Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Kalari Retrospective

I am measuring time in the passing of objects: the end of the tiny, poor-quality matches I bought in the rickety shop in Puerto Lopez, the end of the decadently sturdy matches in expensive packaging I picked up in a restaurant in Santa Monica, the re-discovery of the last of the herbal tea (al cedron) I took with me to the Isla de la Plata...

Exactly two years ago, I was in Trivandrum (sorry, Thiruvananthapuram), sweating away every morning at CVN Kalari. The object I have from there is a little card I was given at my neighbourhood temple.  I have no idea what it says, as it's all in Malayalam. I look at the curls of the script and the image of the Goddess whenever I happen to glance towards the mirror in which the card is tucked, and I remember.

While I was at the kalari, I met a French photographer who was recovering from a foot injury. He would come and watch our practice in the early mornings before his treatment in the clinic, and sometimes we would end up in the little hotel (café, to non-Indians) nearby, drinking countless servings of hot sweet chai out of tiny steel cups and generally perplexing our hosts with our French chatter and custom of hanging around the worn tables for hours, unlike our fellow local diners who would eat and clear out in record time.

I meant to post some of Laurent's photos on my blog, but what with the logistics of travelling and the passing of time, I never got round to it.  But I see on Facebook he is back in India, and I am hopeful the universe will send me back to Kerala this year (of course, I was also hopeful last year, but I remain optimistic).  So in honour of the month of February, my kalari-month, here are some photos, posted in fond memory of rivers of sweat, red earth, gods and goddesses, kind hosts and melting heat.

All photos by Laurent Lavergne.

looking behind

Rajan adjusting

the three foreign visitors: Marjory Dupres, Karen Watts and me

practising lions

horse and kick


into elephant by weapons and portrait


learning with Karen

fish in the earth and onlookers

waiting for a gap in the traffic

a little higher, a little more force


Durga is all that is still.

from Lucy, with love x

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