An evening in a sleepy hamlet of fishermen’s folks

Sleeping Beauty

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

It was a lazy summer evening in a sleepy hamlet of fishermen’s folks. I found Ramu, a 5.10 feet tall, “all skin and grief sea man in his early 40’s sobbing his heart out inconsolably while digging the grave himself. ‘’Whole night she was looking at me as if she wants to say something, I should have kept her alive’’. His shovel slipped from his sweaty palms and his shrill laments must have opened the doors of heaven.

Such unconditional love, I felt sorry for Ramu more than the departed one.

‘’people are selfish even when someone is dead, bloody monsters’’, storming at the mischievous kids gathered around while placing the last stone on her grave.

The eternal silence of tombstones reminds us about the transience of life we are glued to against all odds. A gorgeous life is over. We don’t see it coming from anywhere. Is it not a well-kept secret of our selective memory? It’s so obvious; still we continue climbing up a descending escalator.

A night jasmine fell over the tombstone after its fleeting bloom leaving an enchanting memory that could last a life time. What makes the jasmine bloom so precious is its death.

It was just another evening on the beach. I could see the crimson sun, retreating. The kids were going up and down with the ebb and flow of the tides and thousands of tiny crabs were following the waves swimming, hopping and crawling around.

One of the troublesome kids was spotted with a fork and knife, another one was holding a scissor. Without any cast of guilt and with the precision of a surgeon, they were cutting and clearing the small swimming legs, claws and carapace of the baby crabs that would decorate the steps of the Mermaid Sandcastle they have marvelously engineered in sand. They have captured two gigantic mud crabs, wired their claws and placed them outside like guards to the castle.


Image Courtesy: Toronto Star.

‘’The magical mermaid castle’’- kids were screaming the name of the castle they proudly built on their own like a war whoop.

 Suddenly screams of excitement were thundering the beach boulevard. They went hysterical about something that held their breath.

Oh my god! My goodness! My heavens! Never seen such a striking beauty-exclamations of delight everywhere.

She  was an extra-large exquisite olive ridley sea turtle washed up on the varkala beach weighing around 100 pounds (45 kilograms) .Her green heart shaped shell was two feet long and too small to cover her naked  olive skin .She was lonely, tired, vulnerable and crawling too slow as if every step adds to her torment.

She could read the spell she had on the exhilarated crowd that was encircling her but was too fragile to reciprocate. Her big, colorful, mesmerizing eyes were shutting down .She has given a resigned look to ramu and leaned towards him and collapsed.

Suddenly she twitched herself in pain. The vexatious kids were slicing the turtle shell with a paring knife to make the gates for their castle. Ramu pushed them apart; sat near the damsel in distress gazing at her with eyes welled up with compassion. His long working hours in the sea made him a tough human being. His heart is as vast as the ocean; his eyes captured its depth; his body the smell and his ears the sound.

He instantly wrapped her in a cloth to give her maximum warmth and also cleaned away the shrimps stuck on her. He then galloped to Doctor’s, a clinic run by Dr.Stella White near to the promenade.

 ‘’Doctor, this time, a dying turtle. Though the doctor is not a vet, she never says no to save a life that is priceless. Finding herself in the evening twilight of life all alone, Dr.Stella White, a 60ish Canadian expat, who landed here co-incidentally to a place which was not on her itinerary ten years back has fallen in love deeply with the place and the people never to be returned. Her doors are like the doors of heaven and open to the villagers at any time of the day or night.

He rushed to the site clearing way for the doctor .Doctor felt the glassy eyes and fragile shell of her patient. The strangulation marks and the sharp abrasions on her body has spoken volumes about her solitary sojourns. She must have got knocked down by a trawling boat propeller.

She was looking for a muscle to inject the beauty, pricked the skin with the needle and injected a heavy dose of antibiotic with a desperate attempt to rescue her. While the doctor was giving the shots, ramu held her steady. Her eyes were swollen, her neck wobbling and shell bleeding.

‘’If she survive the night, she’ll be fine, let’s see’’.Ramu thanked the doctor and stayed up whole night diligently keeping her warm like a father guarding a child. He kept small portions of earthworms next to her just in case she opens her eyes and craves for food. He was praying to Janardana Swami, the protecting deity of the village to let her pull through the night.

He wasn’t sure when the dawn broke in; he slipped to deep sleep somewhere around
2 AM being cuddled by the sea breeze. What had woken him up was the soft whisper of the doctor, ‘’she is gone’’.

Ramu looked at her olive beauty in disbelief. Her body was stiff but serene. She found her quantum of tranquility in the sands of papanasham beach. Her buried secret remained hidden from the rest of the world if not for the fallen night jasmine on top of the mount. Hundreds of pelicans lined up the shore without fluttering wings to pay their last homage to this sleeping beauty. ‘’I should have kept her alive’’, ‘’I should have kept her alive’’- Ramu’s words were lingering in the breeze along with the mild fragrance of the night jasmine.


Image Courtesy : #Night-flowering #Jasmine ,Twitter.

Little something for the late bloomers.

Have a new year’s resolution ? well,I don’t have one.

If you are someone like me who waived at New Year without a resolution, it’s absolutely fine. No need for that guilt trip. What matters most is living with awareness and attention to daily life events .Invest your time and emotions in anything that you feel happy without a reason and play it by the ear.

Happy 2019.Photo Courtesy: Pexels

My reflections lead me to the awareness that there is a lot of happiness attached when you do things at your own pace even if that means a snail’s pace, even if that means taking the judgments of the whole world on you. Your trail is worth a million attempts and your emotions matters just because it matters to you irrespective of what the world thinks of it.

We have these most-loved resolutions like  lose weight, gain weight, reduce temper tantrums, change the job, learn to cook, hit the gym, go paragliding ,take life lightly, earn more money, diversify assets, call family and friends, a long list of forgotten  resolutions that chase us towards the last day of december leaving us feeling guilty of not attempting it.

As a professional, I am used to doing SWOT analysis of every situation, making SMART goals and converting it to milestones of scorecards. When I ponder over my goal setting style and discussed with the generation of 30- 40 somethings most of us felt that we were in active pursuits of unhappiness, chasing short term goals.

One day you find a dog relentlessly chasing you and to escape from that dog, you start climbing a tree and tremble upon success by reaching the top of the tree. Your only intent was to get away from a barking dog. Most of our resolutions and subsequent achievements are unfortunately driven by panic.

If you still can’t feel that soul-filling contentment even after achieving a resolution, does it mean that you never wanted it to begin with?

A rush hour life is a totally mal nourished life. Living in awareness to your innermost potentials and investing your attention in that direction can be a nice way for the 40 somethings to get rid of lifestyle diseases that may get life threatening; reducing the quality of life of our later years. Remember the metaphor of the slow and steady tortoise that wins the race against the fast and furious rabbit. In real life too tortoise wins by living for more than 100 years and the rabbit a max 7 years. Let’s live with awareness and in abundance without constantly panicking over what our peers are doing.

Image Courtesy: JAMES STEIDL/GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

I want to give myself some lazy hours over a simmering cup of tea from the plantations feeling the mist and the sight of its endless green cover pondering over the second innings of life and the worthiness of its pursuits.

Second Innings, in my outlook, is a moment in life where you allow yourself to be second or third or fourth and even don’t mind being the last guy in the queue without making a fuss about it. You gladly give way to others. Generally, this phase does not bless us in our 20’s and 30’s and for some people even at a ripe old age of 90’s. This beautiful phase or mindset can hit you at any stage in life and generally when you reach 40 something or 50 something years. Your heart may open up to this awareness during life events when you hit the rock bottom of life where you lose everything you hold dear and survive with the strength of the small little voice in you that doesn’t give up. It doesn’t mean that you need to go through traumatic life events for that second innings moment. It can also emerge when you are at your current best, being aware of your inner self, aware of the memories stored in the cells, paying attention to the present moment and non -reactive when things do not happen as per your business plans or bucket lists.

Fresh as a flower blossom

Let’s breathe deep and bring in a lot of freshness and reflections in our perspectives.

Let’s bring in 2019.

Padmanabhapuram Palace, a Monumental symphony in woods.

A Travelogue

Padmanabhapuram Palace

Padmanabhapuram Palace, an outstanding 16th Century wooden palace is a time warped monumental marvel of visual poetry engraved on woods that resonates royalty’s footprint of a total recall of more than 500 years of survival story buried in the silence of the stones.

From the famed Sri Padmanabha Swamy Temple which is located at the heart of the city capital of Kerala to Padmanabhapuram Palace is just 50-52 kms.

Driving route: Thiruvananthapuram > Neyyattinkara > cross border to Tamil Nadu at Amaravila > Thackeray > turn left > Padmanabhapuram palace.

Palace Timings: 9.00 AM to 3.00 PM all days, except Mondays and National Holidays.

An old granite fortress 4 kms long is visible from the bumpy village road with paddy fields on both sides with Rocky Mountains at the horizon. That’s your destination, a trance down the bygone days of Maharajas of Travancore.

Pay an entry fee of Rs 35/- you are inside this iconic palace built as per traditional vastu architecture of kerala with natural ventilation. Though without any fans and very little artifacts, there is a history of simplicity over opulence that’s felt in the air in the 6.5 acre spread of the Padmanabhapuram Palace complex within a fort of 185 acres located at the foot hills of Veli hills, Western Ghats.

outer

Outer courtyard of  Palace.

poomukham

Poomukham: The entrance of Padmanabhapuram palace is termed as Poomukham. Poomukhan leads to the antique door of palace. This is the place where the guests of the royal family are welcomed inside.

wooden ceiling

What greets your eyes inside the poomukham is a wooden ceiling with intricate carvings of unique craftsmanship.

hanging lamp

Thooku vilakku or Hanging Lamp: The hanging brass lamp with a king on horse-back is an ethereal attraction. What’s unique about the lamp is, it will come to rest facing the east even if we turn it in any other direction.

mantrasala

Mantrasala: One needs to climb up from Poomukham though a wooden ladder to reach Mantrasala or King’s Council chamber . This is the place where king conducted all important meetings with the top council members. The way in which natural lights enter the room is quite exquisite. The floor made out of burnt coconut shells, egg white, locally available mud, cow dung, leaves and flowers still glaze to glory.

ootupura

After Mantrasala there is a passage, which leads to the Oottupura or Dining Hall where over 2000 people were served meals abundantly on a daily basis from the royal treasury. The air still carries the smell of pickles from the huge Chinese jars of yester years.

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Ambari Mukhappu: Picturesque view from the spot built for King to view chariot races.

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Thai Kottaram: Thai Kottaram is the oldest of the buildings here. It houses the “Kannithoonu” which is a single pillar with the most beautiful carvings made of jack-fruit wood located at the most auspicious place of the palace supporting the ceiling.

pond

Palace Pond: You can see a flight of steps leading to the royal bathing pond. This is the spot where the Maharaja in his times, took his ritual bath before the daily prayers and worship.

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Thekee Kottaram:  Today this southern palace is transformed to historical heritage Museum, exhibiting various collections of old weapons, paintings, sculptures and antique households.

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Navaratri Mandapam:  This place built on solid rock is the only place made of stones and is a reputed hall of cultural extravaganzas.

 ”Ali veni yendu cheyvu hantha jnan ini manani

Nalinamizhi Sri Padmanabhan iha vanneelallo’’

– (Hey, bee-tressed nymph, Alas, what can I do now?

The lotus eyed Shree Padmanabhan has not come back yet?)

The subtle swaying movements of the mohiniyattam dancer   articulating the anticipation and longing of not seeing her beloved is a well-known royal composition by Maharaja Swathi Thirunaal  of Travancore Royal family .He has to his credit over 400 classical compositions in both Carnatic and Hindustani tradition.

The majority of the maharajas of padmanabhapuram palace were revered and loved by the commoners. Adoration of Lord Padmanabha pervades everything the royal family does and they ruled their kingdom under the custodianship of the deity.

Sometimes it is very difficult to separate the threads of history from the vast fabric of legends woven over decades. Still it is an exhilarating feeling to walk in the footsteps of an era lived by our ancestors. To step back in time just for a few hours to the distinguished destiny and the royal rituals of the palace is a personally rewarding experience and it’s a total recall of history buried in the silence of the wooden palace.