Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tales of wonder and tales of glory

Swami Vivekananda says Howdy! all the way from Kanyakumari, way down in the South of India.
So I just got back from Kanyakumari, the veritable land's end of India.

See. Land ends. Water begins!

Now Kanyakumari (which literally translates to Virgin Woman) is uber cool because it is here that the Indian landmass peters out to a mere point and then disappears into the ocean. And the ocean is not one, but three that meet together - The Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. It's a trippy place to say the least.

But the most fascinating thing about KK is this.

Legend has it that Kanya Devi, an avatar of the Hindu Goddess Parvati, was to marry Lord Siva, but as he failed to show up on his wedding day, the rice and other grains meant for the wedding feast remained uncooked and unused thereafter. The uncooked grains turned into stones as time went by and some believe that the small stones which look like rice on the shore today, are indeed grains of the wedding that was never solemnized.  And Kanya Devi became a virgin goddess. What a biography huh? There is a huge temple right on the shore where this Goddess is worshipped and this temple is believed to be 4000 - 5000 years old.

And right outside the temple was this adorable little parrot called Meenakshi who picks out fortunes from a deck if you tell her your name.

Actually, there is a guy with the parrot who orchestrates the whole thing but that doesn't take away from the awesomeness!

This is my friend Kaushalya. She is a superstar with many avatars and even more arms. If you want to meet her, please email me.

She can regale you with stories of angels and faeries and goddesses and gnomes. Or she can teach you how to make a mean cheese souffle if that is more up your alley. Like I said, she has way too many arms, just like Goddess Parvati does.

 So when Kaushalya got her reading done, I photographed Meenakshi at work.

First, the man asks for your name and then he puts the parrot next to the card and tells her to pick a fortune.

Meenakshi now sorts through the card one by one until she finds the appropriate one and the man picks it out.

Then he asks the parrot if she's sure 3 times and she has to caw all three times.

Otherwise, the process is repeated.

It is all very scientific and clinical and reliable, you see.

And then the parrot's work is done.

The man reads out the fortune and all's well with the world again with the foretelling of yet another's good fortune at the hands of a blessed bird.

Isn't she pretty?

Yikes! I better stop. She has started morphing into Miss Havisham from Great Expectations!

So then we go off our way and look who we chance upon! A butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker! Veritably so.

Ok. Maybe not. But these people are equally fancy.

Look at this boy. His elfness exudes from every pore.

And his greatest delight is in making this baby cry.

Look at her! Isn't she the most adorable thing ever! She looks like a little froggie baby. And I positively mean no offense of that! She is really adorable.

But look at the boy again and sigh!

Feel your heart melt and your soul join in union with the universe. Take a deep breath and look again.

I dare you to not feel the oneness!

Exercise one over.

Now look at this granny.

She has history etched on each wrinkle of her leathery skin. (Again I mean no offense! I would love to look like her at the age of 120.)

And then we walked on and saw this.

And this lone boat was rocking itself to the lullaby of the ocean.

Now stare at this picture and imagine yourself as the boat, locking up and down, back and forth, up and down and back and forth. Quietly, gently and in rhythm. Continue until you become enlightened or feel dizzy, whichever happens first.

Exercise two over.

And then we had lunch and a dessert of this.

 It was the first time in my life that I felt that I was super hot and I will be eternally grateful to Kanya Devi for that!

Over and out, says Swami Vivekananda

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