maanantai 4. kesäkuuta 2012

Memories from India

This is a text about a very memorable trip to India I made together with different Finnish artists from North Karelia in May 2012. Trip was organized by North Karelian Arts Council and Indian theatre group Lokadharmi. We made a theatre piece "Two Mothers in a Realm of Death" with local artists in a state of Kerala and in a city of Kochi. The script was freely based on the Finnish national epic Kalevala and the story of Lemminkäinen. The project was a fusion of Finnish and Indian theatre, dance and music. 

In this text I will tell you about the things I took into my heart from Kerala. Or it is about the things that was left from me there. Things that give me a reason to come back some day.


People are used to have a minute time table in Finland. Everything should go exactly like one has planned to go. I noticed in India, that I cannot know exactly or sometimes at all when something will happen. First it was stressful and made me confused, but after a while I got used to it. And after some more time, I started to enjoy it: just being in the moment.
Photo: Anna Venäläinen. Waves of Cherai Beach in Kerala.


When you have time to be, you have time to think. Once we were waiting a long time with a Finnish actor Eija Jalkanen our colleague Mari Kortelainen from the local shopping center, "Jayalakshmi Silk Center". She was in a queue to pay her clothes. In front of the Silk Center, we had time to think with Eija about the western marriage system and its problems. We talked about love and what is the real meaning of being engaged with someone.

Also the daily riksha travels to our training place might took some time in traffic jam. Those trips revealed to be good moments for philosophical thoughts. Once a Finnish actor Janne Hyytiäinen said the thoughs of Cervantes in riksha: "If you respect yourself, no one can hurt you after that."


Somebody asked from our project´s playwright and very experienced Indian traveller Pirkko Kurikka that what is the reasons for her to travel to India again and again.
"It is definitely people. People is the reason."
Photo: Anna Venäläinen. The moment of choosing clothes to our performance.

I never forgot our first trainings with local artists. We had our first meeting with Finnish-Indian-group in the Yoga studio of Charu Narayanan, who was also actress in the play.
We were divided into groups of three. Both groups improvised a scene of Lemminkäinen, his mother and his wife. Selvaraj VR was a local actor who spoke only Malayalam on that point, and our director professor  Chandra Dasan was translating while we planned the scene. We started the scene and I had no idea what will really happen. I remember that the heat was almost making me faint - we Finnish were not used for the climate. It was a first time in my life that I was acting together with Indian actor - and we didn´t have even common language!
I and Eija, who was in our trio, were totally confused and wondering what will come. But then Selva decided to start. He landed to his knees and started a strong humming. It echoed an impressive way in the studio. I had no idea how to react on that. But I knew that I had to be brave and dare to jump into unknown world.
Photo: Anna Venäläinen. From the rehearsal. Director Chandradasan is following the scene of Lemminkäinen (Selvaraj VR) and his wife (Mari Kortelainen).
Despite of all the cultural barriers we had during the process, there was something truely universal and common that we could share. We had different cultures for acting, dancing and music, but still something united us. From the very first rehearsal on, from the moment I had to jump to unknown, I got a strong believe that people from other side of the world can understand each others and can create something great together.

Our multicultural project "Two mothers in the Realm of Death" was made in a short and intensive period. I felt emptiness and melancholic after our well succeeded performance. With lot of sweatting I had climbed up a cultural barrier. I found something so precious from the other side of this wall that I couldn´t leave it just there.

"We will take this experience into our hearts when going back to Finland", said our Finnish director Tuire Hindikka in her speech after our performance. The Indian audience gave lot of aplodes for that thought.
Photo: Anna Venäläinen. Travelling with riksha with my colleagues Mari and Eija.


From half asleep in Kochi airport I realised that one of our Indian actor, Adithye K Narayanan, appeared there in our last morning in Kerala. He had travelled to say goodbye in the very early hours. I could not stop smiling. In the heat of India, among the drops of sweat in my face there was one drop of a tear. It is for India and for Kerala, and for all this experiences and great people that I faced.