As the date of departure looms up fast, I fervently go around the town in the morning, trying to take in as much as I can, by way of impressions, memories and photographs. Some pictures taken during the morning cycling expeditions.
A resort near the beach
The mornings are pleasantly chill since the last two days. Bad for good photographs, a haze hangs over the landscape. At the Finishing Point (this is the finishing point of the famous Boat race), tourists climb down from the boats after a night moored in the backwaters. A lone foreign tourist sips a cup of tea at the corner tea shop and I admire her legs as I cycle by. Three burkha-ed women, plumb and middle-aged, swing their arms and toggle their behinds in an effort to reduce their ample girth. Pretty teenagers overtake me in their pink bicycles to reach their private tuition classes in time and I feel a tinge of regret that I am non-existent for them.
I reach the Starting Point and demand Strong Tea with a little sugar ( Oru Chaaya, Madhuram kurachu, Kaduppathil) from my regular shop and ogle at the full-breasted foreigner who alights from a houseboat after the hugs and 'Baai, Baai, honey' she proffers to another. I admire the way a local turns around his little kayak, paddling this way and that way and plans to ask somebody to teach me rowing.
Typical entrance to an old Tharavad
CSI Church, circa 1818 ( I love this church)
Though I have been haunting these parts for more than a year, I really do not fall into an identifiable stereotype. I am dark-skinned and look a Malayalee, I move in a rusty old bicycle - but I have a camera in the basket and the way I look at places and people - why, it is like a prospective customer at a Red Street. Nothing escapes my eye, from the Black Drongo on the wire to the mangy dog on the street, from the crumbling old house to the comely matron on her way to church. I speak Malayalam with an almost Alleppian accent, but I am not a local, who the hell is he I can see the question plainly in the eyes of the shop keeper, of the lounging about, in the bleary eyes of the boozer who is waiting outside the local toddy shop, thirsting for his morning shot. I love it , I am the mystery guy I smile to myself, until I hear the 'Saaarey, evidaa, ravile?' ( Whither goest thou, oh, Sire, so early is the morn) and recognize a customer of the bank. I have the look of the caught-with-his-pants-down, and I furiously cycle away, deaf to the protests of my creaking knees.
******* Balachandran V, Alleppey, 18.01.2013