If you are planning to travel to India , do not come to Cochin during this period of four days!
An all India convention of Doctors, almost all of them sponsored by Pharmaceutical companies is descending upon Cochin, bringing with them 7000 doctors from all over India and many hangers on. Most of the hotels in Ernakulam are already booked out, Ft Cochin has booked many hundred doctor visitors, eventhough some guest houses where only european budget travellers stay will be shunned by these drug companies for their clientele. I strongly advise you to avoid Cochin at this time, since all the services will be strained to the limit. The best time would be to come after the pharmaceutical circus has departed.
Reading about the abuse of women and girls in India, was surprised to note that Kerala has one of the highest rates in India, which itself has a very high rate by western standards. So much so for their literacy, they are just educated abusers I suppose. There was a story in the BBC about how the moslem women since the carnage in Gujerat have become much more independent and sowing the path for freedom which the men are yet to follow. An explanation could be this:
Richard Haass, formerly the State Department's policy director, recognizes how men's dignity is bound up with women's. He has said:
patriarchal societies in which women play a subservient role men are also societies in which men play subservient roles to men.
It was so sad to see so many young men in feminine roles in their daily life, subservient and beng treated as inferior at work ( even in places where there are tourist influences).
While the society seems harmonious on the outside, the inside tension, first between men and women, then between various religions and then between the various castes. An upper caste Hindu woman said to me in cochin: it is a waste to educate these lower caste and moslem men and women, they end up in the Arab states as maids and servants and waiters anyway! she did not wish to give the dignity to others outside her caste. Sad indeed..
but something we can do very little about. Tourists, unaware as they may be, surreptiously bring equality into this society, as the tourists treat men and women equally and also are unaware of the nuances of the caste system.
The staff of Air Deccan at the Cochin Airport could neither give us the reason for delay or wouldnt not, not could assure us of its departure. we passed a couple anxious hours, fearing that we might miss our connection.
Talking to the staff it is obvious that they were not chosen for their brilliance but for following the orders without asking, none of them had any initiative.
This is the last time I will fly Air Deccan
I warn the other travellers about the safety of flying an aircraft serviced by disinterested personnel including very very tired pilots
Someone named Joseph contacted me through VT, saying he was a student studying in Europe and would be in his Kerala home while I was there and would be glad to show me around. I corresponded with him for a while and met him my first day there. I quickly found out he wanted to sell me a tour which was no big deal since I figured he had an angle. But the price he quoted me for an overnight trip to the backwaters and Munnar was 13,000 Rupees (about $300). The price the hotel's agent asked for the same thing was 3,800 Rupees. He laughed when I told him about Joseph and said he had never heard of a scheme like that asking for more than 5000.
Bottom line: be cautious before handing over money, get more than one price quote, and don't expect the schemes to wait unti you actually arrive. And, in Kochi, beware of Joseph.