God’s Country and Land’s End

I spent a few days in the Indian state of Kerala, known as India’s “God country”.  Very appropriate, as it is quite beautiful.  The other interesting thing about this state is that it is the first in the world to elect a communist government.  Anyway, a popular thing to do here is an overnight houseboat tour to travel the backwaters near the town of Alleppey.  These backwaters were the mode of transportation for the people here before there were roads (and still is).  Many still live around the waters; their tiny houses stand on narrow strips of land, surrounded by water.  They either harvest rice or take the “bus” (which in the backwaters is a boat) into Alleppey everyday to work.

The boat tour was great.  Very relaxing.  I had 3 guys on the boat:  cook, captain, and co-captain (how embarrassing to have all these guys just to take me on a boat ride…) The boat had a wicket roof, one bedroom (the nicest I’ve stayed in so far!) and a great cook.  The South Indian food was killer.

View of the backwaters from the bow of our houseboat

My ride

Trying my hand at punting.  A few minutes later the captain would show me how it was done

Tiny house on a tiny strip of land in the Kerala backwaters

After the houseboat tour I traveled to Kanyakumari, the city at the most southern tip of India, known as “Land’s End”.  This is the intersection of three major bodies of water:  the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal.  I checked out a temple and palace (they have loads of these in India) and played another game of cricket, which I am really beginning to like.

The end of India

Gandhi memorial

My cricket teammates

Here are a few more observations I’ve made about India:

– Nobody ever has any change.  It’s amazing.  I have some conspiracy theory where people are collecting all the change and small bills in the country and burning them, thus taking them out of circulation :)

– The meters on all the taxis are broken.  I can’t explain it.  Maybe some manufacturing defect; thus, I always have to bargain the fare with the driver, and typically I have no idea where I’m going :)

– Usually people in India don’t use silverware to eat.  They use their right hand.  This is just fine with me except when it comes to rice.  I end up making a mess all over myself in a restaurant.  Quite a scene.

– It blows my mind how many people they can get on motorcycle in India.  And the bikes here are tiny (150 CCs or less).  I’ve seen whole families on bikes (parents and two siblings) and 3 grown men on one bike.  Craziness.

One of the most fun parts of traveling is the odd conversations I get to have.  The other day a slightly overweight, communist Indian guy sat beside me on the bus and started telling me how much he loves to pick up girls; and how successful he was at it :)  … in fact, our conversation got interrupted because he had to take a call from the girl he was out with the night before.  Haha.  Such behavior is very rare in India.  Apparently the women call him “Chocolate”.  Too much information :)  but it kept me entertained.

Same bus trip:  A very old man with a white beard sits beside me.  I’m convinced he could only speak one word of english.  Before getting off the bus, he pointed at me, then to himself, then towards the sky, and said, with a toothless grin and one eyebrow raised, “Same.”

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5 Responses to God’s Country and Land’s End

  1. Boris says:

    Awesome post Shawn. The last line was beautiful. As for the families on motorcycles, wait till you go to Vietnam. Mind-blowing.

  2. Shawn says:

    >> Awesome post Shawn. The last line was beautiful.
    Gracias.  I wish I had taken a photo of that guy.  His appearance was worth a thousand words.  He seemed like a wise old man he was trying to share something important with me, but was limited a bit by the language barrier.
    >> … wait till you go to Vietnam. Mind-blowing.
    Ha!  I look forward to it.

  3. Shawn says:

    Update on the motorcycle conversation:  Yesterday I saw 5 people on a motorcycle (a tiny 150 CC bike).  That is my current record.

  4. Lou (Linda) says:

    Love your houseboat.

    Loved this whole post. I think that you need to put this blog into a book form. I know you don’t think you’re all that as a writer and that you suffer from permanent writer’s block…but maybe that’s what makes your writing so wonderful.

  5. Great Blog!! Got to do Kerala next time! Had an amazing time in Tamil Nadu. You can read about it here. http://david-desouza.blogspot.com/2011/01/travel-india-planning-road-trip-through.html

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