Friday, January 30, 2015

Il Postino : The Postman

I saw this movie recently while travelling to Chennai in the train and before I knew it I was transported to a sleepy little Italian village on the coast where beauty abounds in every frame. Beauty herself forms a major character, she is everywhere you care to look and that's what the protagonist Mario (Massimo Troisi) discovers after he interacts with a well known poet in exile, Pablo Neruda. The Cuban poet, Pablo Neruda (portrayed by Phillippe Noiret), arrives in a small island in Italy after being exiled for his communist beliefs. And Mario, a reluctant fisherman, longs for another job and when the necessity of a postman to deliver mail to the most famous person on the island arises, Mario lands this job. He hesitantly starts befriending Pablo and reading his poems, this awakens his soul to the beauty of being, of observing, of existing. As I sat there on the upper berth watching this movie while everybody was fast asleep, I was moved by this fisherman who found magic in metaphors. The words he reads and the way he begins to grasp the nuances of poetry, in both the written word and the living poetry found in the sound of gently lapping waves, the breeze as it hits the cliffs and in everybody around him... it envelops you too. You are struck by the beauty of a chugging train sneaking away into the night with everybody fast asleep and you wide awake, marveling at the power of words and discovering new ways to love them. 

Most of the movies these days focus on love (even this movie starts out like this), most of the songs are about love... this is understandable; being in love is a really heady feeling, you tend to be consumed by it. But love like this, about the evocative power of words is more revolutionary. It seeps into your consciousness making you evolve as a person, and this is exactly what happens to Mario. Massimo Troisi was so involved with this movie that he postponed heart surgery to complete it and suffered a fatal heart attack a day after the movie was completed. But he has immortalized himself as the simple postman who shares a beautiful friendship with a famous poet who awakens in him a higher level of consciousness. 

So if you are in the mood for a heartwarming story about friendship, love of words, poetry and nature then be sure to check this 1994 Italian movie... 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Of Paddy fields and Daddy fields...

I've written lots about my hometown, Nagercoil, in this blog... about how every trip home is like being embraced in earth's bountiful bosom. So you can imagine my surprise when for the very first time in my life, I felt bereft and speechless at her decrepit state. The past few weeks were exactly like the earth in Interstellar, a dust bowl, that's the only way to describe Nagercoil now. All her roads and mudukku's have been dug up, vehicles ply over these pathetic roads leaving a trail of dust in the air. There is a fine coating of the characteristic red mud on every visible surface... and amidst all the dancing and swirling red dust, people go about their daily lives, unfazed and undeterred, patiently waiting for their little town to go back to it's former glory of quaint roads and angel rays that flit and float through tree branches, playing shadows with the ground below. I was pretty much covered up like a terrorist there, a duppata covering my entire face except my eyes... my family refused to walk with me sometimes. That was my dust bowl existence, it kinda made coming back to the city less painful... 

Despite all this, my time there was pretty exciting... Sajeeve, a cousin, gave me the idea of lighting candles arranged in the roman numeral way of depicting 2015. Nam and another cousin, helped me out with this...
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How pretty they look flickering away, welcoming the new year. Those motifs are kolam patterns made using kolam stencils... dad bought these pretty cool stencils in the fish market, it was fun playing around with them.
Visited the farm too with the old gang, and hung out at the water tank munching on chocolates... 
Visited the special school too with the girls and it was nice seeing all my old friends and children... met Mother Magdalene after ages, she introduced me to A. J. Cronin and I fell completely in love with him.  
Hung out in these paddy fields...
And took lots of pictures. 
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And a video of the swaying crops with the mountains in the background... I can never tire of this sight, they always seem to beckon...
Ate lunch on the riverbanks... it was a potluck, so I made masala coated eggs, and roast potato masala, the others brought mint rice, coconut rice, tomato rice, poppadams and kesari. 
Nam took this picture of me and the river..... 
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And finally welcomed the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu, Pongal... 

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Ringing in 2015...

Christmas turned out to be wonderfully surprising this year. After the midnight mass I ended up having Irish Bailey's and plum cake with nuns in the convent. Clinking our glasses to Sláinte! (the Irish version of 'Cheers' or 'drinking to your health') we sat around the dining table swapping stories. For a person missing her choir friends from the church back home, these friends from the religious fraternity made Christmas night pretty memorable.

New Year's was pretty exciting too, it was great being back with family and friends... meeting the shepherd boys of 2006, those small little boys who now tower over me... hanging out with the choir girls after mass, baking and eating the rum cake, and drinking bacardi while being extremely glad for a wonderful 2014 and hoping that the years to follow will be filled with good memories, exciting times and a lot more adventures... this is what I wish for all you readers too.

Today being the feast of Epiphany or the Three Kings feast (Jan 6th), it usually only means one thing... taking down the tree, the crib, the lights and all Christmas decorations. Here are a few pictures before I woefully pack everything away, to be opened after eleven months... 
The creche at my Nagercoil home... 
The Christmas tree... 
I like this little wooden cow near baby Jesus... bought him in Brienz, Switzerland. The Nativity figurines were purchased in Velankanni,
This doesn't look all that good, but my twin brothers birthday makes the Christmas week even more joyful, and even though they weren't around... I wanted to make something to mark the occasion. Settled on making a wheat base Superman pizza... made the S with sausage.  
When I was part of the parish community here, I used to make different Christmas greetings for the parish priest. This year I made Christmas card chimes, here it is hanging in father's home...  messages from the catechism children are stuck behind the card. These messages are really funny, the kids all like him... so most of them are about how cool father is. 
And this is the crib in father's house... he really did a great job here. You know how mud gets caked onto walls, and they develop a character of their own through rain and sunshine... well, father managed to scrape one such mud structure and he placed it in his creche, and it looked so natural in there, with the shepherds at the base of this mud hill while the holy family resides in that small little cave in the corner from which light shines forth... how profound, true Light who came down from heaven.
A house in the colony... Christmas is always fascinating down here... 
Houses are beautifully lit up...
The whole colony seems to glow, with festive cheer.... 
This is the creche at a friends place... 
The crib in the special school....