Wednesday, November 20, 2013

the Kochi effect

on my way to Kochi

Even though it had been 3 years since I'd been to India, sadly, I was not pining for it. This is coming from a typical Malayali whose eyes used to well up,  - whose heart played the drums with all its might, the moment she glimpsed  the green valleys of Kerala. After my dad was gone, I lost that longing for my homeland. I did not care what went on there, I did not care if I went there.

But this past month I had to. I was determined that the visit would be as short as possible, jet lag or not. So I went home for a week, and that included travel time. And I have to say I fell in love all over again. The day I landed I went to see one of my old professors. She is retired now and runs an old age home. She has a few smiling little nuns to help her. It is a home set on a hill in a rural area. A place which makes one stop and think. Along the way I saw the changes that have come to my state. The wider roads, the vanishing chimneys of the old brick factories, the churches, the temples... .

The next day I took the trip that really floored me, that changed the state of my mind. I went to Kochi to visit a few family members. Kochi, the Queen of the Arabian sea, known as Cochin, just a short while ago. I stopped to buy some fruits in a street. Just another old street in that old town. Narrow, crowded, bright and sunny. It was, and is still, a feeling that I can only describe as wonderful. Even magical. That a place can actually make me feel so vibrant. I have heard celebrities on the red carpet talk about the energy they could feel around them. At that moment I felt it. The energy. The life - in capital letters. It made me want to cry. As I stood there, unbelievably, I know, I could see the passing of time. I imagined the countless number of people who walked those streets, who lived like me, and died. People who were children there, and later, young men and women, going places. I belonged there. The place, the ambience, the people, the movement, the startling but sure ascent of a society, the burgeoning, electrifying breath of that land enveloped me  -- it could almost be called a mystical experience, and it was very real. This was home. This is home. A part of me that no one can take away.

Then I had the chance to talk with, and listen to someone who can only be described as the essence of Kochi, since he lives for that city, and my mind was full to the brim. With more and more room appearing, asking for more. Outwardly, I may have been the same old laidback Asha. But inside, I was like a child in wonderland, frantically, greedily, taking it all in. I heard about the gigantic strides the city was making in every field -- art, cinema, archaeology, science, technology. Kochi seemed to be the happening place. Its young and old, man and woman, are heading forward to a future of fulfilled promises, realized dreams.  Like its waterways, its skyscrapers, Kochiites are forging new ways of living, firmly based on the old. The quick, incessant exchange of ideas, of commodities, the constant movement of people to and from countries all over the world, the connections that had always gone on there -- Kochi was always globalized -- has gained new momentum now. It is a rebirth,  it is a metamorphosis. The butterfly is about to burst out.   Here is the infinite ocean of stories, the never ending, mesmerizing sagas of life and death, past and present. Here is where one could swim around, dive into, and drown in.  Like the old, empty, history-laden warehouses in that port town still said to be wafting the aromas of long gone spices,  that await for new life, and new ways of thinking, my mind seemed to be waiting. I miss it all. Terribly.And what am I doing here? I feel that  it is time to go back. There is nothing here for me that can compare to that. There is nothing here that made me feel what I felt on that morning on that street. What am I waiting for?

 a beat to dance to! :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

down memory lane

curiously, this song seems to be stuck in my head -- after I got back from a short visit home.