People of the Pepper Kingdom πŸ‘‘

Accompanying me on this trip to Kerala is the book “Eating India” by Chitrita Banerji. Borrowing a line from the book on Kerala…

“A state tourism brochure proclaims: ‘With the Arabian Sea to the west, the Western Ghats towering 500-2700 meters to the east and networked by forty-four rivers, Kerala enjoys unique geographical features that have made it one of the most sought after tourism destinations in Asia. A long shoreline with serene beaches….lush hill stations and exotic wildlife…sprawling plantations and paddy fields.”

Picturesque Kochi, Kerala

The author sets about exploring the culinary feasts to be enjoyed in Kerala. And no mention of food in Kerala is complete without touching on the most popular spice in world – the black pepper. And as the author details in the book, history is witness to the fact that for may centuries Kerala was the sole source of this spice, popularly called the Indian black gold. “A medieval traveller referred to the state as the pepper kingdom.”

“Life almost seems normal here.” I said to my cab driver KK as we head out from Kochi to Thiruvilla.

“People here have learnt to live with the virus.” he replies “Everyone wears mask.” It was true. I saw kids on bikes. No helmets but definitely wearing masks😬.

The cab had a modification too. There is plastic sheet acting as a shield between the driver and the passengers at the back. “Auto rickshaws too have the same contraption, separating the passengers and thd driver. It’s mandatory” says KK

Banglaore had nothing of this sort !!??

We reached the Vytilla junction in Kochi. “The flyover seems complete.” I say

“Yes, the inauguration is pending though. People are waiting for the elections to get over.” KK says. He adds “Did you notice the height barrier on the bridge? Trailers are not allowed, they still have to go by the side road. ” 

“Why?” I ask “There is the metro rail line going over the bridge and the tall vehicles will hit it.” KK replies

“But both the constructions are brand new. They could have taken care of that !!!???”πŸ™„. 

I was looking out for changes in the scenery outside. Traffic is considerably less. Shops are still closed. “Private buses plying have reduced almost to half in number. No school of college buses. Only a handful of trains are running.” he says

We cross Alappuzha and soon reached Thiruvilla The funeral service was in progress. I sat in the house, with the family. The service in the house got over and the body is now to be taken to the church.

There was video being taken of the funeral service. I was surprised. People don’t usually film funerals. “It’s  live coverage, being streamed on YouTube. It’s big business now” my cousin said and showed me the video. I was stunned. Wow!! 

Suddenly two cops arrive on a 2 wheeler. They have come to warn the people who have come from Bangalore to keep distance from the rest of the group. Someone had complained.

I am spooked. Someone complained !!?? I keep a distance for the remaining part of the funeral. The service went well. The weather was kind.

If people were feeling that uncomfortable, it’s better that I take off. I didn’t even get to say proper goodbyes. “We’ll look on the bright side. If nothing, you learnt a few new things in this trip. You would have known none of this if you hadn’t ventured out.” said a wise uncle

“It’s quite normal here. Neighbours complain.” said KK on the way back to Kochi

It was raining cats and dogs by evening. And I thought I will miss out the on rains in Kerala this year. The cab dropped me back at the airport; I was flying out the same night. 

Raining in Kochi

Back home hubs was gleefully awaiting my return.

“So, your people ratted you out huh?” πŸ˜€

“Not my people, maybe the neighbours or maybe the police were tracking people.” I defend 😏

“Funny only your people knew you were travelling. They saw you and called the cops. Are they scared of you?” he continues πŸ˜€

“Atleast when my cousin met you, he didn’t scream. Call the cops, she has just arrived from Bangalore.”

He has enough to taunt me forever now. But this is how things are in Kerala. The people are highly educated, aware and hence cautious of outside visitors in their midst.

Till next post, take care !!

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