'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Water-weeds, Curves and Odd Guns

In recent weeks, I have made several lengthy paddle-boat trips around the Kochi backwaters. A short and quite crude video record of a tiny fraction of one of them is on Youtube (Readers, pls search there with 'kochi kayal by boat').

Rowing is absolutely tiring - and just as liberating. And performed in these parts, it can give you real visions of how Kochi used to look when the Portuguese came visiting - green skylines without highrises, impenetrable stands of mangroves where, post sundown, fireflies congregate in their millions... The real hard part is when tides oppose you and worse, sweep big rafts of tenacious 'African Payal' into your path (*).


A full year after its making, 'Poo Viriyunnu, Poo Kozhiyunnu' was screened to considerable appreciation at the Cochin Film Society on 19th November. It was very fulfilling to watch the film in a proper theater with wide screen and a solid sound system.


Here is a painting by R Venu titled ' History of a Great Slave'.

It probably is a tribute to black African slaves who, over the centuries, contributed their sweat and blood to the rise of Cochin as city and maritime center. More specifically, it might reference 'Kappiri Muthappan', an African allegedly buried alive centuries ago by his European masters along with some treasure somewhere in Fort Kochi and whose spirit still blesses and aids supplicants.

Venu's painting bears uncanny parallels to a couplet from Ayyappa Paniker's 'Gotrayanam' that we used in 'Poo Viriyunnu, Poo Kozhiyunnu' (translation):

"The wounds without might have healed but the heart continues to bleed; yet the comforting embrace of water awakens lotuses. And as if blood were dripping from the tips of their petals, a subtle scarlet line radiates among the spreading ripples".

Kochi has been molded and nurtured by the embrace of water - the sea, rivers and backwaters. And a lot of this water is now carpeted by pink African Payal blossoms. And instead of 'poovithal thumbu alinjoori ittuveezhunna chora' (blood dripping from the petal tips), Venu visualizes 'kaiviral thumbu alinjoori ittuveezhunna chora' (for it is the slave's fingertip that melts into blood).


Proportions and Curves:

The basic design of the Human body appears to repeat certain proportions at several places and scales. For example, see how the proportions of the triangle formed by the eyes and mouth reappear quite naturally on the torso of a 'pulikkali' dancer.

Another example:

And here is a zoomed out version of the same image!


Long ago, when I was about 8, I asked an Elder: "The moon adorns Siva's forehead. So, is the lord hanging upside down somewhere in outer space so we don't see his person but can see the moon?"

Yday, I made my first ever visit to Wonderla(Veegaland). A ride on the oddly-named 'Space Gun' reminded me of my own ancient query - one is swept up in a big arc to a height approximately twice that of a coconut tree and left hanging upside down for nearly 20 seconds. It was absolutely gut-wrenching to see the sky beneath one's feet.


Here is a triptych of hooded faces, of which at least two are iconic:


(*) - Water hyacinth is known as 'African Payal' (African water-weed) in Kerala. Curiously, Wiki informs us it is actually of South American origin. Right now, I am too lazy to dig up how Africa came in there!


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