Bootha Kola

A Bootha Kola is a sort of shamanistic ritual where you summon Bootha’s or Daivas- spirits neither malevolent or benevolent who reflect the relationship between the tangible and intangible world. Or the farmlands and the forests.

These pictures are from one where Kalurti was summoned. She’s mute and howls while she dances. I couldn’t take a video- it would have been blurry anyway- even though most people don’t care what you do at a Kola. People would text or greet relatives right when the Bootha was dancing away or proclaiming judgments in front of them. It’s not that they don’t care, they don’t think the spirits mind.

During intervals in the dance Kalurti would point to people and make hand gestures that indicated if she was happy with them or not. But while dancing her face was expressionless. She lept and howled, carrying a touch that she beat against her chest while she circled the people who’d gathered. My grandfather said in Tulu that she was just trying to throw away her legs and arms. The performer was who really interested me. Nobody spoke to him; he never said a word- before or after the performance. These pictures were my attempts to capture any emotions the silent shaman showed under all that makeup.

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Putting on the ornaments that are owned by the Bootha.
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I can’t place this expression.
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Before the performance.
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After the performance, with a fan aimed right at her face which was covered with sweat while she danced.
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He looks at the crowd but never seems interested in it.
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A smile for a friend but no words.

Death at the apartment

Apartments are like anthills with people always running around. You can never see everything but watch long enough and you’ll see the mad scramble has a pattern to it.

Yesterday must have been something like somebody kicking the anthill’s towers. At around 6’o clock I spotted a dead body in the front yard of the apartment next to mine. It’s usually a parking space so the sight took some time to register. I thought she’d jumped but turns out she was brought there. 

Soon cars drove up and parked outside the apartment compound. This throttled the flow of traffic so the rest of the evening was terrorised by endless angry drivers smashing their horns. 

Everyone sat in the parking space on red plastic chairs they brought it. The body remained in the yard uncovered unlike it’s witnesses. A priest with evident back problems was came along and started performing some rites. 

They moved the body a bit and washed it. It was some old woman. People on all nine floors of that apartment peered down at the process. They called in their friends, they jostled for window space and spoke on the phone while the rites were performed.

 There’s a shed next to the parking space on which dogs usually climb onto from the next compound. Today there were two of them who barked while they enjoyed the show. They had better seats than the relatives. The priest finally covered the lady’s face with a cloth. 

The indifference mixed with curiosity looked so surreal I took pictures to make sure it was actually happening. While I was doing this they loaded the body onto a vehicle and left- after all the relatives made their exit.

The watchmen later sprayed down the area with a garden hose. He was bored and didn’t do a very good job. There was a large puddle left behind were the ritual happened and nothing else.

Vacation time

The heat of day at variance with

The sleepy city where I wander.

I don’t know if this is boredom

Or just a peaceful clime.

Tried of high tides but

The streams are too shallow.

Old faces are comforting

But nothing stays the same,

Emotions falter like the shadows

Of leaves under the sun and breeze.

Relics

Between childhood relics, board games and jars of collectables I found a dead moth.
He died right next to a magic box and my collection of seeds and leaves. Those plants would never leave their jars. For the first time I felt like I’d lost something. The universe was talking to me in simple but effective metaphors.

Who am I?

I awoke and remembered nothing. Not even who I was. Next to me I saw an old man, grinning.

He laughed and asked what my last wish was. I moved away afraid of his cruel and menacing smile; his teeth yellow and sharp. He explained that my second wish was to forget everything I knew about myself.

Unsure of what to do but afraid of missing my chance I made my last wish. I asked to know everything about myself.

His smile growing deeper he said “Funny. That’s exactly what your first wish was.”

Death and I

Death knocked at my door and asked for my brother. I gave him my eyes so he’d go away.

He came to my door a year later so I gave him my voice.

Yesterday I heard myself at the door and heard my brother rush out to greet me.