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The Arch Thing!


The Arch outside Govt. Law College, Kochi


In the beginning there was the thought and then the word and after word…
It was a time when history was a shapeless formless mass. It was a time when fact had not yet merged with fiction to create that colossal data of truthful biases. And at this critical time in the formation of history, there appeared in the sky an evanescent shape in the form of an arch. The rainbow was the covenant between God and Man, evanescent though it was, it gave the collective mind of man a sense of a permanent promise: The world will never be destroyed by the waters! The rainbow was the first symbolic arch to be ever put up.

About Ann Then

I have known Ann for a long time now- known her from the time she had snot on her jersey sleeves, egg and jam on her shirtfront and wore a faint `not had a bath smell' on her person. (I hope Ann, this makes you mad enough to make another trip to Kerala. This time to strangle me- good enough reason to come down!) The first time I had heard about Ann was when I was in the fourth or fifth standard. She was one year junior to me and that fine day, her classmates had accused her of cobbing all the pens in the classroom. I thought it the perfect excuse that anyone could employ to shirk class work and homework. But not these kids, they went hunting for their pens and in the end found it in a shoe. The nuns took her to task. And I found the whole episode funny enough to be drawn to her like a magnet. We have been thick ever since.

And then there was the time we wanted a real close view of a play that was being staged by the seniors on parent’s day. We both crawled under a table on the stage and watched the entire play reaal close. (I swear this was Ann’s idea- the seating was pretty cramped and uncomfortable and worse off than the pits!) The actors on stage were unaware of the two of us crouched under the table and the audience craned their necks and wondered what all this was about. Perhaps they wondered when we would leap out with our lines. The parents were quite distracted. Real Dramatic irony this!!!! Strangely, we were not punished by the nuns!

Literary famous Nuns

(By the way the nuns in our alma mater attained literary fame a while ago. They are mentioned in Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things-pg 16, para 2. The nuns taught the protagonist Rahel, the meaning of depravity.)

Ann and the Arch thing

Now Ann is beautiful and wears real perfume.
She and her sisters try to run Hotel Mermaid in Kochi from Brookyln, NY. She was here recently and discovered the walls of her hotel are a racy pink, in the design of her Manager Charles! That’s the IN colour for men’s shirts and he just about moved it onto the walls of the hotel! Having seen the place only by the cover of night I somehow missed Charles’ esoteric wall colours. And this and few other minor details have made her talk business with professional managers like ITC.

There was also business talk with some guys from UK.

The UK sahibs were wooed with much coconut water and boat cruises and they drooled over Kerala by the end of the day! One sahib was out to grab his share of the Indian culture to take back to the drawing rooms of London.

So one evening, over dinner, he put forward a perplexing question.

“Those cloth arches all over the place. Is it symbolic of anything Ann?

Ann was stumped.

She was clueless so she in turn asked her Jeeves. “Are the cloth arches on the roads symbolic of anything Charles?”

Without batting an eyelid, in his heavily accented English, he explained, “If we have a con(e)ference we put up an arch. If we have a political meeting we put up an arch. To welcome someone we put up an arch. Otherwise how will people know if there is a function in the city?”

The sahib nodded wisely. So did Ann, she seemed proud of her Charles for once.

And we could imagine the Sahib in his drawing room back home in London, twirling the story on his tongue. Sucking it and telling his friends about the ancient culture of India that so symbolically littered the roads!!!!

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