Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Hello... is it raining there?

I sat excitedly in the train as the train thundered through the darkness of the night from Chennai to Trivandrum. It was almost symbolic. I was leaving behind the dust, pollution and heat of Chennai to the wet roads, green trees and mayflowers of Kerala. The book on my lap remained unturned in the page for a long time.

I was dealt out a generous helping of lousy relatives. If you know any Malayali who’s terrible- they are related to me. Across religions, caste and regions.

But the sheer beauty of the countryside made me return every year. Kumarakom was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen. When the cold structure of the Taj failed to move my cold heart, when the snow at Manali failed to amaze me; Kumarakom brought out that special feeling- of finally having found what I was looking for. If you manage to ignore the number of white people- I can do it- I am from Pondicherry; the expensive prices on the menu- I can, I have a pretty well off family; and can shell out close to 20 K for two nights on a house boat- it’s the prettiest experience. I am buying a houseboat in Kerala… one day… someday…

Kumarakom… that’s another story... for another time…

I reached Trivandrum. Disheveled and tired from staying awake the whole night- I don’t sleep too well when I travel.

I stayed in Trivandrum for two days. It was almost as bad as Chennai. The heat was oppressive and turned the milk and me sour. Rain wasn’t in the horizon.

“It’s raining here sweetheart”, my cousin told me. I took the train to Kollam. I reached a very wet railway station. Wet umbrellas welcomed me. Something was wrong though. The umbrellas weren’t opened. It had just stopped raining…

“It’ll begin again”, my cousin told me when he saw the drooping curve of my mouth.

I didn’t have the time. It was a week’s trip and I had to get back. Two days in Kollam. The clouds were low and heavy with rain. Too heavy to even move. But they didn’t break open with the rain they carried inside. Umbrellas were carried wherever we went. But we never used it.

I left Kollam, my heart almost as heavy as the clouds. I reached Cochin. My entire family knew my obsession with the rain. Cochin. My favorite place in Kerala.

Consoling words from another cousin, “It wasn’t raining here at all. Not just because you came”

What was remaining of the week was spent in Jayalakshmi, Seemati, Marine drive and Subash park. Lots of tapioca, jackfruit, unni appams, palada pradhaman, boli and ela appams. My aunt believed in fattening me up, it never happened though.

Ernakulam railway station. Water bottles were bought. I could smell the banana chips that we just bought. I hoped it wouldn’t pass on the thing to my clothes. I didn’t want to walk around smelling like banana chips.

“Dinner’s the red bag.” “Throw away the entire thing after eating.” “Use the tissues.” “Wipe your nose”, the regular railway-platform-parting statements were made. No one ever said, “Write to me”, I pondered. “Mail me” yes, but those letters on the hand made paper of the Ashram at Pondicherry in which I wrote my letters had stopped years ago. Microsoft word had replaced those pale white papers. Sometimes it was notepad. And then the purple window of my yahoo. Click on ‘send’. No brown clothed postman. No bicycle bells tringing. No looking at the pretty stamps. No slitting open the letters carefully, I preserved the covers too for a long time…

I was so caught up on what I was thinking that I lost out on what was being told. That happens very often. But this was another sensory organ calling me altogether. I looked at my arm. A splattered drop of water on it. I looked accusingly at my cousin. He wasn’t around. A few more fell. It was raining...

The train pulled in. It was human nature to rush in. I knew that the train stopped at Ernakulam for a long time and that I had a ticket. My cousin came running with a few bars of chocolate and “I almost forgot!”

I watched the rain for 15 minutes. It was raining with a pent up fury. I climbed into the III Ac that we’d booked. Windows that were closed to shut out the heat. This time it was the rain.

I stood in the doorway. I was getting wet. I didn’t care. I stood there feeling sick and miserable. Tears fell on from my eyes.

“Go inside”, my aunt yelled from the side of the platform where the canopy ended and the rain began.

I waved at them. I was getting wetter and wetter by the minute. They could see that I was crying. It was a first. I never cried when I came back…

My aunt ran from the protection of the asbestos sheets at station towards me. She held my hand and said, “Don’t cry baby. You can come again soon. Or we’ll come and see you at Pondicherry”

I nodded my head, my face all screwed up with tears. Miserabler coz they thought I was crying coz I was leaving them. Miserabler coz it wasn’t human to feel an attachment for the rain than for one’s own family…


Blogger Buccaneer said...

umm, not as interesting as the earlier posts! maybe its a phase of writer's block...may be u need another break!:)

12:37 AM  
Blogger Bratrat said...

were u in a hurry to write this?! lots and lots of factors....well! I actually like to read compressed info!! lookin fwd to more...but, take yer time!
cheers! ;D

1:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

not been blessed by my first comment! :D price to pay!

1:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but nevertheless... I always enjoy wot you write.. coz it's part of you... beautiful...

1:32 AM  
Blogger TinTin said...

jumpin hippopotamus!! what i would do to trade places with u...to actually crave for the flippin rain!! i'm sick of it here...rain rain rain...all the time!!!enough already!!

2:54 AM  
Anonymous Illusionist said...

You are the observer who always interferes with the phenomenon under observation. I also hold you responsible for the death of the cat.

Conclusion: You watching the rain and writing about it has killed the cat.

He lies somewhere here, "wet".
- the epitaph of heisenberg

3:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

20 K for two nights on a house boat... har har har you got fleeced... It costs about 10k for 2 nights, they will throw in a butler, captain and a bunch of croonies... but you have to get your own beer...

4:23 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Buccaneer: Writer's block had I, I wouldnt be able to write and I wouldnt too! When I take a break from blogging, it'll be a permanent one.

Bratrat: I didnt clock. But well, I wrote it the same way I write all my stuff! Lol. Am mighty amused here actually!

Fadia: Yeah! Fame is a fickle mistress! ;o)

And thank you. Yes, what i write will always be a part of me. When it no longer is, am quitting! Or before that if a certain someone says I am writing crap too!

Tintin: Yeah. Swap. Gladly!

Illusionst: In Zen Buddhism a master was once asked what was the most valuable thing in the world, and the master answered that a dead cat was, because no one could put a price on it.

You are the anonymous too- sigh- I am a genius to figure out who the anonymous people are in my blog!

In December if you go to Kumarakom esp around New Year- you pay so much. Seasonal charges vary you know. And yeah- the houseboat had a AC. We got the beers too! Better price; better deal!

4:48 AM  
Blogger hope and love said...

kumarakom ... my fathers place.. we used to spend our summer hols there.. it was diffrent from the present kumarakom.. il write abt it one day..
poornima i loved this post too .. cos im madly in love with rain myself..

5:56 AM  
Blogger trv said...

i like the picture of the wet station. actually, i like the way you use images.

8:00 AM  
Blogger Kraz Arkin said...

For once more than the descriptions it is the fillers that appealed to me. Lines about the relatives especially. But WHY of WHY would one want an AC Houseboat? Beats me.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Übermaniam said...

loved the photos. cheers. avi

7:10 PM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Hope and love: You have no idea how much I envy you! Kumarakom!!!!

Trv: A picture is worth a thousand words no?

Kraz: Mosquitoes!!!! And the AC is only when you sleep. Hmmm... not exactly, it's from 9 something at night to 7 in the morn. Remind me to tell you about the time when we stayed in the non AC houseboat...

What would I do without you! (Pls dont answer!)

Avi: When are you gonna take those amazing pictures and help me mister?

9:10 PM  
Blogger Zealous Zygote said...

Mam, add these to 'our' list:
a)I dont sleep well when I travel
b)My favorite place in Kerala would be Cochin as well. The reason, I shall tell you later

11:43 PM  
Blogger aks said...

hey poornima.... nice post...and this time the pics were too good..blending well with ur thoughts...and ya u neednt feel miserable about having better feelings for the natural shower than ur relatives..ur brave to speak tat out whereas those who dont speak out are jus compromising with their own feelings...

3:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey love .. its a good post again and the pics too are beautiful..maybe u can tell me were u get those from...and ya why do u have to bother about others comments wen u know tat u simply loved writing this one....and ya i wud love to read DECEMBER 16..

3:30 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Zy: The list keeps growing each and every time!

Aks: Isn't it time you wrote another post on your blog? My comments there are longer than the post!

And thank you.

Anon: My dear boy, yes I loved writing it... What's the December 16th connection? The train story that I wrote? Where did you read that from?!

6:19 AM  
Blogger yesbob said...

teehee , reminds me of Gerald Durell's book ...

9:33 AM  
Blogger pallavi said...

big fan of black and white photography...well, photography in general...loved your pictures!!

12:28 PM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Yesbob: You always are reminded of some book when you read me! Birds, beasts and relatives huh?

Pallavi: I have a fetish for B&W photographs!

9:07 PM  
Blogger manuscrypts said...

have u heard evanescence' "listen to the rain"?

12:01 AM  
Blogger Praveen said...

If you enjoy the rain as you seem to, its a great time to travel to Kerala.I like the way this post ended "Miserabler coz it wasn’t human to feel an attachment for the rain than for one’s own family".

That certainly shows you love the rain more than many things in this world.

3:42 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Manuscrypts: Whispering secrets in rain, frantically searching for someone to hear....

Praveen: I love the rain. And yes- more than a lot of things in life...I did want to go to Kerala, but since that's what I most wanted to do, the person I was to meet had to leave Kerala!

Rain... take away my sorrow, wash away my pain... rain....

4:18 AM  
Blogger arvindiyer said...

"Miserabler coz it wasn’t human to feel an attachment for the rain than for one’s own family"
WOW - Those last two lines stole the whole POST!!!
And I exist!!! Peace

12:49 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Arvind: You READ my post! *Dancing around ...yelling too*!!!

Ah- that hurt!

4:49 AM  
Blogger Just Me said...

Why did you board the train dodo ?

12:38 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Just me: The mind is an amazing thing. The easiest of answers aren't obvious. Now that you ask, I ask too, 'Damn, why did I?'!

12:57 AM  
Blogger Vimal Gasper said...

You have a good pick on photos for your blog...
Those hand written letters were small packets of happiness, I still have most of those letters stuffed in a big cover.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous kerabyte said...

Well , You love kumarakom so much
so do i ... if you ever find urself unable to shell 20k for 2 nights in kumarakom . you can stay in my mothers house in kumarakom and if you dont like people around you can stay in my uncles house.(he lives abroad).

you can get the houseboat for a lot cheaper if u know where to go

1:03 AM  
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