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God's Own Convention - Day 1

Statutory warning - Long post ahead.
This post and the ones that follow are about the SPICMACAY Annual National Convention 2009 at Trivandrum and my experiences there as a delegate. No this is not the formal report. I'm basically taking off where Suhas had left last year although I must admit - no one, yes, NO ONE can come even light years close to doing (and seeing) the things he did (and saw) at Kohima last year and still come back unscathed. If you still are a disbeliever in the inscrutability of the human race and the sheer awesome-ness in the disparity in Nature's creation, we proudly give to you the travails of Suhas in Nagaland as penned by the Man himself.

The journey
On the night of 22nd June, The Suhas, L(owe)kshmisha aka Tiger Baby, Yahoo! MadSense (minus Google BAdSense, for now), Sri Sri Praveen, Ashaji, Mahima Akka, Shiney, Harshal, Shaz and I set off from Bangalore. Tennis Ajji and Aane had left from Mysore. Poonam and Pratheeksha were to join us in Mangalore. So that was our gang. Notable absentees included all 2nd (or should I say 3rd) years and of course, DotCom.

The train journey from Mangalore to Trivandrum is extremely scenic. The wannabe wanderlust-cum-photographer-cum-birdwatcher that I am, this journey gave me all that and more with its scenic backwaters and idyllic beaches. As dusk dawned upon us, what followed was a fun session of cards, food and din until we were deemed 'a public nuisance'. With Bill Bryson's 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' in hand I went to 'bed'. Of course, some of the 'public nuisance' still continued unabated elsewhere- it saw the transformation of the docile-looking, CET-smashing loco into Thames; needless to say both the christening and subsequent usage of the name were promptly met with Raspberry Award-winning expressions.

Day 1
- God's Own Capital, God's Own Kovalam and God-like performances

We arrived at Tiruvananthapuram Railway Station in the wee hours of the morning. A slight drizzle and puddles welcomed us to God's Own Capital. We guys were put up in KV Pattom, 2nd Shift(?!) and the girls in another school which, sadly for them, was in an Army Cantonment. The facilites were, well, just Spartan (atleast we had bathrooms!). I set out after my bath to get some breakfast but was soon off with God's Own Suhas and Aane on a walk to get a feel of the place. Key discoveries - the ingenious Zoozoo bus stand, Milma milk and its curious logo, Vydhyuthi Bhavan, SUT Medical College, 7-rupee bananas and 30-rupee dosas...

After the random amblings, we set out, map and camera in hand, to the famed sands of Kovalam, where the beaches are dotted with tea stalls (like Lekshmi Tea Stall), spas, ayurvedic centres and star hotels (like the Leela, which we were categorically denied entry into by the security). The sun-kissed waters and the blackish sands (which tiger baby claims is due to thorium!) apart, we were also 'treated' to some exotic prakruti which Shaz and Aane gleefully captured on camera.

Lunch at Buddha's Delight courtesy Suhas was delightfully sumptuous. We returned to KV Pattom and had a nice nap before the magical convention kicked off...
The 24th Annual SPICMACAY National Convention kicked off with the traditional Panchavadyam (meaning 5 musical instruments) amidst the presence of Dr.Kiran Seth, Swami Viviktananda and M A Baby. What followed at the AKG Convention Centre, Palayam for the next 4 days was, succintly put, AWESOME!

Santoor by Pt.Shivkumar Sharma
Easily the best exponent of the santoor, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma brought the instrument to Indian Classical music. Needless to say, he enthralled all of us with a performance that was a sign of things to follow and the kind of masters that were to perform. This concert was one of the best I've ever seen. This was followed by another thoroughly professional performance...

Kathakali by Ramankutty Nair and troupe
The Padma Bhushan awardee, Kathakali maestro Ramankkutty Nair, though in his 80s, performed with a masterly ease of movement and expression. The episode involving Lord Krishna, the poor Brahmin (whose performance was excellent) and Arjuna failing to act true to his word was enacted with utmost perfection and class.

End of Day One. Truly spell-binding performances.


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