This is one of my proudest post’s by far because I am not referring to myself, a friend, a couch surfer, or a traveler-I am referring to my grandfather. H.L. N.G. Gowda(1915-2005). I only met my Grandfather twice with one time being when I was 14 years old. It deeply hurts and saddens me to not have met this wonderful human being again. Focusing on the present moment, I focus on what I take away from my experience and what traits, beliefs, and passions I have inherited from him. He is truly a gift from God and I am thankful for him.
My family had mentioned he has created a folklore museum, but I had no idea of the depth of his passion and the amount of work that went into it. The museum has been open for 30 years and it consists of various sectors and areas dedicated to the folklore culture or Karnataka.
I could not believe the beauty in folklore costume, song, and dance. Puppet shows on silk screens, the villages and huts taking a snap shot of the past, the immaculate face painting with rice paddies, the agricultural equipment(sugar cane crushers, rice paddy makers, bowls, cradles, and the amazing creations from 200 years or so ago. My grandpa had a passion to preserve the beauty of these cultures and I felt so connected to his passion. He went around to villages all over Karnataka conducting interviews, audio recording, and taping video. 2500 hours of audio recording and 1000s of hours of video. Over 30 years he spent visiting these places staying for days sometimes months at a time. He would go and follow around the cultural festivals and collect folklore pieces from the villages. He was the one of the first people to care about folklore in Karnataka and spread awareness into the beauty behind the culture of these communities and how they express themselves.
When I entered the museum, I just loved what I saw. The restaurant composed of various huts with fresh fruits outside each cabana. The landscape with fresh flowers blossoming and ducks quacking around, the lake with paddle boating, and the variety of trees. On site, there is a temple, a new building for additional sculptures and paintings, a garden, an open air theater, an indoor cinema, and the restaurant. I was initially greeted by two men who are staff at the museum and both knew my grandfather very well. The one younger boy was the assistant to my grandfather who gave him his medication, ran errands, and was basically his right hand man. His English was not very good so learning about my Grandfather’s ways and regular habits was challenging.
The tour began going through the first and second part of the museum and towards the end a couple more staff had joined us as the word got around that “Tata’s granddaughter” was there. When we went into his shrine of books and pictures, I was so proud of what I saw and strongly identified with my Grandfather’s work.
Many people in my family think it is great what he did, but they do not truly value it because they do not seem to value these people. If asked to go to a village to talk with the locals, they would probably not understand the point in doing it. I understand it! I understand you’re heart and desire to help these REAL human beings express themselves through the beautiful outlet of folklore. All these years of going to museums, cultural festivals, parades, and having such a passion for talking and getting to know local people. I now know where it comes from and it feels incredible.
Throughout the day, I just felt such happiness and thought to myself, “I just want to make my Grandpa proud.” I want him to look down on me and feel a connection with my work and his own. The 32 books that he wrote and my constant desire to write make me feel connected to someone. I am connected to him and I told myself that I would write everyday for him. I never had a true hero in my family and now I finally found one- a sweet, kind, intelligent man. I like to call him the Jack Nicolson of India.
When in the paddle boat with his assistant(I forgot his name ahh!). He spoke about my Grandfather’s habits, foods he enjoyed, and his hobbies. He took me down my Tata’s favorite walking path where he used to wake up every morning and walk at 5:45 am. I sat in his favorite bench and went to his office and used his bathroom. We watched his documentary in Kannada and even though I could not understand I felt it. They would occasionally provide little words like, Tata, Aunt, boat, etc. to help explain. I appreciated them trying to communicate and translate little things for me.
Reading his books all in Kannada, I was frustrated because I wanted it all in English. I was so interested to see what he was writing about, his style of writing, his research, and his interviews. I still am waiting for an English book of my Tata’s who knows if I will ever get one.
The lunch at the restaurant was fabulous. It was a bunch of different veg sides served on the banana leaf with fresh watermelon juice and my Tata’s favorite sweet nut roll. After eating a couple pieces, I could tell we both had a sweet tooth that we were feeding.
Throughout the day, it was very emotional and I felt a lot of guilt for not being there sooner. I wanted nothing more than to be in his presence. There is so much I could have learned from him and shared my own ideas, beliefs, and goals with him-like a child is suppose to do. I know he would have listened to me and appreciated and supported my ideas. All I can do is write for him and work in my purpose to make him proud. I love you Tata and hope I will one day make you proud.