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

Sunday, April 07, 2019


Yakshi, the vicious seductress who devours unsuspecting men, is only a Kerala-specific corruption of a profound and noble pan-Indian concept. Indeed, the Yakshi is the spirit of Nature. She is Nature. She is pure, nurturing, pulsing Femininity. And that is how Indian art has always visualized her... I conceived my Yakshi sculpture at Malampuzha as representing this fecund Earth. Her original name was 'Daughter of the Mountain'... And just look around...does Nature need adornments? Can anyone think of dressing up the hills??"
- Kanai Kunhiraman, Sculptor.

Some Golden Anniversaries and Birthdays are upon us. From the Rajdhani Express to the Moon Landing and Steffi Graf to Brian Lara ... ....
And more spectacularly than most, Kanai Kunhiraman's 'Yakshi' in the Malampuzha Gardens...

"The night was a luminous blue over the gravestones. ..She rose, naked, from the silt of darkness..."

and yes, Khasak!
I got to attend a meeting held beside the Yakshi to mark her birthday. But strangely (to me) none of the eminent speakers said anything about how Yakshi could have been Maimoona - or the other way round - and how the two had come into being almost simultaneously - Vijayan's masterpiece too got published in 1969! Moreover, the village of Thasrak, the setting of Khasak is but a few miles away from Malampuzha.
Long ago, when the Soviet Union was THE land of honey and milk - and equality and justice and friendly feelings for us Indians - we were taught this story: Some desi bigwig visited the Soviet land. He was invited to a primary school and got to interact with the children. He generally asked a batch of them a question: "I buy something at 10 roubles at the market and sell it to my neighbor at 12 roubles. What will I gain?". And a smart kid answered: "A jail term!". For, the Soviets abhor the very idea of making a profit on something you didn't produce, you know, taking advantage of someone else's efforts.

Now, Soviets are history. India is now on the path of rapid - indeed, rabid - 'Monetization' of everything. In the vanguard of this 'revolution' are our Management institutes. A young collegian, preparing for the hugely competitive management entrance exam, showed me this quantitative puzzle.

"A certain trader is allowed a 65%profit margin on a chemical reagent. He offers a 28% discount on the market price. He also adulterates the reagent - 12 percent by weight is now tap water. What is the percentage profit?"
Note: While discussing this question with a colleague, I learned a new word - alligation.

A bit more on India's Monetization, a parable:
A studious English graduate, fresh out of college, asked one of her teachers: "A competitive exam coaching institute has offered me a salary of sixty thousand bucks a month. I am tempted to work there for a year and then go on to Grad School. Their work will be crap but at least I would be able to pay for my subsequent studies myself!". The teacher said: "Just ask yourself if you can quit next year when they jack up the salary to 90 grand!" .... and she joined a Masters' program immediately.

And these are election times and a historic event whose name sounds like the opposite of 'Monetization' is a major issue. The smartest comment that has risen from this discussion is: "Modi can get things done. If the Congress had implemented the Demonetization, they would have made a much bigger mess of it!"


In the beginning of the story 'Puravastu' (='relic') by S P Ramesh is this episode:

The narrator supervises work on the foundations for a new shopping complex. Suddenly the 'mestiri' comes running and says: " Saar, we just found a carved piece of granite... it would be 4 feet, a monolith, maybe it is a sacred idol..... I told non-Hindu laborers not to handle it... Shall we inform the police?"

Reverentially dug up and cleansed of all grime, the 'idol' reveals itself to be something like this:

The Paliyam Kottaram at Chendamangalam is now a museum. For some strange reason, it has been kept locked since early 2018. However, one can walk around the lawns. And that is where the above object rests, alongside a few other similar ones.

For the benefit of Readers who haven't seen its like, it is called an 'ovarakkalu', a stone platform atop a shit-pit. You can admire a similar piece in situ at the Krishnapuram palace near Kayankulam and perhaps at the Padmanabhapuram palace. And looking at them, it is not very easy to feel old days were really that good.
Very near Paliyam, spread over several acres on the slopes of a hill is a Jewish cemetery. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, rest there - 'Google Translate' reveals at least one Rabbi is among them. Hopefully, enhancing the calm of their repose are the Sahasranamam chants played at the Krishna temple that crowns the same hill...

I recently got a chance to look into Leonardo Da Vinci's notebooks. Here is a glimpse:

One recalls discussing this very question with colleagues while a physics student. The discussion ended without closure; someone even said that it is only an illusion that the sun appears bigger when close to the horizon...

Reading Leonardo's succinct answer, I also am reminded of a primary school exam from childhood. We were asked: "Why does it get cooler as you to to mountain tops?" And I had answered - with credit! - thus: "As we go higher and higher, the air gets thinner and thinner. So the temperature falls."
On the lawns behind the Indian Museum, Kolkata - the Mohenjo Daro Dancing Girl, having attained six-foot-plus stature, strikes her customary pose as a gardener walks by.

"The original Yakshi in the whole of Indian art must be the perky Mohenjo Daro Dancing Girl."
At Tiruvalla railway station, I saw some gentlemen disposed thus. I couldn't shoot them as discreetly as I wanted...

And to conclude, let me add a personal remark: Kanai's Yakshi could have done with longer - and wilder - tresses.