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Kerala: Land of Happy People

All tuktuk drivers seem to have marigold charms

The signature hammer-and-sickle red flags are posted almost everywhere you look. Building walls are adorned with colourful graffiti and posters with ‘CCCP’-style icons emblazoned on them. If you’ve just been plunked here, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d landed in some surreal, Stallinist beach resort, but fear not. This is a holiday, and there’s no food rationing or hard labour here. This is Kerala after all, home of the happiest communists on earth.

Communism is probably not something everyone associates with ‘God’s Own Country’, tucked in the lush southeast corner of India. But you won’t find USSR-style parades or North Korea’s favourite mass performances here. If it’s a large congregation you want, you can experience one of Kerala’s famous boat-racing festivals where hordes of people congregate to the beat of one drum. If you prefer cultural performances, try watching a Kalaripayat martial arts match or the dramatic Kathakali dance – while they’re performed for tourists, you can be sure Big Brother’s not forcing them into it.

Kerala's tea plantations in Munnar

Far from the classically communist bleak you’d expect, this ‘prolitariate utopia’ is India’s most socially forward-thinking state, where 5-star resorts and rice farming coexist in a happy equilibrium. Sandwiched between the Western Ghats mountains and the Indian Ocean, there’s equal beauty in its sandy shores, verdant tea plantations and rolling mountains where elephants have been known to surprise a few hikers at the peak.

Since electing the world’s first democratic politoburo in the 1950s, Kerala has been an egalitarian destination. Communism has made this state India’s statistically best-educated and healthiest state.

Cruising the backwaters

A high percentage of Keralans are actually university degree holders, and are keen to exercise their knowledge with visitors (you’ll just have to ask them to speak slowly – a Malayali accent is not something to be understood at a machine-gun pace). Take a slow cruise along Kerala’s famous backwaters, and villagers would wave or stop for a chat. For some strange reason, everyone just seems happy – if there’s anything wrong with this picture, they’re certainly not letting it on.

If you’re a collector of all things Communist – from Che tees to Mao’s red books – Kerala is probably the easiest place for you to obtain a hammer-and-sickle red flag of your very own. Heck, the happy folk will even throw in a colourful party-election poster in deliciously squiggly Malayali text that accompanies a photo of someone with an impressive mustache.

One Response to “Kerala: Land of Happy People”

  1. Roeger says:

    I am very satisfied to see your article. Thank you so much and I am having a look ahead to contact you. Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?

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