Nov 10, 2004


I went to Thiruvananthapuram for a long weekend a few days ago. As the plane circled above the lush green carpet, I exclaimed with the sudden realization - "coconut trees, fully covered with coconut trees". It was clear mother nature was very good to our neighbors. The quaint small airport reminded me of Kauai. We went to a back-water resort with a floating cottage. The patio chair I was reclining in swayed gently, and I watched the backwaters and the coconut trees, the changing clouds and the waves crashing a little farther away for hours together. I was deprived of a glorious sunset by the clouds but for someone who thinks rain is romantic, it was divine to go on a boat while it rained. The resort had great food and I managed to find a book I could curl up with. It was interesting to see so many white faces - lot of tourists from Germany I heard. Apparently, Ayurveda sells. Kerala had done a great job marketing their assets.

I visited the art gallery in the museum there to see Ravi Varma paintings. Apart from the usual ones I like, there were two which I had not seen before. One was Shakunthala looking back to see Dushyanth with the pretext of removing a thorn in her feet. The way she turns, the covert looks she gives was amazing. Then there was the painting of Ravana slaying Jadayu. The tall Ravana has just cut off the bird's feather and is bringing down his sword one more time, holding Sita in his other hand. The way Sita is rendered in this painting was stunning. She has turned her face, but her petite frame, oh so gentle is crouched in a way that screams to the viewer - how pained and horrified she is. I could almost hear her cries of anguish and could feel her shudder.

Later, I was stopped at the gates of the temple, due to dress code violation. The north Indian woman, seeing that I was in the same plight as she was, complained to me - "salwar suit is such a decent dress, why aren't they allowing". I just smiled at her, deciding to spare her the lecture of how what's decent and what's not is dependent on the situation. I didn't really have a problem with the dress code. If you could have a dress code for the pub why not for the temple. And I think they have the full right to deem what one could wear and what one couldn't. Of course, the dhotis rental affiliated to the temple that was doing a brisk business. No wonder they were strict.

I traveled down to Kanyakumari - what a wasted tourist opportunity - and drove my way up to Tamil heartland. Rain followed, the huge windmills flanking the roads stood majestically. I munched loads of nongu, palm fruits in palm leaf baskets, and watched the scenery pass by idly. It was very heartening to see green on the same black land I had crossed a couple of months ago.

November 10, 2004