A few things I got to know about Kerala while driving through it in the past few days(Bangalore to Wayanad and from there to Kasargod and then back):
1. Apart from being called God’s own country it must also be called The lungs of South India too. There is so much greenery, trees, plantations. Even their compound walls have foliage growing on them 🙂 Deforestation is not known here.
2. The people here might most likely not speak any language other than Malayalam but they make it up with their friendliness and helpfulness.
3. The bus drivers there are a different beasts, though. You and your cars are invisible to them. 90% of them will squeeze you out of the narrow roads while over-taking a pedestrian 🙂
4. Most of the north Kerala roads that I drove on were single lane ones. But very well maintained, save for a few patches here and there. But the biggest hassle is that 70% of the roads that I drove on were right on the western ghats. So even a distance of 30 KMS was taking 1 hour 😦
5. All men wear lungis. And there seems to be an ettiquette of when the lungi is worn complete and when it is worn folded. Fidgeting with their lungis seems to be an OCD with most men 🙂 No offence meant to any Keralite on my friend list. I am just making an observation here 😛
Here’s a good video that I found on internet on the etiquette of mundu/lungi of Keralite men (enjoy 🙂 ):
6. I had heard that Kerala has the highest literacy rate in India. It was evident on our early morning drive. The roads are lined with kids of all ages risking the speeding vehicles but, nonetheless, walking to their schools, on the sides of the road. I am sure the Keralite drivers keep a special buffer while driving during this time. There are kids waiting at bus stands, houses for their morning pickup. It is a heart-warming sight to see all of the young Keralites out on the road to get to their schools.
7. I think the best kept secret of Kerala must be the religious tolerance shown, in-general, by people towards each other. We passed through towns which were mostly muslim(evident from mosques, shops and attire) and some towns mostly christians(evident from churches of all sizes lining the road). There were muslim girls going to school with their hair covered. Surely schools there must be showing tolerance towards religious customs. I saw the restaurants stocking Beef dishes (which I assume are a christian delicacy), mutton dishes(which I assume are muslim delicacies). The religious badge of every Keralite seems to rest lightly on them.
8. One quaint little thing about the houses in the small towns of Kerala is the PVC pipe fitted at the gate which acts like a post box 😀 We were in such a hurry to get to our destination that we didn’t stop to click a picture of it. But I am sure I haven’t seen this any where else. Can someone help me with that 🙂
9. Kerala is full of coconut trees! Wherever you see you will find coconut trees. It surely must account for 90% of all coconut trees in the country. No wonder then that no meal in Kerala goes without some dish having a coconut gravy. I just love coconut so I was just lapping up all the gravies that were being dished out 🙂 Now I am coming to terms with the coir business that emanates from Kerala. I use cocopeat for my terrace garden and now I know that it must be all from Kerala.
10. Kerala is blessed with such a great climate that everything grows there, apart from coconut trees, of course 🙂 A few trees/plants I chanced across during my drive were: Tea plantations, Coffee plantations, Black Peppers, Rubber trees, Bananas, Jack Fruits, Rice farms.
If it were not for the language I would have packed my bags and probably would have shifted to Kerala by now. I liked the place so much.