Just some notes from the road as we meander through Kerala on a 15 day trip with Kerala Tourism on the Kerala Blog Express taking in lots of sights, sounds, history, monuments, beaches and backwaters. So while the rest of the troop are in the thick of action sightseeing somewhere in Wayanad, I am enjoying a “do nothing” day at the pictureque and peaceful Vythiri Resort. And while I’m trying to make friends with the monkey who keeps dropping by, these are some thoughts that cross my mind on a particularly lazy day.

Density and number of moustaches
More often than not, Malayali men will sport moustaches. Most heroes and famous people/ politicians (seen on hoardings – haven’t seen that many in real life) all sport large, abundant moustaches. “Why” is a question that befuddles me and I haven’t gotten an answer from anyone yet. It’s also a fact that it’s not in vogue in the North.

Coconut here, coconut there, coconut everywhere
Has anyone taken a census of how many coconut trees there are in Kerala? Because I would be curious to know if anyone ever counted. It might possibly be the highest density of these trees on earth. And how many people have died from coconut related injuries. Surely, someone walking down the village path would have a coconut fall on his head. At least once, I would imagine. There are actually no reported numbers on coconut related deaths, not just in Kerala, but in the world. Isn’t that strange?

But I am rather alarmed when I read this article about the decline of the coconut. And then I realise, it’s a dated article. A more recent one indicates the price is rising. Yay! “A steady increase in coconut prices has given a new twist to the coconut sector which had been marked by low profitability for long. The retail price of coconuts has gone up to Rs.17-20 per nut.” The widespread availability of coconut also means that you get to experience it in your food, your drink and your hair.

Gold’s own country?
How much gold is “really” there in Kerala is anybody’s guess. Combined with the Padmanabhaswamy temple and every Kerala household, I am thinking it might possibly be the richest state in the country, if not the world. And a NYT feature reports: “Kerala gobbles up 20 percent of the country’s gold every year, and the World Gold Council estimates that India, the largest consumer of gold in the world, consumes 30 percent of the global supply.”

Kerala brides apparently wear so much gold that on their wedding day, that they could potentially wipe off the debt of a small 3rd world country.

Land of heaviest drinkers?
Somewhere enroute, as a few of us were talking outside the bus, in the morning about to board, we noticed a seemingly inebriated guy who was just barely able to stand, hanging around our bus. Now, I’m not about to disapprove of drinking, and early in the day. But at 8 am? Fully drunk? What time would he have started? And seriously why do men in Kerala drink so much? (I have no idea about the women, since I never see them in those long serpentine queues outside wine shops).

Someone else has pondered on this heavy issue and this BBC article has facts and personal accounts that might give an insight. “Kerala is India’s tippler country. It has the highest per capita consumption – over eight litres (1.76 gallons) per person a year – in the nation, overtaking traditionally hard-drinking states like Punjab and Haryana. The curiously-named Kerala State Beverages Corporation (KSBC) runs 337 liquor shops, open seven days a week. Each shop caters on average to an astonishing 80,000 clients.”

And the heaviest readers too!
In case you thought drinking and reading don’t go together, you’re mistaken. Kerala also reportedly has the highest literacy rate among the states of India, followed by the state of Mizoram. It’s a common sight to see people read local language newspapers. People are generally very informed. Ernakulam became the first district to attain 100% literacy. And programs like Literacy Mission, Kerala and the state government’s education efforts help reach this figure.

However, I also read that recently the state from my part of the world, Tripura has actually beaten Kerala in 2013, but this is what I’d call healthy competition.

More interesting facts

7 thoughts on “Fun, curious and interesting facts about Kerala

  1. Anita – Some additional trivia & myths – Kerala gets it name from Kera which means Coconut…hence the land of coconuts. A saying that my Grandfather told me & my Dad keeps re-telling me is “Thenge Chatikilla” which transalated means the Coconut tree would not decieve you – it never falls on your head. I have never heard of a single death or injury related to a coconut tree falling on ones head. This means quiet a bit when one considers the density of the Coconut trees..it might easily outnumber the popluation of the state. All or most Mallus consider the Coconut tree as the Kalpavriksha…every single part of the tree is used by the people in their daily lives. Infact, I know that in my part of the world – when a person dies, a coconut tree is cut & is used as firewood for the final rites.

    Another intersting trivia is that Kerala is the only state where the wine shops (KSBCs) are closed on the 1st of every month. Not that it matters as the state still registers the best sales when we compare the country even with 12 additional holidays & not to forget the hartal windows 🙂

    1. Interesting Rajil! And yes, even a local told me confidently that there are no “coconut” related deaths. Plus, I guess people are very careful since it’s everywhere! And thanks for adding the wine shop trivia, which I didn’t know about 🙂

  2. Good stuff! I like your writing style.. inspires me to go back to writing, but I’m often at a loss for newer subjects. I’m gonna have to resume I guess!

  3. Lovely read indeed. It gives me quite some hope needed in order to enjoy my trip there.
    I am looking forward to it. Thanks guys.

  4. A well written article on kerala. Culture of kerala always inspires people across the world.
    And the answer for large mustache is that Men in kerala consider large mustache as symbol of manliness and pride.

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