God’s Own Country

Whoever came to Kerala could not but settle down here because of the salubrious climate and beautiful weather throughout the year.

This is why Kerala is called the “God’s own Country”. Although, I believe there are lots of places with Kerala’s weather conditions, for example Vietnam, famous for its Viet Cong and Communists to which place I and my newly married wife, Leela Joseph went in 1962. In fact we had our honeymoon in Vietnam while the war was raging all around us. I had gone there representing India which along with Canada and Poland were members of the Peace Commission.

Although Vietnam was a Buddhist country there were a large number of Christians there because of its long time occupation by the French. French was the language of the educated people there and my wife picked it up easily and she had a number of Vietnamese friends whom she taught English.

Vietnamese were very creative people who also practiced tolerance for all religions just as in Kerala. I found it was another place like Kerala. Yet Buddhism was the bedrock of the religion in Vietnam.

We were based in Saigon but travelled to the north in II World War French planes. In the northern city where Ho Chi Mein ruled, my wife dressed in her beautiful sari was a big sensation. The Vietnamese women and men had the same simple dress not colourful compared to the sari worn by my wife. In one place crowd gathered around me and my wife just to see her in her colourful dress. And men and women complemented in French about her beauty.

For a few days we lived in the biggest hotel there with French cuisine. There we had lots of French wine for drinking. We gave some of the wine bottles to the Vietnamese girls and for them it was a gift from gods.

It is another story that when we were not travelling the II World War French planes crashed and we lost many of the Indians and Vietnamese who were travelling in the plane.

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