Oorali ‘Flood’ Express sets off from biennale venue to thank fisher folk

Kochi, Jan 14: The Kochi-Muziris Biennale became the starting point of a humanitarian endeavour when a bus carrying artistes of a conversational music band began its trip today to meet the fisher folk and thank them for their rescue efforts during the floods that drowned the state five months ago.

The ‘Oorali Flood Express’ carrying ten artistes was flagged off from Fort Kochi’s Aspinwall House, which is the main venue of the 108-day festival. The team of singers, instrumentalists and drummers left southward for their first stop: Alappad, which is a narrow strip of land sandwiched between the Arabian sea and a canal, in Kollam district.

The Oorali band, known for its folk-reggae songs with themes on society and politics, will sing at the hamlets that saw impressive number of volunteers setting out with their boats for rescue operations during the deluge in August last year. The artistes will interact with the fisher folk by staying with them for a while in each such ten places in the six-week tour.

The first leg to south Kerala will be over this month-end, after which the Oorali Express will take a ten-day break. The artistes will resume their trip on February 9 and visit places in central and north Kerala for a fortnight, the 2010-formed band’s head Martin John said.

“We will sing along the shores; it is our thanksgiving to the fisher folk on behalf of everyone in the state,” Martin told a media conference at the Biennale Pavilion ahead of the trip. “How can we forget the services of a people, who didn’t hesitate for a second to rescue people far and near in the deluge (during August last year)!”

The Oorali Express, down its way to the districts of Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram and Alappuzha, expects local people to join the team. “We want people from each shore to participate and perform with us,” said Martin, who hails from low-lying Manakkodi near Thrissur in central Kerala. The second leg of the journey will cover villages in the districts of Ernakulam, Thrissur and Malappuram.

The 1998-model bus, now painted in dark red, initially plied for public transportation in Thrissur, before Oorali bought it in 2011 and later redesigned it into a moving theatre.

Martin, accompanied by guitarist Saji V and drummer Sudheesh Oorali at the press meet, said casteism reared its ugly phase in Kerala even during the calamity when families of privileged communities refused to get into boats of the fishermen. “The men and their families merit thanksgiving,” he said, adding that interacting with them would be a show of basic courtesy to the saviours than giving them monetary gift.

The artistes rendered half-a-dozen songs at the press meet. Oorali will perform in March at the biennale premises.

The Oorali Express will camp at Alappad on January 15 and 16. Then they would move towards Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram, staying there on January 18 and 19. The next stop will be in nearby Valiyathura (January 21, 22). Then they would move northward and stay at Thangasseri in Kollam (January 24 and 25). In Alappuzha, they will stop at Mararikulam (January 28, 29).

VISITING THE BIENNALE

“The fourth edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale runs from 12 December, 2018 – 29 March, 2019.“
Venues are open every day from 10 AM – 6 PM.
Tickets are available for purchase for ₹100 at Aspinwall House.

Universal free entry every Monday.

GETTING TO FORT KOCHI

By Air: Fort Kochi is 45 km from Kochi International Airport, Nedumbassery.
By Train: Fort Kochi is 13 km from Ernakulam Junction (South) Station and 16 km from Ernakulam Town (North) Station.
By Boat: Fort Kochi is 20 mins from the Ernakulam Boat Jetty and 10 mins from both Willingdon Island and Vypin Boat Jetty.
By Bus: Fort Kochi is 15 km from the main bus station in Ernakulam.

Many of the locations of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale are walking distances from each other (most are around 10 minutes or so).

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