40. Nature Infatuation

@Paniyeli Poru, Kerala, India.

Just like the thoughts about parallel universes and the existence of more than one solar systems of the same type as well as having thousands of same types of planet Earth where different decisions are made leading to various results leading to a possible apocalypse for which the humanity or the other equivalent dominant species with heavy thinking power is responsible, Paniyeli Poru has to be a parallel universe; not just the way the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Virginie Ledoyen, ‘The Beach’, but also providing a parallel for being an inspiration for Nature poetry and producing people who can be Kerala’s equivalent to William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey, even as comparing from entirely different situations can be a huge crime towards righteousness especially when one is supposed to do the right thing; the artists and writers have to go the right way as they are the ones who inject people with their ideas, most of them inspiring people to such an extent that their whole thinking process is altered. Paniyeli Poru can do that without being written about or written on; especially if the infatuation already exists from the bottom of the soul which sails strong enough to change, but weak enough to ask for the much needed inspiration from the wonderful greenery around.

The closest town to Paniyeli Poru is Perumbavoor which is just about twenty kilometers from there; nearest railways station is Alwaye and is located about fifty to sixty kilometers from the city of Cochin. It can be reached by taking a left deviation from the MGM School Junction, Kuruppumpady, on the Aluva-Munnar road or by taking a right deviation from the Vallam junction through Kodanad; the latter one being a road where there are seven churches on both the sides combined; thus making it a path through spirituality and religion which dissolves in the beauty of nature at the most appropriate levels until the road reaches a more scenic area and ends soon after the tickets to the place is taken from the counter. The road had so many gutters that it was difficult to count; considering the number of trucks which passed through that route, it was supposed to happen as a secondary result, the first one being the increase of risk. There were lots of scenic points to stop on the way, most of them near churches or bridges. But there was not much space to stop on the side if the travel was in a four wheeler which was big enough to cover most of that small road which was leading to that wonderful destination.

Paniyeli Poru is more of a less known, unexplored, adventurous place; not at all like those usual destinations which claims to be big tourist destinations supposed to be filled with real Kerala greenery. It is not advertised and therefore free from exploitation, but there are still people around; enough to affect a sample of that environment, but not as a whole; the limit is kept at least for now. But considering the popularity of Kodanad which is always rising, it is always close to being in the spotlight. The fact that the religious and spiritual centre of natural beauty, Malayattoor is also close and on the other side of the river, will add to the fame of this place and will contribute to the rise in the number of tourists. I did combine all of them into a single bike trip which was good enough for a wonderful day. The route map was so carefully planned that there was not many mistakes; there were deviations though. Another trip was planned after adding Bhoothathankettu, Idamalayar and Thattekkad along with a possible Iringol Kaavu, but it never really happened, even as they were visited as stand-alone versions sometime ago. But that story is too old to make an impact on this one or on the future trips. That semi-forgotten past along with the present will surely contribute to a similar thing according to another plan, but for now that is a distant reality.

The most beautiful church on the way to this wonderful place would be the St. George Jacobite Syrian Church which is not really an architectural marvel, but as it combines with nature, the beauty gets a boost; it mixes with nature in an unexplainable manner. Mar Malkhe Orthodox Church at Kodanad also does something similar as it stands tall among the greenery. The smaller St. George Catholic Church and St. Thomas Mar Thoma Church which is the smallest, blends with the nature in an even more perfect manner; the latter even as it looked as if it has remained closed for sometime, it was open to the soul due to the uncomparable beauty that surrounded it; no wonder as it was the closest to Paniyeli Poru among all these churches. There were more churches and all of them stayed close to nature. The spirituality lives within oneself as he reaches the destination where it combines with nature. It is a situation which can be risky if too much attached to the waters with a desire to get right into it. The rocks might be too slippery and the water level could be unpredictable.

I would try sitting on the shore and look at the water and the other coast, all day long. It is undoubtedly a refreshing place, not just for the body, but also for the mind; to the soul if gone further into the other dimension. The photography side will also get enlightened a lot by the beauty of whatever is around; there is no specific thing to take a picture of. Even the road to the inside of the area as well as the path through the interiors of the destination which is mentioned as what it is, proves to be more scenic than some of the more exploited tourist locations of Kerala. What inspired more than anything else would be the rocks; not the greenest of the green forests or the cleanest of the clean waters, as this was a change which happened for a difference. There wasn’t really a big rock of unshakable faith and I wouldn’t give any of it such a title. The rocks were still simple enough and one wouldn’t go there to see those rocks; it was just myself being selective at the moment looking for what was different out there compared to a few other places of greenery I visited much earlier; the rocks came as what I was looking for; the perfect part of nature which was not green and had no reflective surface. It was a stronghold to be exact; reminded me of various cavemen and cavewomen who resemble their ancestors by character.

There were the ruins of some old building which looked as if people practiced writing on it; the whole thing had roots on the sides and sometimes right through it. There were swings on it, as if it was a playground for children. But comparing it to the ruined state of building, may be it is more of a situation for horror, with spirits swinging at night; that would be wonderful for a story of ultimate horror, but such a thing is not heard of. There are branches of trees to hang onto, and also to be used to hang umbrellas and jackets, which will look kind of dumb though; still contributes to the photography. My journey on that occasion was blessed by a type of rain which stayed there till there was shelter. The clouds had fought among themselves to get into my camera and in the end they all disappeared, but not before doing what they were expected to do. Even the nature would have been so happy about it, as it was not the season of the rain and not even by mistake did it enter the area before that; may be I was that lucky for the place or may be someone equally lucky contributed to the flow of rain; sometimes rain follows you everywhere, and I have had that feeling so often, especially when it is the time without umbrella, rain coat or even a jacket which is worthy enough.

Diving out —>

TeNy

39. Senhora di Rozario

@Bandel, West Bengal, India.

It was Bandel, a small town founded by Portuguese settlers, existing in the Hooghly district of West Bengal at a distance of about fourty kilometres from the Howrah Railway station. But it did take an eternity to reach there; as so it seemed; even the driver wanted to stop in between and drink tea as if to match my tea drinking capabilities which I still valued as a tradition and that talent of my individuality; therefore it was not to be broken as I kept drinking those small quantities of tea which was served in small clay pots; the ones which were to be destroyed after use. It did hurt me though, as there were so many of them to be destroyed considering my everlasting tea drinking ability which lasted so long that there was no challenge to be made. But still, all those lovely pots were to be destroyed; but I had created no similar thing for drinking tea by myself. Tea was served in those works of art, those which were less important because there were so many of them, but they were still good enough to provide the aesthetic value and that sense of ancient traditions before glass and steel took over along with the heavy influence of plastic and iron in other areas. Those clay pots would live forever though, as their unimportant souls and body parts will exist even after it’s destruction.

I wouldn’t consider it a match for the traditional ‘Chatti’, but it is a holder of tea and therefore has it’s own importance and has to get that respect for being the holder of the world’s most majestic drink. Considering tea as the immortal drink that it has proven to be, the clay pot automatically becomes the holder of eternity. It is the symbol of something which gets destroyed for the sake of something inside it. If tea is the soul, it is the body; the materialistic carrier or the vassal. It lacks heart, pancreas, liver, brain and stuff which would keep the diseases away and the need to go to a hospital also ceases. Without an apple a day it lives without the doctor; until the ultimate destruction which can happen only by murder by another person who takes away the soul and kills whatever is left of the body. It is more of a cycle which continues at high speed. I would have kept one of those pots with me to break the great cycle, but it would still be broken on my way back home in a flight and a train both contributing along with some travel in bus. May be it won’t even last that car trip considering the fact that the roads were small and the trucks were too many, for which there was very little space leading to highly frequent braking process which continued throughout that journey to Bandel and back.

The true final destination of the trip would be the Bandel Church, something of Basilica status, as it is one of the oldest churches in the state of West Bengal. It stands as a monument to the ancient maritime adventures and also as a memorial of the Portuguese settlement in Bengal. The original structure was built around 1660, and is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary, or Nossa Senhora di Rozario as the Portuguese would call it. It is one of the most prominent historical churches found in the North East or even all of Eastern India. The presence of the Portuguese in this part of the country can be traced back to the era of Akbar the Great himself, the Mughal emperor and one of the greatest emperors ever to have ruled in the Indian subcontinent. As we go back to this time of greatness and glory, this Golden Age was when the Portuguese Captain Pedro Tavares obtained the emperor’s permission to build the church; this church which was later destroyed by the Moors as they sacked Hooghly in just a few decades. St. Francis Church, in Fort Cochin, Kerala, built in 1503, is still the oldest European church in India while St. Thomas Church at Palayur the oldest church and the St. Mary’s Church or the Thiruvithancode Arappally in Tamil Nadu is considered the oldest church structure in India.

The claims for various titles would change with time, but the significance of this church at Bandel would be something beyond history. Long ago, a ship which had encountered a fierce storm in the Bay of Bengal, had its rescue was attributed to Mary, thus it is also known as the Basilica Shrine of “Nossa Senhora da Boa Viagem”, meaning “Our Lady of the Good Voyage”. Thus Mother Mary is also depicted as holding Infant Jesus, both crowned and standing on a ship. There is also a monastery attached to the church building and the keystone to the first church building can be seen near it. There is a small cemetery on the side of the church and a store selling the religious things if one walks through the side path of the church. There is another grotto on the way leading to the top of the church where there is the place for lighting the candles and a statue dedicated to “Our Blessed Lady of Happy Voyage”, as written there. It is actually two-sided and there is also the history of the church shown there, including that of the Siege of Hooghly by the Moors, Miracle of the elephants, the sinking of the statue and finally the reconstruction and rehabilitation, most of the details written in three languages, English, Hindi and another one which should obviously be Bengali.

The view from the top of the church is simply wonderful. The beauty of nature added to all that spirituality which mounted the stairs with me. This view was only matched by a view from the back of the church, but not that much as to challenge the aerial advantage which the first one had. There is the river, with greenery on both sides, but not that much unaffected by pollution for sure, not only with air, but also with water. There are also the coconut trees to give the feeling of Kerala, at a place which is so far away. The green covering of Earth already gave that feeling along with some rain which followed me there giving relief in the heat. This rain was to become so heavy that I started to wonder where I was, but that was a different story which happened much later and not on this journey which was too small and in the heat. The birth place of the Bengali author Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay was not too far away from there, and as Rabindranath Tagore was already missed, that was an option for some literature infestation into the brain as an addition to the historical and spiritual aspect of Bengal, but it was not to happen as the return was to be quicker.

Back to the church building; it was a refined structure and not an old building from any visible angle. From the inside, only the altar looked somewhat old; with a Bengali Mass going on, the only thing I could do was to look straight there and hope to translate Bengali directly into Malayalam or through the medium which was Hindi with a little addition of English. There was the modern and tiled interiors, with a picture of the Last Supper on the front, right above the altar, a few metres before it. When looked from the outside, it was quite a big structure and may be the biggest I have seen in West Bengal and enriched by the different pictures of Mother Mary and a few other saints as well as the clock tower and the church bells. There was more than one tree which added to the beauty of the church, mainly from the front and a little from the backside. The balcony would look a little strange from the outside, from the frontside below it; but it was what became the better thing, if not the best. Except for its walls which didn’t match at all, the rest formed a perfect picture, making the journey worth the time; as it took so much time out of the period of stay in that part of India, it had to be good and it succeeded in living upto the expectations in the end, and came so close to exceeding them.

Diving out —>

TeNy

38. The Natural Modernity

@Genting Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia.

Being at Genting was like being at the top of a new world; Titiwangsa Mountains of the Tenasserim Range as it is called; a resort on the mountain peak it was; not just any common resort, but a combination of many things which would make it impossible to make a clear understanding of what it really was; ambiguities were so many and a situation of paradox in bulk could not be created due to a presence of uneven science and it’s ridiculous products in the mind in such a way that it blurred the vision to an extent which would be abominable beyond the measure of the strong, foul odour of a skunk which comes to you more through cartoons and comics than anything else. Located just one or two hours from the city of Kuala Lumpur, this is where the nature meets modernity in such a way as to make nature less important; it is not the best thing as it would have been better if it happened the other way around, but as we have seen in the movie Avatar and proved in another thousand movies of Hollywood, nature is always seemingly weak in front of the horriblly evil scientific creations of those devilish scientists who always find a way to exploit the beauty of mother nature. Still, the nature will have it’s revenge and this place hasn’t really lost it’s natural beauty that much, as there will be enough for any tourist.

The nature scene is of best view and is made to the most use by the human creation which exists more for the tourist use than for simple travel; there is the journey by a cable car called Genting Skyway which, during it’s inception and it’s initial working days used to be the world’s fastest ropeway transport and South East Asia’s longest gondola lift. To be frank, the journey was quite wonderful and filled with natural beauty from the roads too, as the travel consisted of a luxury bus, a van and then this ropeway until it finally reached the top of the hills. It was undoubtedly a beautiful scene from the top of those green mountains, sometimes getting close enough to the land on some open spaces, well enough to see the ground, but otherwise most of the time at that height good enough to get a fantastic aerial view; taking of photographs of the land from an elevated position so much above the ground, has never been better. Some views make you feel that you can just climb on a rocket or a missile on it’s way to a nuclear impact, just to take some photos free of charge. There are always some wonderful moments before total obliteration, which can be used to take those photos and upload them instantly using the wireless internet thus making some of the world’s best photographs which would live on for the future generations to see.

As it is, this Genting Skyway which was opened in 1997 is the reason or the introduction to nature and it’s greenery which could have easily been considered inferior to the attractions at the top as a result of a comparison initiated by the people of the new scientific world. The system designed by Leitner Ropeways, part of the Leitner Group of Italian origin, never ceased giving the feeling of safety, which would have been easily possible considering the height and length of the cables as well as the number of enclosed cabins attached to it. Crashing into the natural beauty of the rainforest of the region wasn’t going to be like crashing into some wonderful forest in the middle of some awesome planet, and therefore some fear would have been sanity, but considering the ways in which one can die, there is no right option and there is no exact moment of good and appropriate fear and it’s amount is also not to be easily calculated. Travelling in the world’s fastest mono cable car system and the longest cable car in Malaysia and South East Asia was more than just a privilege at that time, but it was still not something to clear the fear; the options of reaching Earth faster than ever from a height which is beyond the usual standard as well as that of being caught in the middle of the longest cable car system were going to nothing less than scary, but one can always be glad that there have been so many other people around along with many more who already travelled safely.

As the trail of nature was left behind in the cable car, it was a new world inside; at a time when the first shopping mall was not started in Cochin, not anywhere near Kerala. It was not the time of escalators, as the moving staircases were new before the visit to Singapore and Malaysia; it was the time when shopping for different things were done in various places after going through many difficulties; one building was never enough. At that time of slower, but more clear shopping which was more of shop visits, there was this place at Genting which came up with that new level of shopping in the beginning of the first decade of the twenty first century, which should be considered too old a journey considering the speed at which time travels now and the way in which inventions get obsolete and the world changes, can be considered something which is plain ridiculous and impossible to catch up even for a little old generations. But all of these will surely come to that day on which the Earth will stand still, not just like in the Keanu Reeves’ movie or it’s original and not because of that machine of ‘Mutant Chronicles’, but due to reaching a point which will bring the Judgement Day which will have an identity other than the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie; the end would be more complicated than what is to be explained by a robot or a hybrid.

There was a casino which I couldn’t explore and restaurants in which I couldn’t eat, except for that one place from where I could try my luck with some variety of Fried Rice which had a strange name attached to the beginning of the dish name, but it was still good enough to enjoy the taste. There was Panggung Wayang Cineplex where the movie ‘Fantastic Four’ was running. There was also ‘The Island’ as well as a Chinese movie as far as I can remember. Even as I didn’t go in and watch any of them, there were photos taken in front of it, but none of them came out that good even as the movie poster looked fine. There were also models of world’d famous structures including the Big Ben, Petronas Towers, Eiffel Tower and more. There were so many theme park divisions around and water looked the more prominent among them. There was the ‘Snow World’ which caught my attention first, and ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’ was quite the strange thing which increased the paranormal activity of my brain which was further accelerated by a few people dressed in wonderful costumes reminding me of an early Halloween. The ‘Archery Range’ was to make me a Robin Hood which I had to decline even if I had a hood on my dress, as I knew it was just going to be out of my reach, and there would have been no place around which I wouldn’t hit, other than the blood target which would laught at me when I would go on to write a poetry about it.

Overall, the trip had less time with mother nature than what is expected of a journey to some highlands where it is quite cold enough and kind of windy. It didn’t have both of those climatic factors though. The human constructions covered the nature with the support of the materialistic tourists who visited the place, and a small minority who thought otherwise might be what is keeping the green side alive. The idea of creating this hill resort might be something which was quite a long procedure in many brains starting from 1964, but it is still changing for sure. I would love to wonder if it will remain the same if I visit the place again in a few years, or may be even right now it would be different; as time moves faster than the imaginary capacity of man which is limited. The thinking procedure of humans would take a break, but as time moves on, there is no catching up unless supported by that vision all the time which is another impossible thing right from the root of it. The Genting Highlands would change and so will Malaysia, but my wish would be to find a better situation of paradox that I could use without ambiguity or remorse which would limit my imagination to the steel and concrete world of ultimate human restriction which is similar to a building of four walls with a leaking roof, or a cage to be exact. Magneto would live in that with joy as long as it is not plastic; no human being should, though.

Diving out —>

TeNy

37. Kerala History Twist

@Padmanabhapuram, Tamil Nadu, India.

Padmanabhapuram was the old capital of the princely state of Travancore, the kingdom which defeated the powerful armies of the Dutch as well as that of Tipu’s Mysore which was so many times bigger than Travancore. The famous Travancore King, Rama Varma, who was popularly known as Dharma Raja, was the one who shifted the capital in 1795 from Padmanabhapuram to Thiruvananthapuram or Trivandrum. But the fact remains that Padmanabhapuram is no longer a part of Travancore, or Trivandrum; not in Kerala or even on the border; it is located near Thuckalay in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu along with Udayagiri Fort which has a ruined chapel with the tombs of the Dutch Admiral Eustachius De Lannoy. This is where the history of the most powerful state of Kerala lies from when it was a rising power. It is not in it’s parent state where the later capital exists, but it is still not that bad a thing as it is well maintained even outside Kerala. It looks as good as it could be, as it doesn’t have any unnecessary scratches or writings which those third rate people give to the historical monuments; those worthless scums of the Earth who doesn’t value history even as they are soon going to be part of it while being kissed by worms.

It will be more appropriate to start with the Fort and so, Udayagiri Fort is located at a distance of fourteen kilometres from Nagercoil. The fort is situated on the Thiruvananthapuram-Nagercoil National highway, quite close to the Padmanabhapuram palace and can be visited as a part of the palace visit. Even as it was originally built in the seventeenth century, and then rebuilt later by the most powerful ruler Kerala ever witnessed, Marthanda Varma of Travancore in the eighteenth century, under the supervision of Eustachius De Lannoy, a Flemish naval commander of the Dutch East India Company, who later served as the commander of the Travancore Army; the tombs of this Dutch commander, his wife and son can also be found inside a ruined chapel in the fort if one can afford to walk some distance from the gate. This fort was once used to keep the prisoners captured during the aggression of Tippu Sultan against Travancore; the British East India Company’s troops were also stationed here till the middle of the nineteenth century. Now this fort is almost like a park, with trees and other small attractions added to it, and children do come here in groups.

The most important thing about the fort would be the tomb for sure, even as it is not in a good shape. Eustachius Benedictus De Lannoy a.k.a Captain De Lannoy, a Flemish naval commander of the Dutch East India Company, who was sent in order to establish a trading post at Colachel. The attempt to capture Travancore and get rid of it’s king resulted in failure as the technologically advanced and better equipped Dutch army was defeated at the Battle of Colachel by the Travancore army under Marthanda Varma and his trusted Minister and Commander of the army, Ramayyan Dalawa in 1741, and later became the commander of the same foreign army that had defeated him. This lead to the decline of Dutch power in India and they were reduced to a trading company and couldn’t think about capturing any part of India again, but the British would give it a try and be successful from another angle. This was actually the first and the only comprehensive defeat and complete retreat of a European army in front of any independent kingdom in the Indian subcontinent. De Lannoy’s story didn’t end there as his role as military commander of the Travancore army was of heavy significance in the later military successes, conquests and exploits of the kingdom under Marthanda Varma. He kind of modernized the Travancore Army and it’s boundaries remained unaffected by it’s neighbours since then. He erected many forts around the kingdom thus strengthening it’s defence.

The Dutch never recovered from the defeat in the hands of Travancore and no longer had in them the power to pose a large enough colonial threat to India. Thanks to De Lannoy, Travancore would be a kingdom to be feared. But all these have been less known and not many people actually cared about the History of Kerala, which has lead to the not too good state of this tomb of De Lannoy and the chapel which was around it. It is more of a sad thing that there are monuments to people who lead battles for their own selfishness, thirst for blood and their own regionalism, but not for someone, a foreigner to India who tried his best to improve a nation which he was not even part of, and died in the same nation. When people don’t know their own kings, social reformers and scholars, there is no wonder about the fact that the best people will go forgotten. When people keep studying science and commerce only, for those material benefits which are promised, history will slowly get buried further deep, but the fact will remain that if they ignore history, they will also be wiped out from the universe; literature might live on a side, but it is more far-fetched and without history and the efforts to protect it and it’s monuments, there will be no past, and without it, there will be no good enough present and a future which will be worth living for, or even dying for.

As we remember the man who was more loyal to a king who was not even his own master than all those people who betrayed their own home country, it is the Padmanabhapuram palace which comes back into the scene; the then capital of Travancore, where Marthanda Varma, the maker of the kingdom ruled with grace, forming the Kingdom of Travancore from Venad Swaroopam. After the Travancore-Dutch War, which presented the earliest example of an Asian power overcoming advanced European military technology and superior tactics, he also defeated the Zamorin of Calicut, all these tactics originating from this one palace. These conquests would only be matched by the defence of Travancore against the invasion by Mysore’s Tippu Sultan, which was even a bigger attack considering it was a hundred percent land attack and more brutal and violent than that of the Dutch. The palace, although surrounded entirely by the State of Tamil Nadu is still part of Kerala and the land and Palace belongs to the Government of Kerala just like it’s architecture which itself reminds us of Kerala. This palace is completely maintained by the Government of Kerala Archaeology Department even as the visitors are from different parts of India, especially South India.

As it is easily accessible from Thrivananthapuram, Nagercoil and Kanyakumari, it has to be considered a sure place to be visited. The palace was constructed around 1601 by Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal who ruled Travancore at that time. It starts from the clock tower in the palace complex hving a very old clock, which still seems to work well. The structure is simple and still complicated at the same time, thanks to it’s wooden carvings and the lamps and pillars which maintains a style of their own, mostly related to the old Kerala style of architecture. Even the furniture remains no exception as they too remain loyal to the traditional Kerala style. A secret passage also existed, now blocked, through which the king and his men could escape to another palace through tunnels, the end located several kilometers away, in the event of any foreign attacks which would reach the inside. There is also the bathing pond which looked a little neglected. There are also ancient jars, paintings, weapons and sculptures. Overall, it is a great structure and instead of going to visit those palaces and monuments which are the symbols of unnecessary splendour and using people’s money for personal gain, one should visit this place which belonged to the popular kings who lived for the people. As an end note, this place is not to be confused with the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, as some people I know already did; it is surprising to look at the change the worldly wealth makes even in the case of spirituality and God.

Diving out —>

TeNy

36. Spiritual Islands

@Vallarpadam, Kerala, India.

There was a journey to Vallarpadam which was followed by more and more visits to the same place, as the new road was opened to the islands from Kalamassery. As the place lies connected by the Goshree bridges with the city of Cochin and the Vypin island, Vallarpadam is where most of the Port of Cochin is situated along with the Willingdon island, of which the International Container Transshipment Terminal of the port is entirely situated at Vallarpadam; the island which is blessed by the presence of The Basilica of Our Lady of Vallarpadam, one of the most famous Marian pilgrim centres in Kerala which is visited by people from all over India irrespective of their religion, caste and creed. Vallarpadam Terminal is the single largest operator container terminal in India and makes the city of Cochin a majorcentre in the world of shipping and is all prepared to develop as somewhat a gateway to the South, from different nations of the west and south of the Indian subcontinent. It even provides with a photogenice atmosphere for those who come with a good enough camera.

At a close proximity lies Bolghatty Island, one of the islands of Cochin and home of the Bolgatty Palace, which used to be the palace of the Dutch colonial administration, one of the oldest existing Dutch palaces outside Holland and surely the oldest in India; it was taken over by the British at one stage which they controlled until independence, and currently a hotel run by KTDC giving it’s name to the island. The Palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cochin. It also has a golf course and an International Marina. All of these are so well interconnected unlike how it used to be. Now it takes only about fifteen to twenty minutes to reach Vallarpadam from Kalamassery depending on how fast one drives, but as there are some rather strange ups and downs on the new road to the island, going too fast surely is a concern, especially if the brakes or the reflexes doesn’t work too well; they are not easy to spot on the roads, and it gives the effect of being in the middle of a deadly storm in the sea; not that I have experienced something like that, but from a poetic view which co-incides with that same kind of disturbed feeling in the mind, which occured on both sides in William Shakespeare’s flawed character King Lear.

There is so much beauty on the side of the road to Vallarpadam, as long as one has the time to stop for it. There is greenery, lot of it; blessed by the mother nature and helped by the course of water and all the people who have contributed to it by being a part of mother nature. There is nothing which one won’t see at other parts of Kerala and it’s backwaters, but this one might be equally good. There is never the lack of coconut trees and some fishing nets do exist far away from the road. There is also that railroad bridge which stretches and bends in such a way as to save itself from the path of damnation. The bridge could have been Doctor Faustus; what Christopher Marlowe gave life to; the creation of the knowledge of Renaissance who wished to repent and return to the ways of goodness at some point of his life, but couldn’t do so; the proud scholar who was caught in the satan’s need for souls as his attempt to turn back couldn’t even begin due to his own inability as well as the demons of hell who interfered all the time. The bridge is a symbol; it goes towards the water body and turns rapidly in such a way as it has it’s own soul problems; it doesn’t matter what the engineers might say about it and give their own explanations, there is no challenging this side of the underrated soul of that creation.

As Cleanth Brooks would continue to say as a part of his contributions to New Criticism with his powerful literary nuclear weapon concerning paradox, this long bridge is also a part of nature and it is the same beautiful picture of nature in which it lives. This significant paradoxical situation would give rise to a poem if combined with the basilica which is not too far away from sight either. The beauty of nature would be attached to the bridge in such a way as to combine the concrete and the minerals, not considering their hierarchy of organice and inorganic things or the so called theories of evolution as well as history on the basis of which one could declare superiority over the other. Lets leave behind the so called heroes of the aquatic world who dared to rise and get out of water and also the organisms which wanted to explore so much in a three dimensional style, beyond what was in sight, not even limited to Mount Olympus’ thunder God. The heritage and the tradition are also left behind to make way for the true face which was to be explained with the help of a Sony camera. Here, the bridge which lies in the most natural thing which is more than just a water body, gains life. When everything exists and the bridge of so much use, how can it be not a part of the beauty of nature? Clearly impossible.

Vallarpadathamma, as Holy Mary, the mother of Jesus is mentioned in the area, is believed to have performed many miracles and the basilica has the status of a National Pilgrim Centre. The feast of Vallarpadathamma is held every year on September 24. It was the Portuguese who established the first church at this location dedicated to Holy Spirit for the first time in Asia, along with a picture of Blessed Virgin Mary. After severely damaged by heavy floods, Paliath Raman Valiachan, the Divan of Maharajah of Cochin retrieved the image and provided land to build the new church which did undergo many renovations after that. This became a Basilica in 2004. The current structure stands quite tall and one can see almost the whole Vallarpadam from the top of the two church towers and it is a beautiful scene which includes the blessed surroundings of the church as well as the Kochi container terminal along with that beauty of nature which is to be viewed with those long bridges which connect the different islands of Cochin as well as the railroad bridge which stretches itself longer than the others. These two towers act as a clear bonus to Vallarpadam, and being at the top is the easiest way to listen to the nature at the place.

The basilica is surrounded the scenes depicting the mysteries of Holy Rosary as the life of Jesus is flashed through them. It is this place, the Rosary Park which one see first when making an entrance. They are created as if built into topless trees and they certainly look too good. There is a crucifix on the centre of it, at one end and on the other end is a medium sized cross just before the church structure. It’s bottom side shows Vallarpadathamma in different forms, Velankanni Matha, Lourde Matha, Fatima Matha and a few more along with Jesus Christ on one side and angels on top of them. The latest church building is all white and simple, but a joy to watch. It might be that white which is the opposite of perpetual darkness visible through soon-to-be sold spirit, that internal thing to be sent to the ultimate end, relating to eternal slavery and torture. It is not that big as one might consider it to be, from the front side, some distance away. But it has still retained that feeling of divinity inside it, no matter how many times it underwent renovations. It contributes to the beauty of Vallarpadam and this contribution is not just spiritual or supported by some intellect and a rising aesthetic sense. It is for that simple mind which thinks and imaginates without restrictions.

Diving out —>

TeNy

35. Cheeses From Pool

@Liverpool, Merseyside, England.

Liverpool was one of the first cities of the United Kingdom I knew about, from my school days. It was not about the football club, it was about a chapter in the text about some cheeses from Liverpool, and extract from ‘Three Men in a Boat’ by Jerome K. Jerome. It was about those splendid cheeses with two hundred horse-power scent, able to knock a man over at two hundred yards; those wonderful things which were believed to exist with a hidden ability to awaken the corpses. It was one of the best passages of that time, and along with another story by O. Henry, provided enough fun in the class. If it is not funny for some of you out there, you can compare it to the other passages in that text which might not exist any more as the syllabus has gone to hell. To be frank, everything else in that text, including poems, paled in comparison. The book left me a city name to remember; it was Liverpool, which would come to the scene again with news about it’s teams later in the sports page of the news paper. But the name was written or rather carved into the mind by those fictional cheeses provided the much needed comic relief at a time when there was more tragedy with those evil monsters called Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology hovering around.

Being safe from Maths was always a high priority and when at Liverpool, I knew I was miles and years away from the abominable creature which is always looking for an ‘X’. It could have been Maths’ ex-girl friend, lost twin brother or it might just be mad enough to look for something which never even existed. In my humble opinion, Maths should get an autograph from Vin Diesel and ask him when the next part of XXX would release, and also book a ticket in advance. If it could adjust with an H, may be Triple H could be consulted; being someone with extra ‘H’s, he might be more than just glad to spare Maths with one of them. If Maths was related to Liverpool, that would have left a bad taste; from the Coat of arms of the Liverpool City Council itself, there is the influence of sea and related adventures without the savage Mathematics. It looks somewhat like an allusion to Greek mythology and it’s own Poseidon with a trident as well as a merman creature with a trumphet. The birds are there too, the ones related to the sea, along with the ship. What’s the place for some loathsome demon like Mathematics in such a wonderful place? May be in the waste basket in some random corner unless the basket itself started to complain in such a way as to create the perfect mental strain on the people sitting in the room.

Leaving the monster behind, the journey had to start with the Liverpool Anglican cathedral, the largest cathedral in the United Kingdom and the largest Anglican cathedral in the whole Europe. It is quite tall and claims to be the longest cathedral in the world. The building surely is a huge structure, but the view inside makes the outer view inferior with those wonderful stained glasses which reflects the light and when it falls on the walls of the building creates such an effect as to make one wonder if it is something beyond this world. The structure was bigger than what I had in my mind, and what made it bigger in spirit is the beauty of the chapels which were inside the cathedral. They gave more divine feeling to the building which had become more of a tourist place filled with many people; still the advantage was that the entrance was free, something which would have otherwise emptied the pockets of someone from a world outside Europe, Americas and Middle East. Liverpool cathedral was not really in my initial list of places to visit, but being there was great; getting that feeling free of cost was even a greater thing, and this one became my next favourite cathedral after the Yorkminster cathedral and St. Paul’s cathedral, a position which I would exchange with the Canterbury Cathedral on some occasions.

The wonderful architecture of Liverpool continues to the Roman Catholic side, the Metropolitan Cathedral Church of Christ the King, the seat of the Archbishop of Liverpool and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool; the second cathedral of the city. It is very much near the Anglican cathedral and it’s design was something which was so much different as long as the church buildings were concerned. It would have been so easy to mistake it for a stadium as there were so many on the road, blessing my vision. The interior of the church was special, as there were so many effects produced by the light entering the building from the top. There were different colours and so many angles which provided an effect so magical which was not to be recreated in such a manner in any other churches for me. It was intended to be such a massive structure that would have become the second largest church in the world with the world’s largest dome. But it was not to be; still there is not really a big loss there as what exists there is no lesser creation; after all, God would choose to live in the hearts. For me, I would still wonder what did I just witness, just by getting in and out of the current building itself.

The only other church which was there on the list was the Greek Orthodox Church of St Nicholas, which had the Neo-Byzantine architecture style; even as it looked comparitively small with the Anglican church standing behind at a distance, it had that beauty of simplicity which was the first thing out there which brought the Byzantine Empire into my mind with just a stare. Princes Road Synagogue was also located so close to it, but closed during that time. It was another beautiful structure, this time on the other side of the road. Also, there was the Liverpool Football Club and not to forget the Everton Football Club. It was good to be at the city of both these clubs, but for Liverpool Football Club which has won eighteen League titles, second most in English football, and for this football club which has won more European titles than any other English club, what I saw there was surely not enough. The closed club store, museum and tour centre along with not so clean surroundings in an abandoned area, didn’t really keep me there for enough. Still, Liverpool is the English team with which I have won most championships in those FIFA games which wandered through my life for a long time. There was surely no addition to my imaginations; a few deductions were made, but nothing too heavy.

I didn’t fail to notice the Liverpool University, Liverpool Daily Post and the Port of Liverpool Building; they were quick to catch the eye. I wished for more, but what I had was still enough, with the two magnificient churches as well as the stadium of the team with which I played too much FIFA games. What came with these were just add-ons as long as I consider it with a view which looks at it from a positive view point. There is always something which is left behind in every trip and a lot of things we always miss. I have been far away from perfection in most of my trips and whenever I got a bonus, it cost me another attraction and it never ceased to be so even after so many journeys. Still, this is about being at Liverpool, drinking tea and also what followed which was explained above, not to include Mathematics which was not part it. This was also where I had my first true McDonald’s burger with I actually enjoyed, along with what they called the McFlurry which I would miss all the time even after so much of drinking tea and milk shakes. The lack of McDonald’s is such a sad thing; it is a huge disappointment not to have one within the state. You don’t go to Liverpool each and every day except in those dreams; that ends my hope for McFlurry.

Diving out —>

TeNy

34. Coastal Exploration

@Uvari, Tamil Nadu, India.

I have never been such a big fan of beaches except for the very few number of sunrises and sunsets which I did capture for the sake of doing so. I haven’t been much interested in the water bodies except for staring at Bassenthwaite Lake, Thames or our own Periyar at some point. The New World was already discovered and being Marco Polo, Colombus, Vasco Da Gama or Amerigo Vespucci was a tough job with the world map so clearly defined. I would consider a visit to Bermuda Triangle after a few decades, but for now I am not that powerful an embodiment of unmatched intellectual curiousity rooted on a desire to dig out the unsolved mysteries, which would surpass my own plans for a trip which was inspired by a flawless understanding of every possible location of coastal Tamil Nadu from google maps, and even as interpreting the results of my online observation to the locals in an attempt to find the right location would be the most difficult task of the trip. But as the targets for photography were much less and there was not much else out there which people would visit, the journey went on well without much complications, if there was any, would have left me stranded in the middle of nowhere talking in a language incomprehensible to the locals and not even able to drink tea to bring my spirit back to life.

This was not a much expected coastal exploration of Kerala mainly based on Ernakulam and Alappuzha, but something which went far beyond the borders of the state in an attempt to expand a journey which was too restricted to the common tourist places. For all the computer gamers out there, you can call this an add-on or a stand-alone expansion, but written not in C++, C#, COBOL or JAVA, but something which was written in letters of perpetual goodness and piety; it was my ‘Age of Empires II’, or it’s expansion which they named ‘The Conquerers’, the same game demo which glued millions to a computer screen with amazing hypnotic powers, that thing which started with the same lines, “I hear the growl of a jaguar; is this a bad omen?”. I had no Transport Ships to take me away from the place, but it was where I had to go; I had no horse as in the game, but as the four wheeled machine how could I complain? This was Age of Empires I, II or III for which I was not that sure about; but this was not an ambiguity as all three of them were related and combined to form such a force which was a force beyond explanation. What other game would inspire someone for more exploration? What else could make you love history as this masterpiece from Ensemble Studios and Microsoft? There is always this game, even without a computer.

History and Literature follows you everywhere; philosophy walks by your side trying to gain your attention. They were near invisible at Uvari, but not that perfectly hidden to go unnoticed by the senses. Uvari was a small fishing village about fifty kilometres from Kanyakumari and further away from Tirunelveli. The way to this coastal village was indeed a great factor in increasing the interest for visiting the place. There were wind mills everywhere; or should I call them wind turbines as I did know the mills from the United Kingdom and these were surely not them. These should be producing commercial electric power and also powering the photographic skills of thousands of people who travel on those roads surrounded by these turbines. They were of different shape and size, some of them not at all working, and some of them having a different company name inscribed on the back compared to the others. There were so many of them, facing towards or away from those mountains which seemed to look at them as if these turbines were strangers who took away the beauty of the village area. But the true fact is that the aesthetic sense was just given a free gift with the installation of these machines, intentionally or unintentionally. They blended with the nature in such a way as if they existed there for centuries even before the great Chera, Chola, Pandya and Pallava kingdoms blessed these lands with their existence.

I would desire to think that they reply to the mountains; to what those mountains send to the machines with the wind, both good and bad, there would be messages sent to both sides. It’s relation to nature is still debatable, but this type of consideration would do good for that moment of seeing the combination. As Cleanth Brooks would say as a part of his contributions to New Criticism with his weapon concerning paradox, this mechanical device is also a part of nature. Considering the many things that a poet would consider when he or she takes a look at nature, the point against the wind turbine getting a seat in the nature’s lap at least for the sake of considering so, would be that the man-made thing might lack a soul, but it is that much a part of this universe as the sky or the clouds. It proved the point with that view it provided for photography, the same it could provide for a poet for his work if needed. The roads were getting smaller as it was getting closer to the wind turbines, but they were still near-flawless paths which rarely had any problems. The only question which could bother me was if I was moving further away from any opportunity of drinking fine tea.

Into that small coastal village, there were four churches; St. Antony’s church, Kappal Matha church, St. Andrew’s chruch and Annai Velankannimatha church. As St. Andrew’s church stood on the sand with all the beauty of an old church, the other two looked kind of new, with the exception of Kappal Matha church which was something different, something which I had not seen anywhere else. It looked like many things, but not like a church. It had the shape of an airplane mounted on a ship and the area around the ship was open allowing the powerful winds of the sea which was so near, to creep into it giving it a wonderful effect. Even the sea looked so different in colour around that area and the winds which whispered around got only stronger as the day passed. They might be carrying all the prayers to the Almighty and his answers right back to the nature from where the mortals could collect it; just the ones who has enough sensibility to feel the same. When an airplane is mounted on a ship, both almost of the same, what would be the significance? May be it denotes more than one way of the prayers moving towards it’s destination; may be it’s just about the help the ships and boats recieve as they travel through the sea; it is still not my point to make.

According to the stories, the crew of a random Portuguese ship sailing near Uvari about 450 years ago was affected by a severe case of cholera. Hoping to escape the inevitable death, they carved an image of Saint Antony of Padua from a small block of wood. Soon, the entire crew regained health and later when the ship docked at Uvari, the sailors set up the statue inside a small hut in the coastal village. Years later, the villagers built a church with the original statue of St. Antony holding the Infant Jesus in his hand on the altar of the building. St Antony is said to perform so many miracles daily and thus it became a church visited by pilgrims of different religions from all over South India. It is still not that popular as many of the other pilgrim centres as it is less known and also due to it’s somewhat remote location unlike the San Thome Basilica and Saint Thomas Mount. This influence of the story concerning the ship can be seen as we look at the Kappal Matha Church too. It is almost like a ship sailing in the ocean when seen from a distance due to it’s proximity to the sea; from some angles, it lies in the middle of the sea of sand. The modest coastal town is a joy to visit due to these churches and the stories behind them.

Diving out —>

TeNy

33. Cemetery Addiction

@Bradford, West Yorkshire, England.

An year has passed since my visit to the United Kingdom and my last foreign trip; this awareness would tickle my intellect to write something on those memories, but this time not about something which did impress me and come up with anything which helped my study of history of English literature. I would write about a place which was fine, but nothing which was impressive or special enough for me, but is still somewhat likeable and would qualify to be in my travel diaries even as it did pale in comparison to what I visited before and after that journey. It wasn’t a bad journey, so it had to be in that list even as the gain was less for the intellect and the soul. After all, it was a city which was inhabited even during the Anglo-Saxon ages. It even had a mention in the Domesday Book of William the Conquerer’s time and former powerful manufacturing centre and a trade centre of wool. But the city I saw looked to be of much lesser power compared to what I had been witnessing around Yorkshire and therefore it had to be much better to impress me; if it was the first British city I visited, it would have helped in the generation of a better impression about itself at the cost of a decrease in the total evaluation of the island as a whole.

When I came to knew that once, a march to celebrate St George’s Day was cancelled and England couldn’t even commemorate their patron saint in their own city, I knew that this was not at all the right place. But not every part of a city is the same and there is no city in the world which is so perfect that it’s features will make us feel as if we are back to the Garden of Eden with roads, transport and buildings as extra additions. As every other city, there were those good things; the other side of what was the exact opposite; the best thing was undoubtedly the Undercliffe Cemetery. Never was a cemetry more fascinationg for me, an infatuation which was to be lowered only after I saw the Glasgow Necropolis. It was not just a cemetery, it was a collection of monuments, fauna and flora. The architecture of the tombs combined with the greenery as well as the view towards the city was beautiful. It could also be termed a park or a historic place. This cemetery of the Victorian Age is indeed a special place which would make one think about being buried in there sooner or later; it is a wonderful place to live as a vampire, zombie or just a random spirit and talk to the other souls which roam around. There are a few places which would make death an amazing thing; one of them would be the need to be buried at a wonderful place like this.

Even as most of the graves had crosses, especially Celtic crosses, some of them had footballs, urns, trophies, arches, flowers, pointers and statues. There was so much variety in it, as some of them looked like chapels, Greek or Roman temples, dungeons or Pyramids, some of them even having spinxes or angels guarding the tombs. There were so many inscriptions on each of those graves and so much designs carved into each of them. Most of them were kind of Gothic, and they successfully gave that feeling of the existance of spirits in the form of shadows which come back to life at night. At a time when Halloween was not too far away, this was something which was to awaken the spirits of the holiday which were asleep as if to consider the day as belonging to some other creatures who lived far away in strange lands and talking in incomprehensible dialects which are of a financial or profit-oriented character rooted in sin and deserving a free ticket to perpetual hell which burns the soul faster than the body, but keeps it intact for further torture. Only a few of them were free spirits, and the rest were humans who were affected by the shadow world. The cemetery was the beginning of what had begun as the start of the beginning; but it had no effect on the longer run and as it was not the absolute beginning, it slowly lost it’s light charm on my intellect which the Glasgow Necropolis gained.

Bradford Cathedral is an interesting structure, but unless seen before having a look at the other massive church buildings, it will not bring that special expression on your face. It still has a history dating back to the Anglo-Saxon times even as the current building can’t tell that old a story when the area was Northumbria. It has undergone so many changes since then and it might still be more impressive than any of the churches you see in South Asia; I would make a few exceptions in that case, but with a historical background, I would support this building, which is called the Cathedral Church of St Peter situated in the heart of the city of Bradford. Sometimes, one has to feel for the places of worship which had no patrons in high places; some churches and temples will survive on it’s past glory even as there is no more interest left in them, while some others will cease to be important due to some irreversible changes in history. Literature has been moderate in that case, and at times been on the right side, but history has did the worst, on more than a few occasions and took sides and made us believe it is a fair opinion; on this case I would blame it on the neglect and what was in the mind of a few selected people of history, not just the writers, but also the creators of it with their actions.

Bradford seemed to have less order in comparison as people looked more careless, walking on roads and talking loudly in strange languages and writings in some unknown script too; I assumed it to be Urdu or some variant of it considering the large Pakistani population in the city. It was evident from their dress, not only women, but also men. That would give the impression of being in a multicultural area even as there have been many unrests around the city. Except for the looks of the buildings and the climate, it might have given the feeling of being in Pakistan, but I would restrain from thinking more about the same as I have never been there and not planning to either. I had thoughts about visiting the other neighbours Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Burma though, along with another trip to Sri Lanka. Bradford still made the place closer to Asia than any other even as it is debatable considering how much variety exists in Asia as a continent of so many cultures. But I didn’t have the need for that, and it was in no way closer to India, especially South India and no way near Kerala. I wasn’t there to get any feeling other than that of being in the United Kingdom.

There could be a thousand reasons for that and a few more hundreds which one might be able to figure out with a mind of reason, but I had just a few. I had my tradition, culture and my individuality and a part of my mind was always at home and it was something which kept me as what I have always been. Being back home was something which I had experienced and was still going to experience in a procedure which was expected to continue for decades. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was to go on forever until the Judgement Day. There is always something wrong with a trip when a place is not what it is expected to be; it is a feeling of the inner soul rather than what surrounds it in the material world. It is the self-destruction of the images of your mind aided by a force which is not at all perceptible and the ultimate replacement of these images by something which you didn’t really expect or didn’t even want to expect, and thus it happened on this occasion; not really a perfect obliteration, but something which was a slight punch to the intellectual side. It would hurt even the most mentally stable creator or a true student of art to such an extent which is to determined only by those intangible factors which guides him.

Diving out —>

TeNy