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Friday, November 30, 2012

Trivandrum

On Mahatma Ghandi Road.
 
I have recovered from my illness, the symptoms of which were compounded by the untimely celebrations of Murugan the Peacock God. Murugan is important to South Indians in particular and both Malayalis and Dravidian cultures on the east side, Tamil Nadu celebrate him as if it's his least coming. Although handsome lemon yellow flags are festooned in every tree the main part of the celebration, only in my village I notice, comes via what appears to be a leftover sound system from a Motorhead concert. A tower of black monster speakers nestle under the Banyan tree with only a pitifully callow youth with the remote control. No council noise patrols here. so what you were left with was 18 hours of Indian music with the inevitable surfacing of Psy's Gangham Style every hour of so. So where was I? oh yes 18 hours a day beginning 5am ending 11pm with occasionally impromptu playing of something less than soothing a 2am.

It is quite entertaining to watch some Indians here (let's be accurate and say all Indians) struggling with modern women of their country. Both them (here in Trivandrum wore tight jeans and well everyone, particularly men were shocked. Eyes like magnets returning again and again to what attracted them. Great to see some variation on the sari - anything. Great to see. By the way a big thanks to the Kerala Tourist Board which is now following this blog on Twitter.
My apartment here in Kerala is called a homestay. This is when an Indian lets out part of their home usually the upstairs. I have the upstairs here in the village of Vazhamuttom. of course I can hear the owners cough or scrape up the sauce from their plate. Still it is homely.

I have a perfectly preserved dragonfly on my writing desk. Found him on the road to Trivandrum. Black and gold and two inches long his large eyes keeps watch over what I write.

One of my more erudite friends noted recently that India had the highest GDP in the world during the 14th and 15th centuries. A lawyer I met in Bombay said that it it was incontrovertible that without key funds not ending up in their rightful place India would not have the poverty it does ie. lack of fresh running water, no refuse collection services, insufficient hygiene facilities for women at work or school or university.
So with historic wealth generation, with sufficient economic power which does exist what are the problem ths country faces. Rational intuition suggests that there is an issue around wealth distribution.
If the Spirit Level raised the profile of the debate about inequality in European countries. Denmark typically being a good example: salary differentials generally not exceeding 5 to 1 with the richest earning five times the least well off India must be off the scale.
In Calcutta I had a cup of tea in an air-conditioned cafe. The tea was unexceptional Black tea, Liptons I think. It cost 120 rupees. Outside in the heat people were paying 3 rupees for a tea, yes half the size but a far tastier Chai version. This made my tea 40x more expensive (for an inferior product).
My conclusion here is clouded. What does this mean? I feel that there is something artificial about the pricing, that barriers appear where there should be no barriers. The guard in that chilly cafe wasn't admitting any normal Indians. viz. those with little money.

I have of late, I wherefore know not lost all my mirth. For, having recently got over India shock, not drinking enough water, getting too much sun, eating unusual vegetarian food, I found myself divested of that critical factor out here, sleep.

Back to the Peacock God Murugan. On the seventh day a hundred million beautiful lemon yellow flags were out. And to Gangnam Style add hanting, wailing, and machine gun tablas which went on to pepper my febrile consciousness--catastrophe given I came here, into bucolic India, to find a quiet place to write, even remodel my life before I re-enter the UK in mid 2013. Of course, I took it upon myself to clamber up to the Peacock temple and pray for silence there and then in the afternoon sultriness of a keenly hot Keralan winter. I had discovered a fantastic spot. It's a beautiful temple, cut out of strange black rock, buried in coconut palms but brushed by melting breezes brought up from the Maldives through the Arabian sea to the southern tip of India. The temple has a clear view of the sea and it feels a most salubrious place.

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