Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How do you feel when….

1. At a club party, one of your friends asks you, “Why are your eyes in such a hollow?” And before you can recover, the other one helps out, “Oh! It runs in their family. All of them have sunken eyes!”
Harishchandras as friends is dicey

2. Two weeks after Grandma dies, someone asks you” Amoomayude aavashyam kazhino?” which translates to “Is Grandma’s need over?”
Aavashyam in local language means rites

3. The child is calling you “Dusthi” for not allowing to watch TV and your sister corrects the child, “You should not say that. It is Dustha, not Dushti for woman”
Your sister is studying to be a teacher

4. When you open the door to the newspaper agent expecting to get the bill and all he says is” Cheyathu Upakaramkalluke nanni”( Thanks for all help) and disappears
You helped him get a gas connection a month ago.

5. You had pain and think you have a kidney stone and consult the urologist who tells you that you are dreaming things
A week later, he confirms the analysis of a stone

6. Guests just asks the kids, “How are you at studies”. The smart elder one immediately says,” He(pointing to younger brother) is a outstanding student, stands outside all the while”. Not to be outdone, younger one adds,”He gets zero out of zero”
You get consoling glances from guests.

7. At the zoo, you see a bleeding man( hand almost torn apart) being rushed to hospital. When you make enquiries, you are told – “Sardarji Bhaloo se haath milane gaye the” (Sardar went to shake hands with the bear)

Monday, July 19, 2010

In search of roots

Grandma died. After 16 days, the official mourning period, they brought in an astrologer. A learned man, he was said to be very correct in his readings of what the stars had to foretell. About the time of grandma’s death, he said it was auspicious. So everyone was relieved that she was directly passage to the heavens with no hanging around Earth’s atmosphere. Then he said ominously, “But I see displeased Gods.”

“But it can’t be”, said the aunt who spent hundreds on different offerings every month

“I see it clear. You have not prayed well to your family deity for long”

“But we offer prayers to the deity in our hometown.”

“That is not your family deity. It is a Goddess – a form of Kali”, went on the astrologer

Questioning glances went around. None knew of a Goddess. Finally a distant uncle said that he offered prayer to a local goddess near his house.

“Not that. This is somewhere south near the sea. A famous Shiv temple is close by”

This was not particularly helpful with Kerala’s long coastline and innumerable backwaters. And the fact that most temples dedicated to a Goddess had a Shiv temple close by, wasn’t making things simpler.

“What were your forefathers?”, was the next query from the astrologer.

“Farmers. One grand uncle was a doctor(GP). Few teachers….”

“Can’t be. This goddess has been revered by warriors. You must be from warrior clan”

Whispers went around. “Psst..Maybe true. Have you noticed that the east house has those huge aunts and uncles with bushy eyebrows. Pssst…..Iam afraid of them”. “Yesss…me too”, added another low tone.

The eldest aunt who had been keeping quiet all the while finally spoke, “I remember my granny telling me something about… the family had come from somewhere else…that her grandma had fled their place fearing wrath of king…they came by boats during night…they had their valuables in little bundles…then they were given asylum by local families in new place”

Another round of whispers. “Wrath of king…my, my. What would they have done?”

“Try to find the place and offer prayers to please the Goddess”, advised the astrologer before he wrapped up the session.

“Give us some more clues. How far south?”, pleaded everyone.
“Farther south than Cochin”
“That south?...Oh No! Now we can’t make fun of Southern dialect and accent”, moaned a cousin and immediately got all kinds of glances.

Then ensued a long round of discussions. The problem at hand threw up all kinds of conditions. There was set of eager people who were intrigued and wanted to delve further into the mystery. Another set were looking up train charts to book tickets back to workplace. They cared least about the mystery. Yet another set wanted to have a second opinion and not believe the astrologer. A couple who were yet childless wanted to find the place fast and offer prayers to the goddess and kids were planning how to have a picnic to the place once they found it out.

Finally the challenge was taken up by my uncle and elder cousin. Uncle was in Kerala Police and so he did the first round of investigations.

While on a duty to Cochin once, he spotted a bus by the family name. He made enquires at the RTO and found it to be registered to a Christian family in Ernakulam town. He went to their place and told them the story. They said that they too have heard that they came from south and were converted about 300 years ago. So that drew a blank.

Time passed. About a year after, uncle came to know of a place in Alappuzha district (Alleppey) which resembled the family name. But it was on an island and you had to get ferried across and the vehicles can get across only twice a day. So, uncle and cousin got on a boat to the island. They got talking to people and asked about their destination. Many knew the place.

“Yes. I live near it. I pray at the temple everyday. There is a school also by the same name.”

“Any branches of family by the name living there?”

“None I know of”.

“Why is the school, temple and place itself named so?”

“Don’t know. Maybe you can contact the most knowledgeable person in the area – a writer. But…”He hesitated

“What but…”

“He is a muslim”
“Oh. That’s all. No problem.”

And they got down on the island and took auto to the place. And indeed amidst milky white sands stood a little temple. They went inside and invited questioning glances. They told the story and the priest, a young chap listened but he was new to the area and didn’t much about local history. The temple seemed to be not very rich. Simple people around didn’t much to make as offerings. The school too bore the name. They asked few questions about other ancient families in the neighbourhood. None resembled our family name.

Then they went in search of the writer. They were welcomed and given food. The locality did not have any great hotels. The famished duo ate thankfully. When the writer listened to the story, he was ready to help in whatever way. They met a really old man who recollected hearing the name of the household but could not add much.

And the next vacation we came down to join a bus load of family members who were going to see the Goddess. We started early and reached the place by 10.30am. About 50 of us were treated to fresh juices by the writer’s family. The household had five members- the writer’s mom, wife and two sons. They were such nice people. They had prepared a vegetarian meal for all of us after we were back from the temple. And to ensure that we felt at home, they had not prepared any nonvegetarian dishes that day even for themselves. Their love was the best thing we discovered, even better than the small temple we could call our own. They still invite my uncle and cousin for their family celebrations – like weddings and they too invited them to weddings, naming ceremony of children etc.

The trip widened our views on people. We started to have more respect for other religions and understood that the thought that the best people lived only north of Ernakulam was meaningless. Now the family has many more relatives from south of Ernakulam.

And, for the first time in life, I saw the white sands of Alappuzha. It’s just unimaginably white. Walking on the sands to an ancient temple that has drawn us from afar was an experience that could not be put into words.

Couple of years later, my cousin’s husband was posted in Alleppey and they did further research and discovered the remains of foundations of a big house that was razed to the ground by the king for the fault that a member of the family who was a respected chieftain fell in love with the princess and married her against his wishes. But his razing down did not raze down the family. The name survived in temple, and temple of learning. The descendants survived and flourished in a different land and came back to find their roots.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lama Revealed

It has been a year since I started blogging. Novice writer was the one who led me to it. I started out with a invocation to success. And I have tasted more than that here with blog buddies. I feel happy to blog and meet up interesting people, viewpoints and comments.
Thank You All.
Here are some pics of family characters who appear in the blog.
Self, Bumbum & Boozy, Hubbydear

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Spreading the Cheer

There is a State Beverages Corporation outlet right across our office. The outlet has a long queue of most well behaved customers. They are pillars of patience. They wait in burning Sun, pouring rain, closing dusk for their share of bottles for the day. They always have short change and never push in queue. And if there is a holiday or hartal round the corner, they stock up to last the difficult times.

And the just on the footpath by the road is a Chilly Baji, Pakodas, bondas cart which opens at 4pm and does brisk business till the BEVCO outlet is open. Run by a couple, many vouch for the tasty fare they have.

RGB and myself had tasted the chilly bajis and agreed with all and sundry that it was the best we ever had. So, when the monsoons got active, we wanted to have the bajis. We peeped through the window- No cart, No BEVCO. Why, we wonder and like our brethren, we wait for next day. Same scene- No BEVCO, no cart.

RGB is more solid material. I could not take it. My left chest started to ache. To make sure twice over, I went to the balcony leading fire escape and looked for the magic cart. But Alas! No such wonderful sight. Two guys on a bike were also surprised to find BEVCO closed. That made three broken hearts.

As I was walking in from the balcony, I passed the cabin of our office administrator. A man in late forties, he was a dedicated worker. Few spoke to him unless necessary. He seemed to be tense about some job and was sitting looking down, cradling his head in his hands, one of them holding his specs.

I entered the cabin and asked, “Boban Sir?”
“Huh?”, he said looking up bewildered
“The Beverages shop…Why is it not open?”
His lips broke into a smile,”Why? You needed something?”
“Eh?”, he asked amusedly
“ The baji cart is not open. We wanted bajis. No BEVCO. No Cart”
“Oh”, he was laughing relieved and continued. “Don’t know…BEVCO has been closed for two days”

I walked back to my place having spread the cheer.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Teaching session

After a long day at the office, I waddle in home.

“I have a hindi test tomorrow”, says the younger kid all of seven.

“Ok I take a shower and then we will sit together. Learn on your own till then”

After a shower and tea, I ask him to bring the notebook

“Have you learnt?’


“Ok Let’s see. What’s meaning of mahal?”

A film buff, he adjusted his hair filmy style and replies, “Poverty”

“What?” I burst out laughing. He looks comic with his antics and one tooth in front surrounded by gaps.

“Now, Read it first and then I’ll ask”

He skims it in a minute and returns the book saying, ‘You ask. I’ll answer all of them”

“Ok What’s the meaning of mahal?”
“Palace”, he pipes up


“I know that “, says he striking a pose. “Condition”.

“Look bumbum, this is no time for fun. Learn it well”

“Ok”and skims through again.

“This time if you don’t answer, I’m going to beat you,” I say making an angry face.

Right. “Mahal?”
Good. “Halat?”

He thinks a while. He doesn’t know

“I’m going to say now. I’m going to say now. I’m going to say now.”

“Say it then”

“I’m going to say now.”

“I’m listening”, I say loosing my patience

“I’m going to say now (pause) I’m going…”

And he was gone. Out of the room.

Now, whom do I teach?