I see why Kerala is called that: diversity and beauty of the flora and fauna, the backwaters, and the lush green outdoors. (The downside is the mosquitoes.) Kerala stands out in many other ways besides being beautiful. Imagine this. There is a Hindu temple at every street corner and a gazillion churches in a state that is ruled consistently by the communist party. There are no panhandlers, and ALL men wear mustache.
The people are gracious. I got to chat with a retired civil servant about Arundhati Roy’s work. As in the west, here too there is mixed sentiment for her work. He did not think that Roy had anything valuable to say and that she is an eccentric. With a knowing smile he added that he is of course biased. Although a fiction why the locals may not particularly like Roy’s portrayal of Kerala in “God of Small Things” is understandable. Keralans are known to be liberal, progressive, and literate (the state is 91% literate). My massage therapist said she does not always understand Roy’s writings.
I am thoroughly enjoying the homestay. In addition to doing the things that tourists typically do, I am being a local unlike I was in other states. I went to see a Malayalam movie in the theatre (lots of families brought their babies along who were nice and quiet); I went to a family gathering of my hosts’ relatives and ate local food on banana leaf- traditional style; and in the evenings I am watching local sitcoms with my host family. Language? Not a problem. There are many similar words in Tamil & Malayalam- I make up the rest.