ARAGORN ... Not all those who wander are lost (JRR Tolkien)

India - Touring

Rural India: the countryside and the Backwaters of Kerala

This page continues our story of India ... wonderful people, but a contrast of old and new, rich and poor. We spent three days on a tour of rural Kerala, including an area of lakes and canals called the "Backwaters". We found that many Indians still live and work in less-than-modern conditions. The contrasts are incredible. We also found that there are few places in India where there is not at least one person in sight at all times.

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In the villages, a banana leaf makes an excellent bath tub for this baby.


This woman spun thread by hand-cranking this machine. Her amenities included a thin mat on which to kneel, and the water bottle in the lower left. She normally smiled the whole time, however she was a bit serious when she was photoed.

This shot shows the "spinning room floor", and the many women at work on these machines. (In this photo, you can see the smiles on their faces. While they seemed happy enough, there appears to be an opportunity for the AFL/CIO. (But the state of Kerala has the Communist Party in power ... go figure.)




Upstairs, it was incredibly noisy as there were about a dozen looms clacking away. All run by woman-power, naturally.

All packed into this wonderful structure

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Not all the work was performed by women:

These men are weaving "berber" rugs (see coils under nearest elbow. The weaving part of the loom is about nine feet wide, the structure is about ten feet tall, and the men stand on a platform five feet up. They do everything by hand- and foot-power. The nearer man is about to throw the shuttle through the threads for the other man to catch.





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This older(?) gentleman threw pots ... dozens and dozens a day. We are not really sure of his age, somewhere between 35 and 65, we think.

Now this fellow was older (about my age), but could still hand-cut a precise mortise or tenon for house posts, beams and rafters.

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One of the nights of our trip was spent on a tour boat.

These tour boat, like all the following boats you will see, are made by sewing the planks to the frame and to other planks with coir thread! The joints are pasted over with pitch, but the construction is definitely "traditional". Our boat was only a few years old. The helmsmen are forward for visibility. The motive power was a Yamaha outboard on a bracket on the starboard quarter. It was the 15 hp version, the same size we use on our nine-foot, 110-lb dinghy. Only the Indian outboards are re-tuned to start on gasoline and then run on kerosene!

The helmsmen on all the boats used a traditional way of keeping from getting sunstroke.

Riding on the canals and lakes of the Backwater showed us more of the rural, traditional Indian lifestyles.

Again, a hand-sewn boat, this time doing duty as a barge filled to the load limit with crops (copra?, coconuts?).

Harvesting the crop was also done traditionally....the highest climber we have seen in all of our tropical traveling.

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These two fishermen were poling their boat around at dawn, as we awoke on our tour boat. The water hyacinths floating in the lakes (and canals) are a man-introduced pest now clogging the waterways.

Later in the day, another fishernman glided past, under sail:

Back on the canals, there still were lots of people:

Looking for a ride on a waterway taxi.

Or, just catching dinner.

Onshore the streets in villages were busy:

but with traditional forms of transportation.

Nonetheless, the workmanship was excellent. In the temples the carvings were intricate and unique  :

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