a train at 5am and at 3am the toddler has a fever of 102`. the homeopathy pills are doing what they do best, taking their time in fighting the throat congestion. the mother and father, not on talking terms, have to, without biting off each others head, decide what to do. holiday time, we miss this train, we will jeopardise all our other bookings - bby to goa, goa to kerala, kerala to chennai-pondi, chennai to bby.
we lose our nerve, though the doc has said its only a throat infection.
me, ready to scrap the whole holiday. he, ready to scrap me. his insinuation-you dont want to go because we are off to kerala. wish i was the rajni who could spit chewing gums at the villian's head.
we miss the train. and do what everyone does- go to doc for antibiotics. this is the way the cookie crumbles. we have planned a trip, there is an exam next week, a project, a meeting, damn the homeopathy, grab the antibiotics. i feel like scum. but the fever comes down within a day!
mad rush for new set of tickets to goa.nothing available. the war zone surrounds us like a halo aglow with wparkle and sizzle. we finally board a sleeper bus to goa! feverish child, cold silence all around, but we are off. child in good spirits, as always. mad bus driver who races over the ghats, the child bounces between us like a ping pong ball. she keeps waking up wondering why she is awake. the ladies on the next berth are flung onto the floor. the child wants to check if they are okay. beautiful dawn, but the bus is no where near goa. my sick child befriends another sick child on the bus. they dont mind that the bus is running four hours late. the sheer idiocy of the siutation melts the cold war.
runny nose, the father and ajay decide that the best cure is- to remain in the sea. the child is thrilled. salt water, salty nose goo, an anxious mother who is ignored, and a day later the nose is clear.
a day with rahul.he gifts her an autographed copy of his newly published book, murder at kaandoha hill.if any of my books had been autographed by the author when i was a kid i might have thought i was in heaven. high point of the goa trip - i read the great mystery book, and just before the pieces starting falling in place i called the author to say hello, for the sheer novelty of talking to the author of a mystery before it gets solved in my head.
taare zameen par. we wept copious tears, rahul, george and me,ofcourse. setu's camera, very very nice.wonderful to see shot design thats so gentle and understated. the child watched keenly but got very upset in the first instance that ishan bunks school." bachcha kahan ja raha hai? uski mummy kahan hai? use bolo ghar jaye..." she rejected the film.
train to kerala- 12 hour overnight journey. no one gave up the lower berth. child and me in the middle berth. the father wakes up and says, oh see how peacefully she sleeps. has not moved an inch. i dig deep within me for rajnikanth powers- where is the damn chewing gum!!!
kerala trip - the child had a blast.
the father giggled everytime people pointed fingers at me, grimaced, and said in a language unknown to me, why is she so thin. few smiles came my way, largely frowning faces complaining i am too thin. i tried to conjure up the magic and mystery of santa claus. the child was bowled over. the father charged me of introducing commercialised american notions into the pious religious christmas of kerala. heh, heh, heh, my devious way of getting the family to gift me a beautiful white and gold cotton saree. punjabis rule!
lots of car rides in kerala, as always. trips to this aunt, and that uncle and so on and so forth. i become a smiling wall flower. the husband says i am a frowning shrew.
another 12 hour, overnight train ride to chennai. breakfast and bath at deepa and chandru's sprawling house. car ride to pondi with sanjay, nana, nani and the three of us and we settle into our hut at auroville. and finally a drive back to chennai airport to meet ramani and karun and fly back to bby.
from a portugese colony to a french colony.and kerala, as if untouched by any colonialism. its stunning how resolutely they reject the outsider and are able to assert their own identity. its as if the british were never there.
the alternative community at auroville makes you confront the tourist friendly, marketing savvy dimension of all such experiments. not very different from the huge saturday flea market at goa where rajasthani women, kashmiri craftsmen and dreadlocked europeans sell their handcrafted wares. its a pretence, at best, to imagine a 'free' 'equal' marketplace. i am a certified cynic, but one who entered these places in the only honest way- a tourist who could afford these little forays into experiments.
new year at auroville is a beautiful early morning 'do' -again meant primarily for the tourist. but beautiful.
most wonderful was the visit to adishakti, a theatre company, with a beautiful campus. we sat through their rehearsals. sanah was spellbound for over half an hour until she drifted off to sleep. not a sound from her as she watched. she was smitten by the beautiful woman, legs astride a drum, her hands creating magic on the drums. she came out from the rehearsal mimicing those graceful hand movements. the mother was ofcourse, thrilled with her response, and then the bubble burst. sanah points to the director and says, yeh veenapani, and points to the bottle and says, yeh peene ka pani.