Kerala God’s Own Country, really?
You might have heard the expression describing the Southwestern state of India as God’s Own Country; If you have never heard of it, well, let me tell you. As it is commonly referred to, the place is beautiful in so many ways from its landscape to the beautiful sea shorelines. I have never seen so many coconut trees in my life. But let me tell you where God comes into the expression God’s own country. So in February, I decided I would take a trip to India on a quest to find a business partner to launch GoboWeb.com network and online social networking and marketplace that we have created for every city in America and every country. So I did my online research for IT companies in India and after a few hours of sorting through Google search results, I settled on Kerala as all the pictures I have seen were just too majestic, they talked about the city of Kochi which local government in partnership with IT professionals are trying to setup the city of Kochi as the “silicon Valley” of Kerala, so Kochi it is I have to go to Kochi with the hope that I get to meet with some people with whom upon presenting the GoboWeb network would result in some sort of “spark” partnership.
I sent random emails to companies I found to be in the Internet field that would be best fit to partner with and even made phone calls to inform them that I was coming, but didn’t get any response back from anyone, yet I still decided to go to India anyway!
I booked my flights and some hotels in five cities from the northern tip of the state of Kerala to its very southern tip
The closest International airport to Kochi my target business deal city was at Kozhikode AKA Calicut. I landed in Calicut at 2:10 am local time and according to “own travel strategy” plan, I would take a taxi or a three-wheeler to the train station where I journey into India would truly begin. I couldn’t find any three-wheeler at that time of the day and had to take a taxi. So, a couple of the taxi men approached me and they have decided that one particular guy should take me because he could “speak” English. We loaded the car with my travel suitcase and I sat in front next to him and we took off. It was dark and the street were not lit like I would imagine the streets in the vicinity of the airport would be. Five minutes into the ride, it suddenly dawns to me that taxi driver was driving on the wrong side of the road and that the road was very narrow. I asked him how far was the train station from the airport, and he replied about 30-35 kilometers and that we should get there in 30-45 minutes. He started to drive very fast and I realized my trip was a bit too long for him thus he needed to get back to the airport quickly enough so he could do more business before the night was over.
Unfortunately for me this taxi driver would clearly see a big truck coming in the opposite direction and then he would decide to pass another car in the very last minute; mind you, I just got off the plane, and within 15 minutes on the road, I felt, this guy was going get us killed in a car crash they way he was driving. It almost seemed he was doing this purposely, and I found myself screaming “slowdown, slowdown”, he would shake his in a “bubble head” manner and say “it’s okay”, and I said “No, it’s not okay, slowdown”. Then I tried to reason with him, that if he is worried about getting back in time so he could do more business, not worry, and that I would pay him extra so he could take his time to drive safely but I realized that this guy didn’t really speak English but a few words of English. So here I was, I just got off the plane and a few minutes later, I could see my life flashing by as it appears I might as well make my final prayer.
Realizing that there was no hope trying to reason with this guy to get him to slow down, I quickly surrendered; I thought to myself if this was how I was going to check-out of this world so be it, at least I follow my dreams I came to India on a personal initiative. I held on to handle above the door and closed my eyes as I couldn’t see anything anyway as it was so dark. To my amazement, we got to the train station, and I wondered why weren’t we crushed by so many trucks that this driver was cutting in an out of traffic in front of? I paid him the fair he asked for and gave him a tip, after all he still drove me in one piece to my destination. I was grateful.
At the train station everything and all direction instructions are in Malayalam the state official language, so I couldn’t figure out what is what, so I would walk up to an Indian guy that looks like the Indian guy I am used to in my home city in the U.S. and I started asking for direction in English, and he would look at me as at lost as I was, he couldn’t speak English even though he looks like he could! Just like all the Indians I see in America and they all speak English, how come these guys couldn’t speak English, was a great surprise. After some sign language improvisation and me saying the name of the destination city loud and clear, a couple of guys waved me to follow them into the train I sat with them and they got me off at my proper station. I was grateful. On the train they would ask me “Where are you from?” and “what is your good name?” I was an item of curiosity on the whole train as everyone was kind of wondering what in the world this black guy was doing all the way over here”.
My next leg of my journey for the day was to be by bus, the buses are as big as tour buses in America, except the windows were all rolled up as it was very hot. Now I had the proof that Kerala is God’s Own Country, how? Simply read on.
As earlier mentioned I noticed very quickly that the roads are not as wide as I am used to in America and this is probably due to the fact that India is an older country just like some of the European countries such as France, where the road ways today are inherited from centuries of roads when there were no cars. But now 2018 India, we have the biggest buses, SUVs and a whole lot of motorcycles, and all must share that same narrow road. And if you have to get there, you just do whatever it takes to get there; passing, cutting in front of, changing lane all in the last minute, motorists just do what they have to do, and there seems to be another layer of silent communication among everyone, and “it” just keeps moving.
As a foreigner, once again I surrendered even though I was on a bus, and the likelihood that in I could be dead in a crash was real to me. From the pedestrians who also have to share the sides of the road to get to where they need to go to the motor scooters who have to share the road and avoid getting crushed and avoid crushing the pedestrians. Watching it all, it felt like the pedestrians from the old lady in here beautiful sari to the young school girls going to school’s attitude is “I know for sure you are not going to hit me”. And everyone goes about their business as quietly as you can imagine.
I thought to myself there should be a major accident here every 5 minutes, but why are there not any accident? With all the apparent chaos, there was no instance where anyone “flip” off anyone, no profanity to anyone even if the person just cuts a car off, the driver didn’t say a word, didn’t even appear upset by what in the U.S. we would call carelessness or stupidity of other motorist. Everyone is courteous to me and to each other, and with all that potential for real chaos, the people as a whole appear to have embraced life as such! as a gift, to be cherished, not to be wasted through utterance of futile wasteful energy burst, for that in my opinion, God has and continues to bless the people by carefully carrying everyone through the day in a smooth flow of all combined energies tagged as people.
There is a greater benefit to the whole when individuals care not to hurt each other, in other words when we love one another we all benefit. Kerala, God’s Own Country far and beyond the physical plane.