Sunday, June 22, 2008

F.O.E halts at Araku

It's drizzling in Araku - seeing it come down across the hills - is what hundreds of tourists are paying good money for. But for the Freedom of Expression team, it's time to get into a hurry and quickly discuss a PLAN B.

PLAN A was to drive down the hilly Ghat roads to a tiny railway station called Tyada, get everyone into the train - the famous Kirandole passenger, which starts from Visakhapatnam and goes right up to Jagdalpur village in Chhattisgarh - and leave the team free to take pictures of the train looping picturesque hills or even capture 'a must experience' hustled inside the train compartment.

There are several who'll heave a sigh of logistical relief if we are rained out. Afterall, what are the odds of getting 24 people (13 participants, 7 trainers, 4 filmmakers) into a general compartment of a train that stops for 30 seconds, picks up about 1,000 passengers - vendors, bags, baskets, jackfruits and hens - and then ensuring they get enough goodwill, smiles and elbow space to get on with their photographs?

Will the raingods and the kind people of Araku smile for us? We are putting our prayers into a wooden prayer scaffold. We were introduced to one on our way to the village of Gondivalsa. It's what the members of the Gond tribe believe to get rid of bad luck.

If the rain holds, we'll carry it into Nagaland, our next F.O.E destination, where we hear, it's raining as if the dams have burst.

Until then stay tuned.

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