Friday, November 26, 2010

To God's own Country???

To God's own country... I never understood why Kerala tourism were boasting this, unless i experienced it myself. If you are an Indian, you must must visit Kerala before you die. For foreigners, they sure visit Kerala as it is on the top list for tourist places when they plan their trip to India.

What I liked best about Kerala is that though the tourism industry promotes Kerala, they have still not commercialized all the places as much as it has been in other parts of the country. They are very clear where the tourists should be allowed and where to draw the line between tourism and to maintain the purity and sanctity of the place.

So let me share my experience of the trip to Kerala with Shiho, my Japanese friend. I stayed at Alekh's, Liju's and Haris's (my NID classmates) places with their wonderful, caring and loving families. And the best part, all three from different religions - hindu, christian and muslim; but i could hardly find any difference in any of those houses in terms of love, care, hospitality, respect, purity, food and belief. I was stuffed till my throat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I do not know how to thank all the mothers for the delicious food they served with so much love.

Puttu, idiuppam, verlappam, idli, Pathiri, paayasam, pappadam, fish curry and all this to go with the huge heap of rice on a big banana leaf. Various kinds of bananas - poovan, chenkadhali, paalayankodan). Hehe... i dont remember these names at all, but its that on the last day at Kerala, I asked Liju to write down all the names.

Fried fish; rice, pappadam, fish, achar on banana leaf; idiuppam being steamed in cooker

From clear water beaches to fresh air mountains, I saw all the possible nature's beauty in 11 days. But out of all, the visit to Aiyappam temple was one of the best spiritual experiences I ever had. The temple allows only Hindus to enter the temple and that too only in sarees and Munds. Earlier I thought this ridiculous as to why this kind of a restriction for seeing god? Why cant anyone can go wearing whatever to pray to god? But somehow I enjoyed the whole process of dressing up specially in the traditional Mallu Saree and visiting the temple. The temple is made with huge rock carvings of Lord Vishnu's incarnations. On both sides of corridor were pillars engraved with ladies holding diya in their hand which are lighted up at nights on Ekadasi or any such other occasion. There were various temples within the huge temple, for lord Vishnu, Lord Krishna and others. The interiors of the temple
were dark, could see only the idol and the pujari in the diya lights. The aroma of the flowers and diya purified the atmosphere. The sound of only the temple bells took out all the negative energy. I really could feel the whole meaning of visiting a temple. It felt so peaceful and calm from within. I could feel my soul. I was overwhelmed with the whole pure experience. It surely is the belief within me which made me experience all this. And am glad I could.

After this soul cleaning experience, we visited the Backwaters (Allapy) for the house boat ride for a day. I had read in a book that this is one of the top 10 things to-do-before you die. I second that completely. We got a house boat for 4 people with two bed rooms, well furnished, a chef and a captain to ride the boat- all for Rs. 7500/- only. And I think that was a good deal for a life time experience with all the good food served to you. All through out we kept sitting next to the captain, watching the water pass-by, feeling the cool breeze, waiving at every boat that crossed, clicking all the beautiful scenes and hear the water flowing.

The boat halts at a place in the evening at stays there for the whole night. Though there are mosquitoes around, you can manage to drive them away with some kachhua and a fan blowing them off. And of course the best place to get a little high and share some philosophical talks with your close friends. The early morning sunrise, sparkles the water and waaah what a beautiful way to get a morning. An early morning boat ride with lovely breakfast cooked by the chef onboard. And some fishermen row by to sell the fresh fish that they had just caught.

From the backwaters to the small hill Ponmudi. Liju's bro Jiju, drove us to the beautiful hill near by trivandrum which was a 3 hours drive. On the way there was a beautiful river flowing across with the perfect view. Do you remember the painting you used to make in your school days? What would you paint? A mountain, a small house, a river flowing by, a boat,
some clouds? It was perfectly the view.

Once we reached the top of the Ponmudi hills, it was amazing. The mountains and the clouds seemed to be playing hide and seek. It was so much fun to see the scene changing with every eye blink. At one time you could see the mountain shining with the golden sun rays, the second moment you could see it all covered up with clouds. This was nature at its best play.

But apart from all this. What I truly relished the most is the three homes where i stayed. It was fun to play with all the pets at Liju's - hens, cocks, goats, turkey, dog and my favourite Pakdu
(meaning 'little son/daughter' in mallu), the cute little ca
t. I still miss Pakdu :( Wish I could bring it along. Here is a glimpse of Pakdu playing with its own shadow :)

My last destination was Haris's place which was a couple of hours away from Calicut. So we took up an afternoon train from Cochin to Calicut, from Calicut took up a bus then an auto and then we climbed up the hill to his place in complete darkness. This was my first ever experience of trekking a hill in dark. His house is in a peaceful place up the hill with beautiful surroundings of trees, water falls, rocks. So in the morning, we went
to a near by pond which was covered up by huge rocks. The guys took a swim in it. I so wanted to take
a plunge in the pond, but it was a village and I didnt wanted to feel embarrassed. But Liju learnt to swim in the pool :)

On the right is the pic of the pond, if you tilt your head, you can actually see a bear in the reflection :P my imagination...

After the whole rejuvenating experience, I really didnt feel like getting back. With my course at NID getting finished, my course at UK getting postponed, bad personal life and decisions of careers. Everything was so bugging me, but believe me, this wonderful trip made me feel so peaceful, it completely rejuvenated me. Truly Kerala is God's own country.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Is this an end, or just a new beginning?

Is this an end, or just a new beginning?

An end to a long lasting relation, or is it time to make new relations,

An end to the love dwelling inside, or is it time to spread across that love;

An end to the only possession owned, or is it time to let things go;

An end to the daily meetings, or is it time to be with yourself?

An end to the care for the only person you cared about, or is it time to care for the humanity,

An end to the fights for expectations, or is it time to build up new expectations from life,

An end to the endless waits to be one someday, or is it time to find union in self,

An end to the changes made constantly within, or is it time to be you again;

An end to the prayers made, or is it time to pray even harder;

An end to the madness done several times, or is it time to be sane all the time;

An end to the belief that things will work out, or is time to accept the reality;

An end to the time spent together, or is it time to just cherish those memories;

An end to the dreams seen together, or is it time to live new dreams!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Delhi Internship experience - Day 1

As a part of our curriculum, we are supposed to do a one month internship. It can be either under an established photographer, a photography gallery, magazine or under a photojournalist. I chose to do my internship under a Contemporary Photographer who has been working on migration, sexuality, health/illness and architecture, both monumental and quotidian.

Just a day before the journey, I met with an accident and got injured on hands and right leg... had a tough time carrying the luggage to the it was winters and Delhi winters are chilling so had to carry extra baggages for bedding and warm clothes. Train journeys are always exciting for me... i love watching the passing scenes, the sellers, the platform hustle-bustle, the fights for sitting, the introduction talks with the people sitting around, the eatables, the constant sound of the wheels of the train...everything fascinates me.

As soon as I came out of the railway station, and I realised that I had entered Delhi, a place where you need to be careful if no body cheats on you, or no body makes a cheap comment on you, or some one just doesnt cut your pocket or some one just doesnt push you... I opted to take the pre-paid auto, but to my surprise, the autos that were standing in queue on the station, were not the pre-paid ones...infact I had to stand on the road with the traffic police waiting for an auto to come...there was a huge rush and i had to wait for my turn to get my auto....somehow just managed to put up all my luggage up.

On the way I could see almost all modes of transport possible on the road - horse cart, bull-cart, human-cart, cycle rickshaw, BRTS bus, private buses, and the other usual vehicles. When I reached the East of Kailash, then it was a tough time finding my PG house. All the time the auto wala kept cribbing that he was spending extra miles in searching for the place (even though the amount that he had charged was almost double for what he had covered).
Finally i found the PG house, I was given a room with four beds and four almirahs. However, there were two other girls staying there and i was alloted one cupboard to put up my stuff. When I started opening my luggage, I realised I had too bad skills to arrange all of it into one almirah. So I put up all the stuff in two cupboards without any permission of the landlady. Ofcourse a cupboard doesnt increase the electricity bill that she should have a problem with that... I just took my bath and rushed for my internship at Sunil Gupta's place at G.K-1, N-block which was just 3 km away from my PG.

Sunil and his boyfriend were waiting for me for lunch. Oh yes, Sunil is a gay. My first interaction with a gay, though had many during my stay in Delhi then. His house was beautiful, very well lighted up. A well maintained library with books ranging from paintings, to photography books to philosophical books to books written by Sunil himself. One discussion which came up during every lunch was about Asha, the home-maid cum cook of Sunil. Asha was an old lady from Nepal in her 40s...she had been promoted by Sunil from a house maid to a cook, however it seemed both were having a tough time adjusting to each other...but it was very cute of how Sunil found ways to keep her happy and pepped up for her work.

After lunch Sunil took me into his office room, again it was nicely lit-up with one huge halogen lamp giving bounce light from the ceiling. And wow!!! he uses two mac screens...with 4 external hard disks...each one named after his ex-boyfriends. He showed me the system that he followed and i tried to grasp it like an obedient student. I asked for some work then and then started working on his database.

A few t.v. reporters called up Sunil to take his appointment. PM Chidambaran had made a statement supporting gay rights and so they wanted his comment on the same. I felt that I was working under a celebrity.

In the evening we went to the IHC where Suruchi was awarded the scholarship for her documentation on the old studios. Mridul and Siddharth were also there. The function started with a boring piano session by a student. Audience were silently listening and I was wondering if they are enjoying it or did they fall asleep like me...anyways, Alka Pandey appeared with her jazzy coat and spoke a few flattery words for the panel of judges sitting there. The best three works from the competition was displayed with an explaination why that work had been chosen as one of the best. Suruchi's name was announced and she went on the stage to receive it. I tried to get a good picture of her...but the other photographer kept coming in front. Anyways, here is what I could get finally. Doordarshan also took her interview later.

After the function, there was a drink party. This was my first hi-fi party at Delhi. The delicious aloo starters with yummy cheesy dippings to be accompanied with whine. Though I didnt have it. I dont know why I refused it. It was chilling cold so I had a good reason to have it. I squeezed myself to a heater nearby and tried to warm up. After a few minutes of formality and showing up our faces to all present there, we (me, suruchi, siddharth, Sunil and Chapal) ventured for a dinner at Swagat, GK M-block market. The picture is of Chapal and Sunil Gupta.

And then when Sunil came to drop me back home, I lost my way. We went around for almost half an hour searching for my PG. I finally entered the PG at 11.30. I had broken the rule on the first day itself. :) So here was my first day at Delhi.