Engandiyoor to Chaliyam, 80.3km
“It was like walking into a gladiator stadium,” one of our crew members said.
Pat and the Spirit of India team were ushered into the school grounds at Umbichy Hajee, a secondary school in Chaliyam. A marching band led Pat into what was essentially a football-field sized sandbox, where almost three thousand students and teachers gathered to meet us. In rows of twenty or more, they lined against the wall cheering and waving. Others watched from their classrooms on the second floors, leaning over the balconies to get a better view.
The boys were overly excited at the sight of the cameras, many ran right up to the lens – pushing and jumping over each other to get into the shot – while kicking up a dust storm in the process.
Pat was led up to the stage where he sat with the heads of the faculties – the band continued beating their snares until he was seated, and then a bit more for good measure. The rest of the crew were either on stage with him or were getting swarmed by adorable children wanting to shake their hand.
Pat approached the podium and spoke about the virtues of education in Kerala; he spoke on how their education would allow them to see the world and how they had a responsibility to use those opportunities to not only better themselves but the world.
Once the speech was done he moved into the crowd and then hundreds of boys swarmed around him while the drums continued playing. We were all slowly drifting along in this tidal wave of tiny people until we suddenly found ourselves in a class room.
The kids began asking Pat questions about the world and his experience in Kerala. He told them Kerala was a beautiful state and the people have been enthusiastic and welcoming.
Pat compared not using your education to the parable of a wealthy man who locked all his money and gold in a safe under his house. The man became so paranoid about losing his accumulated wealth he died alone in his house and his mountains of gold and green became worthless.
“All the education in the world will do you no good unless you use it,” Mr Farmer said to the children, acknowledging Kerala had a 100 per cent literacy rate.
“An education opens up so many opportunities and broadens the possibilities of how you think about the world.
“But it’s up to you to apply what you have learnt out of the classroom.”
Thanks to a last minute change to our schedule, that evening we were fortunate enough to stay in the Kappad Beach Resort where the rooms were miniature beach houses facing the sunset. The pool there is considered one of the best in the district, if not the country; it is often used in high-end photo shoots for glossy and feature magazines.