Posts Tagged ‘arunachal pradesh’

Kiran Nagarkar, and Indian novelist and social commentator was comenting on the “extras” (persons having non-descript roles) in a movie. “Extras” in a movie are a metaphor of the majority of mankind. Skyscrapers in metropolises come with readymade slums. Hereafter the differences will be that of those who have water and those who do not.

My experiences on the dearth of water are twofold. Living in Kerala, one of the places in the world that receives the heaviest rainfalls in the form of monsoons. Ironically, a mountain across, the neighbouring state of Tamilnadu has vast stretches of arid land but excels manifold than Kerala in agriculture. A prominent daily in Malayalam(Kerala) was running a feature on how Kerala is heading to desertification. We never tap the rain let alone protect our rivers. We palster the ground so that not a drop of water seeps down. Our aesthetic and homemaking sensitivities have been driven to such foolish extremes. For instance, as a rule we think that a garden is beautiful when it is filled with concrete artifacts rather than the whims of natural settings. The following snapshots reveal the quest for water boring deep into the earth, a few hundred metres, to draw water. The sight of water gushing is so invigorating but I fear how long the water will hold on.

vehicle1  suction  font gushing

As I was spending few months in Arunachal Pradesh, I could rather understand how grim a situation is the dearth of water. The indigenous people used long poles of bamboo as water ducts, drawing water from springs deep in the forests. The too dry up and once again they venture into dense jungles to locate a new spring. The thirst never ends. water channel 2

water channel chinkoiwater duct

water duct 2











A student of mine wrote in his answer sheets that a river is beneficial as it carries away the domestic waste. Major rivers in India are polluted and has dangerous content of coliform bacteria making it non potable. The rivers bear the blunt of the efflux of man-made wastes as this loo over a natural brook shows. Mind it, it is one of the best arrangements that could be made in that part of the world to serve one’s lavatorial needs. The people here harbor a great distrust for the water sources that pass through inhabited areas. This is a luxury they can hardly afford in urban settlements where you have to go for any available water no matter where the hell it came from.


1351932061323There are still milky strings of water cascading down the hills, luring us into a near future when they will simply disappear.cascade3

ONAM SADYAThis is a sampling o f the traditional vegetarian cuisine of Kerala, done so elaborately on the Onam days. Onam, has its moorings in Hindu mythology, but with no attention to that Hindu hue all the households in Kerala celebrate these. The heart of the celebration is the Thiruvonam day. The caste differences in Kerala, once dictated that all the days of this celebration shall not be permitted to all. As you move up the echelon, more the days you can relish celebrating Onam and the lower classes had just one day marked for them. A popular adage in malayalam says that “Onam pirannaalum unni pirannaalum Koranu kumpilil thanne kanji” (Even when its onam or the birth of the landlord’s new born, the underdogs (typified in the proper name Koran) could only expect the old ways of their dinner; the gruel which is served in a cone of jackfruit leaf kept in place by a small pit. I personally do not know whether one sides Mahabali,the demon king who was stamped down to the netherworld by Vamana,the incarnation of Lord Vishnu or the latter himself. It is a problem of narratives and interpretations and subaltern views.

Octavio Paz commented that the Indian cuisine is synchronous, as the very many stuff served on the platter bound to be gulped almost together whereas the European cuisine is diachronous, that is why we speak of course dinners. Delicacies comes in a train.

The day before thiruvonam is called Uthradam. An idiom associated with this day is uthradapaachil(the rush in uthrada day) to mark the final rush people makes to the market to procure the goods for celebration. This hints at a day when wages were scanty and irregular, so the common lot had to wait till  the  eleventh hour to garner the resources.

As I was sent to Arunachal Pradesh to spent few months there, it was only a week ahead of Onam. It was going to be the first time Im going to miss Onam, so I thought. Surprisingly, I attended three Onam celebrations with the Malayali(Keralite) community in Seppa. I could never believe that there were so many of us in such a far flung place. At that time I had not come over the travel fatigue and the starangeness of the new environ. Somebody commented that even this considerable number of Malayali I am met with is far below than what it once used to be. My foot!

ps: the photograph is a sanpshot of what my sis evelyn prepared for her onam celebrations in sussex,london. The original meal had many more dishes(legend hooks it at 108) and is a delicate balance of the humours and flavours and rituals. All tastes except umami, of course.