Whenever I close my eyes and think about my two years travelling around the world, I immediately recall images from Kerala, India. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when I say that India is my favourite country in the whole world. After visiting forty (40) countries in my life, I still believe that I belong there. And India belongs to me.
There is no place like India, no country is so colourful, lively and diverse that can compare. It’s a strong statement, I know, but the more time passes the more I crave for India and its people. When I close my eyes to go back to my time in India, there is one image that immediately comes back in front of me. It’s one of the tea ocean in Munnar. The green, rolling fields of tea up, up, up to the sky.
There is more than the green colour of tea that puts Kerala into a special place in my heart and it’s because of its people. There is also the magic of the smooth backwaters around Kochi where an extensive network of canals in the jungle transports you back in time.
From the tea hills to the backwaters, passing by Varkala and its gorgeous coast. Popular with local and international tourists, Varkala is a magnet for those looking to relax, do yoga, get an Ayurvedic massage in palm trees and ocean view a setting.
Humanity, the power of nature, the possibility of inclusiveness and the magnificence of ordinary lives. All of this belongs to Kerala.
Here, in the deeper south of India, is where a new way of life has evolved, very distinct from the rest of the country – a way of living that involves a clear interplay between nature and humanity. Here, people act in close connection with each other and nature.
Its history of centuries of colonialism led to Kerala to become a well-made melting pot where the most diverse ideologies, faiths and cultures can co-exist like no other place.
Stories from the past, bequeathed from generation to generation, emerge in any conversation you have with the locals, all the food you eat, photograph you take.
In fact, if all around India, I was welcomed as a long-distance relative, throughout Kerala where I spent almost a month, the people were like family. Truly, Kerala is where I was welcomed in the locals’ homes for supper, where I was offered a bed when I forgot to reserve a room, where I was taken for lunch where the locals go.
Beautiful Kerala, India
On the international traders’ map for more than 3000 years, Kerala’s coast was a busy port for the Romans, the Arabs and the Chinese. Back in 1498, Vasco da Gama arrived at Kappad, and Portuguese, Dutch and English colonialism followed suit. Fast forward a few centuries and you’ll discover that Kerala is a very young country, only created back in 1956 from the former states of Travancore, Cochin and Malabar. An open-minded approach and international attitude have allowed Kerala to become one of the most progressive states in India, with the nation’s highest literacy rate.
The beauty of Kerala for me comes from its landscape diversity which includes almost 600km of gorgeous beaches; a slow-paced network of jungle backwaters, the tea-covered hills and its wild elephants and of course, its people.
It is my strong belief that people, regardless of their race, religion and background, are united by their permanent search of the divine. Some believe in God, others in gods, in the energy, past and future lives and heaven. Despite the differences, what unites the human race, among other things, is the need for connection. That feeling of being part of something, of being here for a reason. Of being part of one big family. And the place I felt this the most in my entire life was Kerala.
Kerala India, Human by nature
After exploring and enjoying the frenetic and frenzy northern states, I was in search of calm and silence. I was told by my Indian friends that I didn’t need to go very far. They told me that Kerala is almost like an island, detached from the Indian chaos. They were right. Kerala is a soul-soothing state which thanks to its untouched nature is able to cure the body and the spirit of the fatigue of travelling.
The green lung of India, Kerala, god’s own country was where I felt more connected with nature, people and perhaps the gods too.
Probably because of its spectacular diversity or maybe because of the smile of its people.
I still dream of Kerala. And I dream often about going back.
Check these other articles of mine about Kerala:
- The Guardian
- Kerala, was I dreaming?
- Human By Nature, the recent global campaign of Kerala, which drawn from real stories of the land and centred around this way of living