India is a multilingual, multi-ethnic and pluralistic society where one can come across a big difference between each region. Let me share my experience of coming across such a difference. I am from the northern part of India, Delhi; a “techie”, started my professional career by coming all the way from the north to south India, to be specific Kerala. Being a person who didn't get a chance to explore much, the idea of going out of Delhi always created a sense of excitement in me from the fact that I didn't know much about the place. The only things I knew was that Kerala has India’s lowest birthrate, l00% literacy rate and is commonly referred to as ‘God's own country’. Creating my own perception about the place and people, and with the excitement of exploring a new culture, I landed in Kerala.
As expected Kerala is indeed a beautiful place full of natural scenery, filled with lush greenery, less polluted & crowded. It was eye-pleasingly gorgeous and so truly deserved to hold that title; ‘God’s Own Country’. Coming from an overpopulated, over polluted city, Kerala seemed to be calm, peaceful and an economically balanced place where human life is moving with a stable pace. Gradually, I started feeling Kerala. I had to accept I can no longer have aloo paratha, but rice and sambhar instead. I had to accept that the nights were literally silent. Apart from the food and climate, there was a huge cultural shift between north and south; and also in the mindsets of the people and their lifestyle.
Though rough and rude at times, I found that Keralites generally made an effort to extend sincere hospitality to friendly foreigners. The people in Kerala are really peace-loving, but they are quite reserved. The thing which fascinated me most about the Keralites is their helping mentality, where they are ready to lend a helping hand when in need. But the language barrier is one of the problems which can make you feel out of the place. They are not ready to use the common tongue while conversing amongst friends. Some jokes are effective only in the regional language that they crack it in their language and burst out laughing. I will have to assume that it was a really funny joke and smile. These were the times I felt why there had to be so many languages in a single country, but unfortunately I couldn't do anything about it and had to accept it that way.
The mindsets of people in Kerala are quite confusing. They are broad-minded when it comes to their daughter’s education and her dreams. At the same time, they seem to be narrow-minded when they see the same girl with a boy at the bus stop. I have often felt one would be able to please a Keralite by the way she dresses. They have that real talent to guess a girl’s character by the way she selects her costumes. A complete salwar or saree is considered to be the ideal outfit expected from a lady whereas a sleeveless top and a pair of jeans will raise a few eyebrows . In Kerala, people like to live in their small world and are at times a little stubborn to accept any changes.The ‘in-law fights ' are very common here as well, but it's much milder than in the north. .
Entertainment and fun has a different definition here. It is not like people don't enjoy here, they do but then unlike northern parts, they will not go out as often as you’d expect as it is considered against culture by some of the elders. All the shops and markets are closed by 7pm and roads are empty. Being born and brought up in a place where people realize it is night only by 10pm, the emptiness and silence felt a bit awkward. I have to say that the capital city lacks adequate street lights in some parts. Some places have no street lights at all whereas some places have non-functional street lights. So if you have to go out after 7pm, go on your own risk. Despite of the fact that this city has a large working female population, the authorities haven’t shown signs of making a healthy environment for ladies at night. Strangely enough, people are ok with this and have no complaints.
Now it’s been a long time since I first came here, I can say Kerala is a beautiful place with amazing people, but people should come out of the cultural restrictions and should try to accept the changes.