We’re all warned from a very young age that it’s dangerous to talk to strangers. ‘Stranger danger’ is drilled into us throughout our childhood, that we shouldn’t trust, talk, walk, or accept anything from strangers.
But while this is great advice for children, it doesn’t really work for travelers. Especially when visiting a place with as fascinating a humanscape as Kerala.
Odds are that if you’ve traveled, you’ve returned home with incredible stories of having talked to strangers. Stories of the fascinating characters you met, of the locals who invited you into their home, of the remarkable human connections that you’ll never forget.
Because human interactions are some of the best, and most powerful parts of travel. As Anthony Bourdain said:
“To be treated well in places where you don’t expect to be treated well, to find things in common with people you thought previously you had very, very little in common with, that can’t be a bad thing.”
When you’re a traveller, strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet. And this is especially true in Kerala; a melting pot where the most diverse ideologies, faiths and cultures co-exist like no other place on the planet.
A place that is human by nature.
5 Types of People You’ll Meet in Kerala
#Humanbynature (Click to Play Video)
The Hype About Kerala
Kerala is a State in the Southwest of India; a thin State that runs for 600 km down the tropical Malabar Coast. It’s a serenely beautiful region known as Gods Own Country, with some of the most diverse terrain you could ever imagine.
Travelers flock here to connect with nature; they travel to spend time on the glistening backwaters, to explore the tea, coffee and spice covered hills of the Western Ghats, and to invigorate their taste buds with delicately spiced cuisine.
They travel for the wildlife sanctuaries, where elephants, exotic birds, and wild tigers all roam freely, and for the bliss of pulling up some sand on tropical beaches along the Arabian Sea.
While Kerala is part of India, the whole region is a world unto its own; distinctly unique, and very far removed from the chaotic charm of icons like Delhi and Jaipur. But with all of this incredible nature, most travelers who return from Kerala cherish the connections they made with locals.
And that is the power of connecting with another human being.
Beyond the stunning landscapes, the magic of Kerala is in connecting with it’s people; hearing their stories, and sharing in their unique way of life. Travelers might visit Kerala for the landscapes, but they ultimately return for its unique humanscape.
The following are 5 types of people you’ll meet in Kerala.
#1 People With Free, Soaring Spirits
Kerala is the true definition of a melting pot, but if there is one way to describe its people (known as ‘Keralites’), it would be by their free, soaring spirits.
And perhaps it’s living in a place which is so intimately connected to nature that creates this approach to life; they go with the flow along slow moving canals to find deep journeys in little country boats. They seek adventure in bamboo rafts to spot elephants, away from the crowds on the cruise boats.
They lead very simple, down to earth lives, but laugh freely, live fully, and aren’t burdened by the glitter of stressful city life. Their lifestyles aren’t complicated, and they truly celebrate the magnificence of ordinary lives.
People in Kerala are ecstatic about life, and their overall satisfaction comes from more than materialistic pleasures. One can only hope it’s contagious to be around people who truly know how to prioritize quality of life.
#2 People With Close Knit Lives
People in Kerala live very close knit lives; this is a peace loving State, where people will stop and chat in the street, wave at you as they go by, actually make eye contact and trade smiles.
Keralites are fiercely protective of their culture and traditional lifestyle, and they take pride in their communities. They know the value of togetherness, of bonding with your neighbors, and of sharing human strength to reach new heights.
The warmth and friendliness of Kerala is an incredible thing to witness, but even more so to experience; locals love to include travelers in their every day lives, and they will welcome you with open arms into their orbit.
Homestays are a popular experience in Kerala, and other opportunities for immersion include joining workers on farms, visiting local schools, or playing an impromptu game of cricket; bring a bat and a ball and the locals will come out to play within minutes!
Spending time in such strong communities, around such beautiful, welcoming people, is a fantastic reminder that human beings have good hearts. Kerala is a place where people look out for one another, where you’ll realize that human beings are inherently kind.
#3 Men (and Women) Who Trek the Heavens
Kerala is full of ancient streets that run across cultures, beliefs and ideas. It is one of the most multi cultural and diverse places on earth; the type of place where various religions live side by side in harmony.
This is a place where it’s not uncommon to find a Hindu Temple, a Church and a Muslim Mosque all on the same street. It is a place of tolerance, and always has been; for thousands of years this region has welcomed people of all faiths.
Keralites celebrate each other for their differences in religion, philosophy, language, and art, and it doesn’t matter which heaven or God you believe in, the varying racial and ethnic groups live here side by side.
When traveling through Kerala, you’ll travel through Hindu, Christian, and Islamic communities. You’ll meet Malayalis (the native people of Kerala), Muslims who trace their linage back to early Arab traders, and descendants of the Cochin Jews.
This is a State that believes in inclusiveness, and this diverse melting pot of culture is what makes it one of the world’s most fascinating humanscapes. People in Kerala believe that we’re all human by nature.
#4 People Who Celebrate Every Living Thing
When you travel to Kerala you’ll meet people who celebrate every living thing. From the verdant jungles, to the naughty monkeys who sprint across the rooftops, life is valuable here.
You’ll find people who respect nature, and who believe that the only way to see truly animals with a clear conscience is to coexist with them, allowing them to roam freely in their natural habitat.
And perhaps that’s why the State has emerged into an eco-tourism delight; a haven of fourteen wildlife sanctuaries, two tiger reserves, and six national parks that protect rare and endangered species of flora and fauna.
#5 People Who Are One With Nature
Kerala is known as God’s Own Country for a reason – nature here reigns supreme. And, between the tranquil backwaters, vibrant rain-forests, and tropical jungles, Keralites have a positive feeling of oneness with the earth and its life forces.
The human-nature relationship in Kerala is unlike anywhere else – their whole way of life has evolved based on an interplay of nature and humanity, having forged their communities across the most diverse terrains one could imagine.
This is a place where every human act is a way of connecting with everything in nature around them, and where every human story is also a story of the land; from fishermen, to farmers, to children who play barefoot in the sand.
When you spend time with the people of Kerala, the distinction between you and nature breaks down. There’s a reassuring sense of harmony and connection with the world. Keralites may not have one defining religion, but they all believe in spirituality through nature.
The true magic of Kerala is the ability to follow this example, and become one with nature ourselves.
Moral of the Story
The moral of the story is to forget what your mother told you about connecting with strangers. Because Kerala is a place where the human connection defines the destination.
Don’t pack your itinerary so tightly that you don’t have time to slow down, or stop in the street and have spontaneous conversations. Don’t be afraid to accept an invitation if someone invites you to share a meal in their house.
This article is sponsored by Kerala Tourism.