Colourful and eye-catching the painting revealed two faces, one of a long haired bearded man and the other of a blue skinned female. There was a red snake present and a symbol that I recognised as a representation of Hinduism. “God is an artist, not an engineer” it boldly stated.
I could feel the warm breeze on my back as I stared at the painting; the artist sat alongside, his sandals upon the step with a small donation box (picture above). God could be an artist considering the marvel within the world relating to colour, shapes and interactions. It’s the ultimate display of artistic and creative genius. But then again, if we were to look deeper, beyond the limits of the eye, and study the atoms and their relationships, a very profound mathematical pattern emerges, known as the ‘golden ratio’ or ‘divine proportion’ (why don’t they teach us this at school?). Maybe therefore, he was an engineer. A piece of art provoking depth of thought, that’s exactly its purpose, right?
Turning away from the artist, I look across the beach towards the ocean. Towering high into the blue sky are long wooden poles, they are connected together with rope and large boulders hang amongst them. Men wearing sarongs and head scarves are working with what appears to be netting. I’m later to learn that these are Chinese fishing nets that were first erected between 1350 and 1450, indicating trade links with China.
I’m in Fort Kochi in the Kerala region of India; a hangout for imperialists and merchants of centuries past. The Portuguese built a Fort here in the 16th century, which was later taken over by the Dutch and then the British. The diverse architectural styles provide a delicate reminder of such a changing past.
Goats freely roam the streets, there’s a lingering scent of spice in the air and walls are decorated with art. Amongst the narrow streets you’ll find rustic tea houses, quirky eateries and shops selling antiques of a Hindu nature.
We sleep at a homestay, which is basically similar to a small guesthouse managed by a local family. The people are very welcoming and I experience my first Indian breakfast consisting of coconut sticky rice, a mild and sweet curry with nuts, banana and popadoms. During the evening, Coralie and I sample Indian cuisine from the traditional restaurants. Currently, the Dhal curry, which is mainly lentils, is proving to be my favourite, but who knows that could all change tonight.
The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is an exhibition of international contemporary art and is running during our time here. It’s interesting and the historic buildings of Fort Kochi are revamped with life through modern art displays.
They told me India would be different from anywhere I’d ever been, they told me it would be a quest like no other. I’m grateful for the journey has begun, but I’m still pondering whether God is an artist or an engineer? Who said he exists anyway?