Syrian Christian of Kerala - Settlements

While most of rural India is a series of discrete villages separated by open fields, in Kerala there are no such concentrations. Instead, houses are scattered over the countryside in a dispersed pattern with some surrounding land intensively cultivated with rice and tropical vegetables and fruit trees. Every 5 to 10 kilometers, there are small and large towns ranging in size from 5,000 to 50,000 inhabitants. There is a railway running from north to south as well as paved roads crisscrossing the state, used for regular bus service run by the state as well as private companies. In the lowland areas, there are rivers, canals, and backwaters providing transport facilities with motor boats and manually operated small and large boats. There are schools, hospitals, and colleges in larger towns. People are conscious of a high level of hygiene; they wear clean clothes, brush their teeth before the first meal, and rinse their mouths after every meal. They bathe once a day or even twice in this humid climate. Towns as well as the Countryside are fairly clean and people use private toilets rather than open fields (unlike the rest of rural India). The traditional construction of houses was similar to that of the upper-caste Hindus. The buildings were constructed mostly of wood; teak was commonly used. The front of the house always faced east. Every house had a storage room for rice (paddy). Furnishings were simple: cots were made of wood, and in traditional times, people squatted on the floor on woven palm-leaf mats. Modern houses are brick and of Contemporary design, with electricity available to all. The well-to-do have modern amenities including color television.

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