Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Just Back from Kerala....

Just back from Kerala, beautiful Kerala, the state of my birth, mother country, the state that confounds me still with its vivid contrasts and inexplicable charm. I was born there, but somehow I can’t understand it well enough that too after all these years of visiting it, at least, once a year. I have to explain this, um, so here it is: why are there so many palatial but unoccupied houses, why are there so many abodes that have been started but are still struggling to find concrete shape, why are the rice fields filled with wild plants instead of paddy, why are the coconut palm fields empty, why are there more hoardings than coconut palm trees now, why are the areas along the train tracks littered with plastic bottles, cups and food plates? Why are the labourers on street corners dress one day in blue, another day in green, the next one in orange. I learn later that they are the different colours of the political parties they represent – blue is for Republican, green for Muslim League, orange for the Hindu party, etc. So on and so forth.... More of this in the book I am planning to have published, if the goddesses (meaning editors) of the publishing world oblige! Cogito ergo sum.

I had left Bombay with a lot of expectations. I had intended to add a few more chapters to the travelogue I was working on, also about Kerala, something like, “To God’s Own Country – a Serendipitous Journey to Kerala”. This time I wanted to discover the culture of Kerala – how it had managed to maintain the oldest art forms of India like Koodiattam, which according the Kalamandalam Sridevi Mohan (who along with her husband FACT Mohanan runs Samskrithy, a school for traditional Kerala arts like Kathakali, Mohiniattam, and Kalari Payattu) is a play, so vast in scope that it is presented over 4 entire nights, that too in chaste Sanskrit. The content? It’s pantomime, opera, musical, all combined, presented by the flickering light of the holy lamp - Nilavilakku. It’s common knowledge that Koodiattam is the only extent form of Sanskrit theatre in the world. The fact that it is preserved in Kerala shows the love of the arts in this abode of the Gods. Have patience, till you read it all in my proposed book, snatches of which appear here.

I had maintained my Facebook account all through the journey, posting updates, receiving comments, and replying to them immediately. Soon I found myself running out of the balance in my cell phone, making me scamper to get refill, which, alas, was not available in the nearby towns. Finally, as all crises do in my insignificant life, it blew over and I resumed my life of contented online networking. To see some of the crazy messages and updates I shot out of my Nokia go here.


ZB said...

true about kerala.......Irony is when a Malayalee struggles in the gulf in his badly cramped apartment, he has a whole house lying empty in kerala. I personally know people here, who lived in one bedroom studio apartments for decades when they have 5 bedroom villas back home....when would they live their life?

Let us know when the book is out....i would certainly grab a copy...keep writing John. TC:)

John said...

Hi ZB,

Irony indeed. I too had a colleague who lived in a bed with four others when his palatial bungalow had five or six empty bedroom.

That's what I don't understand about Malayalis.



sidharth said...

you have an nice place........
serch new destination see here