14 August 2006

ALLEPPY BOAT RACE-2006

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Never travel with me, I jump into a moving train, some goof... wrong train, then I jump off the moving train. Reached Ernakulam, standing whole night, one sweet kind girl wearing red Shalwaar khamees, cleared her berth for me and asked me to sleep somewhere in the morning after Palakkat station...Couldn't sleep. I was afraid I would miss my station. Stupid train was 4 hours late and I nearly missed the boat race.



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Pouring in Ernakulam, reached my friend Sathyaraj's house, Benoi had already left for Alleppy, took a bus, reached Alleppy just in time. All the politicians were delivering long speeches killing my patience. No sleep, I was angry and tired. I wanted to kick those politicians in to the backwaters.


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Heavy crowd, I had to choose the right spot, almost 2 kilometer long race, couldn't be at the starting and the finishing point at the same time. Finally chose a least crowded place.

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Some one who had no right to open his mouth was singing. I couldn't see the politicians and the singers as I was standing very far. I could hear the blaring loud speakers all around.



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Lots of boats, all shapes and sizes, Don't know why they invite politicians, some guy was still screaming his lungs out in pouring rain.


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Different categories of boats, decorated, colourful, I was just worried how I would get back to Ernakulam and sleep.



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Things have gone commercial, most of the boats are sponsored by big business houses, all participants paid, good thing it is. Otherwise these poor chaps used to row thier life out just for a glass of local country liquor, Charayam


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Colours all over, terrific atmosphere, I had no strength to stand there for long, decided to shoot the atmosphere instead.



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I was at the mid point, so could not see which team won, as I was far away from the starting and finishing point about 2 kilometers apart.
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For the fear of losing my place I could not move, my legs were aching, It was pouring and I was sleepy, 45 kilometers away from the bed.



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The cops were all over trying to keep the crowd from jumping into the water. Some over enthusiastic chaps cheering up their team
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Many races, according to the size, different age groups, number of people in each boat, different categories. Some races had only 2 teams.



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Fights were breaking out every ten minutes, exchanging blows, most of them were drunk. Some were completely sloshed lying there in pouring rain.


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2 chaps drunk and fighting fell over me. I had no option but to jump into the water. I patted my own back, I am old tired and sleepy still my reflexes were good. Not bad not bad. Couple of sober guys helped my out of the water. It was slippery. I was slipping back into water.



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Late in the afternoon, it was getting dark, Sky was threatening to open up again. Every one was having fun.



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4 or 5 guys on the boat standing, Thie job is to pep up the team members, singing songs.


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Here you see them on the left, banging the wooden mast, giving the rhythm for uniform rowing. They just scream and scream.


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Every one in the boat and the crowd is so involved,
all screaming their lungs out.

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Please don't ask me how many people are on the boat, I wasn't counting. Couldn't post lots of pictures, there was a motor boat for umpires leading every race. And stupid politicians and their families and friends get into these motor boats. The real heros are the guys rowing their life out. winning or losing just did not matter to them they are out there just to have fun.

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I decided to leave, couple of more races to go. I was wet and hungry. Found a tea shop, had one pazhampori, fried banana, took one bite decided agaist it, it was cold and too oily, had 2 parpu vada instead, Most important, I had a place to sit after a long wait. My legs were aching.

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Who is this chap waving to the crowd ?
OUVVER Chief minister the guy next to me said, and he gave me the name which I forgot right there, no point trying to remember their names, the chief minister may not be in power next month, they come and go. The guy waving is the home minister, forgot his name too, chief minister is sitting with his back to the camera



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Got back to the bus stand, hard to find the right bus in such a crowd, one policeman went looking for my bus, found the bus leaving, stopped it came running to me, sir here is your bus, and got me a seat.
Wow ! I said thank you. He waved at me, I waved him back.

Blunt knife
Wild Pic

48 comments:

Lord Boo said...

Wonderful post, Poms ! i wondered if it's Onam ? then thought, Onam would be much more colourful and enthusiastic, so this must be just a boating event. Enlighten me, Poms *hugs*

Lord Boo said...

*slaps her forehead* Stupid, stupid me !! i'm so sorry, Poms, hadn't read your earlier post; i'm back online after a 3-day sabbatical from the net, so wasn't aware of you going away ! now i'm enlightened :D *hugs*

Rauf said...

Ummmma reee Boo ! Yupsee this is Alleppy boat race. On sept 9th is the Onam boat race in Aranmula, near Chengannur, very close to Punalur. There 's lot of enthusiasm here too Boo, I was so tired after a sleepless night that I couldn't move much to different areas, I was stuck to one point, and all the boats were crossing away from the bank I was standing on.
ummmas and hugs

Rauf said...

A Correction
Benoi Just called me to say that the man waving is the home minister and the Chief minister is sitting right behind him and he is not waving. Why is he not waving ? It seems he is not the waving type.

Ruth said...

So much speed, noise, chaos, water splashing, cheering, I can feel it all through your words and pictures. I love the photos with umbrellas. Thank you, I had not heard of this race before.

What is the prize? Did I miss it?

Rauf said...

Lot of fun Ruth, it was messy as it was raining all the time, lot of noise, fights, cheering. There were many races under different categories, each with different prize money. Some were offering cars, don't know how they would share the car, perhaps they would walk away with wheels nuts bolts differnt parts of engine. Usually some one is ready on the spot to buy the car for lesser money, these brokers take advantage. Lot of gold was offered too. There are huge jewelery show rooms in Kerala, perhaps largest in India.

Sangita said...

Such nice pics..I absolutely fell in love with the women's race concept ;-) I did go to flower show actually had already gone t the time u wrote comment..Still to post the pics..will do soon..Nice i was

Ruth said...

I'm always interested (anthropologically and sociologically, I guess) in the differences between men and women competetively. Not competing between men and women, but the concept of women in sports, in business, etc. I'm not surprised there are American women there, because women in competitions have really picked up in the last 30 years here. I mean this objectively, physiologically. What are the innate characteristics in men and women that drive the warrior on?

Sorry, I'm just really interested in this.

ari4u said...

Hi Rauf, so much energy, enthusiasm and power in your awesome pictures. Never witnessed a boat race, but your pictures made up for it. For a moment, i felt i was amidst the cheering crowds and pouring rain. Im glad you had fun, but pls take care of your health and get good rest.

I see you are into panoramic pictures now :) did you stitch pictures together or was it just a wide crop? :) They look awesome. Take care

ari4u said...

oh, and any news about Ginger?

Rauf said...

Thanks Sangita, don't know when they introduced womens race. I was very happy to see them competing and the crowd too responded very well, Eager to see the flower show pictures Sangita.

Rauf said...

No work on any picture Aamir, all of them are straight out of the card, as I posted the pictures immediately after I landed. I may have increased brightness in some as most of them were pretty dark, light was playing hide and seek and it was pouring. I am actually disappointed with pictures as most of the time the camera was in the bag, It was raining and there were too many clowns around most of them were drunk and they kept touching the lens.
Still no news of Ginger Aamir.

Rauf said...

Ruth, In India the wages are almost half for women. Manual labour in agriculture, construction, coffee or tea estates, Women are paid lot less than men. Teachers pay scale in Government schools and colleges is the same for both. In private schools women teachers get more. That is a relief. A friend of mine is a commercial pilot. She could not find a job in any commercial Airlines,(people would not trust a women pilot is the reason given) Now she is a co-pilot for a courier company aircraft. Garment export Industry in India pays pathetic wages to women and no benefits.

The prize money for women is less in Tennis and golf all over the world. Martina Navratilova took up the matter, She said we have the strength to play five set matches.
Still in all tournaments men play 5 sets women play 3 sets. In creative field like advertising women get more in India, women models get more than male models, Film Industry pays women lot less.
Software industry wants short term employees, they prefer women as they get married and leave. They don't want to get stuck with permanent employees. But managing posts are always given to men. Its the women labour which suffers most. They do the same work but paid less. There is no equality Ruth.

Ruth said...

I've heard also that women ride separate city buses than men. A friend of mine lived there a while and was surprised by this.

How's Puma?

Rauf said...

Yes Ruth, that is true in my city of Madras. There are ladies only buses during peak hours as it is very difficult for the ladies to board crowded buses. Normally more than half the seats of a city bus is reserved for ladies. In kerala first half of the town bus is reserved for ladies and they have front entrance. This is followed by the private operators too. I can't sit next to a lady I do not know, I'll be thrashed and hammered by the crowd if she protests. Things are a bit relaxed in Bombay and other northern cities.

In the suburban trains two compartments are reserved for ladies perhaps more. Long distance trains too have two compartments for ladies. Males boarding ladies compartments is a serious and punishable crime.

Puma is fine Ruth, running around, not sure of its future as sister wants to send it to Blue cross, can't put up a fight for him.

Sangita said...

Hey finally uploaded the Lalbagh pics..check out Flower Show album at http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/sangita_gupa/my_photos

J said...

Sounds (and looks) like a real adventure.

Rauf said...

Thanks Sangita ... saw them all lovely they are this year, beautiful arrangements, animal arrangements are first time for me.
Leaving for Bangalore early in the morning, but no flower show, lots of people to see.

Imemine said...

Great event and nice pictures. Happy Independence Day!

Rauf said...

Thank you Imemine

Rauf said...

Thank you Jamie & Jason, Every one was having fun, the rain did not dampen their spirits, there were fights cheering, eating drinking, every thing was happening.

Cherian said...

Great Pictures Rauf!!!! Even Many years I wanted to see this boat race, I decorated my cubicle with your pictures!!!

Take Care

Cherian, Reeni, Sam & Sera

Rauf said...

Hi Cherian Reenisha ! Long story, I'll write to you. Acchan came, i changed my plans, he got me a ticket by Trivandrum mail, train was late by 4 hours, made it to the race on time, lots of fun, I couldn't take many pictures as it was raining. Two fellows fighting fell on me, all three of us fell into the water, I had to jump. split second after the impact my hand with the camera involuntarily went over my head. Luckily I carried only LUMIX, left the other camera behind in Pallurthy, Sathyaraj's house. It was all fun, two chaps pulled me out of water.
Going to Bangalore by Brindavan in the morning, I'll see mom and dad tomorrow, Acchan said he'll pick me up from Asokan's house. Going Mysore too Reenisha I'll see your mom and dad too.
Lots of love to you unnimasha and Sera

wildpic said...

oh rauf ... u were in cbe ? me was in cochi that time, attending george's weddin reception. missed the boat !!

the boat race is real cool, i can feel the josh of the whole event, may be next year i shd catch it, with a shot of charayam.

the womens race truly looks international !! but hey what happened to all the white men ? i guess its a Phd paper by itself ! i also see the race becoming more corporatised and soon telivised and then the participants doping ...

anyway ... ginger back ?

Rauf said...

Yea Suresh, I was in a state of panic, my train was leaving at 8.55 and I was still in Palakkat cbe bus at 8.30, reached ukkadam 8.45, got a terrific auto driver demanded 30 took me to the station by 8.50 I paid him 40, rushed to the platform got the train, my friends suba and sudha were waiting for me with food.

We can catch Aranmula Onam boat race 9th sept. That is less technical and more religious.


no news of Ginger Suresh, me in Bangalore now.

FOUR DINNERS said...

Fantastic pics mate. Love to see that one day.

Ezee123 said...

I was out there too. Missed the whole race from the finishing end. Saw some little activity at the starting point. I put up a photo post on my LJ blog.
So you have seen it once. Will you go there again ?
That is what my post is about.

http://ezee123.livejournal.com/

If that page takes ages to load, it is picture heavy, try this individual post at

http://ezee123.livejournal.com/16732.html

I loved the weather this time. Absolutely horrendous for photography but it was so pleasant. I managed to squeeze some nice shots in.

Ezee123 said...

Addendum with html markup

http://ezee123.livejournal.com/16732.html

http://ezee123.livejournal.com

Gangadhar said...

Wonderful pics,Rauf..I never seen such boat race..but heard about it..I think i've seen them in movies..
Realistic pics with great narration,Rauf..
Thank you

wildpic said...

rauf, am tryin to print my pics onto large canvas, got some terrific results. need advice.

e2d said...

hi Rauf.Great to have you back.Spectacular pics as always.i have never seen a boat race live.Maybe someday.Could feel all the excitement from yr narration and the pics. Wish i were there as well.
And women's boat race--didnt know about such a thing.Seems pretty cool although i wont say i am mighty thrilled about it.I dont think traditionally there were any women's boat race.Not sure why tradition has to be modified and commercialized like this.Loses all charm.I think it's as uncool as watching kathakali performance on some Five star hotel grounds than in a temple.
The overcast sky looks absolutely beeeeeeeautiful :)

Rauf said...

Thank you FOUR DINNERS
There are two each year, perhaps more but two major ones, Alleppy and Aranmula. Alleppy boat race is just a competetion and it is technical. put all your might and win. The other one Aranmula boat race is more religious, conducted every year during ONAM season, ONAM is a harvest festival of Kerala. This year Aranmula boat race is on September 9th, after ONAM, more religious atmosphere there, hope to go for that too.

Rauf said...

I was expecting lot of other cultural activities ezee123, but due to heavy rain I found nothing.
What you say is right. I would advise my friends to watch it on TV. Like a cricket match, being there makes a lot of difference.
I am not interested in shooting from a car window, and I can't afford to hire a boat to myself, I am there in it, with all the mud slush, garbage, rain, the experience of being pushed into water, chaaya, road side food, I GET INVOLVED in the fun, I would go there again, a bit early perhaps watch all the practice sessions which it seems, is more exciting. I have learnt some lessons. Have to be very alert. For the want of space I did not post many pictures. I was more interested on the activities other than the boat race.
Yes I will go there again ezee123.

Rauf said...

EZEE123, Kerala has some serious problems, I shut myself from them. Attitude makes your tour a success. I don't speak or read Malayalam, though I can follow. When I ask for directions I expect the man to be utterly uncommunicative which is the case most of the time, Bus destination boards are written only in Malayalam, when some body helps, it makes a day, To my luck I have met lot of sweet people, This time a policeman came to my rescue stopped a bus for me and got me a seat. I have written about it in the post. I have had bad experiences too which I forget the very minute and don't carry it to the next day to ruin my trip.
I keep going to Rajasthan again and again with all its cows cow dung pigs all around, unhygenic atmosphere, over crowded buses, trains.
For me that is the charm of traveling.

Rauf said...

Thank you Gangadhar, there is one more coming on 9th september, going for that too. Sorry for the delay in my response, went to Bangalore and came back this morning

Rauf said...

Come for ONAM e2deees, pleeeese, we go Aranmula, 9th September, going there early, going to book the train tickets today. ONAM is on 5th, Asokan has a Malayalam calender. It has everything.

I say the same thing e2dees, commercialisation ruins the charm, Kathakali is a street and temple art. Watching it on TV or on stage is takes away the charm. I don't understand anything but I am there for the fun, Theyyam kathakali or boat race.

Rauf said...

Suresh, I'll write to you. I am thinking of vinyl printing for display, I'll check the rates here.

ufukhati said...

rauf,

Your pictures and words are wonderful.

Rauf said...

Thank you Ufukhati, I think you have similar atmosphere in Penang???

QuillDancer said...

What an adventure. I can't believe the size of the boats or how many people are in them. Amazing. Thanks for sharing! And thanks for visiting my blog and your kind words.

kathy said...

Wow! awesome pictures Rauf. We would love to visit India. In the future hopefully in our retirement years. Richard goes back to work at the end of this month.

hey! were you talking about the blue cartoon birdies template on my blog? or the blk & white photo of bird? sorry about the confusion.

Rauf said...

too many to count QUILLDANCER, highly charged atmosphere, very noisy, cheers, fights, every thing was happening and it was pouring in buckets.

Rauf said...

Blue cartoon birdie Kathy, it was so cute. Hope you visit India soon.
September to March is fine, after that it gets too hot and the heat is on the rise year by year.

kathy said...

Rauf hi :)

you are not the only person who doesn't like comments on top of post. I have heard others say the same thing as you. no problem at all. Okay...believe me! i won't mess with my blog again lol

(hugs) Have a great day! :)

Rauf said...

Owee Thanks Kathy, Your page is always a joy to visit. What ever mess you create in your page is very imaginative and pleasant to me.
Hugs

freebird said...

nice coverage buddy !

"the chief minister may not be in power next month, they come and go."

in kerala's case this is not true. As a general practise they rule for 5 years. Now its LDF's turn. After 5 years UDF will come. (Chances of this one getting kicked out by anyone in his party is rare.)

Kerala Elections are nothing but changing U to L

Rauf said...

Thank you Freebird.

Kerala governments have been unstable in the past.

Manuel Tendero Gil said...

hola he estado viendo sus fotografias son sensacionales un saludo