Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I am a museum

As someone who effortlessly brushes off hawkers and touts (for some reason) and who does not feature regularly on any of the '10 most sexy...' lists I can honestly and without modesty say that I am unaccustomed to objectification. However, this sultry bustling and panic laced lunch time on the streets of Thrissur, the cultural capital of Kerala, I can report that I was by all measures possible at the time more interesting than the State Archaeology Museum first thing today.

Having eased open the 12 foot wrought metal gates at what turned out to be the back of the museum and taken an unplanned turn around the Heritage garden to the side of the building I was actually enchanted to find a beautiful pond and carved stone fountain at its centre. I say actually because it is not a sensation I am used to feeling. But I was. The fountain was becalming, beautiful and clean, a trio rarely found in unison at these latitudes. Dark pink lotus flowers were spread evenly over the surface of the pond, interspersed with the shiny lushness of their leaves. The font at the centre of the round pond was carved to resemble a chunky spiral staircase, 10 foot high with only every 3rd step in place. Not another soul shared this with me although the city could be heard all around and the nagging smell of animal dung seemed to drift around sporadically. It was only when I looked over the wall at the west side of the garden to see what was producing the drumming and percussion I could hear that I saw a large bull elephant, in leg chains, at rest. Using a palm frond as a fly swat it was swaying forward and back between a half pace slowly expelling generous quantities of poorly digested plant matter. These rugby ball sized pellets reminded me of the glops of white hot glass that appear down the shoot in a bottle factory just prior to their flowing into the casts.

At the front of the museum, where the doors were 5 minutes late opening, I saw that I was to be joined in my wait by a party of schoolgirls whose teachers did little to control the surge towards me that their charges seemed to make.

'What is your good name?'
'Where is your native place?'
'How are you?'
'How are you?'

As their heads turned and their hair bows followed it was like watching a sort of collection of interconnected beings, whose individual movements passed a charge causing the next to also pass it on in turn. A small crowd of eyes, with teachers trying to remain dignified in the face of my incomprehensibly accented replies to their exemplar questions, flashed and blinked in the dark unblemished faces. Once inside the museum however the exhibits proved too much and I was relegated. Of less interest, and certainly less importance, than the wonders of the house of the Cochi Royal Family.

I particularly liked the 18th centuy marble buddhas who sat in lotus position and held their hands in the mudras for universal love and knowledge. No more than 6 inches high their typical serenity was given an unusual liquid quality by the medium.

No comments: