The Road Trip: Part 3

And here is the final part!

Loss

So before heading back, we stopped at a place where my dad knew some people. There we met a few of my grandad’s old colleague, who recalled pleasant old times, and expressed their sorrow at my grandads passing. Among them was the son of one of those colleagues, one of my Dad’s childhood friends. He, his parents, his daughter and his older brother’s daughter lived in a small house, as one would when living in a rural area, but its size didn’t matter, especially when the people living there had such vast hearts. They were so welcoming and hospitable. Taking in the place they called home, I noticed that adorning the walls were many pictures of various ancestors and family, showing the importance and respect they had towards the past.

It was only a little later, after the conversation had delved a bit deeper besides the basics, that my dad’s friends mother mentioned with tears and grief evident in her eyes that her sons wife had died, very suddenly, little less than a year ago. After a moment of silence, we regained what little composure we could, what with the devastating words still hanging thick in the air, to try to offer whatever comfort and condolences, without prying.

Which was when we noticed the most vibrant and endearing little six year old, who didn’t know that her mother was gone. They’d told her she was in the hospital. It was truly heartbreaking, considering that her mother had been so young. My dad’s friend himself is not in good health either, nor does he have much stability with his job. I couldn’t express my feeling towards their situation, not while talking to the little girl and seeing the childish, heart melting smile on her face.

I’m now in the process of finding a way to help the little girl financially, so she can at least have a secure and bright future.

I suppose my trip ended on a somewhat sad note, but on the long ride back it made me ponder about a lot of things.

Thanks to the readers of this post or should I say posts, for taking the time to read about my trip that unknowingly spanned three posts. So that was my road trip summed up. It wasn’t at all what I expected, but something different and great all the same.

-AJ xo

The Road Trip: Part 2

Hello, here is the next part!

Namesake

That same day we went to another town, this one had a connection to me though; the name of the town and my surname were the same. I felt so excited at the prospect of being on the land of my namesake town. Even though there was no known evidence that my ancestors had resided there, it felt special, and I felt a kind of covert wholeness and glee. I wanted to stride through the town, head held high, shouting out my surname. Odd, yes, but I have a possessive nature, that extended to this town too, after all we shared a name. I suppose it would’ve been all the more better if there was even the slightest sign of my forefathers’ mark, but it was still worth the visit and the feeling of gratification.

Feeling the love

After visiting my namesake town, we went to a village nearby where we owned some land. It was scorching hot outside, and with the air con blasting a comfy chill in the car, I had no intention of stepping out. As the car came to a stop, confined on the small road, there were kids peering at us through the windows, in awe of the car and its mechanics. And then out came this lady, fairly old, to see the commotion and after seeing my dad first, and then my mum and me, went into a state of craze, but in a good way. I was utterly confused, about why we were there, who she was, why she kept smothering us, why we were waiting for someone and what the heck was going on.

My confusion was cleared up when my dad explained that she was the wife of the caretaker of our lands. And the interesting thing was, my great-grandma’s* father*, who was a very respected and wealthy man and a sort of mayor in this town back then, had servants and the man we were waiting for was the son of my great-great-grandad’s supervisor of lands. Their family had been serving ours for a long time, thus their awe and respect. The house that my great-grandmother grew up in was bought by their family, and in place of the house they put a cattle shelter. There were chickens, buffalos, hay, mud and dung strewn everywhere, as they explained the structure of the old house. And in attempt to get away from a very large buffalo that seemed to be a bit too much interested in me, I unceremoniously stepped in a heap of buffalo poop; embarrassing and disgusting. But besides that awkwardly gross moment, everything else went smoothly; they were all very joyful for our company and vice versa.

*my dad’s father’s mum, who’s still alive and hale and hearty

* my dad’s great-grandad, and my great-great-grandad

I didn’t reaslise how much I wrote and how much I had to say about this road trip so I’ll be finishing this off in part 3!

-AJ xo

The Road Trip: Part 1

Hi,

So, a while back I went on a three day road trip. I had five main stops, so I’ll be writing about each of their significance for me.

Kondapalli

A tiny place called kondapalli was our first stop. There are these certain dolls that are made there, named after the town. The town wasn’t exactly a tourist attraction, though the toys were fairly famous, the town they were made in wasn’t, so we didn’t really know what to expect. Anyway, we found only about four shops that were selling the dolls, but what we were looking for was someone who made the dolls in their own home, someone who wasn’t doing it for the sake of retailing but because of talent and interest and art.

And that someone we found. Next to one of the shops was this house, acknowledged by a door wide open in a cramped space, which had some toys set on table out front. Finally finding someone genuine, we went inside inquiring if we could ask a few questions and take some photos. The man creating these toys was a fifth generation craftsman, learning all from his father, and he also told us that he was, sadly, his family’s last generation craftsman. My dad did most of the talking and here are a few facts that we learned: The toys are chiselled out of locally available special light softwood and hand made with basic tools. They’re painted with organic vegetable dyes. The most popular toys are Dasavatarams (ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, the main Hindu god).

The toys are crafted in Kondapalli, and given to retailers to sell for an exceptionally higher price than the crafters get paid, or when they sell them directly. It’s a struggle for those townspeople, trying to keep alive the art, which they so carefully and precisely create with respect, so seeing this man opening up about his profession and its difficulties was really something different.

Kuchipudi

The next day we set off to another small town called Kuchipudi, where the classical Indian dance form Kuchipudi originated from. My mum, being a professional Kuchipudi dancer herself, was quite excited to see the great things that the town would behold. We found the dance school there and went inside to have a look. From the outside it looked large but possibly neglected, but we dismissed the idea, not judging till we had a more knowledge about the school. Once inside, we realised that our assumptions may be correct, seeing its emptiness. There were only two custodians and us in the building. Each room had photos of those who mastered the dance to such an extent that they deserved to be honoured. We asked one of the custodians why there was no one here and he told us that since the government had changed, the teachers weren’t getting paid; therefore no classes had taken place in a while. It was saddening to think that those, whose passion for this dance reined high, couldn’t get to be educated further in it because of the government’s problems. And coming to the town itself, the thing was, despite the immense name for the dance form, its birth town was overlooked. To say the least, we were disappointed and somewhat pitiful.

I don’t want to dump too much and confuse so I’m posting these in parts. So the continuation of this post shall be in part 2!

-AJ xo

Looking Through My Lens….

Hi, So I’m in India at the moment and I have a tendency to get quickly bored, and borderline frustrated, when the Wi-Fi stops working. *sigh* It happens quite frequently here and often for long periods of time, therefore leaving me tragically alone and bored.

My dad felt that going on long drives, in a practically dinosaur aged car, with bad breaks, no air conditioning and annoying seats covers that DO NOT aid the heat situation, might help. Thanks Dad.  And I forgot to mention how I had to lug around my camera so I could get “some nice shots of natural and unique things in Indian villages”.

Whoopee…. But what I did love about the long drives was this amazing sense of liberation, which is so hard and rare for me to feel while in India, the smell of fresh unpolluted air, and the free wind seeping into my skin.

So, as we went through this one village  while back, something that caught my eye, with a bit of prompting from my parents, were these four ancient ladies, and I mean that with the a high sense of admiration and wonder, sitting on the front porch area of a worn brick house.

I was itching to capture them with my camera, so I shyly and nervously asked if I could take some photos of them and they surprisingly agreed. The thing is, in abroad or foreign, which is a term used to refer places other than here in India, most people would feel a bit creeped out if I asked generally to take a photo of them, I know that I would too, and decline. I found out that there is an old superstition believed by rural folks that taking a picture will steal your soul, so many refused to be photographed, though I am yet to see such people.

Anyway, one of the women, who was quite dazzling for her age, was wearing this beautiful gold necklace, as well as other unique jewellery pieces, that looked radiant on her orange cotton sari, and her old fashioned village look was so intense and rich, but simple.

They all actively spoke and posed, though a tad flustered and curious, adamantly requesting me to print and give them these photos, which I assured I would. I later contemplated that it had probably been quite a while since they might’ve had photos taken of them.

By the time I finished getting the shots I wanted, I small group of neighbors and bypassing locals had surrounded us, to see what the odd girl with the camera was doing. Soon, many others wanted to have photos taken and I turned to into a good-natured photographer.

I was later saved by my gracious Dad, and as he thanked them and explained why I was taking photos, I felt connected to the bucolic village and also had a regard for these people associated with veneration. I’ll have to visit once again to give them the photos and maybe capture some more of them and their village.

AJ xo