Archive for the ‘Shutterbug’ Category

“The Haunted Tree Atop The Hill”   5 comments

 

"Fed up with their lives, many disconsolate souls climbed up the hill and threw themselves into the dark ravine down below. Till this point in time, No one has survived." An innocuous evening  stroll in the hill was soon assuming  darker undertones when a chance conversation revealed the lesser known lure of the hills to quench its  blood lust. As I sat down under a tree, I could sense my trains of thought veering into uncharted waters whispering endlessly: "You are nothing but a mangled  heap of unquenchable ambitions strutting around in the guise of blood and flesh! Will now  and here this  ordeal stop? Embark on the path to salvation in front of you and embrace freedom from this worldly bondage!" The seething winds and the numbing cold, the dispassionate rocks and the rustling leaves, the gloomy skies and the lifeless grasses, all came alive and were inciting me to take the last plunge! "Enough!", interrupting my partner without any manner of preamble, I continued: "Let's leave, Its getting darker and will start raining soon...Let's head home." Every stride I took to reach home was  heavy since I was burdened by the crushing  weight of thoughts pertaining about death and  suicide. Breaking the deafening silence lingering  the journey downhill, my accomplice came up with an afterthought: "The legend here is that even though the ones committing suicide die, their souls do not. Their souls, the legend says, migrate into the trees nearby or wander the hill whispering past the visitors abetting them to commit suicide." I turned  around and took a one last look at the tree under which I sat. Amidst the fading sun and orange clouds, the tree looked like the grim reaper revealing his large claws, growing in enormity as darkness enveloped the hills.

“Fed up with their lives, many disconsolate souls climb up the hill and throw themselves into the dark ravine down below. Till this point in time, No one has survived. No bodies have been recovered.” An innocuous evening  stroll in the hill was soon assuming darker undertones when a chance conversation revealed the lesser known lure of the hills to quench its  blood lust. As I sat down under a tree, I could sense my trains of thought veering into uncharted waters whispering endlessly: “You are nothing but a mangled heap of unquenchable ambitions strutting around in the guise of blood and flesh! Will now and here this ordeal stop? Embark on the path to salvation in front of you and embrace freedom from this worldly bondage! Take the leap!” The seething winds and the numbing cold, the dispassionate rocks and the rustling leaves, the gloomy skies and the lifeless grasses, all came alive and were inciting me to take the last plunge and end my life! “Enough!”, interrupting my partner without any manner of preamble, I continued: “Let’s leave, Its getting darker and will start raining soon…Let’s head home.” Every stride I took to reach home was  heavy since I was burdened by the crushing  weight of thoughts about death and suicide. Breaking the deafening silence lingering  through the journey downhill, my accomplice came up with an afterthought: “The legend says that even though the ones committing suicide die, their souls do not. Their souls, they say, migrate into the trees nearby or wander the hill whispering past the visitors abetting them to commit suicide. The place is haunted and the trees are possessed!” I turned around and took a one last look at the tree under which I sat. Amidst the fading sun and tangerine clouds, the tree looked like the grim reaper revealing its large claws, growing in enormity as darkness enveloped the hills.

Posted February 5, 2017 by Aneesh in Shutterbug, The Motley Crew

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“Down On My Luck”   4 comments

 

 

What will you do when  you come face to  face with a place where history sleeps intertwined with culture on a hartal day with low mobile battery and no one for company ? Well, First you will take a snap. Then you pretend to think, trying to forget that you are the unluckiest person on the earth right now, until the rarest of the rare bus appears on the horizon. This is the southern entrance of the renowned Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur, the cultural capital of Kerala. This ground plays host to the most famous Pooram in Kerala:The Thrissur Pooram which was  the brainchild  of Sri Raja Raja Varma the  Maharaja of  Kochi.

 

They say that the knowledge system in god’s own country can be broadly classified  into two. The  one which emerged from our own backyard, tracing its lineage to the Sangam heritage is dubbed the “Kaavu Parambaryam”/Traditional Knowledge. The other which had its birth up north, which migrated down south over the course of  time was baptized the “Kshetra Parambaryam”/Heterogeneous Knowledge. It is through the tug of wars between these contrasting but vibrant systems that the language called Malayalam, the identity named Malayali and the state called Kerala as we know today came into existence. Kaavu, which is essentially Dravidian, imagines nature as sacred and unbound assimilating within its embrace the mores of the folkways. Driven more by commonsense, this knowledge tradition includes flourishing sacred groves, rudimentary idol worships, instrumental magic rituals backed  by occult beliefs, unsophisticated but intricate arts and straightforward dance moves backed by oral tradition. The non systematic-practical learning rooted heavily in the vernacular completes the picture .

On the other hand, Kshetra parambaryam draws heavily from the migrant Aryan tradition which reached the southern tip of the subcontinent through flourishing contacts due to improved trade and flow of  ideas by hermits and monks. In sharp contrast to the Kaavu, Kshethra parambaryam draws heavily on rationality, based on which a sacred space is  demarcated based on formulas , a chosen god from an elaborate pantheon is placed, idol worship backed by detailed rituals are systematized, intricate art forms and  sophisticated dance moves dubbed as classical are practiced by a chosen few within four walls. A non utilitarian educational system backed by the language of the gods completes the Kshetra parambaryam. In short Kaavu celebrates the ordinary son of the soil, his mundane ways of life in the open, celebrating and  elevating his language and oral culture. But Kshetra parambaryam promotes the erudite Brahminical abilities and his devotion to pioneer, broaden and deepen his knowledge in various fields such as mathematics, astronomy, medicine and philosophy through god’s language all the while  maintaining a monopoly.

Over  the course of time, due to the rise and demise of  various ruling dynasties, these divergent knowledge traditions evolved as a consequence of thriving contacts between the two resulting in a unique cultural syncreticsm. Even though the convergence between Kaavu parambaryam and Kshetra parambaryam was visible across various art and dance forms, it  was more pronounced in Language as well as Festivals. Festivals especially Poorams in Kerala, from the outset, were fantastically designed rituals  based on grandstanding, aimed at perpetuating the rule of the mighty.

Pooram, the equivalent of carnival in Europe, was an  occasion for the subject class to forget their unbroken period of  unshrinking labour from morning to sunset. Pooram was that  occasion for a peasant which brought him some joy, colour, and moments of  brightness in his otherwise dark, depressed and deprived life. For the ruling jenmi, it was an occasion to stamp his wherewithal to stage a larger than life spectacle which remains incomplete without an array of caparisoned elephants, the perambulation of the presiding deity, imposing pyrotechnics, generosity towards  his subjects and  magnanimity for the deviant ones. Hence on a Pooram day one can find the confluence of  every conceivable forms of trade, tricks and personalities amidst a sea of  humanity gathered  at the rendezvous to witness the spectacle. Longstanding feuds are buried, egos are massaged, friendships are renewed, drunkards and fraudsters forgiven, deviants and iconoclasts are forgotten bringing together families, distant relatives, friends, kin groups and the society as a whole.

In many ways it is an ingenious way of sending out a message to the subjects about  who the real ruler is by an ostentatious display of power and wealth. Lost in the sheer joy of the moment and reliving them in the future, the subjects pledge their allegiance to masters voluntarily than by coercion.  This stabilized the kingdoms against threats from within in the form of grass-root protests and rebellions. Thus the power of  the mighty is  sealed for eternity. This oversimplified picture gets more complex when we bring into frame the effect of  heterogeneous cultures from across the seas like Christianity and Islam having strong influence on the society. We dont need to necessarily pick sides here because this  is how objective historical  forces bring together people resulting in cultural assimilation which gets reflected in changes across visible and invisible spectrums of a society. You just need to  be subjectively aware of these objective forces acknowledging that reality is chaotic and dynamic!!

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This is  a mish mash of some trains of thoughts which chugged along the nerves in my grey matter during a Hartal Day in the past. The above syndrome gets all the more worse when  I am famished. It is just an attempt to scribble them down before they disappear and these are pure possibilities based on what I have read and heard from books and great minds over a period of time!

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“The Siesta”   8 comments

 

 

“When he is not among the pigeons and not on a hot tin roof, he bids adieu to Youtube and comes down to have a siesta .”

 

 

“Of Rain Clouds, Sun Shine and Redemption”   13 comments

When the Rain gods eventually sent the pregnant clouds home which lashed the west coast breathing life back into every thing conceivable, it was just another day’s work for the Sun god in the east. It rained cats and dogs at Chengannur in Kerala whereas Chennai in Tamil Nadu turned into a fire breathing dragon at the same time. Astonishingly, the elements involved in this annual affair are all at peace with each other and all this happens like clockwork when the time for staging things arrives.

It was during the crack of one of those “would’ve been sticky days” in Chennai that the truant rain clouds had a change of mind. Out of the blue the heavens opened!! And we had a rare – precious – ephemeral but  well deserved wet and cool morning!! Nevertheless even before we could utter “Carpe Diem” fully, things were back at square one. Since such sporadic rains can open the floodgates on pests, insects and what not, I was promptly posted from my bed to the backyard to inspect the plants in the garden.

Bleary eyed, my eyes searched for pale leaves, emaciated stems and other deceptive intruders. With the sky above still dark and hatching plots to pour again all I wanted to do was get out of there and to bury myself on the bed plunging headlong into another chasm of dream. Certain that all was quiet on the western front, I headed for the exit. But a very very very late change of mind saw me stop and turn my attention to the yam which was thriving in the kitchen garden. Convinced that there could be more than what meets my eyes, I got under the canopy of the plant after scrutinizing its light green stem.

What could've otherwise been a customary plant inspection in the backyard, turned out to be a novel play of light the other day.

What could’ve otherwise been a customary plant inspection in the backyard, turned out to be a novel play of light the other day.

No sooner had I placed myself under the plant and looked up at the leaves than the sun shined on me! Through my bleary eyes,I saw sunshine filtering through the tiny gaps between the leaves. When I looked around I felt as if a phantom was walking stealthily, lifting the veil of darkness which had surrounded us for a while!! This time I had all the time in the world to utter “Carpe Diem” even though the moment was ephemeral!! I could feel it and I felt alive and redeemed!!

By the time I picked up the camera, the darkness melted away. I could capture the sunshine nevertheless!!

“The Green Labyrinth”   5 comments

Ever since we decided to revive our kitchen garden, my eyes have been hooked to the earth for eternity. From waking up early in the morning to sprinkling the soil with water, I’ve been doing everything to witness the seeds finally sprout from under the soil bringing forth the first sign of Green. The wait, I reckon, is frustrating. Everyday after unsuccessfully scrutinizing the soil for the first signs of life, I even soliloquized about the need to accelerate the whole cycle of growth!

But Nature has the habit of  revealing herself in the most unexpected ways possible! When my work prompted me to stay away from the city for a couple of days, the whole “blossoming event” was out of my mind. Meanwhile, the rest of my family tended to the needs of  the “reluctant seeds” like clockwork. When my jaded body was back home finally and I was roaming around like a lost soul, I heard a voice asking me: “Did you check out the Garden? The seeds finally have blossomed”.

Even though I couldn't be on time to witness the green shoot, I was on time to see the first few leaves! It was Indeed enriching!!

Even though I couldn’t be on time to witness the green shoot, I was on time to see the first few leaves! It was Indeed enriching!!

I couldn’t believe what I had just heard and rushed to the backyard. On the way trains of thoughts started flowing across my mind. I could realize that my body was shrugging off the migraine and my soul was brimming with optimism. To put your heart and soul into nurturing a plant and witness the logical culmination of it all should be one of the most self-fulfilling acts of humanity. Albert Einstein brought this point home when he said: “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better”.

Yes, the whole exercise is monotonous, the wait is frustrating and the atmosphere is always pregnant with anxiety! Even though, I couldn’t be home when the first shoot of green reluctantly made its maiden appearance, I indeed realized at the end of it all that April Flowers indeed bring May Flowers. Learned a lesson or two in Patience, Selflessness and most importantly in Hope!

Coming as it does at a time when the farmers of my country are moving from the frying pan into the fire, I could almost feel their pain. Untimely rains, Devastating Hailstorms, Deficient Monsoons,Cost escalations and Land Acquisition without consent are increasingly driving the farmers to take desperate measures. The ones who perform the noblest of acts are finding solutions to their problems in a piece of rope or a bottle of poison. I can imagine the devastation when farmers who put their body and soul into the soil to reap a good harvest ends up reaping a calamity. For them, the season of discontent continues.The things get quite puzzling here because it feels as if Nature hides much more than it reveals!

“Along The Maze of Backwaters !”   7 comments

One of the many meanders along river Pamba. The river banks these days have another contender jostling for space alongside the swaying coconut trees: Concrete. These days, eulogies narrating Alapuzha to be verdant can be put to test with ease ! We chose to freeze this stretch since it had managed to stay away from concrete !!

One of the many meanders along river Pamba. The river banks these days have another contender jostling for space alongside the swaying coconut trees: Concrete. These days, eulogies narrating Alapuzha to be verdant can be put to test with ease ! We chose to freeze this stretch since it had managed to stay away from concrete !!

 

Pamba rarely flows alone. She always has companions sailing along her. The illustrious companion who has strolled into the imagination of the tourists is the all pervasive "House Boats". This illustrious escort of the tourists is an unmistakable sign of changing times in Kuttanad.

Pamba rarely flows alone. She always has companions sailing along her. The illustrious escort who has strolled into the imagination of the tourists is the all pervasive “House Boats” and is an unmistakable sign of changing times in Kuttanad.

 

Roads came along with development, tearing across the hearts  of the verdant paddy fields, making it easy to transport the grains post the harvest. What was hitherto a backbreaking task became a cake walk of sorts now!  The enormous boats of yesteryears were on the verge of becoming obsolete but for the ingenuity of the natives. What shifted mounds of grains back in the yore got a facelift and started transporting tourists!!

Roads came along with development, tearing across the hearts of the verdant paddy fields, making it easy to transport the grains post harvest. What was hitherto a backbreaking task became a cake walk of sorts now! The enormous boats of yesteryears were on the verge of becoming obsolete but for the ingenuity of the natives. What shifted mounds of grains back in the yore got a facelift and started transporting tourists!!

 

Many state owned boats ply along the maze and was the mainstay for the people till yesterday. But the advent of roads piercing the paddy fields have relegated them to the background. Some even call in anachronistic !!

Many state owned boats ply along the maze and was the mainstay for the people till yesterday. But the advent of roads piercing the paddy fields have relegated them to the background. Some even call in anachronistic !!

 

 

 

Posted October 29, 2014 by Aneesh in Bon Voyage, Shutterbug

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“When it rains”   19 comments

Monsoon in Kuttanad, Kerala.

The time when nature comes alive, raining down from heavens, breathing life back into barren lands, lazy rivers, trickling cascades, hungry ponds, and in its wake bringing forth the lost hues of the verdant green and creatures great and small. When the Monsoon rhapsody escalates, one can easily slip back into the sit back and relax mode, breathing in the irresistible petrichor while sipping in a cup of Kaapi or two staying within the comforts of a blanket.

But there is more to Monsoon than what meets the eye ! For out there, a struggle is on for survival encompassing all and sundry. The banks struggling to contain the deluge, migrating fishes striving to outwit the nets, the loquacious frogs trying to evade the stealthy snakes, the saintly storks and swooping kingfishers sealing the fate of edgy fishes, survival is at stake for everyone.

Embodiment of Spirit of survival !!Survival of the Human Spirit !

A commoner is out there, on his tiny vessel, waiting under a makeshift shelter seeking reprieve from the unceasing rains ! He has nothing on the vessel barring the oar and a sack of cement apparently to plug one of the leaking walls in his tiny abode discovered at the eleventh hour ! The wait is getting prolonged, revealed by the looks heavenwards translating into vehement sighs, since the downpour has put a spanner in his works ! The sail ahead, through the choppy waters would be strenuous. Just when the truant sun appeared for a glimmer, reducing the downpour into a drizzle, the mighty SURVIVOR set sail again pushing his oar forward with all his might ! As he disappeared in distance, the skies again turned pregnant with rain clouds all set to unleash its fury with renewed vigor.

Surviving in the maze of backwaters (read Alapuzha) for the commoner is a struggle ! This hits the crescendo with the advent of monsoon every year. Nevertheless, combining numerous frugal innovations of the people (JUGAAD) and the government back up, the odds have partially turned even. But, just when you think your fortress is impregnable, she lets you know who is in command the next moment !!

This picture was captured during the temporary reprieve from lashing rains when the mood was light .

Posted October 30, 2013 by Aneesh in Bon Voyage, INDIA, Shutterbug

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