There was little sightseeing this time but we did make a short pilgrimage to the famous shrine of Vailankanni in Tamil Nadu (see my write-up about it here). The main places we visited in Kerala included Thrissur, Kozhikode, Pudukkad and Pavarratty. We travelled by car, train and bus. Unfortunately the transport infrastructure showed no sign of improvement. On the roads there was no semblance of discipline or order; here the law of the jungle, in which one man looks out only for himself, prevails. Hasn’t it dawned on Indian politicians that if the country really wants to progress, it needs to improve its internal infrastructure?
|Traffic in Thrissur|
|Elephant sanctuary in Guruvayur|
One excursion took us to an elephant sanctuary in Guruvayur. I have never seen so many elephants in one place at such close range as I did in Guruvayur. These elephants are used in the famous Thrissur Pooram every year.
I think I saw more churches in Kerala than temples even though Hindus are the majority. The Church is still quite powerful there, and it can count on generous donations from its numerically significant members. Coming from secular Europe, where religion is increasingly shunned, it was nice to see a vibrancy of religious life in Kerala. This is despite the fact that Communism still holds sway in certain sections of society. When one visits a church, for instance, he is not confronted by a crowd of silver haired pensioners but people of all ages, from the very young to the very old.
Backwater it is, but Kerala is still home in our hearts. Standing in my father’s house in Chevayur, a welter of memories came flooding back to me. I had enjoyed a happy early childhood there before my family moved to England. Maybe one day I might return, but not in the near future. For now I am happy to keep coming to Kerala every few years.
For Nithya and Anya, it was particularly heart breaking to say goodbye to loved ones. Anya, who is eight, had grown more attached to her cousins, aunties and grandparents this time. There were tears at the airport, but back to England we came with happy memories.