Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Glimpses of Peoples' Lives in Kerala and Karnataka

It is the people that we meet and their stories that make any place special. With a population of roughly eighty million in Kerala and Karnataka, there many people you could meet, but here is just a just a slice of life of some of the people we met in one month and their stories.

A photographer with a show coming up in Paris, who laughed when I offered him some old New Yorkers saying he had photographed for them. A man taking the revenue flow from his dad’s Delhi circus and investing in property and hotels. A woman building day spas aimed at the high tech crowd and international guests. A number of auto rickshaw drivers who are lucky to clear four dollars a day. A favorite auto rickshaw driver for several days who wouldn’t accept any extra rupees, but did finally agree to let us buy his daughter an English Dictionary. Another auto rickshaw driver who questioned why tourists always pay hotel bills without quibbling but bargain for less than one dollar with taxi drivers.

A family sleeping on the floor a derelict tea trader's building after their house was destroyed by the Tsunami but served us tea. A child who invited us in to the derelict building who simply, and proudly wanted to show off his homework. A man who invited us into his home, served us tea and wanted us to take some of his soy beans home and plant them. A former coffee picker who now runs a small resort and who announced "tonight I am chicken making” then prepared a luscious chicken tika masala meal. A town planning manager for Mysore who didn’t have a functioning computer in his entire office. Young waiters who also worked in call centers.

A young man who aspired to earn enough to take his widowed mother to Brazil where she would be with family who also spoke Portuguese. A woman owner of a guest house who thought there could be disturbances if the film Water were shown in India. A uniformed police officer at a long line waiting at a pre paid taxi stand that insisted we walk instead of taking a taxi, which of course we did, laughing aloud at how the taxi business was losing with help like that, as we wandered lost around the city. A writer, who encouraged visitors to the touring photography show his writer and artists group had sponsored using a portrait of Sadaam on their poster, to write their opinions of the show in a guest book. A group of young journalists who wanted to interview us in a lovely park, asking “what did we think of India?” and exchanged email addresses with us.