Being a Woman
Whenever I travel I take a couple of books with me to stave away the boredom. However I’ve realised that when I travel by road across Kerala not a single page gets read. Kerala, the southernmost tip of India, a little strip of green with a magnificent landscape. The term ‘God’s Own country’ is much bandied about in relation to this place and I’ve no quarrel with that. God has certainly been liberal when it came to adorning this part of the country. But what delights me and makes my heart sing, is the touch of absolute whimsy that I see in the colour schemes used on houses across the length and breadth of this State. I’ve not seen this kind of insanity any where else in the country, at least not in the parts I’ve been to.
While tootling along the roads of Kerala, one is lulled into a sense of peace and languor by the lush greenery, the crisp whites desultorily sunning themselves on washing lines and bougainvilleas lazily draped over walls. Suddenly out pops a house painted a bright indigo with a red trim all around. The first time this happened I thought it must’ve been a figment of my imagination and shook myself awake with a wry smile at my fanciful thoughts. But then another colour bomb drifted into my vision, this time a particularly strong shade of green with red and white stripes on the lower half. I had to forcibly shut my jaw which had almost dropped to my knees ! My interest was piqued and I sat up with anticipation and a sense of wonder. I was not disappointed when I passed in front of a light pink creation with a trim of magenta. The next abode was purple with a roof of brown terracotta tiles. A creeper with deep red flowers climbing up the side added a strange beauty to the whole crazy colour scheme. The mad jumble of colours escape being an assault on the senses since they’re set wide apart. Interspersed among them are beautiful whitewashed houses which stand proudly like matriarchs looking down on the minions. These stately homes are beautiful with their white walls, brown roofs and huge trees adding to the magnificence. Here and there I did glimpse copses of crotons( a colourful shrub) valiantly trying to make their presence felt but failing miserably due to the technicolour vista which I privately feel can only be the handiwork of a particularly delirious artist. Moving on, I spy a bright green house which coincidentally had a shop next to it selling brightly coloured statues of animals. I was struck by the thought of the animals coming alive and wandering into the house mistaking it for a jungle. Totally preposterous idea but the houses were starting to take a toll on my equilibrium which is not very balanced in the best of times anyway !
My sense of balance and stability were slightly restored when we passed over a bridge and I spied cosy little houses on the riverbank with immaculate courtyards and steps leading down to the water.At that moment I wished that my grandparents lived in one of these houses so that I could spend my vacations frolicking in the water from dawn to dusk. The interesting point here is that I would never wish for my parents to own such a house cos I know that parental controls would come into play and any ideas of fun would be diluted by rules and regulations. Riverbanks always have a strange alluring charm of their own which the seaside cannot replicate. The water seems more playful and the trees bend down in places to whisper new mischief to the river. Moving on, and away from thoughts of cool waters, I feel a sense of melancholy when I see abandoned residences with large cracks running down walls, peeling paint, overgrown gardens, broken windows and a general sense of neglect seeping in everywhere. Sometimes, an imposing column untouched by decay or a beautifully wrought grill on a window are the sole indications that they might’ve been grand dames in their heydays. Their walls would’ve been privy to many a secret, whispers of longing and sighs of loneliness.
However, the rainbow hued houses intrude and do not allow me to indulge in any melancholic ramblings. For a minute I get the feeling that I’ve wandered into a child’s painting . I’m confronted by a dazzling yellow abode with two colourful beach umbrellas set out in the tiny courtyard(I’m being quite magnanimous when I say tiny) in perfect symmetry. Out goes melancholy through the window and I start grinning from ear to ear. There’s more to come. The neighbouring house determined not to be left behind in the shock factor, has a couple of red pagodas tacked on with no rhyme or reason for their existence. The parade continues as we proceed t our destination. There’re dashing oranges vying with pleasing creams, virulent blues thumbing their noses at the pastel pinks and all shades of green trying to keep up with the lush greenery all around.
When I see houses with fantastical colour schemes, I wonder whether the people living there have a touch of delicious madness in their character or will they be ordinary people without an ounce of fun in them. Would their lives be full of drama and adventure or would it be a bland existence ? Would they feel happy and energised when they came out and saw the glorious colours ? These questions might never be answered but I’m sure of one thing. I just love to look at these brilliant splashes of colour sprinkled around among the spectacular greenery of Kerala. They add a touch of fun to an otherwise sane and sedate journey. I don’t think I’ll be brave enough to try out any of these colour combos but I’ll always remain an ardent fan of the rainbow houses of Kerala 🙂