The South African made Indian

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view from the school’s rooftop: Back waters of Kerala

Seeing as it is 5am and I will not be getting any more sleep for the night, (I will elaborate on this at a later stage), I thought let’s finally post about this unplanned trip to India and all the experiences which accompanies such a trip.

I am currently in the Northern part of South India, a province called Kerala which is well known for the beautiful beaches, delicious vegetarian cuisine and of course hospitable culture.
My previous visit to India in 2011 was a tour of the North, where I fell in love with this incredible place.

The South is a completely different experience . A very “well run state” (according to locals) extreme poverty appears scarce and the literacy rate is quite high. I landed at a tiny airport in Calicut/Khozikhode, which is so unknown even the travel agent had some difficulty finding it (airport code CCJ, if anyone is planning to visit). The reason I chose this remote part of the country is to enhance my studies with a short course in Ayurvedic Medicine at a training college, as well as a Yoga Teacher Training course.
My parents accompanied me to see that I am settled at a legit institute ( as I found it online and had no references to confirm the existence of this school). And because my sisters discouraged me going by myself in the event that I was kidnapped by a taxi driver, to make their point they used words like “Taken” and “Liam Neeson”. So naturally my Eat, Pray,Yoga journey was facilitated by the rents.

The school/hospital is located on the Backwaters of Kerala, in the quaint town of Kannur (pronounced Kun-nooh). It is about 200kms from Calicut Airport and a three hour “drive”/ Rollercoaster ride/ adrenaline pumping drive from Calicut to Kannur.

During the journey in a comfortable taxi, many thoughts crossed my mind, in between the bouts of whiplash from the erratic braking, the constant hooting and the speed (60-80kms per hour at best); thoughts such as “what have you gotten yourself into?”, “is there such a thing as: overly ambitious?”, “is it too late to go back home?” and of course “what were you thinking?”. These thoughts do come back to haunt me on special days when I interact with creatures residing in crevices in my place of temporary residence.

However, upon arriving at the school : “PVA Multi Speciality Nursing Home/Hospital” I felt a little more at ease. The school/treatment centre is a large open building to allow ventilation from the rare but cool breeze and as it is situated away from the busy traffic, brings a beautiful tranquil and peaceful atmosphere.

My mum had been worried and expressed her concern during the flight by saying (in gujarati):
She won’t cope, it’s India”
“nevermind two weeks is enough”
“ okay, one month is enough, she won’t survive longer”
However seeing the school she felt more at ease and the phrases changed to:
“She loves it, she should just move here”
“ She will have to come back again perhaps for 6 months”
“ she should just register for the Year course”
that is until I encountered a giant cockroach and screamed blue murder for someone to save me. She then said “ I think a month is fine”

Thus so far, India has been warm (climate and friendliness) and pleasant, I haven’t encountered any foul smells, but often I get the scent of fresh spices, chopped coconuts and fresh juices.

I have made a few observations regarding kerala:
– The people appear to have their weight relatively controlled (yes Diabetes is a problem), but obesity and childhood obesity levels do not appear to be high.
-The absence of beggars and alcoholics wandering the streets
-Often the children and younger generations are fluent in English as they are in English schools.
-If India increased the number of bins in an area, wouldnt the litter perhaps decrease….? (just a thought)

Lastly, it amused me to see people in the streets wearing clothing which I would usually wear to a wedding, as their everyday attire. (This explains why you can never be over-dressed at an indian wedding).

Over all the start of my India experience was very positive yet unpredictable.
It isn’t what I expected but I look forward to what awaits