Tuesday, October 24, 2006
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 .
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