12.26 god's own country

what strikes me about alleppy (or now, allapuhza) in opposition to other parts of india i've seen - is the most apparent absence of hunger in the streets.

nowhere do i see anyone asking for money. not in the markets, on sidewalks, in night spaces, outside temples (a most popular spot as visitors usually give generously to the poor outside places of worship = perhaps to be seen in a brighter light by a higher power....). it was really a contrast compared to the north... i'm curious to see whether this is the same in the keralan capital, cochin, or other parts of kerala, or other parts of the south, ie. pondicherry in tamil nadu, where i go next.

in any case, i do know this: the economy of kerala is the best in the country and the literacy rate in kerala is 100%. kerala operated as a socialist state, which would explain how the standard of living seems strikingly balanced. there are rich land-owners here but there are no signs of ultra-poor. conversely, i've also heard that the suicide rate in kerala is the highest in india. i wonder if this has anything to do with the lack of ultra-poor? this leaves me questioning what standards of living are based on... a healthy economy and high literacy rate, or the number of suicides. of course, there is a lot of controversy over kerala, with many people who believe it's only a matter of time before kerala's statistics align more closely with the rest of the country...

i do know this: kerala is called "god's own country", which most people believe is because of the lush jungles, tropical climate and lovely beaches. the origins of the title, "god's own country" is probably urban mythology... the warrior god vishnu went on a killing spree, exterminating warrior kings to take over their land. confronted by his conscience, he prayed a top a mountain. a sea god appeared, forgave him, and offered him land equal to the distance he could throw his spear, which was from the mountaintop down to the southern tip of india. land suddenly rose up from the sea, now known as kerala or, "god's own country".

lucky me, i get to see more of this 'country' tomorrow on a houseboat... i've been wanting to get on the water for a while and this will be a great way to see the natural beauty of kerala... through its backwaters.

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