I spent a day at Sittilingi – literally 23 hours! Gayathri and me caught the bus from Vellore (yes, we went all the way to new busstand and got front seats on the TVmalai bus. And yes, it is a bit crowded if you try to get in at Bagayam, but in the mornings you can manage to get a seat!).
We spent some time at the TVmalai busstand, ate egg sandwiches, bought malli poo, Gayu explored the loos (which are apparently ok), made ourselves look silly by checking out every bus that came along while helpful conductors and drivers sniggered behind our backs, since they had given us adequate information (a govt bus that says Vazhaipadi on the front, comes after 10.20am, and after bus no313 to this particular stand etc etc). Anyway, we got in and got front seats! (I keep forgetting how much more comfortable the front of the bus is. And remember every time I’m forced to sit towards the back. Its no wonder bus drivers drive like maniacs. Maybe they should be at the back of their buses!)
We reached in time for lunch at THI with Ji, Murugan and the nurses (who hadnt seen me since I visited with Tripti, Tarun and Edi in 2001!)
Thulir was having their Kolam festival – so we joined in. Gayu and me helped out with the coloured bits, leaving the more artistic and mathematical work of dots and lines the kids, nurses and Anu (here’s a link to their blog). Last year, Anu had convinced them to stick to 2 colours per kolam. But fortunately, this year they ran riot with the colours. Gayu even got Anu to spruce up hers with a violent blue, purple and magenta, yellow, red, black and brown! Anu got a pongal theme going with pots crossed with sugarcane sticks!
Drawing the kolams is a really soothing activity. Women tend to take charge! You use your creativity to the full, thinking out the design, drawing the dots or ‘puli’s, joining them symmetrically, moving around the design. Being close to the mud and earth, feeling the kolam podi’s roughness between your fingers, getting the colours mixed in and feeling the texture change are all things you do and experience for yourself. And of course, you can get others involved too, delegate tasks, get ideas and suggestions. And watching the picture slowly emerge from the nothingness on the ground gives you a feeling of satisfaction and achievement. There’s no right or wrong (not much at any rate!) and much learning happens from each other.
This time, the kids tried out a new marbled effect, which was interesting – a splash of 3 colours sprinkled on together. Gave it a very modern feel. And I also learnt how to make paper boxes to hold the powders!
I went back home with ji & tha, and came back to Thulir the next morning. Our kolams had survived the night, and grizzly and the pups. But they looked a bit worn out and tired, having lost the freshness of the previous day. The bright colours which were so exciting and vibrant had a bit of a bloodied battlefield effect. Its amazing how time changes things. And people…
We all grow and learn. Life is much like the kolam making process. The ground is prepared first. The kolams are drawn and filled with colour. They tire, fade and pass on. And someone sweeps away the leftovers and cleans the floor with cowdung, a time of rest and preparation. And soon, we’re ready to being the exciting process all over again! Pongal-O-Pongal!!