Monday, May 16, 2011

"Nokku Kooli" and "Money for Nothing and Chicks for Free"

Final leg of my journey in Kerala. The heat is at its height, the world smolders. There has been sound of thunder but no rains. There are a few scudding clouds in the sky, but when it rains it is only a few drops.

There's greenery outside my window. I am at a brother-in-law's place and mercifully there's air-conditioning. I love to bask in this artificial cool-ness at times. I surf the net from my Reliance data card which has a good receptions here. A stupid virus keeps opening the Reliance site's homepage without any prompting from my side. It's irritating. How many times have you come away from a spot of surfing encountering such mind-altering behaviour? 

The world seems a long way away as Kerala is in the throes of an election result announcement. The television blares the result as a bro-in-law states that the newscaster hasn't moved his backside the entire day. I say that he must have moved it when they showed the frenzied mobs dancing the streets. There's excitement as I have never seen. Ever.

People love politics here. It's really linked to their genes I think. I have an idea, a thought, perhaps. I think Communism became popular in Kerala because of the state's history of caste exploitation. The higher castes did everything to keep the lower castes from a decent livelihood. Now somehow the reverse is the norm.

I heard about a custom (call it a practise, if you may) called "nokku kooli." Simply stated it means that when cargo is unloaded in the ports by cranes, the labourers there have to be paid a compensation (for their service not being used for unloading). "Nokku" means "seeing" and "kooli" means wages. So the word means wages for just looking. What happens is that when the cargo is unloaded they just have to be there to see it and they have to be paid depending on the weight of cargo unloaded. I think Kerala is the only state in the world following this stupid rule. Ask anyone. 

That's "money for nothing" and "chicks for free." My father in law was in a village committee that oversaw distribution of some livestock in villages. Some chicks arrived for distribution and the village bully came and took them all and had it with his nightly tipple. 

Such is life in Kerala. "Money for nothing" and "chicks for free."

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