Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Some memories

Vacations at grandma’s place was fun. Mom had five siblings. We were 14 cousins in all with the oldest being about 23 years older than the youngest. That means you have all age groups. The mid eighties is what I remember most. Kerala then was known for power cuts and monsoons came sooner. My vacations started in April and by end of first week, we were in Kerala till mid June as school reopened in July. Sometimes, dad too managed leave or it was just us traveling with other families.

In April, it was hot and humid. But we cared less. We had all sorts of weird games like jumping over fallen banana trees ( high jump) setting it higher each time, Bus games where we just ran behind the fast bus( my cousin clothed in a shorts with two sticks as wipers), playing Tarzan, sliding down the curved sloping wide bannister by the steps, feeding the cows(my short clad cousin would just squeeze milk from the udders directly to mouth), trying the taste of latest cattle feed, having chemmeen puli eating competition and so on. The elders were busy talking, playing cards, playing music on the latest 2-in-1 bought by Gulf uncle. And if Gulf uncle came that year, there was this multitude waiting for their share of goodies which included perfumes, cigarettes, alcohol, and garish lungies, gulf sarees, soaps, talcum powders et al. Grandma will ask the numerous women servant to grind, sieve, powder rice and coconut to make different eatables. Other favourites included banana chips, jaggery coated banana chips, achappam and Jackfruit Jam ( Chakka varatiyathu).

But with sun down, the atmosphere changed a bit. The men might go out or a drink and I was afraid of Gulf uncle who will hold me high up in air(he was 6’3”), once he was on a high. The younger males and my aunts would start singing the Malayalam hits. While some of my elder cousins sang well, others knew the lyrics and so we spent the powerless moon lit nights on terrace. We kids tired after the day’s toil listened to nice songs lying on someone’s laps or on a straw mat. Suddenly some one might draw attention to the glow worm and we would get up to see or pluck the tenderest of mangoes from the overhanging branches of the nearby tree.

By 8.30 pm, grandma will call everyone downstairs. By then, my eldest aunt’s husband, a teacher to astrologer would be there. He will tell all those ghost stories which everyone knew was whims of fancy. Around 9.30 p.m, we will have dinner and youngest of cousins will go off to sleep. Around 10.30 p.m almost everyone is tired of ya-yapping throughout the day. My lazy elder cousin would be picking at her hair for lice, (wonder whether she found any in her life). Her mom will be asking her to take a bath which she wouldn’t be taking till its about midnight.

Suddenly, there will be a thud on the window and a sound like ouuuyiii. Lazy cousin jumps out of her chair.
“Indrakuttyamme”, calls out the voice
“ Ow, Chakunni, why do you scare us so?”

Chakunni is the local grocer who closes the shop at 10 pm and home delivers things he had taken order for in the morning.

“ Da, ithum pidicho( here, hold this too)”, he says thrusting a paper into my aunt’s hand. And rushes off.
“Appo paisa”( what about your money), aunt calls out to the diappearing figure with a torchlight.
“Pinne” ( Later).
But that later is only till next morning.

It’s the bill. It’s something like this
Ma- 4

None but my aunt could understand that bill. The miser he is, he saves ink of pen and paper too by making it so brief. And is always uses the backside of notices and handbills to write on.

Sa is savala or Onions, Mupo is mulakkupodi or chilly powder, cha- is chai or tea, pa is panjasara or sugar, so is soap, u is uppu or salt, ma is mathangna or pumpkin.

I have never seen that guy walk, always on a run like the industrious ant On the local palli perunal ( feast at church), he will wear a shirt and on Christmas and Easter and weddings. In any other season, he had only the lungi on and torch as accessory. He worked on the day he died too. Died in sleep.

Maybe we can learn a lesson or two from him. HE NEVER WASTED ANYTHING OR A MOMENT. His effort led to his children being like him. They worked their way up. Only one remained in village to look after his dad’s shop, but has another business interest too- timber trade.


  1. I have a couple of my relatives living in Idukki. They are just like the grocer you mentioned. always on the run.... Oblivious to the things around them...very industrious.

    and your childhood story brought a nostalgic feeling.

  2. I think we all have one or two weirdos from childhood in the folds of our memory.

    By the way... "like the industrious ant On the local palli perunal..." lovely metaphor!

  3. It's so much fun eh? Where the whole jing-bang can yap, sing, play and fool around with no cares in this world. Our kids are somehow missing out on all the fun we used to have as kids. Now it's just tv, ipod, computer, internet...and all those gizmos that keep them (and us!) tied indoors. As for Chakunni, he sure sounds like an interesting chap!!

  4. wowo .. now that was great bringing back so many memories .. my mum were 7 siblings so you can imagine how many cousins we had .. and in those days other than my parents doing the sensible thing 3 kids .. each had plenty :) so when ever we got together it was CHAOS... Hmmm I too have so many fond memories of holidays .. Will put them to pen some day

    Loved the article :)

  5. The name of yur Blog is interesting.
    So is the picture of the luxurious Jack tree.
    The post reminds me of the by gone days while I used to be in Ambalapuzha at my father's sister's house during summer vaccation- and her family ,the retinue of children. Pretty long clan it was.
    Quite a bit of nostalgia and very similar as in your post.
    How fast time flies!!!

  6. what a vivid description.You brought the scenes as it were.It looks as though I was there enjoying the fun.Brilliant post

  7. Thats a nice post kk, Nice detailed description, I especially liked the part when the elctricity went off...beautiful memories arent they :)
    Loved it , thanks for shring!

  8. Insignia
    The industrious lot always showcase many interesting aspects.It's fun watching them

    Neena Sharma
    Weirdos from childhood memories, ye.. we all have them

    How I miss that fun and Chakunni:)

    So You would have had more fu, bigger the clan. Do write anout some memories that linger.

    Anil Kurup
    Welcome here. Glad to bring some memories for you too.

    Thank You for the nice comment and glad to have on the enjoy club

    A New Beginning
    It was fun. I miss it.:(

  9. My mom has 7 siblings. So does my father. The holidays were spent in Kolkata, where both the families had large 2 storey homes. The mornings and evenings were spent playing football in the terrace with numerous cousins.I was invariably the goalie as I hated to run.
    There was a chaat wallah who would come every evening to our house and make these delicious phuchkas or gol-gappa/paani puris there. Every day one uncle or aunt would sponsor this event. This was followed ice creams. Nothing fancy, just some local made orange or pineapple bars.
    My kids are growing up in a concrete jungle,playing farmville on fb and eating burgers. What a life.

  10. What a delightful post! It was a pleasure reading it. :)I miss the summer vacations we used to spend at mom's or dad's place. We had no cares in the world. Think!

  11. my dad is the only child and mom has 2 siblings..we are a small group of cousins and I am the weirdest of usually I preferred to stay alone like a geek with a book in my hand!

  12. WOW! Reminds me of my holidays in Kerala. The only difference is , we were always there in July/August, the rainy season.We always missed March/April ,the Mango and Jackfruit season. :)
    I can visualize the shirtless Chakunni. :)
    The voltage was so low back then, that after 8 pm, the "minamininge"(fire flies) flying around had more light than the bulbs!! We used to play cards under the light of "Raandal" (Lantern).
    Thanks for taking us back in time...

  13. Such a beautiful nostalgic post. Brought back so many memories. I so miss those summer vaccations.
    By the way, what all things did you get by gulf uncle? :D

  14. I have seven chacha,three buas,seven mausis and two you can imagine.Your post brought back good old memories.Now we cousins are scattered all over the world connected through Facebook and our kids have tv/computer as their friend ,that too if they have any time left after all that heavy home-works and other activities classes.
    I do try to visit our ancestral village from time to time to keep the family connected .
    Nice post...loved it,specially the list part...hee !

  15. I loved the new template..looks nice !

  16. Wonderful memory post...Many of your narrations brought back my memory about my childhood days..
    Also the new appearance of the blog is very lovely..

  17. Aparna
    Concrete jungle, less cousins and more pressure on kids to behave, achieve and excel. Poor things, they forgot to be children any more.

    Destiny's child
    Yeah. We all miss those summer vacations.

    Must say, you missed a bit there being too much into books. You learn so much in play, observation etc.

    That's spirit. Play whatever be the odds:)

    Gulf frocks, chocolates and a doll:)

    That's it. Now we are so scattered. The other day when I was referring to my cousin and telling the boys that Giri uncle is coming in July, the younger one wanted to know who this Giri is? He saw him last when he was three, can't blame the kid.
    The template, I was just trying what blogger had to offer.

    We all love those memories of childhood. And happy, you liked the template.

  18. Thanks for giving me an idea for my post. There are so many brilliantly amazing memories of that time. Similar Five siblings with 13 cousins...a complete team for anything and everything...amazing write!! Loved it :)

  19. Pratik Gupta
    See, thats how they train you for teamwork.:)

  20. I like Chakunni and his way of writing the bill :D
    I feel so happy after reading this post :) thank you!

    and I like your blog's new look.

  21. Shruthi
    Am happy too to put smile on your face.:)

  22. So so nostalgic man... Wonder if i will get those days back!!

  23. Jon
    Reliving memories is the best way to enjoy it. Ever gone to a place where once you were happy? It'll never be the same.Time once past is past forever.