It is very relaxing to spend a few days in a house located amidst lots of trees. I was in one such house of a relative for a few days. The late evenings are the most peaceful and rejuvenating. Darkness all around, barring the distant light of the street lamp, silence punctuated only by the cries of a few insects flying around. Mosquitos are the only spoilsport, but the repellents work well on them.
One good part of the holidays was the monsoon. This was the first time in the last 16 years, I was in my home state during the rains. The south-west monsoon enters the mainland via Kerala, and customarily the date is June 1.In mid-May, the Met department had predicted that the monsoon would arrive early. When intermittent showers began on May 25, I wondered if the Met office had indeed got it right. The Met offices in India are very poorly equipped, and so few take the predictions seriously.
On May 27, it rained continuously through the day. And guess where I was -- driving from Thiruvalla in central Kerala to the temple town of Guruvayoor in the north of the state. Driving seven hours in the rain isn't pleasant for sure. But I had no complaints.
At the Vivekanananda memorial (pix on the left, along with the Tiruvalluvar statue to the right) in Kanyakumari, you find boards saying: "Photography strictly prohibited" -- a rule so flagrantly violated. I wanted to take a snap of the notice board. But seeing the security staff right near it, I thought I may be asking for too much; eventhough my journalistic instincts told me otherwise. After all, I am on holiday, not out to expose the security staff in Kanyakumari! We missed the sunset due to heavy clouds but were lucky to catch the sunrise (pix below) on May 22.!
Cut off from my world, I was; but not enough to insulate me completely from some current events. On the 22nd, while we were driving back from Kanyakumari, my brother-in-law, who looks after investments in a bank, was tormented with phone calls from clients who were worried about the market crash that morning. Before long, he had to divert all his incoming calls to his bank.
Caste seemed to hound me even during the holidays. Kerala Assembly elected its speaker: K Radhakrishnan. But what got more than a passing mention was his caste. There were outpouring of compliments from political leaders who said he had risen from the very lowest layer of society. Compliments are fair, no doubt; but it's the tone and tenor that matters. When everyone has only one thing -- his caste -- to talk about, there's something wrong, it looks very odd. It is most unfair to the person to make it appear that he has no creditable attributes, other than his caste. It indicates an obsession, a vicious cycle, we have to definitely get out of.
The lush greenery and lakes are so soothing. To the right is the Manimalayaar (Manimala river) captured at Thuruthikkad in Pathanamthitta district in south central Kerala. Incidentally this is just 300 meters behind a house.
One thing I noticed in most houses in smaller towns and villages was two kitchens: one with smattering of soot on the walls and other more swanky. Obviously the former is used for firewood-stove (mainly for boiling water) and the latter for LPG stoves.
The Krishna temple at Guruvayoor is a popular temple. One flipside is non-Hindus are not allowed in. A celebrated case is of singer Yesudas being disallowed entry. He is a devotee but a Christian. He wasn't allowed in even to hold a musical concert in praise of Lord Krishna. There is often a long queue to get darshan. Apparently, if one paid Rs 100 or so "to agents", one could jump the queue.
Payment is not the issue; the underhand and unaccounted method of payment is. Tirupati temple has devised excellent innovative methods to obviate the problem of crowd and long queues. Probably Guruvayoor temple authorities should think on those lines.
Guess what is the building seen to the left. This is in Guruvayoor, and I was staying in a hotel opposite to this building. I wondered who must be living in such a house. Only when I looked carefully, I found it houses the post office.