Sunday, January 15, 2006

From the Cave: Gardens North of Kovallam

I will not say where I strayed. Somewhere north of Kovallam, a small temple port, above the rocky shore, the gardens, quiet in slumber, or in silence. With the birds, and the gardeners. A light talcum, for the supposed bed bugs, sloth-like loathsome creatures, upon marbled floors. The best carerra weathered well the humid south. Space enough, for a small kitchenette, on a rental of three dollars a day. How many months or years could one sit, among the banana trees, the vanilla, the rosewood, and the cedar, the mahogany, the sandalwood, the drift wood. I will not say where I strayed. A truck stop, with the best vegetarian meals on earth. And a bootlegger. One could actually live like Louis Quinze, but would prefer brigandry. Deali-cinq. C’est Daftan! Break out the fondu! Not far from the Taj Palace Hotel. Where all Sunday services come with menu and open bar.

A Hindu Temple Town, with a few good arrack shacks, the cajew variety. Paths and walkways through the fields, streams, and paddies in the ravines. Few flies in dry season, fresh water and strong tides. I said it. It has modest services, in general, but unparalleled grace, a wonderful silk carpet ride, on a pony or two. The street-wise type. Not like the ones of Old Cairo, not like ruins of themselves, like the poor, slum like villages of the Upper Afghani hillsides. That look like earthquakes. To think few still know how to make the old woolen kilims. Tribal cultures that forget their tribal skills. But learn war to be a normal event of daily life, for forty years. As in the days of the Medici. The last of the Medici.

The days of the catapults. Acrobats and entertainment. Court Jesters? Are these Armenians? Remember Kerala, Lord. Give them the ticket-taker positions on the Moon, at earliest convenience. Their place reminded me of pictures of some of Louisiana, water monitors, cranes, and swamp hawks, mangrove swamps, and coconut plantations. I remember when a certain Lyle, of Nelson Street, taking to cooking vast quantities of lean round, and Art himself, could not be spared more, than stale donuts, and poly fibre sheets. The grave Napoleonic. But more the depth of discovery in the layers, of such excavations, 1500 years and nearly forty metres. The roots of civilizations past, the lost libraries of Alexandria, the shreds of history left to most, are best left so undisturbed.

Quibbling over how long it takes to cook an egg. These are the people you want in charge? Planners and managers who always seem to run out of paper in the toilets at the end of the fiscal quarter? Where’s the fiscal quarter? Who has been setting the depreciation values? Can even one man among us make more Maritimer of them, yet? You already forget the days of Greek fisherman’s caps? Mutton chops and sidebars? Do you not yet remember the days of sail? When you yet sewed your own sail?

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