Sea of pain

Sea of Pain 1

After calculating the hours that would take me to reach Kochi from Goa, I realized I would not be able to take that big a chunk of time from my trip home. Sighing away, with my insides twisting with an unknown pain, I started sketching away, then turned to look at the pictures and videos of the one installation that I wanted to see, to experience and to sink in deep within me, in this year’s Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

I closed my eyes. I could see myself standing underneath one of the huge canvas boards on the wall. I could listen to the sound of water, of legs wading, of people whispering, of the conflicts within minds. I could see the crashing waves, washing in bodies, of Aylan, of Galip. I could see the sea swallowing many more unknown faces, unknown hearts that beat for a better future. I could feel the pain in the water that washed my legs. I could feel the sea.

“The sea of pain.
For Galip Kurdi

Alan Kurdi was three and his photograph circled the world.

He lay face down and the blue red of his clothes was striking
in its strange tidiness on the shore. Hours later the Turkish
coast guards recuperated the bodies of his mother and small
Five-year old brother, Galip, but of him there are no photographs.
….

… I wasn’t there,
I am not his father.
There are no photographs of Galip Kurdi, he can’t hear, he can’t see, he can’t feel, and the silence comes down like immense white cloths.
Below the silence you can make out a piece of sea, of the sea of pain.
I am not his father, but Galip Kurdi is my son. ”

The words of the poet.

The sea of pain.

Something startled me awake. And I watched the waves that kept on crashing in and out. The sun setting in the horizon. The stars starting to shine,and I couldn’t stop myself from wondering if the stars would have been the last thing they saw when they drowned. The stars and the sea. Depths of blue. Grasping for a hand to save. Shouting for help. The blue shutting it all out. The life ebbing away from their eyes, to the depths of the dark. Their bodies washing in, to a rising sun and a rising world.

Millions of hearts still cry for help.
And a few hearts still cry for them.

Please, hold on, at the end of the day, the dark clouds shall move away, and the stars will shine. The stars, will shine.
Please.
Hold on.

-This is for Syria, Palestine, Myanmar and many more across the world, who have lost and still lose their lives at the hands of politics, power and greed.

Conspiracy

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It’s been 9 months since I have been interning. First in Kochi, now in Goa. 9 months of exploration. New places, new people, new experiences.

But you know what has been reoccurring all these 9 months? Art. In the weirdest of ways.

I used to be a pretty good one at art when I was little. I still have memories of my dad, teaching me how to draw an elephant and a lotus, telling me his stories about art. He would never have imagined his eldest daughter to pick art (read architecture), for a profession out of all the trades of which she was master of none.

Then college happened. 3 years where everything was undermined. The heart was told that you weren’t good enough. It fought in the beginning, but then gradually fell away into despairs of self doubt.

With the commencement of 4th year, I moved to Kochi. Away from everything. And guess what? Life kept throwing me into art. I met a girl who told me she was an artist. in the mornings, when I was about to go to office I would see her, with a bandana on her head, playing with colors. I stared at it from a distance. I listened to my heart beat. That weekend, I went home and brought back a sketchbook which was about an year old, but the pages pristine. I started with sticking the little things that I collected – train tickets, roses and abstractions. One day I went to Fort Kochi, walked it’s paths for the first time, experienced it’s charms, just took it all in. But it was too much for my little heart, that night I sketched away the beautiful memories, and slept in peace knowing that I had locked them away. Knowing that they would now, never fade away. That was the beginning of Kochi Kadhakal. The beginning of so many beautiful stories.

6 months later, Goa happened. And I still find myself experiencing art in ways that at times take my breath away.

For the first time, I find myself believing the words of Paulo Coelho,

And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it. 

 

I do not know what I want, but now I very well know that the universe is conspiring for something beautiful.

 

KochiKadhakal

The city, known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, a crossroad for people with a little or a lot in the district of Ernakulam in Kerala, is a host to many wonders. With tourists swarming its streets to natives rushing to work, it’s an experience to behold.

This post is just a compilation of scribbles and lines that are so close to my heart. A manifestation of my memories. Held so dear.

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FORT KOCHI
The true essence of the place called Cochin lies totally in the streets of Fort Kochi and Mattanchery. Each and every element around has a story to tell. Be it the buildings, the trees, the people or the stones. And the most prominent of it is the history of a bloody Fort Kochi.

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FORT KOCHI BEACH
Beaches all in all are peaceful.  At times, I wonder why are these places so calm and serene even when its crowded. Fort Kochi beach is a lot of plant residues, people, yet so peacefull, with the waters rocking on the banks.

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FERRIES
A trip to Fort Kochi or Mattanchery is never complete without the ferries. Ferries are a totally different experience. With standing in long queues, paying 4 rupees for a ticket, waiting for the guards to open the chains, so that one could sprint across to get on the ferry to catch a window seat. The smell, the wind breezing around, the rumbling sounds, the rippling waters and the big ships, this is when we simply stare out and just breathe.

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MAHARAJAS
Though the Arts college is the one known famously as Maharajas, The Govt. Law College also shares the glory of the name. Sneaking in, to this place which was always a dream, I fell in love. I needed a breath to take it all in. The age old architecture, the ever present trees, the noisy courtyards and corridors, the wooden staircases, the broken walls and the classrooms that carry the hearts of students on its walls, these colleges are a feeling. A first hand experience of the power of architecture through the ambience .

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MATTANCHERY
The streets of Mattancherry are not that frequently visited by the numerous tourists that visit Kochi. Mattanchery has its own share of sights, the Jewish Synagogue, the Jew street, the Dutch Palace, the Gujrati Street being a few. With its warehouse turned endeavors, empty roads, walls decorated with art, the charm lurks around each and every corner , even in the broken window frames.

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CAFES & EATERIES
Kochi is incomplete without its share of eateries and cafes. A perfect host to foodies, the restaurants and cafes were a beautiful in itself with their hanging lights, deep art works, hidden charms and the clattering of spoons. Each and every cafe has a story to tell, a scene to portray, a character to meet, a memory to be made. Where laughs could be heard over a coffee or cake so expensive, or so cheap.

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MATTANCHERY MUD CHURCH
A recent addition to the essence of Mattanchery, is architect Vinu Daniel’s masterpiece of a church. In its primitivity lies its beauty. The single halled church welcomes with a whole heartedness, the verandahs waiting for the sound of your footsteps, the stained glasses glittering around. The feeling of sacredness, inspite of all this still intact.

KADAVANTRA
The first time I came to Kadavantra, it intimidated me. A junction with four buildings in each corner, representative of different styles and periods was our icon for this part of the city. It was the best host I could have, with its friendly residents, who never failed to ask about my day when I passed by their homes after work, the lanes lit and clear for me to walk at 8, with its perfect position, nearly equidistant from the ‘modern’ and the ‘charming’ sectors of the city. This place gave me the people and the experiences that makes Kochi special.

Kochi taught me to live in the moment again. To be myself again. To love me again.

Kochi moves me into tears with the sheer memory of the beautiful moments spent in its depths.

I will be forever indebted.

 

The thing about art

Each and every piece of art has its own soul and character. If we understand any aspect of that character is another matter. But, what one must realize is that, no art is just nothing, no art can be judged.
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A random artwork in Fort Kochi.
Art is just a manifestation of our heart.
Be it yours or the artist’s.
What you see in their is a reaction.
A manifestation.
I have seen artworks that have been termed downright childishness, downright real, downright abstract, downright simple.
If a person, draws a sketch, that’s art.
If a person, paints a scene from the real world, that’s art.
If a person, paints his mind, that’s art.
Art doesn’t have to be what you think. When the art itself tends to dissolve boundaries why are we hell bent on creating and compartmentalising them?

Just food things.

the Phase of departure in parts

Part 2

Sitting at our table in Zaatar at Panampilly, we sat simply looking at each other, the weight of this being the last dinner heavy on us. Even when Ayushi left, it was Zaatar. We had nothing to talk suddenly. We checked out the others, the foreigners, the chefs for whom we were an entertainment session through their see through glass partition and vise versa. Then the food was served and we had our whole fill, back with our bickering.

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When we walked back after dinner talking this and that, we wanted to grab our ever favorite Choco Lava Cake from our go-to cafe, Carrots. That wish was not fulfilled since they didn’t open up after the harthal, for the day.

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This Choco Lava Cake is just full of chocolate sauce with a little sponge up and the sides, with a coffee swirl on top.   I remember the first day we tried this, when me and my friend was broke and this was the only option. Since then, it has been an absolute favorite.

Food has this special power on people. It strengthens the bond somehow. When we go out for food, order together, share it, fight over it, conversations always on the go, it weaves our hearts through and through.

When I chose Kochi for my first term of internship, I remember some preparations that I had done to familiarize the city and find the pockets of happiness (food outlets) if times of distress were to shower on me.

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I joined the Foodies club on facebook. Researched and zeroed in on Panampilly nagar, delighted to know that it was close to my place. That place has too many good outlets. Be it any cuisine. It has anything and everything. Shiffu’s momos was our snacking corner, Pandhal; our cheese cake place, The Burger Junction; our office treat area because it was too much for our pockets, Arya’s; our dosa guys, Gokul; Aayushi’s one and only home, Zaatar; our grill hut and many many more. There were always too many to try out and we were not always ready for new things. There was Lil America, Thakkaram(for me), Primate, Donut factory, Ming’s wok (because we had another Chinese favorite) etc.

Then, there was Punjabi Dhaba. Menaka or boat jetty was equal to PD. Behind Penta Menaka, through a narrow lane, near the Broadway Hotel, is out dear old   Dhaba. Quite a shady place, but then you familiarize with it.

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If Apurva and Aayushi missed home, it was PD. If we wanted something comparatively cheap, it was PD. And if it was Punjabi Dhaba, then it was always Aloo Paratha and Sweet Lassi. Always.

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The Lassi though, a bit costly for 35rs a glass, was too refreshing. It was sure to help us beat the heat. The Aloo Paratha, with or without butter, melts into your mouth, the cut onions and chili as faithful sides.

Our faithful home, Kadavantra had its own share of places too. The Masafi; the biriyani people, Ambiswamy’s; our last resort, the numerous bhaji bhaiyyas and last but not the least, our Chinese favorite, The New Dragon.

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Gunamo mecham, vilayo thucham (Great Quality, Low Rate) place. It’s executive lunch (or dinner), with a variety of options for a soup, starters (Chilli Potatoes are mind blowing), Chinese paratha, Noodles/Fried Rice, a gravy and a lime juice. Quite a lot ain’t it? Yeah, we used to have one lunch for two people, two for three and three for four.  When we were that hungry, and wanted lots of food, this was our place.

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Now coming to our Pasta place, Carrots again. Red or white. Lots of chicken. Lots of pepper. Ah! Delicious.

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Subways are for Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Those are the chicken sub days. Roasted chicken, chicken tikka, chicken sheekh (chicken kofta when they felt like it in Centre Square Mall Subway). Subways are yum and fulfilling. With all its veggies and sauces (lots of sweet onion and mayo that is) and the perfect chicken. Haaaaah. Subways can never fail to put a smile on my face. It’s my comfort food. My happy food.

Last but not the least, when the going gets tough in hostel and we were too lazy or late to go out, we have MasterChef to our rescue. They always delivered so we never knew where the place was until one day, when we were coming back after our stroll in Panampilly, I saw a little cart with a board. The MasterChef. I stood there with my mouth open. All this while, we were having noodles from a food cart? Anyway, they were always good. Yum and cheap.

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There were also days when some choices failed us. Top in the list of failures is Chicking. Noushee had this craving for Chicking since their offers came out and we chose to go on a Thursday. Four people, according to us could easily share 6 pieces of grilled chicken, 6 pieces of chicken lollipop, 2 delite burgers and fries. What do we say? Man proposes and God disposes. And that day, we went hungry even after paying for a whooping 600rs dinner (with the dump tax).

The little experiences shared our food, the laughs, the memories, the tastes. So much to cherish.

So much love in a bite.

Rose

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To the girl, who smiled through all the odds, who had my respect from day one, who had my love as I came to know her. This was the only thing I could consider giving her as a memoir, because I knew, Art, she would keep it close to her heart, it was like her breath. And I gave her something that she asked of me, something of mine, which I believed she needed more. I pray that it guides you and show you the light in the darkest of times.

Black. Blue. Green.
Black is you. Your underlying soul. Solid and strong. Not the usual vulnerable and depressive, solid and strong.

Blue is your love. The glittering waters and the crashing waves have your attention, every single time. They listened to you all the while. They hugged you when you seeked.

Green is your future. Peace and prosper. Nature and the wild. Just like your untamed heart, hair and height. May you scale more.

Believe girl, in you. Because you are the music that’s too good for some, but right in for you. Because you are the breath, who is free and strong enough to show the world, what you are made of. Because you are one, when set on, can conquer the world.

Let it all go.
Live. Love.