India 4: blog – producer – writes

February 2, 2010

Seb Grant: Apologies once more, I’m afraid the blogging baton is once again in the clumsy grasp of the Producer.

Monday 1 February
By way of excusing the worsening syntax, can I introduce my new obsession: ‘keyword English’? Perhaps it’s obvious, but ‘keyword English’ is the employment of a very simple sentence structure when trying to communicate with principally non-English speakers.

So for example one might say, ‘Tonight evening. Where Go?’ or “Leave. Tomorrow. Six. Yes?’

Obviously our wonderful Punjabi fixer Tania is much more accomplished in this art than I am, but it really does help in conversing with native Tamil speakers. Special mention to our patient, fantastic and, er, very fast driver Chundru who has been incredibly good-natured with my attempts to communicate — especially when, at times, I sound more like Yoda.


Mahabalipuram story. I tell. (Enough ‘keyword English’ – Ed.)

Six o’clock this morning saw the five of us (John, Ian, Tania, Chundru and myself) paddling in the Indian ocean while the camera rolled for a time-lapse of the rising sun. Sadly the mist prevailed and we were only partly successful — but it felt good to be up and John recorded a smart piece to camera introducing Mahabalipuram, a small town of some 12,000 people, made famous for its remarkable granite-carved bas-reliefs, caves and sculptures.

I won’t share too much about the sites themselves because (a) I’m writing this on the short flight to Mumbai and all my notes are in the hold; and (b) I’m hoping that you’ll see the fruits of our labours when the films are broadcast on Sky Arts later in the year –but briefly, while it’s believed that the sculpting was done in the 7th-8th centuries by the Pallava peoples, there is considerable mystery about the sculptures themselves. What was their purpose? Were they all to stay in Mahabalipuram?  And crucially, what else is there of the sculptures? The devastating tsunami in 2004 actually revealed further works.

Our interviewee for the day was the fabulously named, Mrs Kulashaker — warm, witty and knowledgeable, she was everything we could have wished for in a contributor.

Sorry — blog curtailed. ‘Could all electronic equipment be turned off, as we prepare for landing, please?’

Goodbye Southern India. We’ll miss you.


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