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From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 21, Dated May 29, 2010

KALPETTA
The Treehouse Fellowship

Mridula Koshy Delhi-based writer and author of a collection of short stories called If It Is Sweet

image
Wind in the willows Buena Vista huts in Kavummannam, Kalpetta

imageTHREE YEARS and a couple dozen short stories later, I allowed that I was a writer. But one impatient with how little I was producing. Writers with actual published books seemed, all of them, to have just returned from residencies in Italy. What a wonderful thing, I thought to be provided the space to write. In the concentrated time of a residency I would produce.

It was then I found residencies want nothing to do with writers who refuse to leave their m ultiple children at home. That’s fine, I muttered to myself. I’ll make my own residency — one that admits three children.

I wanted a residency in Kerala, the setting of the novel I had begun work on. I couldn’t stay with relatives. They, a most industrious group, whether extracting teeth or rubber, are the last people to understand staring off into space is a legitimate use of time. so I wrote to friends and even strangers — did they know a set-up in Kerala that would let a woman stare off into space while her children were kept from falling down wells. some months of whining elapsed and offers of service apartments in Kochi (no wells but huge tariffs) had to be rejected before a friend said of a friend that he was putting together a tree house.

A tree house.

The danger of wells having been surmounted, we journeyed to Buena Vista huts in Kavummannam, Kalpetta. at half the regular price — I agreed to help around the property in return for the discount — my hosts, anil and Manju, moved us into a tree and I spent a busy month there. I learnt to cook appam with Manju and when anil left for the Middle east I took over the job of welcoming honeymooning guests, “No, there are no snakes in these paths. Well, hardly ever. We do have wonderful coffee we grow here. shall I bring you a pot?”

TRIFLES
Kalpetta was the site of a prehistoric civilisation. Two caves outside Kalpetta have on their walls pictoral writings left
behind since the stone age

Nearest airport: Kozhikode, Kerala

Manju and anil’s three children played with mine and I spent long afternoons combing everyone’s hair for lice. yes, one of mine brought a Delhi variety with her. I met the baby goats in the area, and all of anil and Manju’s extended family that live up and down the hill, and also the monsoon when it came obliterating the paths that wove through the surrounding jungles. My youngest ate 15 bananas one afternoon, while I stared off into space. We slept at night, all in one bed, and I read aloud from akbar and Birbal and satchidanandan’s Stammer. We read till the solarpowered lights switched themselves off. afterward, we listened to the dark. We woke up one morning to a frog, brick-sized and as still, staring from across the room.

I wrote a letter to a friend while I was at Buena Vista. It was full of the drama of crossing from Karanataka into northern Kerala, of the elephant herd that faced us down on the road. I wrote nothing else that month.

The novel I finished two years later has its share of baby goats, and Manju’s twoyear- old runs through its pages, making the ‘soooo’ sound he imagines a plane makes, a game he has probably outgrown since.

From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 21, Dated May 29, 2010


The Morning After
NISHA SUSAN

1. PATNA
The Fleshy Tones Of Real India
Amitava Kumar The author, most recently, of Evidence of Suspicion. Lives in upstate New York

2. KODUNGALLOOR
Stone Chickens And Beach Resorts
Suresh Menon Bengaluru-based columnist, who often writes on cricket

3. DEHRADUN
Rafting Up The Valley Of God
Amrita Nandy-Joshi South Asian women’s rights activist. Moonlights as a freelance journalist and travel writer

4. ARAKU
How To Catch A Cloud
Deepanjana Pal Mumbai-based writer and author of The Painter: A Life of Ravi Varma

5. PUWA MECCA
The One-Fourth Holy Land
Aruni Kashyap Assamese writer currently based in Delhi

6. CHERRAPUNJI
The Torrential Luxury
Patrick Bryson Australian writer currently residing in Shillong, Meghalaya

7. THIRUVANANTHAPURAM
An Aimless Gawker’s Paradise
Arul Mani Columnist and teacher at a Bengaluru college

8. AMRITSAR
Turban-Watching In Filmi Punjab
Annie Zaidi Journalist and author of Known Turf: Bantering with Bandits and Other True Tales

9. JHUNJHUNU
The Motorcars Of the Gopis
Arundhati Ghosh Arts management professional based in Bengaluru

10. KUTCH
Land Of Thread And Mirrors
Benson Issac Teacher at St Joseph’s College, Bengaluru. Also Freelance researcher and trainer

11. SINDHUDURG
Goa, Be Kind. Rewind
Frederick Noronha Goa-based journalist and author

12.  DHOLAVIRA
The Sands Of Time
Ramu Ramanathan Mumbai-based playwrightdirector and editor of PT Notes, a monthly theatre newsletter produced by Prithvi Theatre

13.  BINSAR
The Refuge Of Small Mercies
Neel Chaudhuri Delhi-based playwright and theatre director and artistic director of The Tadpole Repertory

14.  GOKARNA
Harem Pants And Psychedelic Trance
Deepika Arwind Writer and journalist based in Bengaluru

15.  MEGHAMALAI
Holiday At The High Wavys
Bijoy Venugopal Bengaluru-based journalist and biographer for the rock band Thermal and a Quarter

16.  DHARWAD
Tuning In With The Folks
Mrinalini Harchandrai Writer based in Mumbai

17.  KALPETTA
The Treehouse Fellowship
Mridula Koshy Delhi-based writer and author of a collection of short stories called If It Is Sweet

18.  NATHUAKHAN
Romeo And Juliet In Freeze Mode
Amitabha Bagchi Professor at IIT Delhi and author of the novel Above Average

  Relax, It’s Just A Vacation
SANTOSH DESAI CEO, Future Brands, and author of Mother Pious Lady —Making Sense of Everyday India

  Candid Photographs


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