Kerala is a special place in India. The people are educated. In fact, it’s the state with the highest literacy rate. Some estimate as much as 10% of the population is working abroad. The local language is Malayalam, but if the people there speak a second language it’s English, not Hindi. There also seemed to be more religious diversity there, as something like 50% of the population is Hindu, 25% is Christian, and 25% is Muslim.
Apart from these things, it’s absolutely beautiful. I was there right in the middle of the dry season but it was as green as can be. I was told by everyone it gets so much greener after the rainy season. That’s hard for me to believe. In Northern India everyone told me I had to visit Kerala and see its beauty. To them I say, ok, I understand now..
Chinese Fishing Nets
One of the interesting features of the historical city of Fort Kochi is the Chinese Fishing Nets. Introduced centuries ago by Chinese explorers or the Portuguese via Macau, these nets are lowered into the sea for a few minutes and then brought up. The catch is usually minimal, and often sold on the spot to tourists, locals, or market middlemen.
The nets work on a lever system and the balancing weights are several large stones strung together. Often, the net is lowered into the sea by a man walking out across the lever, providing enough weight to tip the balance.
I spent a day in the Kerala backwaters. The backwaters are basically a system of waterways that link 38 rivers to five lakes. From top to bottom it extends for nearly half the entire state of Kerala and these freshwater systems are crucial for local irrigation and farming. An entire ecosystem and way of life has developed here, much like it has in Inle Lake, Myanmar.
Along the way we learned how to make rope from coconut husk, visited a spice farm, had a fantastic lunch on a banana leaf, and took in the fantastic scenery. Our mode of transport was a converted houseboat, which I tried pushing using the traditional bamboo pole. I could do it, but by no means did I have much stamina!
All in all it was just a fantastic day taking in a very different way of living. Enjoy the pictures below.