Monday, August 6, 2012

Back in God's Own Country

I'm back in Kerala, after nearly two years. It does feel great to be back, although I'll be here only for  a few days more. Every time I'm back in this part of India, I feel a sense of wonder, joy, amazement, probably because I'm back to my roots, something which I haven't been able to explore, as a result of being away from home.

Sometimes, like Khaled Hosseini's Amir in The Kite Runner, 'I feel like a tourist in my own country.' I frown at the potholes that frequently scar the roads. I complain about the power cuts, and at the same time, note with relief that at least we are not plunged into darkness, like the north. I criticize the numerous hartals that bring things to a halt, almost every other day. I feel embarrassed by the lack of cleanliness in restrooms, annoyed by the buzz of flies and mosquitoes. Yet, deep down, I know this is home, and this is where I belong.

Last evening, we walked down to the temple nearby. On the way, Appa and I discussed Kerala politics- I feel bad to admit it, but I was quite lost, so it was a good place to start learning more about the political dynamics of God's own country. When we reached the temple, I was mesmerized by the sight of lit lamps spread all around the temple courtyard- in the Hindu calender, the current month is Aadi/Karkitakam, a supposedly inauspicious month, for it brings with it humidity and the wrath of the south-west monsoons, and in the old days, this would spread illness. As a result, special prayer ceremonies are usually held during this season. The familiar chants of numerous slokas in the air, the smiling faces of deities in the garba griha, the priests handing out chandanam which we carefully applied onto our foreheads, and the wonderful, splendid aroma of neipayasam which would later be served as prasadam... Apart from the presence of family and friends, these are some things that make me feel I'm back home.

This morning, I woke up to the gentle pitter-patter of the Kerala monsoons beating against the window pane, accompanied by the chanting of the Ramayana from the nearby temple. (In the olden days, during the Karkitakam month, people would stay indoors to escape the rains, and they would read the Ramayana to give them solace and confidence in those difficult times.) As I type out this post, I hear women washing clothes in the nearby Kalpathi river. This feels foreign to me, but at the same time, I know this is home. In this land of saris and pavadai thavanis, I sometimes feel out of place in my jeans. I feel awkward when English words slip into my clumsy Malayalam sentences, or when I struggle to read the headlines on the Matrubhumi newspapers, but then I do know that this is home. And it's good to be back home :)

4 comments:

  1. Damn... now you got me craving to go back home...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaa, one can never get enough of home! :/ I just came back yesterday, and now I want to return again! :(

      Delete
  2. A very beautifully written piece. Loved reading it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sumitra! Glad you enjoyed reading it :)

      Delete

Monday, August 6, 2012

Back in God's Own Country

I'm back in Kerala, after nearly two years. It does feel great to be back, although I'll be here only for  a few days more. Every time I'm back in this part of India, I feel a sense of wonder, joy, amazement, probably because I'm back to my roots, something which I haven't been able to explore, as a result of being away from home.

Sometimes, like Khaled Hosseini's Amir in The Kite Runner, 'I feel like a tourist in my own country.' I frown at the potholes that frequently scar the roads. I complain about the power cuts, and at the same time, note with relief that at least we are not plunged into darkness, like the north. I criticize the numerous hartals that bring things to a halt, almost every other day. I feel embarrassed by the lack of cleanliness in restrooms, annoyed by the buzz of flies and mosquitoes. Yet, deep down, I know this is home, and this is where I belong.

Last evening, we walked down to the temple nearby. On the way, Appa and I discussed Kerala politics- I feel bad to admit it, but I was quite lost, so it was a good place to start learning more about the political dynamics of God's own country. When we reached the temple, I was mesmerized by the sight of lit lamps spread all around the temple courtyard- in the Hindu calender, the current month is Aadi/Karkitakam, a supposedly inauspicious month, for it brings with it humidity and the wrath of the south-west monsoons, and in the old days, this would spread illness. As a result, special prayer ceremonies are usually held during this season. The familiar chants of numerous slokas in the air, the smiling faces of deities in the garba griha, the priests handing out chandanam which we carefully applied onto our foreheads, and the wonderful, splendid aroma of neipayasam which would later be served as prasadam... Apart from the presence of family and friends, these are some things that make me feel I'm back home.

This morning, I woke up to the gentle pitter-patter of the Kerala monsoons beating against the window pane, accompanied by the chanting of the Ramayana from the nearby temple. (In the olden days, during the Karkitakam month, people would stay indoors to escape the rains, and they would read the Ramayana to give them solace and confidence in those difficult times.) As I type out this post, I hear women washing clothes in the nearby Kalpathi river. This feels foreign to me, but at the same time, I know this is home. In this land of saris and pavadai thavanis, I sometimes feel out of place in my jeans. I feel awkward when English words slip into my clumsy Malayalam sentences, or when I struggle to read the headlines on the Matrubhumi newspapers, but then I do know that this is home. And it's good to be back home :)

4 comments:

  1. Damn... now you got me craving to go back home...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaa, one can never get enough of home! :/ I just came back yesterday, and now I want to return again! :(

      Delete
  2. A very beautifully written piece. Loved reading it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sumitra! Glad you enjoyed reading it :)

      Delete