I have just spent two weeks meeting and interviewing the south Indian people of Kerala. It’s been a blast – exhilarating, educational and exhausting – and I recommend it to everyone.
Although I have travelled across southern India on many previous occasions, and even lived in the Western Ghat Mountains during my childhood, on this trip I joined forces with my long-standing film director friend Richard Crombie.
Our mission was to meet, interview, record and film as wide a range of people living and plying their trades in Cochin, the city I first sailed into fifty years ago, as possible.
Thanks to Nomadic Thoughts’ well-established local representatives, we set out on what has proved to be one heck of a ride. Straddling the Easter and Vishu holiday festivals, the whole area was in a meditative mood, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jains et al.
Armed with three stills cameras, two video cameras, an audio recorder, a gimble audio camera, three tripods, ten unread instruction manuals and the invaluable support of local Nomadic Thoughts’ friends Tomy Joseph and Rony John (backed by Sinna P J, Vipin Antony and Sri) we set off. Along the way we met cultural, Kathakali and Hindustani dancers, local spice traders, temple musicians, Ayurveda medics, priests, pilgrims, sports people of all ages, fishermen, masseurs, meat marketers and railway workers, as well as a yogi grand-master, ashram swami, village head, Kalari martial arts guru, home-stay owner, clam fisherman, dredger, ferryman, elephant mahout, backwaters boatman, tuk tuk wallah, dhobi wallah, chi wallah, prohibition-inspector and wildlife naturalist. Not to mention Kerala’s only female tabla drum master, toddy shop coconut brewers and Cochin’s oldest cycle-rickshaw wallah and local answer to Willy Wonker.
The good news: we have hours of interview recordings and film footage. The bad news: post production will take some time.
So to get you in the mood while we delve back into the crop, and edit, splice n’dice with the aid of those manuals, here are some photos of the characters we were privileged to meet.