One of the Biennale Venues.
Rahul welcomed me at Kochi. Kochi is a big city and I am no stranger to big cities. Having coming from Hyderabad, Kochi is a much tamer place. It is like engaging in a fistfight with Jonah Hill after having to deal with Jason Statham. The image I had of Rahul in my mind was of a young brooding character with lots of wonderful ideas running wild behind his eyes. I was wrong. What welcomed me was a young cheerful boy, who still has traces of teenage mixed with a strong positive attitude and talk in Kochi slang. Rahul’s blog posts had given a different idea about his character. He proved me wrong in the first hour of our meeting itself. An open-minded young man who is eager to express his ideas in the most fascinating way… someone who’s had his own share of experiences and yet humble and happy for being part of this world. I could get the heartbeat of Kochi through Rahul. Finally, after a long time, I was meeting someone who could tell me things that don’t put me to sleep. I was becoming that keen listener that I was long ago. We talked, talked and talked… while walking in and around Lulu Mall, supposedly, India’s largest mall. We looked for books together, checked out phones and cameras, walked around looking for toilets (only then I believed that Lulu is actually India’s largest mall), tried to eat in a food court where shops were only being set up.
An Artwork in Display at the Biennale
Rahul had offered to take me to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale; that is also India’s first. I have been reading about it and I have to confess that if not for Rahul, I would have missed it completely and it would have been an absolute loss. We took a ferry to Fort Kochi and then proceeded to buy tickets. On the way, Rahul pointed at a name board and asked me if the name was familiar. It was Hotel Seagull. The Malayalam film ‘Big B’ (an adaptation of the Hollywood flick ‘Four Brothers’) had immortalized the name of this hotel through a fight sequence. It was important for us because during the yearlong blog friendship between Rahul and me we have often found ourselves quoting the dialogues from this film (Kochi is the backdrop for the plot) to each other. We walked inside and ordered for some food and a bottle of beer for me to relax in the humidity that Kochi has to offer. With the foreigners speaking in French behind us and a group of artists (probably came for the Biennale) provoking each other a table away, we talked about us, our friends in the blogosphere and the types of blogs we read. We talked about almost everything that we both are interested in between the wide blue sky and the wide blue sea of Kochi.
Rahul posing in front of a painting
Biennale was a great thing to attend. Artworks complied by artists from all over the world and arranged in the most beautiful spots of Kochi. Narrow lanes with beautiful, colonial style houses and bungalows on both sides took us to the main venue, Aspinwall House. From there, we walked to Pepper House, an old building with wooden stairs and ancient brown tile flooring. Both buildings face the sea with ships passing. Now that I am talking about it, I miss it even more. I am currently reading a book published by the organizers of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. The book provides a great deal of knowledge about biennales conducted all over the world; Venice Biennale (est 1895), Sao Paulo Biennale (est 1951), Sydney Biennale (est 1973), Istanbul Biennale (est 1987), The Dark Art Biennial of Contemporary African Art (est. 1992) Berlin Biennale (est. 1998), Moscow Biennale (est. 2003) and now in our beautiful green island of Kochi in 2012. The contributing artists include Charles Clifford, Vivan Sundaram, Robert Montgomery, Dylan Martorell, Sosa Joseph, Amanullah Mojadidi, Zhang Enli, Ibrahim Qureishi etc.
Another Venue of the Biennale – The Pepper House.
The day ended with a busride back to Lulu where I had parked my motor cycle. After using the free hospitality of Lulu, and having a glass of orange juice as fuel for the long ride ahead, I said goodbye to Rahul and blended in with the heavy traffic of men and women heading back home after a heavy day’s work. Unlike most of them, what I left behind was a day of absolute friendship and many experiences… all by the lovingly forceful and ever adamant Rahul, who can never be defeated in an argument regarding the rights of a host.