I am approaching the bastion of Indian sickularism. Yes, what is known as God’s own country – this is called Kerala. This is one of those places that make a self-respecting Dharmic person to bash his own head at the mindless exposure to non Dharmic influences. I had plenty of experiences on my way itself.
This is not the first time I am going to Kerala though. Actually this is the third time. The first visit was by far the best. It was a family trip to one of the most beautiful places of Kerala, the tourist circuit. From the backwaters of Allipuzha to the silent beauty of Munnar and the expanse of the Periyar, I have seen them all. Kerala is very green; there is no doubt about it. This is not entirely a plus point as I will expand later. The people are okay, I have had very widely mixed interactions as opposed to the people of the rest of India.
The route that our train is taking goes from Bangalore to Tamil Nadu, all the while bordering Kerala. It enters Kerala at its extreme south and turns right into its capital – Thiruvananthapuram. Many Keralites and other Indians hate this name, because it reminds them of an embarrassing Hindu past which even today around fifty percent of the population still follows.
The minor irritants have been already witnessed. I remember the NGOs working feverishly in almost every railway station that the train halted. These NGOs invariably has some Christian saint as its name. For some reason, St. Anthony is the most popular. After knowing about the history of St. Xavier, I am skeptical about the integrity of this saint as well. But since I don’t know yet, I will reserve my opinion. Anyway, the NGOs work like almost any other around the world, only here the primary objective is to show light to the natives – a continuation of the British colonial thought. Only the light is Christianity, darkness is Hinduism and salvation Jesus. The only change that I can fathom is that the evangelicals, err sorry the social activists are natives themselves sitting in wonderfully designed kiosks marketing of all things – Christianity! South Kerala is way better than the North because of historical reasons. What the Northern part of Kerala had to witness was horrible and the Southern part has thankfully been saved from that. But tourists will find the Northern part prettier, except for the beaches of course. The hills are all in the North. As are the hundreds of mosques built from expat, I mean Saudi and Gulf money. Sometimes I think I saw more mosques than men, perhaps in anticipation of the better days to come. But more about that some other time...
This visit is to South Kerala, its capital to be precise.