The backwaters of Allepy in God’s Own Country of Kerala has the most inviting smiles of all of India…so far. It is a place for “chai and chat of chatt (snacks)”. North American’s version of the water cooler is the local tea shop, where everyone can get the lowdown. Toddy tappers with their toddy tummies. Toddy a very strong liquor from the coconut tree. Mud collectors, a group of men that collect mud from the middle of river to bring to the shore to build up erosion of the shoreline. The only rice paddies 700 feet below sea level. Boat cruisers are great here and full of singing and clapping. But the best is just walking the dirt path along the banks of the water and recieving the smiles and invitations of the locals to come and join them for a meal. Breakfasts of fluffly white pancake like items called idlly, accompanied with samba a vegatable curry and coconut, tamarind chutney. Sounds stange compared to our breakfasts of cereals, yogurt or bacon and eggs, but surprising very satisfying. What I find most fascinating is that they are so inviting despite the fact that I feel I am in their bath tub as I walk past each house. In front of each home are concert steps leading into the water, and fully clothed people will be washing themselves there all day long. It’s no wonder India has no sense of personal space when we/they are always in each others bathtub.