Daily life in the "Backwaters"

Along the south-western tip of India, the "Backwaters" form a small region of lagoons and lakes parallel to the Lakshadweep Sea (eastern part of Indian ocean). Also called "Kuttanad", this network of natural and artificial canals covers 75 km along Kerala's coast.

 

An old and noisy local ferry is still the only way to get to these small areas of land surrounded by water. Taking the wide channels as if they were avenues in this water maze, the boat stops at the various landing sites to drop men, women, school children, animals and goods.

Hopping on board this ferry-boat is also the best way to meet the keralese living on these isolated areas. Because, against all expectations, away from the main waterways that are crisscrossed by tourist boats, this quiet region abounds with an intense human activity.

 
 

Indeed, while some parts of the Backwaters are still difficult to reach, they however are inhabited by many families of fishermen, small traders, herdlers and even farmers.

 
Two or three times a year, the harvests of wheat, barley or millet monopolize the few villages. Here, it's the whole community which participates and works in the fields.
 
Women and children separate the grain from the chaff, the men fill the canvas bags, while others boarded a portion of the harvest on barges to supply the city markets.

It is a festive and privileged time, which allows the community to come together. As the work day ends, the students take advantage of a light evening wind, the men play with their children, while others will cool off at the water's edge, talking with their neighbours in the cool night air.

 
 
 
 

While protected from the urban influences, these villages have managed to preserve a traditional lifestyle in harmony with their surroundings. But times are indeed changing... The negative influence of chemical fertilizers can already be seen in the water channels and the city's pollution has now reached the fishing resources. Not to mention the younger generations who leave for the city, attracted by a supposedly easier and enjoyable life...

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