Friday, 17 July 2015

Kappad: Where i Was Not Firm

Then we decided to go to Kappad because Vai said he liked places of historical importance. Kappad is where Vasco Da Gama landed.
That day i took Vai to Paragon again to have oonu (thali). There in the section where commoners sit you get oonu for Rs.  35. In the other section it is sold at Rs. 75. He liked the oonu very much.

Oonu at Paragon

We had a little dessert at Brown Town, Paragon's confectionery shop. I had chillie halwa and Vai carrot mysore pak. The pak was better. Halwa wasn't bad.

Chilli halwa and Carrot mysore pak at Brown Town, Paragon.

Then we went to the new KSRTC building in Mavoor road and took a bus which went to Kannur and got out at Pukkad. From Pukkad we took an autorickshaw to Kappad. The fare was Rs. 30.
The sea was raging. It was cloudy and in some time started raining. We walked along the beach which was pretty much eaten up by the sea and headed for a group of rocks. Two coast guards who were seated in a hut shoo-d us away. We walked back and found a similar rock away from guards.

It was great. Watching the sea. We sat in the rain and talked for long. Then decided to go to another part of the beach which looked very tempting. While we were on our way there more than two residents warned us not to go there. They said that only the other day was someone washed away by the sea. We said to each other that it was impossible. Sea couldn't possibly take anybody away from where we were headed. It looked quite safe.

Vai Vow at Kappad

On the rocks

We looked at the waves. They were huge but never reached us. Some came close. We didn't venture more into the beach and were sure that we were at a safe distance. Till that wave came. Vai later said that he had shouted at me to 'be firm'. I couldn't have been firm even if i had heard him because that was exactly what i didn't know how to do. In life and on the beach. Be firm. The sea washed half of Vai and took me with her. I went towards the sea and then was thrown right back at the beach. I felt it. Close. Near me. I was being taken, taken, and then spat out with a jerk. It was when Vai came and hitched me up holding my hand that i came back to Kappad and the sea. Till then i was the sea.

Feet and hands trembling, both of us walked back. All who had warned us gave mocking smiles which we didn't see because we didn't look at their faces. But of course we knew they had them on. We went to a bar cum restaurant at the beach. Vai had a beer. I asked him to have kappa (tapioca). It was of poor quality. I made a mental note to make kappa erissery after returning. I was wet from head to toe. My phone was dead. Everything in my bag was sandy and dripping wet. Yet i felt good.

After the beer we went to a portion in the stone embankment which was in between two naked trees. That's when i roughly translated a poem by Veeran Kutty for Vai which was something like

'Roots of trees which we planted wide apart
So that their leaves don't even touch each other
Are making love under the soil'

As soon as i said this a wave washed the trees' roots. Vai liked that moment very much and captured it on his phone camera. Here it is.

While we were there i smoked one. After that some mallu maledom struck a conversation with Vai and started asking about our relationship. I pretended to be non mallu and had a lot of fun. They asked if we were married and i said yes. They asked Vai if his wife also smoked. I liked it when everyone got a taste of malluship. It was funny as long as it was harmless. Most of the time it was violent moral policing. People have died. It was scary.

By taking Vai to places i was rediscovering my hometown and land. I loved it because i thought of something she had told me. That she wanted to travel to all places where i was hurt and rebuild memories for me there. I wanted to do the same with her. I did that with Vai on my way to Kappad. That was the route in which i used to travel to meet someone with whom i had an abusive relationship. There were four bridges that the bus would go over to reach there. I would text him as they got over one by one. Texts which just read 'first bridge (onnaam paalam) second bridge' etc. Now it would just be the way to Kappad where we had only good memories. Perfect.

Vai said that i looked like those ariyundas which were not properly ground with visible crumbs with all that sand on my hair. He also said that i had slept with the sea that day. When i reached home and took bath i realized he was right. There was not a curve, cavity or crevice in my body that the sea and sand hadn't touched. 

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Trip to Kadammanitta and Vasudevan Pilla

When i translated the article about Padayani into malayalam i had noticed that one of the major references was the work of Kadammanitta Vasudevan Pilla. I contacted the author and my editor contacted Mr Pillai's son before i spoke. We set up a time and date for the meet.

Then i got to know that the queer pride march in Kozhikode was going to happen on the same day. I pushed the meeting a day behind and was supposed to reach Kadammanitta on 6th July 2015. On the evening before that, i leaned that there were no tickets available for Janasadabdhi, the train which would take me to Chengannur. I made up my mind to go by bus. From the new KSRTC complex in Mavoor road, i took a bus to Ernakulam. From there i took one to Kottayam. It was around 7 p.m when i reached kottayam. There was no way i could hold the meeting on that day. There was no chance that i could attend the queer pride march the next day too. Bad planning is what i was born with. Not even that. I think I was born with no planning whatsoever.
I was not sure if anybody would rent a room to a woman alone. In Trivandrum i had learned that this was not possible. In the lodge next to Kottayam bus station i pretended to be non mallu and asked for a room. They gave it readily. I am intimidated by hotel rooms. I wish it had something to do with Psycho, but sadly life is not so filmy. I have too many bad memories in hotel rooms and feel i am under threat all the time. For me those are places away from 'home'. Home was safe. Hotels were not. If the place is dirty i feel even worse. And this one was. Slovenly. I stayed there that night and set off to Thiruvalla early in the morning of the next day. From Thiruvalla i took a bus to Kozhancheri. In Kozhancheri bus station i waited for two whole hours for a bus to Kadammanitta because nobody gave me the right directions. It was sickening. I hate wasting time when i don't want to. A peanut seller took pity on me and asked why i was there for such a long time. When i said i was waiting for  a a bus to Kadammanitta he put a sympathetic hand to his own head and said so many buses had gone by. He took me to the right place.I bough narangamuttai from him and had all of them.

I had been to Kottayam once in high school for a State level science fest. Not many memories about that except the fun trip, antakshari etc. This time what i noticed was that the place was just rubber. There were rubber plantations all around and a lone house in middle. House is a petty name for those structures. Those were huge palaces. I got scared seeing some of them. Why were these people so rich?! Could anybody be so rich! I looked at all the rubber trees around the houses and got an answer. Cash crop was literally that.

I reached Kadmmanitta around 12 pm. Mr Pilla's house was right next to the temple where padayani was performed. He spoke to me about how the art form was etc. I presented the script to him and asked if there was any song which would go with that. He asked me to buy a book written by him. I said okay and he gave me a copy he had. It was Rs. 70. The book is called 'Padeni' and is published by Kerala Bhasha Institute and has around 500 pages. I would have to read it and select three song portions that i myself thought was best for the theme. I was very excited and tried hard not to show it. I got an autographed copy of the book and left saying i would get back to him after reading the book. It will travel with me from Kozhikode to Kolkata. More than films, i think i like the journeys we make to make films.

I reached back Kottayam around 3 p.m, vacated the room and went in search of a bus. One which was going to Mananthavadi was revving the engine. I jumped in. More than seven hours on that and i was back by 1 a.m in Kozhikode. I felt good to be back home. I think home is what i need the most in life. Some place to go back to. For some, it's a person. Blessed are those.

I had created a whatsapp group for the crew and kept updating everyone on it as to what was happening. Soon we would have to record the track. The excitement was slowly building up. Ah what a beautiful thing is cinema is.