Deep in southern Tamil Nadu is Tirunelveli, where I visit on every trip to India. It is where my husband Hari grew up and where his parents and grandparents still live. To me, there are two Tirunelvelis. One that exists inside my in-law’s home: a home that to me seems teeming with people: 4 adults who live there (and us when we visit) , household help, various assistants to my father-in-law who works from home and an assortment of relatives ( loosely speaking) who come and go. And then there is the town of Tirunelveli. Dusty, chaotic, crazy, narrow-laned and eminently sketchable.
Here are glimpses of both my Tirunelvelis.
At home with the family. Nishant plays chess with his grandma.
And with his grandpa. Hari watches.
Nishant and Kavya discover the game of pallanguli. Interesting that it is the same as mancala, which is played in Africa. Their great-grandma watches and is itching to join in. She did a little while after I made this sketch. It is fun to see how she and the kids enjoy long games together inspite of their not understanding a word of what the other says.
To draw the street scenes of Tirunelveli I don’t go far: all I do is sit on the stoop in front of the house. Both these sketches are made from there. And, they’re made on a Sunday, the quietest day of the week, when the shops are shuttered and the foot and motorbike traffic is relatively low.
I enjoyed sketching this gopuram at the Tirunelveli temple. It took sneaking in one afternoon when the temple was officially shut to find it quiet enough to settle down to a sketch.
And finally, two sketches from a trip to the river. No trip to Tirunelveli is complete without a swim in a river. A man washes his clothes in the river before he jumps in for a bath.
The locals wash clothes, bathe and enjoy the river. After the dry, dusty landscape of Tirunelveli, the lush green vegetation around rivers and ponds is refreshing.Next up: A week on my own in Bombay. And, all my sketches from my trip, in this flickr set.