Johnleia Lambert: My name is Johnleia Lambert, a senior finishing my undergraduate degree in Anthropology with a Biology minor at Central Connecticut State University. Because I have a special interest in Public Health, I came to Kerala India to see the many challenges facing a developing country particularly health related issues.

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Today the Public Health group went to Connemara Market located in Thiruvananthapuram  at the Palayam junction. This diverse market is filled with an array of produce, poultry, livestock, toiletries, clothing, spices and many more odd necessities. Walking into the market, we were first bombarded with fruits, vegetables and a few vendors selling fried eateries. As we made our way through the market we found the slaughter houses where animal flesh was hanging by rope. In one corner there were cages of chickens being sorted into smaller units. On the other side men were hacking away making portion sizes to sell. Leaving the butchery, we walked into the fish market where women were selling the catches of the day. Zoila bought fresh King fish with the intent to make ceviche for dinner.

I was most impressed by the assortment of fruit. An elder gentleman selling produce explained to us that there were eight different bananas sold at that market alone. Aside from the bananas, we were able to taste jackfruit, another sweet fruit that resembled an artichoke and mango. The shopkeepers were so receptive to our presence and eagerly sliced open fruits for us to try. Even when we tried to pay for the samples, they reluctantly returned our rupees saying payment was unnecessary.

One women selling a few items including mango and jackfruit seeds took a liking to me. She held my hand tight forever smiling. She proudly showed her tattoos inked on both forearms. Aashanna our student guide, was quick to respond that tattoos are restricted forbidden but noted that the woman’s tattoos were home ridden hence the green ink. She went on to further translate that the woman had those tattoos over 40 years. It amazes me that a woman sitting in the scorching sun day on in could have such charisma and poise and find joy in anything including a complete stranger like myself. I’ve been continuously astonished by the humanity of the Kerala people; a culture that prides itself on hospitality. They ensure the comfort of their guest, even with something so little as a smile.

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