When I was in school, it was taught in social studies that Kerala was the state with highest literacy rate in India. The literacy percentage was also very good, around ninety eight or so, if I remember it correctly. The same was given as an answer in the examinations that time. I was unaware then that this will be helpful to me in future to carry out a short shopping spree without knowing the local language, Malayalam.
I had been to a shop to buy mainly two things. One, a pair of sandals which can be used in rain. Two, an umbrella, of course to use in rain, although it is used under the sun in the northern states of India. It was simple to start with. I had to look around for a footwear shop. I got one and entered. I said three English words, here they follow: 'Sandles', 'rainy season' and 'size ok'. My shopping of sandals was done. At the bill counted I got a bill which I paid. Fortunately I needed not to bargain, there was a fifteen percent discount offer already. Then I looked around in the shop. I could locate the umbrellas. Again I had to utter few English words to buy one.
The words I mentioned above or the word 'Umbrella' might appear very common as you read through this. But to buy an umbrella, I along with some of my colleagues suffered a lot in one of the shops in the capital city of India. Its called as 'Chaatha' in Hindi and we were unaware that time. Couple of shop keepers were unaware of the English word. They kept showing us their questioning faces. We had to literally pick a shop in which umbrellas were displayed for sale to show the shop owner that we wanted to buy 'that one'. It happened eight years before, back in 2006. There has been a lot of change in the awareness level in people for education. But we must appreciate the government of Kerala to be able to maintain a literacy rate of just short of hundred during the last decade of twentieth century.
Now I can state that shopping has no language limits, as of now here in Kerala. Of course, you must be able to express yourself to your partner or the other person if its in the case of shopping, but you need not be fluent in expression. You just have to utter all the simple words. The rest will happen your way. Most of the people know English, if not the complete language but a few words which are sufficient for a person from other state with English knowledge to live on. As I said that, why just shopping, even if you travel in an Auto or you buy some vegetables at the Mandi, you will be said the cost in English numbers, without any change in the price between the shopping by an Malayali or you. That has impressed me too.