Steve Heigham

Msc in Evolutionary Psychology

For two weeks over the Christmas holidays I visited Kerala, having wished to go to India for a long time. The reason I am writing this as a blog entry is that I feel it had more effect on me than reading many books. What touched me wasn’t so much the tourist pleasures, though there are many, but just for a brief time, living in a culture that has had remarkable continuity for the last 5,000 years, and still feels so very vibrant with it. In their cultural evolutionary trajectory, they have not had many of the collapses and invasions that have typified European history, but over time, have integrated and absorbed many other religions and traditions along the way. This is perhaps more so in Kerala than Northern India with it’s great separations of the last century, so there is a great sense of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic acceptance without the emotional distancing and conflict – mosques, Hindu temples and Christian churches are often only yards apart. Everyone seems to take part in the economy, and when one gets used to being pestered to buy tourist stuff, this feels quite democratic, engaging and real. Most of the population is also living at a far more sustainable level of consumption and energy use. The social values are much more communal, and, on coming back to the UK, it occurred to me how much time, effort and expense we go to, to create space and distance between us, without really noticing.