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.

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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.

ferries

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.

maharajas

law-college

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 .

mattanchery

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.

cafes

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.

mud

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.

 

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.

Alternate Realities

My soul transcends through alternate realities.

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My body , my mind, my emotions are a mixture of my reactions to these realities, because of which at times, reaction for one reality comes to the forefront in another reality, messing up at times.

There is one, in which I live for the majority of my time. Where my body works, mind flits through different responsibilities, my heart beats, in a foreign city, among unknown faces, and new friends, where at the end of the day everything is fine yet foreign.

Then, there is one, in which your studies still awaits you, your old friends litter around, where your insecurities and worthlessness poke their heads in. Among familiar surroundings, people whom you call best friends, at the end of day, when you lay down to sleep, you still wonder why you feel so lone, so out of place.

Then, there is another one, which consumes your whole heart and soul, where you have your family to be comforted, you have to be the strong one, wipe away the tears of our loved ones, deal with your own pains in anonymity, put up a brave front in front of them and keep telling them, everything will be fine, when deep down even you are scared. Where you can’t even dream or plan because of the shadows of the evil which has made the future bleak.

We all have alternate realities which we fail to realize.
We all have different roles, different faces, different emotions in a single moment, only a shift of reality separating them.
We are not a single person, we are a culmination of different people living in different realities.

Ghost of a Past, Glamour of a Present

I was watching Dubai on TV today. Dubai, is a 2001 Malayalam movie, starring our very own Mammooty in its title role.

Well, that film was filmed in dubai for its three quarter portion, but the Dubai in the background is unrecognizable. Its surrounded by clear mountains, buildings not even a quarter of The Khalifa’s size, being given a prominence of picturing the ‘big city’. That Dubai, 15 years younger, was just emerging, with its purity still in place, just like any other Middle Eastern city. But then, the face of Dubai changed. Glittering skyscrapers, posh cars, glamorous lifestyle equals Dubai now. It had successfully taken its name on the list of the world cities, until it lost its lusture. There used to be a time, when I always bugged my father to take us to Dubai for a family vacation. I used to religiously follow the TV programmes featuring the Dubai Shopping Festival to take my share of the colourful cities. In those programs, I saw expat families like mine, enjoying their life in a colorful world, in contrast to my mundane restricted life in a country next to UAE. My innocent eyes saw the glitter in their eyes, the love in the togetherness, bits and pieces of the whole world in a small city. I remember I would tell myself, that some day, I would go for the festival and buy a little something from every country’s stall. Well, that dream is still unfulfilled. My eyes has never witnessed the wonders of Dubai from land. Witnessing it from the sky, everytime you fly in Emirates airlines, with a connection in the Dubai Intl Airport doesn’t count.

So I was just wondering, how much that little city called Dubai transformed within a span of a few years. At times I wonder, if my little city, which I so dearly call home, would transform one day, to one that I would never be able to recognize someday. The thought scares me. The congestion in Batha and Hara, with its buzzing streets full of expats, small residential buildings and shopping complexes that are food to many. The roads that sell various things and sellers who run at the very sound of the Baladiya. The yellow trucks with yellow uniformed men, who clean the city when its residents are still waking up from their slumbers and going back home to rest after another day. Olaya, our developed part, which houses our dearest 2 towers – The Faisaliyyah (The Needle Tower) and Kingdom Tower (The Necklace Tower), the posh hotels and restaurants, that seemed to exist in another world, so different from mine. Malaz, another semi developed area. Deerah, with its traditional markets and mud structures and the court, majestically standing amidst the mud structures. Naseem, with our schools and quite residential villas and vehicle showrooms. And many other smaller parts unique in their own way. The malls, with its splendid infrastructure, bringing the world to us. The masjids, around every corner offering moments of peace. The main cross bridge in the Road, its been a part of my life since the day I started understanding things. We crossed it, daily twice, during our commute to and fro the school. That croos bridge with its swirling road, used to take my little mind wo the world beyond the worls infront of me.The parks with its date palms, lining the lanes, kids fearless, the bullies in the slides and swings waiting to push us around or scare us away. The 20 riyal pizzas, Qubs, Shawarmas, Broasteds, Kabsas and Mandi, that became the taste of our tongues, warming our plates, filling our stomachs. Everywhere you look, you can see people who has embraced the land odf deserts, put their faith into the blessed land of the two Great Mosques, to fill their stomachs and save their families back in their homeland.

 

The Riyadh that I knew and lived in was never the glamorous one filled with malls and brands and posh lifestyles. It was the Riyadh of the parched hearts, struggling to stand on their two feet to support their families, home for kids like us, whose parents hated the dryness and lack of the greenness, that they so closely held dear. For them, this was a place of livelihood because of no other choice, and for us, home. That shaped us to what we are, that consists of little bits and pieces of our being and memories.

That was the Riyadh, where the yellow uniformed street cleaners were underpaid, the cleaners of the two Great Mosques considered blessed, where you see expats, working their life away.

That was the Riyadh, which was hell, for the thieves who were punished severely, people beheaded publicly due to which crimes were less, for people who were wrongly jailed and punished with no money to pay the government to free them, no people to fend for in a foreign country, no love to be showered, treated like dirt by some Saudi, years and youth wasted away, bearing the harshness of the sun, toiling.

Like any other city, it is filled with secrets and pretenses. Secrets, of expats, royals and the common men. So deeply concealed.

It’s a land of tears, of lives lost in the face of fate, souls shattered in the name of livelihood.

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That’s the purity of it, this multi-facetedness, this mix of people, culture withing the strong realm of the traditional culture and I am sure, you will see this in every major cities in the Middle East. Even beyond the glittering city of Dubai. This might have been the face and soul of Dubai once, before another face of glamour came into the forefront as its tag. And I wonder  ,  10 years down the lane, if Riyadh would be the same place that I lived in. That I grew up in. Will it lose its purity, its real face?

Only time will tell.

The mundane little things

In a distant memory, like the vagueness of a dream, I see my mother in the kitchen, making dinner since my dad never preferred rice at night. I see her rolling out the chapattis, perfectly, asking me to cook them. I see her lightly admonishing me, while I burnt some of her prefect chapattis. I see her ladling the batter on the large tawa, dripping in drops of ghee, to make the most delicious dosa which she gently served hot into our plates with the potato masala that I was so fond of. I see her, content, battling her fights, yet with a smile. I see my father cribbing about how our clothes are never in the shelves and how we would never put them away even if we had enough storage. I see him controlling his laughter when we crack a joke and he tries to be all serious. I see his tears, hear his wavering broken voice, while he narrated his childhood to us. I see the wistfulness in his eyes, the little boy, who was recounting the last memory of his father. I see the pride in his eyes, after he came to know that I topped in 10th. I see the disappointment in his eyes, in my decision to opt for architecture. I see the subtle happiness and acceptance in his eyes, after three years, when he sees how well I am doing my course. I see him, a reserved soul, battling the world, providing for us all the comforts, yet with a determination.

In a distant memory, like the vagueness of a dream, I see us all sitting in together with a plate of food in our hands, watching TV and commenting on various things. I see us all, travelling together, in our car for grocery shopping. I see us waiting for my dad in his office, for him to be free, so we could go out somewhere. I see him paying the money for a new dress that I bought. I see us all eating a packet of qubbus and yogurt for dinner, together.

And now when I pay my bills, I miss his presence. When I travel alone, I miss the time when I had to bug my father to take me out. When I drive a car, I miss the rash driving of my father. When I eat my food, I miss the taste of my mother’s cooking. When I see my siblings, I miss the time when we were pulling each other’s hairs for the most silliest of reasons. When I see a loving home, I miss the togetherness of a family.

Family is a different feeling. Each moment, each fight, each tear and each smile that we share as a family can never value up to anything. Savor it all. Be it your mom’s cooking, a dress washed by your mom, ironed by your dad. Anything and everything that they do. Because when each day ends, you grow a little bigger, a little more responsible.

It is only when you go away from the cocoon, will you realize that these mundane little things were some of the greatest things that you could be blessed with.

The mundane little things are the most special.