One of the first things I observe about any place is the ratio of city to jungle. Of man-made infrastructure versus nature. The most modern and cosmopolitan cities are made of marble and glass, and even a blade of grass has a hard time popping up between the curbs. Even in India, many big cities are turning into concrete jungles as opposed to the natural places they started as.
The city of Trivandrum, in Kerala, is the opposite: as though bungalows and buildings have been nestled into a wild jungle without taking over. Greenery is everywhere, climbing over old rusted cars and crumbling houses as though to take them back into the earth.
If you’re in a big Indian city and have some time, or are thinking about visiting India, make sure to head down to Kerala. There, rivers, lakes and the ocean all meet. Take a boat along some of the backwaters and wonder at the tranquility.
Keralan food is generally wetter and lighter than its north Indian cousins. Coconut palms dot the landscape and so coconut finds its way into many dishes. Enjoy specialties like payasam, puttu, idli sambar and any fish curry!
If you’re from North India, or most of your experience in India is there (like myself), observe the differences in locals’ clothes and attitudes towards work and rest.
Visit small towns like Poovar and Kovalam, and check out the beautiful black sand beaches. You’ll find locals, sitting back and taking it easy in the middle of the afternoon. Take the time to chat with people and soak up the serenity of such a pristine place.
Bronwyn McBride is a student from Vancouver, BC, and now lives between India and Canada. After quitting her intensive study of circus arts and dance in Quebec, Bronwyn flew across the globe alone to see if she could live in a very different way. It wasn't her first visit to India, and wouldn't be her last!
Wherever she is, Bronwyn explores different ways to volunteer and get involved with local communities. She's worked with severely disabled kids in a Mother Teresa orphanage in Kolkata, crossed the country with a social change performance tour, and has spent long months through the boiling summer in Varanasi, working in a school for girls. Next up: enjoying volunteerism and a foray into Bollywood in India's cosmopolitan metropolis, Mumbai.
More of Bronwyn's writing can be found at: www.bronwyngrace.wordpress.com