One very positive aspect I found travelling around Kerala, was the lack of the usual confronting poverty you find in most of India. There was no begging and the people would not hassle you to get you into their shops. I saw a lot of religiously run schools, Hindu, Muslim and Christian. Kerala has the highest literacy rate in India. Apparently after independence, the Kerala Government declared free school for all! Announcing that any member of a family that delivered a child to school, would get a free breakfast and when collecting the child a free dinner as well. This was a fantastic incentive! No educated person wants to beg.
We traveled to Munnar through coconut and spice plantations up to 1600 meters. Munnar was the British Summer capital where they would go to escape the heat and where they had their tea plantations.
The hills and valleys look like a giant clipped garden. It was so beautiful and green! The tea plant is a member of the camelia family.
Usually the tea is hand picked, only the bud and the first two leaves are picked. Here a women uses a type of scissors, which make the job quicker but not as accurate.
These women are sorting through the tea leaves, discarding larger twigs and leaves.
Notice the women’s bangles on the trident in the fore ground and the metal charcoal stove and clay pot for making their tea. On this particular plantation the tea was made for the Indian market. They like to dry the leaves and then grind them to a fine powder. This way the tea is soluble and becomes ‘ instant tea’, a very strong and quite bitter drink. The Indians mix it with sweetened milk.