“You know I like to spend time with you when I’m in the region, Rajesh, but must we really come to watch this fighting? I could have spent the evening at home with Priya, which I know she would have preferred.”

“Listen to me, Sanyam. This is not just fighting, this is Kalaripayattu. It is an essential part of our heritage. It is the oldest and most scientific martial art form in the world.”

“Look at it, man. Whatever fancy name you give it, it is still fighting. Look at them; they are using weapons. They could hurt each other. Badly.”

“What you are seeing, my friend, is a performance art. No-one gets hurt.”

“So why the weapons?”

“These men are highly skilled. They look as though they are attacking each other with weapons, but none ever strikes home. It is like a dance, but highly disciplined.”

“So what is the point of it?”

“What is the point of any art? When a painter makes a portrait, what is it for but to be looked at? When a musician plays his instrument, what is it for but to be listened to? This is the same. It is an art form to be appreciated, but is also an indispensable part of our cultural environment – like Kathakali.”

“Kathakali I understand. It tells a story. Even though I am not from this region, I can learn some of its history from the Kathakali and from other dramatic works. This fighting, even if it tells me that the practitioners are incredibly skilled and disciplined, gives me no real information.”

“I have another reason for coming, too.”

“What is that?”

“You see those two in the arena now?”

“What of them?”

“The guy on the left is my cousin Krishnan; the other is another cousin, Ramesh.”


“Don’t mock me, Sanyam. Do me one favour, will you?”

“What favour?”

“Hold my phone for me. No, hold it up in front of you so I can see the picture on it. That’s it. Keep It there.”

“Okay, but why?”

“Because when they are in exactly the same positions as in that picture, I want to take a photograph with my camera.”

“Again, why?”

“Because Krishnan likes that photo and has asked me for a copy. I need to make it exactly the same, otherwise it won’t be a true copy, will it? Nearly the same isn’t good enough.”

“Tell me, Rajan, how many photos do you have on that phone?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Probably hundreds, maybe even thousands. It isn’t a new phone, you know. I am not like you, I can’t afford a new phone every year.”

“Okay, but what happens if your phone has a problem and you lose your photos?”

“It’s okay. I would be able to get them back again. They are all backed up to the cloud.”

“How would you get them back?”

“Just copy them from my computer.”

“How? Is your computer in the cloud, too?”

“Not exactly, but something like. My computer synchronises with my cloud account.”

“Now, don’t take this personally, Rajan, but I think you’re missing something here.”


“If you have these photos on your computer, why can’t you just email them to your cousins.”

“I think it is you that are missing something, Sanyam. He doesn’t want a copy of what is on my computer, he wants a copy of the picture that is on my phone. Now hold it still, we’re almost there.”

I wrote this in response to Kreative Kue 174, issued on this site earlier this week. Feel free to join in; just follow the link.

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