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09/14/2015

A story of rugby and alcohol

Any resemblance with existing persons is fictitious. Or not.  

Our small family recently completed its yearly pilgrimage to Kerala.

 

There I had to face a situation: in India, a baby is not a person but a rugby ball. As soon as they see a baby, arms reach out, they grab him and pass him to one another. I must be a not-so-good scrum-half: at the sight of these reaching out women - which were not all pretty sights, even for me (so I could only imagine for a baby), with missing or rotten teeth, mustaches and beards - I did not let go of the ball. Just because the three pairs of arms who welcomed us scared me away, feeling totally aggressed. While it is apparently an act of “politeness” to ask to carry my child, politeness I was supposed to return by handing the child in question away. Well, to be honest with you, I didn’t care one bit about going the impolite stuck-up bitch that would not let her baby go! 

And my baby played along and refused to leave my arms. Of course I don’t want him to be anti-social; I just want people to give him some time to adjust to all these new faces before being thrown into the scrum!

After holding on against almost everybody, people left us alone… I took advantage of the new found peace to let baby stretch and take a few steps. No sooner had he a foot on the ground that he got grabbed by an ‘uncle’ who had identified an opening and seized it! He got eventually passed in the arms of four women, who were not even from my husband's family...  

 

Without transition:

Statistics show that Indians drink less than Europeans (4.3 versus 12.5 litres per year per person) except that we should remove from the equation women (who do not have the right to drink), pious men (who do not drink out of religious conviction), and all those who drink home-made alcohol, which kill mostly in silence, and sometime loudly (when more than a hundred people die, like it happened in June in Mumbai). Malayali drink 10.2 litres per year, quite far behind the guys of Andhra Pradesh (35 litres). For many Indian States, taxes on alcohol represent nearly a quarter of the State income (22% in Kerala); whereas it is less than 1% in France. This makes it difficult for States to tackle alchool consumption, as they regularly try. Only the Gujarat has been holding on tight, but the black market has been exploding. Increasing taxes (already at more than 100%) or making alcohol illegal is fine but it does not help much... 

 

india,wedding,kerala,baby,rugby,alcohol

 

(1) In India:  http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/kerala-increases-tax-on-liquor-beer-and-wine/#sthash.PNIRO4yJ.dpuf ; http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-05-16/news/62239496_1_total-prohibition-vm-sudheeran-kerala-government ;  http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/the-alcohol-economy/article5436924.ECE ; http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/blogs/blog-datadelve/article6344654.ece 

 

(2) In France: http://www.alcool-info-service.fr/alcool/consommation-alcool-france/culture-alcool-consommation-vin#.VfZl8Jf3aJ8  ;  http://www.insee.fr/fr/themes/comptes-nationaux/tableau.asp?sous_theme=3.2 & xml = t_3203 ; http://next.Liberation.fr/vous/2011/02/17/Quels-sont-les-pays-qui-consomment-Le-plus-d-alcool-dans-le-monde_715595

08/17/2015

Kerala getaway

When you need to breathe – and it happens sometimes (every day?) when you live in Mumbai (see thus article regarding pollution in India) – nothing like Kerala ! And if you have to take a plane, might as well go somewhere beautiful and 'exotic'. You might as well take a plane actually, since getting out of Mumbai by car takes at least one hour and half and the road with the traffic is just depressing.  

So one hour and half away from Mumbai (by place) there is Calicut/Kozhikode (the new name), with two daily direct flights. And this is the entrance point to Wayanad that you would reach a 3 hour drive later – yes, you need to work hard to get your Indian getaway!   

 

Less known than Kerala backwaters, Munnar tea plantations, Thekkady wild elephants, Wayanad is as lush and green…

Inde,Kerala,Calicut,Kozhikode,Wayanad,Ayurveda,grassroots,Kalpetta,plantation de thé,escapade de Mumbai,zamzam,musulmans

Inde,Kerala,Calicut,Kozhikode,Wayanad,Ayurveda,grassroots,Kalpetta,plantation de thé,escapade de Mumbai,zamzam,musulmans

Wayanad is also a famous place for ayurveda. A dream setting for a treatment! Since my parents had tried the experience, the choice of hotel for the following week-end was quite critical: it had to be something nice but without too many people, for a smooth transition back to the 'real' world. Wayanad is known for its ‘tree-houses’. We had selected two: Tranquil Resort and Marmalada Springs.   

But finally we went to Grassroots: luxury tents in breathtaking nature. And for half the price as other resorts. And we did not regret the choice!! Only 5 tents, a big convivial dining table and a crazy view!! The only 'fla"w' is that who says tent says flimsy barrier to sound. You immediately feel less secluded when you hear the imam* five times a day, the fish monger who sells his produce early morning, the staff listening to techno music, the neighbour switching on TV or a baby crying (mine this time ;-) ).

Inde,Kerala,Calicut,Kozhikode,Wayanad,Ayurveda,grassroots,Kalpetta,plantation de thé,escapade de Mumbai,zamzam,musulmans

Inde,Kerala,Calicut,Kozhikode,Wayanad,Ayurveda,grassroots,Kalpetta,plantation de thé,escapade de Mumbai,zamzam,musulmans

Inde,Kerala,Calicut,Kozhikode,Wayanad,Ayurveda,grassroots,Kalpetta,plantation de thé,escapade de Mumbai,zamzam,musulmans

Inde,Kerala,Calicut,Kozhikode,Wayanad,Ayurveda,grassroots,Kalpetta,plantation de thé,escapade de Mumbai,zamzam,musulmans 

* There are a lot of Muslims in North Kerala – 2 millions in Wayanad, and 79 millions in the entire state (they represent 25% of the population, against 13% at the country level) (source 1, source 2

So when you get down the plane, you see almost everybody carrying this type of boxes: 

 

India,Kerala,Calicut,Kozhikode,tea plantation,green,grassroots,Kalpetta,aurveda,tree houses,pollution,muslims

 

Initially I thought it was some kind of aquaguard to purify water but actually no. Asking around we found out that most of the passengers were coming from the Gulf** and were bringing back zam-zam water with them, holy water from Meca. 

 ** More than one fourth of Kerala households have a non-resident worker; and it goes up to three fourths in Muslim households! Also 10% of Kerala population live outside Kerala. In 2007, 85% of the 3 millions of non-resident workers malayali were based in the Gulf. (source) 

To finish, they eat some weird stuff there (but not bad): fruits marinated with chilis in salted water:

Inde,Kerala,Calicut,Kozhikode,Wayanad,Ayurveda,grassroots,Kalpetta,plantation de thé,escapade de Mumbai,zamzam,musulmans

03/04/2014

Trip to Kovalam beach (Kerala)

India,Kerala,Kovalam,Kovalam beach

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