Tom Hazuka: I teach fiction writing at CCSU. I have travelled to many countries, but this is my first trip to India. I can’t say that India held any particular attraction for me as a destination; it was one of numerous places I’ve never visited, but hoped to some day. When I noticed the poster on campus advertising this trip, I took advantage of the opportunity. To be honest, I had never heard of Kerala and couldn’t have located it on a map of India.

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It is the rare trip that maintains a steady plane, and this one is no exception. I’ve had a bad cold (or something) for the past two days, resulting in my first full-blown case of laryngitis. But Arun, a recently-minted Keralite PhD, who has been invaluable to our group at every stage, procured some antibiotics at the chemists (drug-store) and I hope I’m on the mend. No prescription needed in India, and the five day set of 10 pills costs only $2.20 (USD).

Each day so far has been a series of revelations, both large and small. Among numerous highlights, my favorites include having lunch on a banana leaf at a ramshackle open restaurant (quite possibly we were the first Americans to enter the place); seeing the Theyyam fire ceremony; visiting the Vizhniam fishing port with its hundreds (thousands?) of people pulling a precarious living from the sea; and milling in the crowds of pilgrims outside the temple at East Fort.

Outside of the laryngitis, low-lights have been few, but number one has to be the garbage strewn or piled virtually everywhere, and the attempts to get rid of it via burning. That can’t be healthy for people or planet. I must admit I am also not thrilled with the recklessness of the drivers, and the threat of grievous bodily harm one faces when crossing a busy street-or just about any street for that matter!

Off to a rubber plantation in the mid-lands tomorrow, which I expect to add to my list of highlights.

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