Normally when I’m travelling around my home town, I don’t pay much attention to the outside world. I usually take a book or a journal to while my time. As I come home almost every six months, my feeling is that there is nothing to see. There was a time in the past when the rubbish that was strewn all around the place, the dirt that gets stirred up everytime the wind blows a little bit too hard, would upset me. The rubbish is all still there, maybe more so than previously.
This time, however, I was able to see past all this. The beauty is still there. The old paddy fields may have made way for houses and the centre of most villages are now full of shops. High rise buildings now stand where in the past small shops stood. The big trees which were the centrepoint of most big junctions are dwarfed by the buildings which have cropped up around them.
The capital city has transformed beyond recognition. The travelling this time felt much better as the roads have been widened with no potholes in sight. My old haunts are not there anymore, or if they are, I can’t find them. The old main bus stop and train station have now been replaced with state of the art buildings. The people who use them haven’t changed though. Crossing the traffic signals at inappropriate times, just as the lights are about to change colour and glaring at you as if it is you who have made the mistake. Also the crazy driving continues, I think we managed to avoid at least two near misses on the roads this time. Will we be as lucky the next time?
As I swam in the sea today, I didn’t see any fish, I saw plastic bags and sweet wrappers. The beach I swam in was a private one and on a cleaner part of Kovalam. I dread to think how the other beaches fare. In Varkala, I stopped counting the number of stray dogs I could see roaming the beach as tourists lay on their sun loungers.
It is time to tidy up our little ‘Keralam’ and give it the respect she deserves. The beauty is still there, but hidden under all the neglect. She has served us well and made us proud to say that we are from Kerala. What have we done for her in return? Noise pollution, light pollution, no proper waste disposal facility, where are the street cleaners? We cannot just leave it to the authorities, we should also take responsibility and do what we can to look after our homeland for the next generations.
After I wrote this, I saw a government advert on the television saying exactly the same thing. It looks like these matters are being addressed, but will take time I suppose.