the men reluctantly tear their stares away from the objects of their desire, inch slowly towards the narrow exit. They stop by the exit and turn back just to check if their object would look back at them for just one last time. If she does, then he's back in the same train, same time come what may unless tomorrow is a holiday.
The brief 40 second stop ushers in new blood and thicker crowd of people. Passengers who think they deserve a seat and consider standing their punishment for being late. Workout? Never. How can standing ever be considered a workout? The very fact that many of them had to come out of their homes to earn a living is a punishment.
And then as the trains snakes and zips through towns and cities inching its way closer to the political capital of kerala, there is a distinct class of passengers who accumulate. They discuss how their leaders and non leaders are ruining their pristine economy. Most people in Kerala are acutely political and many are definitely communist in their ideology. Well, you didn't think God would actually shower all His blessings on a single State, did you? Maybe something good will come out of all this, but for now.. I am through with one of my favorite things to do while in Kerala; traveling through an intercity express.

Bon voyage..

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Incredible India

I love traveling.

Well, most people do, and in a time when travel is a way of life, it is a fashionable thing to mention in resumes and 'About Me' sections online.
Tourism is a huge industry and unlike most other industries, tourism can propel an entire economy into the 'first world'.

India, unfortunately has a few black horses.
While states like Kerala and Goa have been the Toppers in the Class, the same cannot be said of the other states that pretend to be tourist friendly but instead cannibalize their travelers.

I am a fairly prolific traveler. However I am a careful and a very cautious traveler too. Am very skeptical about overly friendly co passengers, abhor passengers who put up and attitude and ignore those of them who show off their gadgets and supposed wealth.
I have a gift of being able to grasp the local language of the place I am visiting and that has saved me a lot of times.

Of all the places that I have traveled, my least favorite place is Hyderabad!
Sweltering heat and an almost unending need for water. If you are headed that way, be prepared to stay in an air conditioned room inside. The buses are archaic and public transportation is utter chaos. Not that it is different from the other parts of Incredible India, but what the heck!

Locals in places that I've visited often think that if you talk in English and look "forward", that they can relieve you of your wallet's content. Nevermind their smile and polite manners, they will unabashedly make sure you part with as much money as they can. All this unless you are cautious and prudent.

Sometimes, paranoia and lack of good sense can get the better of you.

You could miss out on the good stuff. India is not a Sweden or a Switzerland. And it can never be one either. However it is a land of extremes. You can travel to just across the border and a lot of curious anomalies and strange traditions. Bombay, one of my favorite places to travel to is fast paced and very practical. Kerala, one of my favorite holiday spots is exactly the opposite. The people there are neither fast paced nor practical. Keralites in Kerala are a sluggish lot. Most businessmen who start businesses are smart and intelligent, but some of them start a business for the wrong reasons. They simply hate to work under a boss. And whatever little zeal that they had quickly evaporates and fails to make up for the utter lack of business acumen.
They fail to capitalize on opportunities that knock and their ventures will die a natural demise.

India has its quirks too and while you can see towering examples of well thought out infrastructure, you will also see shoddy remains of poor civic work. Its like that oft quoted statement: "Examples of ancient culture coexisting with modern architecture..".

Its that rat race for more money, that has relegated us to the Third World/Developing Nation bin.

When per capita, our growth could have been as good as that of the US of A, we have corrupt leadership and politicians on the one hand an agrarian society that does not take care of its farmers.

But there's hope. Though not a revolution, I can sense a movement. A slow awakening of the youth to the real issues that plague this land. What we now need is a real Leader. A charismatic Leader of the Young.

"Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country"
This Speaker exhorted that we as humanity fight tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself. This statement is as relevant as it was 30 years ago as it is now and unless we shed our colonial hangup, shake the dust of excuses and pull up our socks we will always be as defenseless as drunk man on an Indian road.

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