"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

celebration

Awaiting The Moment

SONY DSCTo celebrate..

SONY DSC

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Pictures taken at Fort Cochin’s New Year Carnival 


Where Everything Is Music

“In my beginning is my end.
Now the light falls…”

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“You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not.

You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not…”
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Quotations taken from East Coker, Four Quartets. (T S Eliot. 1940)
Pictures taken after yesterday’s birthday-party on the roof-terrace


A Bit Of A Do…

Our roof terrace was packed away in readiness for the monsoon some months ago.

The whole area has effectively been a “no-go zone” since June.
But last week Shaji and Anu spent many hours rescuing it from nature’s annual attack.

And yesterday a team of party co-ordinators spent hours arranging lights, a sound-system
and even what looks to be a small throne.

My loyal staff and kind friends feel such a major birthday can not pass uncelebrated.

Somewhat to my surprise, I appear to have reached the big six..


Preparing A Pookalam

As I took breakfast this morning Dalila, my wonderful cook, and Anu, my ever-cheerful houseboy, sat in the kitchen, separating flower petals.

We are now in the midst of Onam – Kerala’s biggest festival – a time celebrated by everyone: Hindus, Muslims and Christians alike.

Part of Onam’s tradition is the making of a “pookalam”: a small carpet of flower petals to welcome the return of a semi-mythical Kerala king whose reign, much like England’s King Arthur, was a time of peace, justice and chivalry.

Once they had taken breakfast Anu, with the help of Stefan – Dalila’s youngest son – spent the rest of the morning creating an Onam pookalam in our hall.

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A Bit Of A Do?

An explosion of welcoming colour spreads its canopy across the road.
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Picture taken in Fort Cochin


Carnival Crowds

While the New Year’s Eve beach celebrations had been attended, almost only, by men,
our New Year’s Day’s Carnival in Fort Cochin was enjoyed by everyone.

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Among those watching this spectacle were Anu, and Shaji & Dalila with their youngest son, Fabian.
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Carnival Artistes

As soon as cool, early evening breezes had gently refreshed our New Year’s Day,
Fort Cochin burst into carnival mood.

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Almost all the “female” artistes on parade are local boys en travesti:
a comedic tradition even more widespread here than in Britain – which is quite an achievement!

The lady drummers were, however, the real thing
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Pictures taken at the Fort Cochin New Year’s Day Carnival Parade.


A Transition

As an old and weary year makes way for something new, Fort Cochin celebrates on the beach.

Happy crowds assemble.
Police, in high-profile but good humour, watch over events.
Fireworks, friendship, cameras, laughter, singing, and even space-restricted dancing, all play their parts.

The previous year’s “Santa Claus” is set alight:
a custom I have seen nowhere else!

Then, as the final fireworks die, an excited but tired crowd quietly fades,
like ghosts of the recently departed year.

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This celebration of memories, hopes and dreams is over.

Happy New Year!
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Pictures taken on Fort Cochin Beach at midnight, New Year’s Eve.


Something To Celebrate


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Shaji, with Dalila his wife, and Anu the houseboy, take good care of my home,
And of me.

Yesterday, Shaji’s birthday provided an opportunity for us all to celebrate,
And for me to express my gratitude. 

Shaji and Dalila have kept me in comfort, and my home in good order, since I bought the house, two and a half years ago.

They respond to my idiosyncrasies, bizarre European ways, and occasional health glitch, with patient kindness.

Happy Birthday Shaji!

And a heart-felt
Thank You.

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Final picture shows Shaji, with his wife Dalila, and youngest son Stefan, in their home.


Up And Away!

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I am back in Britain.

A birthday and a marriage have called me from the exotic beauty of India to the more mellow attractions of Europe.

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Mother’s Day

Taken from The Telegraph


Reasons To Be Happy

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This weekend, Hindus all across the world celebrated Holi.

Although in Kerala Holi is a relatively low-key event, packets of brightly coloured powders were on sale along the roadside.

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But I had my own celebration.

My cousin from the USA was stopping over

And she came bearing the very best sort of gifts:

Cheeses!

A deliciously mature Oregon cheddar,

Canadian Brie

And, just for Holi, a rich-looking, blue cheese.

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The first picture in this post depicts Radha celebrating Holi, Kangra, India. Date: c. 1788. Source: Victoria Albert Museum, London. In India this image is held in the public domain.


Celebrating with a seafood supper!

They are jet-lagged.

They are exhausted.


But they are here!

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They have put behind them the frustrations and disappointment of their cancelled Christmas visit.

They are trying to forget the staggering inefficiencies of Air India and the total indifference of their ground staff.

They are coming to terms with being marooned for eight hours in Mumbai, with no one apparently interested in helping them finish the last leg of their thirty-six hour, booked and confirmed, flight schedule.

My youngest son and daughter-in-law have arrived from Washington DC.

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Now is the time to relax and celebrate.

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During supper at Oceanus Restaurant, a leisurely five-minute stroll from my home, all the tensions and uncertainties that bedevilled their journey slip away.

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Carnival!

New Year’s Day in Fort Cochin is celebrated by the annual carnival.

Malayalees, along with domestic and international tourists, numbering up to one lakh spectators, line the streets of Fort Cochin to enjoy the spectacle.

It is an intoxicating brew of music, dance, tableaux and sheer fun.

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Shaji and Dalila, concerned that I would find the event too tiring, have arranged for me to view it all seated on a roof-top belonging to one of their many friends.

Anu firmly clasps my hand and steers me through the tightly packed throng.

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Fun And Games

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There are many ways to celebrate this festival.

One of the most touching is when friends, having heard that your plans for a family Christmas collapsed,

 

Invite you as “Guest of Honour” to share Christmas evening with their family.

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Then enchant you with the innocent entertainment of song, dance, party games and laughter,

All served with warm affection.

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To The Commonwealth Of Nations

My staff formally extend to you the season’s greetings.

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Informally, Dalila Shaji and Anu wish you:

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Preparing A Pookkalam

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It is now Onam, Kerala’s biggest festival.

Although primarily a Hindu celebration, Onam has been adopted by all the faiths of Kerala. It is a time when all Keralites try to get home, to be with family.

Presents of clothing are given. My dhoti and kurta collection is now very impressive!

It’s Sunday. Shaji and Dalila, my amazingly kind house-staff, are not supposed to be here today but this evening they arrive with traditional Onam gifts for me. They bring their youngest son, and Sebastian my carpenter from neighbouring Nazareth.

Following the exchange of small gifts, the main purpose of the evening is addressed: preparing a pookkalam.

A design is chalked out on the floor, and filled with flower petals.

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We are ready to welcome the King.

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Happy Onam!

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A Tryst With Destiny

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Today is August 15: India’s Independence Day.

Jai Hind!

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And Jai Ho!

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Happy Independence Day.

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