Travel stories are incomplete without some great people that you meet along the way. I decided to couchsurf for the first 2 days of my trip. Jayakrishnan ("JK" as his loved ones call him) accepted my request and I landed at his house in Trivandrum. Rahul was already there. He was the other guy who was couchsurfing at JK's. Rahul has been into wildlife conservation since the age of 16. He took it up formally and now works with the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and it's truly astonishing what he has accomplished at the age of 22. He has dedicated his entire focus on otters and their conservation in India. Once he spent 3 months in solitude in a tent on an island in the Ganges (Gangetic floodpain) to study the behaviour of otters and educating the villagers about their conservation.
JK and his cousins, who I must add are absolutely fantastic hosts, took us out to, Sri Mulam Club, one of the oldest clubs in Trivandrum, where we met Balan Madhavan. He is a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) and an acclaimed wildlife photographer. He spoke at length to us and spoke his heart out; about elephants, about conservation, about photography, about humanitarian causes and about life. We discussed about the loss of habitat and nomadic routes of the elephants. He said, "If today an elephant wants to kill human beings, he has every right to do so for all the cruel things we have ever done." We sat in silence for a while, had our drinks and parted after exchanging phone numbers.
Kerala is unlike any state I had visited. It is crazy green and there's abundant water everywhere. It has mountains, it has beaches, it has lakes, it has backwaters, it has thick forests, it is very clean, offers lip-smacking food; truly God's Own Country. The people are calmer and mindful of the fact that public spaces are truly public. I visited the Trivandrum and the Cochin railway stations and there wasn't any clamour or shouting. People were disciplined and the stations were very clean. some things else; jackfruits, coconuts, fish and beef are ample.
Trivandrum, as a city, seemed very royally humble; green overlay, clean roads, vintage buildings in white, windowless buses and a knack for rains. It's neither crowded like the metros, nor are the roads crammed with cars. Public transportation is great and the buses are not overcrowded. In fact, I travelled extensively in KSRTC buses and never faced any issue of delay or discomfort. Moreover, there are a considerable number of food-joints that offer you brilliant food 24X7.