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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

my kerala


Born and brought up in Madras (todays Chennai ) in the sixties ,Kerala in my young days was the place one visited for holidays , every summer found our family trooping into the cavernous central station to board the Mangalore mail to visit my native village of Parappanangadi .
The steam engine ride were magic to .
The sleeper compartments were neater and more roomy , my face would dry up in the whipping wind and eyes smartfrom the coal dust carried from the engine .
Still I used to crane my neck to watch the curving train specially as it reached Kuttipuram where I could see its full length .
The IRR served delicious dinner at Katpadi in plantain leaves and we would go to sleep .
Morning would see us chugging into Olavakkode junction and we knew it was our beloved Kerala by the greenery that replaced the dull brown of Tamilnadu .
After alighting at Parappanagadi and walking along the train and its engine which had a huge star in its front I used to smile fondly at those men of magic sweating over the coals .
Crossing the rock strewn track snaking its way into the village we passed cool green fields with dew sprinkled on the paddy balancing ourselves in the varambu .
locals greeted us with the inevitable Eppa vannu ,Eppala ponnu ?
Piping hot tea with banana chips from a loving grandma and my cousins would welcome us in Thekkepat kovilakkam .
what a great way to start a joy filled holiday of two months when we played from dawn to dusk ,splashed about in the green pond till our eyes were red ,ate green mangoes till our teeth tingled , ogling pretty girls in skirts glowing in the lit lamps of the local temple ,watching cinema at the local talkies in which a staid Prem Nazir ran in circles around an obese Sheela all this made our day .
Going with my granddad and the kariyasthan to those distant plantations for coconut felling where I was treated as a kuttithampuran and bestowed with cool elanner made me forget my mundane hot Madhras days .
The preparations started early before we planned to leave , cashew nuts scalded in the coal embers were cracked open ,plump jackfruits split by equally plumper cooks to stew with sarkarra for an aroma filled chakkavarrattiyadu ,green bananas fried to perfection for our Tamilian friends , sacks of coconuts and ripe mangoes packed .
The day finally would came when we hugged our grandparents and walked to the station and then to Calicut where we lunched in our uncles house and later bought sticky aluvas in Mithai street
.Reaching the station we would clamber abroad a parked compartment which would get attached to the Mangalore mail as it steamed into the station and thus ended our annual romance with Kerala ,
Those days were better than staying here for past twenty years always .

Saturday, October 21, 2006

My Kerala is fifty years young

Fifty year old baby on nov 1st my kerala

Kerala the land that rose from the flung axe of Parasuram from the deep sea is a meld of history ,legend ,and folklore , a green canopy with backwaters ,rivers and lakes ,bordered by hills forests .
Nature has bestowed favours in abundance and its langurous beauty is unsurpassable .
The formidable geographic barriers western Ghats and the Arabian sea insulated it from rest of the country making it unique and different
it reached to foreign nations across the seas for trade and thus the impressions from interaction were left deep in its psyche .
Christianity came in the time of Christ ,so did Islam from its early days ,Jews came for refuge and melted into its conscience .
the acceptance and assimilation of thoughts from all parts of the world made it an original melting pan .
The land of Adisankara and his Adwaita degenerated over time to fissures of caste consciousness as to be mocked by Swami Vivekananda as a lunatic asylum .
Great rulers sat over its destiny patronizing arts ,architecture and music .
The likes of Swathi thirunal ,Raja Ravi Varma ,contributed their talents to its fine arts .
Kathakali ,Mohiniattam ,Chakkiar Koothu and Ottam thulal flourished in its temples rich in aesthetics
Ayurveda the ancient medical science of vedic times flourished here and has now become world reknowned,
Modern medicine has given health demographies to the state envied by developed countries
Martial arts like Kalari spread to the far east and metamorphosed as Karate and kungfu
Sanskrit and the influence of Aryan culture through the Namboothiri clans and thier vedic mantras and tantras gave that singularity to Kerala temples
Its language Malayalam was a mix of Tamil and Sanskrit .
Women held a place of esteem in Kerala always ,
Marumakkathayam the practice giving importance to female offsprings was something unique, they touched heights of education.
New Political thoughts flourished flowering into novel experiments .Marx and Engels and social equality found a fertile bed in a feudal land with discriminations
ushering the worlds first democratically elected communist Government which degenerated gradually into equality by poverty by its militant labour .
The NRI s of Kerala contrary to this proved a hardworking force and excelled in the ability to absorb and merge in newer atmospheres..
Their remittances proved a boost to the economy shattered by political beliefs ,its rich plantations and tourist potentials filled its coffers .
Today Kerala though handicapped over the years with monotonous and lackluster political leadership has reached its potentials by the dint of its private enterprise and its hardy adventurers who have surmounted obstacles to achieve their goals
The peoples movement for literacy ,kudumbashree ,etc for reached to roots with public participaton in progress .
Smart cities and IT era if successful would herald a new beginning to this great state unlike older revolutions
This fifty year old baby is a part of my soul
Iam confident of its youth to take it where it belongs

Sliiping through the fingers My Mother

Pain knaws your heart strings when loved ones slip through your fingers
past unfolds its contents to the minds eye and only memories linger
Old or young to a mother a child and to a child a mother
is there a greater love for either ?

Five days of stiff and still existence in a coma
Where tears well down from sad and vacant eyes in trauma
filling our chest with sorrow
and wrath and dread for the marrow

Sacrifices ,sufferings ,selflessness and dedications,
Stark facts stare at with consternation
and when the time came and she slipped through my helpless fingers now
I let go as it was all I could do to repay for her unstinted love ....

Hari ( written immediately after my mother passed away after five days in coma )

Friday, October 13, 2006



It was zero gravity time ,the jeep was literally vertical and our backs pressed to the seats like astronauts jettisoning into the orbit .
We clenched our fists hard as the driver swerved in the muddy road ,the tyres failed to get a hold and we slowly slithered down ,his face frowning with concentration doing a quick symbol of prayer with his hands he brought it down slow and steady as we watched with terror ,the edges were steep and we could gaze down the cliff .in minutes what seemed like hours we halted and the driver took a deep breath ,while we white faced were too famished even for that .
The morning when we left Mookambika and the flowing Sowparnika to go up Gudajhadri we never expected anything of this sort !
The place was known as spot where Adi Sankaracharya saw the Goddess Saraswathi and requested her to come to his native place and be enshrined in a temple .legend goes that the goddess agreed on one condition that he should never turn back and look and if he did she would stop there ,he did exactly that once he came down the hills at Mookambika and the devi stayed out there and so the origin of the temple .
We had decide to go see the place where it happened and the trip had just started ,the driver revved up the engine and this time he was sure and confident ,he skirted the mudbank expertly and sassyed up in style .
After more than an hour of jostling and jangling when our bones rattled with our teeth over rock strewn obstacle courses called “the road “ we reached all in one piece onto a small temple with a flowing waterfall
.the fresh and cool water refreshed us and we sauntered up the bridle path on our hardy climb .
It was tough and made us breathless with exertion ,the children ran up with vigor and enthusiasm while the obese among ours like yours truly reached the half way exhausted and with the feel of a Tenzing norgay on the summit .
The bushes hid fat leeches which promptly bled you ,but the view was breathtaking
The Ganpathy guha was a quaint little cave tucked into an alcove in the mountain and with dribbling water from its canopy .
A priest sat on his haunches mumbling prayers ,after our customary obstinacies we moved up a narrow steep path full of rocks and bushes ,it was a hard climb and sweat was pouring out of me and I wondered when I would ever reach the top .
I kept asking people coming down wheezingly how much more I would have to go and the replies weren’t very encouraging as it was quite a way up .
Suddenly when I had almost decided to turn back I burst into a wonderful grass carpeted plateau and a small temple the very place where the great saint who introduced Adwaitha to the world sat in meditation .
It was exuberance coupled with bliss to be in such a holy place and the cool wind that caressed our face made up for all the troubles we had gone to reach there
.down below very steep was another important place which we did not dare venture as it was slippery from the rain and very risky .
We turned back and climbed down .
This was more difficult than climbing up as we needed to watch every step or we would reach below in a hurry in many pieces .
Down and down we came and after quite along time was back near the jeep and sipped a refreshing tea.Gudajadhri was a treat indeed .

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Even in Gods own country very few would have heard of parappanangadi
, a tiny hamlet tucked away on the malabar coast around 30 km from Kozhikode the capital of the Zamorin king who ruled those parts long back when Vasco Da Gama made his famed landing .
the one platform railway station had always been the centre of activity in this dusty village but returns from Dubai the Eldorado of these lands have transformed them as if by a magic wand
.The hard stones on the railway track was a path which rose up and came down seductively , winding like a long snake lying in slumber , a great spot for interaction and introspection. Elegant nair tharavadus or family homes lined the track on both sides
Chudala paraambu gave the jitters specially when twilight struck for that was where the locals were buried or burnt and had its own myths and mystique sticking to it ,while the stark sunlight made fear melt as lungi clad boys played soccer.
gentle breeze would waft in from the west where the arabian sea crashed on the rockface while fishermen returned after their exertions ,
The Ayappankavu temple would be lighted and shining bright resplendent for the evening deeparadhana and aristocratic ladies in white mundus circumbulate in dignity ,.the huge banyan tree letting peeping stars shine through its foliage with chirping birds giving an encore.,come december and the place would reverbrate with saranam ayappos
Parappanangadi has very litle history to speak of but for its fiery Mopiilla rebellion in 1921 when Gurka soldiers of the British packed hundreds of rioters in railway carriages like sardines and sent them on a one way trip.many of the older
Avukarkutty naha a minister in an earlier cabinet of kerala was one of the rememberd local celebrity who saw to it that many express trains which had earlier winked at the village stopped and paid obsequainse.
It would be a long time before the famous astrologer paniker make parapp famous globally
Thee Anjapurra market which once had only anjupurras or five houses is the happening place of Parappanangadi, the other being the railway station but with Gulf sojourns of the natives changing the face of the village Anjaapura transformed itself beyond recognition .
Hotel Malaya just behind the railway station greeted you as you entered into town stood the ravages of time and served the gourmets and gluttons with no favouritism ,the days when we used to frequent the place for hot biriyani Malappuram istyle and the heady concotion of a red coloured chai with our hard earned cashewnut collected booty is fresh in our memories.
Jayakerala talkies was the excuse for a nightlife in parappanangadi where one could watch Premnazir swinging around trees with scarcely clad damsels or sing moony songs on riverbanks.every ten minutes as the reels were changed catcalls would hit the roof making the sweating projector man do it in a jiffy.
The vayanasala or library was the haunt of youngsters and its shady corners were a good hideway for a game of rummy
Chemmadu a little away enroute to Calicut was the duty free market of the area where foreign goods were available at throwaway prices
Green fields lined by swaying coconut trees and cherooty river winding its way into the distant hills were crossed to reach the famous bhagavathy temple Amanjerikavu where once in a year wooden horses were carried on mens heads beating to the rhythm of drums in a ritual called kuthirakettukali.
Our own family diety Sarikkil Bhagavthy had her quite little temple with huge umbrella like banyan trees giving shade and breeze ,the evening drums drifted in the dusk like a clarion call to the faithful.The temple tank where the clear water invited us for frolicking with abandon was cleaned once in a year by the locals ,it was a great event going well into the night with hot kattankappis( coffee without milk) and steaming kappas( tapioca) fortified the mud covered diggers while cries of joy rose when big braals( fish ) were caught by their fins ,the booty taken promptly to the nearby fields to be barbecued.
On Navaratri nights when the annual festival took place sleepy eyes watched ottanthulal,chakiarkuthu and kathakali perfomances by great artistes from Kalamandalam
The rest of the days Night fell early and people went to bed fast to wake up at dawn and to another day in this quaint little place.

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