Why I love Kerala

I have just returned from a two week trip to India, seeing many sights across the country and meeting old friends. I enjoyed every moment but I have to say that my favourite few days were in Kochi, Kerala. I have never been to Kerala before, although many people have told me how wonderful it is. Kerala state is the pointy bit at the bottom of India and much of it is made up of jungle and rivers. Trivandrum is the capital but many tourists (like me) go to Kochi instead.

Th lunch we were given after our backwaters trip

I think there are three reasons why I loved it so much – the beauty, the peace and the history.

It is very very beautiful. I went on a backwaters tour, walked around Kochi a lot, frequented the very cheap ferries between the islands, and used quite a few tuk tuks (auto rickshaws). It seemed as if around every corner I would see a fresh “wow” view.

So very lovely

Saying it is peaceful may seem a little odd. The narrow streets of Fort Kochi are as filled with vehicles blaring horns as every other town in India. But get away from the streets, in the Dutch Palace, or the synagogue, or the Cathedral, or in the backwaters, with our boat pushed along by poles rather than an engine. Suddenly everything seems silent and reflective. I even went to a modern art event called Biennale, set in a series of old spice warehouses, and I felt so relaxed just sitting quietly, looking at the exhibits.

Our driver
One of the many exhibits at the Biennale

As for the history, Kochi was one of the first Indian areas visited by western countries. The Roman Empire traded at Muziris, a port believed to be a couple of kilometres north of Kochi. The Dutch, the Portuguese and the English all ruled over the town at one time or another, often working jointly with the local maharaja. Just before Indian independence, a new island – Willingdon – was dredged from the sea, making a port that large ships can now visit, for the trade in spices, particularly pepper. I was able to explore many of these sites. I even popped into Kochi Chamber of Commerce which was near my hotel, and one of the gentlemen there gifted me a copy of a history book celebrating a hundred years of the chamber. India is not just about seeing the famous tourist sites. It is also about exploring and talking to people you meet.

The famous Chinese fishing nets in Kochi.
A statue I found hidden in the merchant navy headquarters on Willingdon island.

I was only in Kerala for three days, but I think I have fallen in love. What a magnificent state. And so much more to explore if I ever return.

Do I need a PA?

I am probably from the last generation of managers that worked with a personal assistant (PA). As I was promoted in my last few years, I found my successors did not get the privilege. Automation and cost cutting meant that PA’s were seen as a thing of the past, like smoking at work, or executive dining rooms.

This week I have been organising a visit to India in February. It is just for a vacation but when I was working this would have always been a job for my PA. And this week I realised quite how hard it is. Getting flights, hotels and meetings all to fit is no easy thing. I think I have managed it but I do wish I had a PA.

You can see how old I am from the fact that I have printed off my confirmations. I can give you the excuse of experience of India airports where you can’t enter the terminal without a printed ticket, but in truth I needed the paperwork to give me confidence that I had everything booked. I think I did OK but I do know that when something goes wrong while I am travelling (which it will) I will want to call my PA and will miss them.

So I want to say thank-you to all my PAs over the years. You were awesome and made me successful.

Can robotics really ever replace a great PA? What do you think?

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑