When you have more of down’s than up’s in life, stress anxiety and self-doubt clouds your thoughts. You tend to concentrate on the down’s more and you don’t realize the amazing things life already has to offer that you can be grateful for.
A couple of months back, took a drive to Kannur the Northern part of Kerala , on the way, stopping over at Crafts Village / Visiting a famous painter and meeting up with a friend who I had come to know through my travel mate and friend Anwarka
Borrowed my brother’s car started off at day break, it was not a good day to be out with cloudy skies, but there was this kind of serene feel to the Sunday early morning drive though.
Picked up Anwarka along the way at Calicut and made our 1st stop at Kappad beach . My friend has this unique gut feeling ability to choose the right stops for food! Among our trips together we always had the luck of stopping at the right place for food and this time it was no different. Right opposite to where we parked was a local shed – that served some traditional hot steaming ” Puttu” (rice cakes) with green pea gravy :D!!
There is something about such places makes you feel life can be so simple. During breakfast we had a conversation with a local person, he was talking about selling fish, probably his catch for the day. To him the only thing that mattered at the moment was to sell his fish. Nothing else seemed to bother him – live for the moment I guess. Another thing about the place is you feel so welcome, like you are a guest and you visiting them at home. It wasn’t just about the politeness and courtesy; it’s just about being genuinely simple from the bottom of the heart. Such places always fill our stomachs and hearts !! 🙂
Breakfast done 🙂
The day to begin with it was not a sunny morning, not a day for photographs. As you can see I had to over expose the a few shot but such over cast sky helps with monochrome at times. I took some shots with the Nikon p7800 – who seems to be accompanying me more than Canon lately.
Monochrome shots :
After hanging about at the beach for some time it was time to head out. Switched on our trusty guide – “Google maps” and punched in the coordinates to Craft Village. It didn’t rain much and we were able to drive up the coastal road for a bit till we hit the highway.
Craft Village :-
It was slightly drizzling; we must have reached something around 10. It was Sunday so they sure had a lot of visitors, mostly families and couples. There were a few student’s groups too.
The corridors were spic and span. Must say for the amount of visitors they had, it was pretty well maintained. At the entrance we were greeted by realistic looking statues. I think they were carved out of wood.
Coir and string art at one stall
Coir strands weaved in to jewelry, this was really amazing and knowing how this was made put the price on the craft worth it! These are made by each strands hand strung together by a person – talk about manual labor! The other point is this provides an opportunity for people who are physically challenged to make a living out of their skills.
Another painstaking art, full rice grains used to craft this parrot. What amazes me is the way it was arranged in a pattern of dark and light ones in sequences , to get visual shading of plumage
A closer look
She sells sea shells on the display table !!! 😛
A small papaya garden and I think they are hybrid ones – that makes them grow not so tall -easy to pick! 🙂
These plants where used in making baskets mats and bags .
Weaver making his daily order
We entered a stall where they had everything made out of wood, interior decor to kitchen utensils. The large ship was made from bamboo slits.
Art work on Bamboo shoots
There was this place which displayed paintings and framed art works – but what was interesting than the art itself was it was made out of natural elements like fine twigs grass and natural colors!!
Though the sign in the corner said “Photography is prohibited ” I did get the attendant’s permission before capturing the shots. Either she wasn’t aware of the sign or may it was removed and perhaps that would explain why it was in the corner.
Traditional wooden toys !! and below is the machine that helps crafts these !
Colorful wooden bangles
There was a lake sort of thing I am not sure if this was man made. The place is a nice spot if you want to connect with the traditional crafts era, walking back couldn’t help feeling an immense respect for the traditional artists who crafted these, sadly its fading from every day scene, but thanks to such places like the crafts village it still has a hope. Also was a good project put together by the Government to help these traditional artisans display their art as well as make some earnings out of their skills.
NEXT STOP :- Sadhu Aliyur’s home – Water color artist !
I was not into traditional paintings like water color until Anwarka, one day sat with me on the internet and walked me through many paintings of masters. In fact I was never that much in to paintings of any sort , I was more of a comics / cartoon/ animation kinda guy , but after a night’s stay at my friends place , I took to digital painting and has been at it for some time now , ( see lifecallsart.wordpress.com ) . This visit would change my thoughts even further.
My friend Anwarka is friends with Master water color artist Sadhu Aliyur – We called ahead in advance to check if would be ok to visit him at his residence. That’s when we came to know that he had not been keeping well and was recovering from fever. I had seconds thoughts about meeting him, but when my friend phoned in, the Artist seemed to be ok with us dropping by. Frankly I never met him before, only seen some of his works on line and that too what my friend had showed me. From the works I knew he is a Master at his art and I assumed the kind of attitude he might carry. At 1st I was amazed at the place where was living at Azhiyur, it wasn’t the crème a la crème of all places a Master watercolor artist would be living. Then again amazed at the simplicity of his house as we pulled up to his car porch.
Totally threw away my assumption about him as I met him for the 1st time and shook his hands. He was clothed in a simple traditional attire, humble to the ground and very simple by nature. The conversation needless to say was all about art and how water colors are most difficult than of all mediums and off course the most challenging and satisfying. He showed us many of his works, already displayed in exhibitions across the country.
He pointed out some of his favorite ones, and talked about how the paper and materials used made a huge difference in results. Even the little bit of left over papers from sizing up for large frames, made their way to the walls in house showcasing small, simple yet most amazing works of art. He had a way with the use of purple and highlights, that seemed to stand out and stare back at you as you get engrossed in the vast depth and blend of colors. Talent and skill meets at one point here. Sadhu Aliyur makes it seems so simple.
He lives with his family, Mahija his wife and sons Anandu studying in 9th grade, Vishnu studying for Mechatronics, I asked if Vishnu was into to water colors and art too, but his heart is into electronics and seems to have flare for it. Vishnu has own tinkering shop and seems to be already repairing and fixing mobile phones for his friends. He was camera shy but would have loved to add a few of his tinker shop photos here, but the boy respectfully declined my request. Mr. Aliyur told me that ” If his interest is in that, then why not let him be where his interest is” – Much Respect Sir!!
The visit was a short one, we were to meet up with Alaka at Kannur so we said our goodbyes. This brief meeting and opportunity has pushed me to give water colors a shot , at least get rid of the fear of taking up the brush and paper and accepting that there is no delete or redo buttons with water colors – Thank you sir.
Moving on to meet up with Alaka
Final Stop over ..the quest to find Alaka’s house 🙂
Alaka after doing her MSc. Bio polymer Science has been a volunteering at IPM Calicut, while awaiting her results. She had send us her location pin through WhatsApp (amazing add on in WhatsApp). However, we still had difficulty in getting to her house. Most of the time we ended up turning in to a dead end. Also the distinctive Kannur accent and dialect didn’t make matters any easy . We also had the amusing incident of a ‘smart’ local person getting a free ride to his home at the cost of our search. He simply jumped in saying he knows the way and he too was headed in that direction. After a another set of turns and bends we arrived at “his destination !!” and as the man got out , he gave us another series of directions from there. Sadly that too never ended up going anywhere ! Yup! we were the naive city folk who just been out smarted by a simple country fella :). It took a couple of lefts and rights and going around in circles and calling up Alaka over the phone to finally find her place.
After the usual chits -chats , the pleasantries and some Kannur based snacks and tea, we wanted to take her mother and Alaka out for a short spin. But mum didn’t want to come. So we 3 went over to the beach nearby. It was slightly drizzling and yet serene the same kind of feel in the morning.
Alaka’s father had passed away recently. I could tell she missed him a lot. She mentioned how she connects with her dad each time she is at the beach. As per the Hindu ritual, his ashes were now a part of the ocean. To her it was like her father would be looking out for them from the ocean. There was much spiritual energy at that point. It seemed as he was listening to his daughter.
While Anwarka and Alaka talked, I strolled the beach picking up a few sea shells, souvenir? Perhaps. Mostly it was a habit I had made from picking sea shells for my daughter when she was a small kid, she loved these and always got excited when we went to the beach . I missed my daughter and wondered if she missed this too?
The rain started to get a bit too heavy for our liking so we hopped in the car and decided to fill our bellies with some local Kannur cuisine!!
Alaka showed us her little world in and around that area, her school, her college, places where she used to hang out with friends. We drove towards town and there was this road side (“Thatu Kakda”) spot Alaka knew where they had fried fish!! Now where I am from, you get all sorts of meat and veggie preparation at the road side stands but not so much as fish.
The taste buds started to tingly as I saw thick juicy fillets roasting away on the hot slabs where they cook em. We indulged right in to it, considering me and Anwarka had skipped lunch, this was our lunch and dinner all rolled into one.
Our hearts and bellies full, we dropped Alaka back at her place and we drove back. It was long journey back, but never boring as topics kept rolling in one after another. After dropping my friend at his place, I drove back to my brother’s place. Enjoyed a wonderful Sunday drive with all the cherished memories to think back on.
Life is never an easy ride, at times you are at your wits end, but among them there are days like this that gives you something to feel good about and just be grateful. You don’t need something amazing to happen to feel this way. Talking to this simple happy guy who made his living by selling fish. At breakfast, we didn’t have a exotic buffet or food served on the best platter or china, there was just simple food served with the warmest heart. Seeing the works of many traditional artisans, holding on to their arts and crafts in a fading era says there is hope .Meeting up with one of the all-time Masters of water color painting, and yet being amazed by his humbleness rather than his popularity and his simple respect for his son’s interest. Spending time in the good company of Anwarka and Alaka, seeing how she connects with her grief in the most positive attitude, all this is simply amazing, in itself – all this is something to be grateful about.