While walking to Rasa yesterday, I was thinking of an interesting story my Malayalam sir, Devasiya told me when I was in 6th or 7th standard. Those who studied Malayalam would definitely know the German missionary Hermann Gundert, who compiled the first Malayalam grammar and dictionary. Once a native from Kerala seeing Gundert’s cat eyes made fun of him without knowing his knowledge in Indian languages – “Ganapathi Vahana Ripu Nayana” means ‘The one who have the eyes of enemy (cat) of the carrier (rat) of Lord Ganesaha”. It seems, in seconds Gundert responded to him in a his humorous manner “Dasharatha Nandadana Sakhi Vadana” – “ The one who has the face (monkey face) of the best friend (Hanuman) of King Dasharatha’s son (Lord Sriram).
The history and culture of Kerala always fascinated me, ever since the time I read the whole collection of Kottarathil Shankunni’s ‘Aithihyamala’ from Swamiji’s library. My mother being an avid reader of Mathrubhoomi Weekly that always carried quality articles- both informative and critical- inspired me to read nonfiction and semi-fiction more than fiction. My mother’s favourite book ‘Parayi Petta Panthirukulam’ could be the novel I have read the maximum number of times in my life. There is a sense of pride in understanding the importance of the land, the people born in that soil and the events that made that South West strip of India so different from other places. Protected by the Western Ghats at the East and Arabian Sea at the West, the birth of the landscape was believed to be a gift of the axe of Lord Vishnu’s immortal saint avathar Parashuraman.
While serving Travancore Chicken Masala and Thalassery Chicken at the restaurant, I do think about all that I learnt in my childhood about the division of provinces of today’s Kerala during king’s era. Kerala, is the first state of India that voted a communist government under E.M.S. Namboodiripadu. In Orissa, I while doing the documentary film on Gond and Kondth tribes I met an elderly ex-naxalite leader who changed to core Gandhian, who happened to tell me a lot of stories about his friendship and work with E.M.S.
May be it is madness in the name of caste and creed that made Vivekananda call Kerala, a Mental Asylum, but beyond that it is a place where many religions co-existed for many centuries. Kerala is a rare region where there the pilgrims to a Hindu temple (Shabarimala) start their journey visiting a Mosque. Today’s Kerala and India are under the clutches of politically religious and religiously political bastards. Amalgamation of religion and politics is the worst sin faced by the nation and the state today. Well, isn’t that the true ‘Divide and Rule’ policy we kept blaming the colonial rule in our own social studies text books for many decades.
I was watching the film Kuttishrank by Shaji N. Karun that represented the past of three different divisions of Kerala in an effective manner. I thoroughly enjoyed the sequences of the arrival of Kerala’s traditional ‘Pathemari’ (wooden boat) at Northern coast, from Cylone with a bunch of Buddhist monks who were travelling to Bodhgaya.
While coming to UK the only book I carried with me was “Kerala Charithram (The History of Kerala)” by A. Sridharamenon that showed how rich was the trade relation the Keralan landscape had with the other nations around the globe. The region hosted both the traders from the East and the West with the same interest at varied time periods that clearly say that Kerala was never been an isolated space in the history of mankind.
I haven’t started with this blog in the objective of an NRI way of spitting his nostalgia. Well, for that matter, I have never considered myself an NRI. When my parents asked me what is the difference between the people in UK and Kerala, I was confused. I don’t really think emotionally and sensibly anyone is different. Except for color and culture, I wouldn't be able to judge anyone from any land based on emotions, senses, ethics and aesthetics. The rights, wrongs and choices might be different according to the geographical origin but then who are we to judge the rights, wrongs and choices.
While starting with the blog I was thinking of elaborating on the philosophy of identifying one of the smallest creature of the world, rat, for the bulkiest God of Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesha who has the head and structure of an elephant as represented in epics and art. Isn’t it very ironical and philosophical? Isn’t it the truth of life. The little one’s carrying the bulkiest’s. I guess that is the beauty of life... again.