Saturday, August 28, 2010

Once upon a time in Kerala


I'd been to Kerala last weekend for Prem's wedding. Met with an accident. It took an accident to realize that something's wrong with the devas of God's own country. We were traveling at around 70 kmph when this old man kind of did a flip-flop step while crossing the road. Despite a sudden brake and a screeching halt we managed to hit the poor fellow who plonked to the tarmac. I ran out and picked him up (to clarify, luckily for him, I wasn't driving). He took my hand and uttered the two most beautiful words ever from an accident victim- "Haaappeee Oooonammmm". For the uninitiated, Onam is Kerala's equivalent of New Year, the day when a good king from ancient times visits us to see whether all of us are in peace and in one piece. But this old man was so drunk, he did not even know what hit him. As usual the drama after an accident unfolds with people milling around us. He was not hurt badly - just a few bruises here and there. However, what was really odd was the fact that everyone around me in Kerala were Irish - drunk like crazy. We managed to move the old man to a hospital. His son came in and looked pissed (from what I assumed, he was miffed - possibly having been called out of a binge drinking session).

There was another interesting incident in which an insurance agent went into a morgue to sleep after feeling tipsy. You can imagine the scare he created. I know I eulogized our drinking habits in a previous post, but the situation is fast getting out of hand. A population of alcoholics can do no good for tomorrow.

Now to the other sin that my state is part of - lottery. How much is that worth? The leader of opposition says that is at least worth Rs.40 crore a day. Lottery gets a lot of press these days with allegations of corruption - with obviously the government on one side and private players on the other. A kingpin in the gambling racket is a fellow called Santiago Martin - names don't get more mafia than that.

Together booze and lucky draws are worth 26,000 crores at least - close to 6 billion dollars worth of business in a year. And don't get me started on the other vices like pros-tagonism.

I just looked up the GDP numbers and these two sins alone would put my tiny state ahead of 50 out of 180 nations listed by IMF, much ahead of Kyrgistan and Nicaragua.

But I see glimmers of a silver lining. Possibly in the next post, we'll talk about it.

P.S: BTW, I took a bumper lottery ticket....just in case luck comes calling and asks for some sort of a supporting document.

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