Proud to be an Indiblogger

Sunday, May 31, 2009


The earliest memory I have of seeing Panikker is him standing on the one platform only Parappanangadi railway station as he waited for us to get down .

The train would trundle down tired after its exhausting journey from the erstwhile Madras and todays Chennai .
we would get down with all the luggage and Paniker would be there in a jiffy a smile pasted on his face .
It would turn into a grin and slowly into a short guffaw as he came near us ,
engene undayirunu yatra ? ( how was the trip ) he would ask .
He was a short man neither thin nor fat with a pencil line moustache adorning his upper lip ,
wearing a white neat dhoti and shirt

Paniker was our tharavadu Karyasthan

I dont know how one can translate this very malayalish occupation
One could call it as an all in all ,a sort of manager ,housekeeper ,accountant cum clerk ,PRO and spokesperson of the said house all rolled into one .
( please note the picture shown is not of panikker )

It was an art to be a good karyasthan and a trusted one for years for any big house
He needed to be multifaceted and should multitask ,he needed to be a behaviour psychologist ,management executive ,and a smooth talker to be a succesful one .
He then would be like part of the family ,

our panikker was every inch a sucessful karyasthan and could easily take classes for potential karyasthanmars .
" Chozhi aa pettiyokke eduku nokki nikundenda ? "
( Chozhi take those luggage and what are you dreaming about ? )
he would command and immediately our luggage would get transported to Chozhi and his minions heads and we would start our long walk home alonside the railway track
( There was no road to my ancestral house then ) .

The booming steam engine would thunder past us with its grinning facade as it went on its way to Kozhikode .
All along our way home Panikker would keep us amused with intresting tidbits of Parappanangadi ,who died where and when ,who married whom and what happened to whom and how ,

He would also introduce us to many unknown inquisitive people and explain thier realtionships to us ,of course my mother knew most of them .
almost all of them would ask
eppo vannu epalla ponnu ? ( when did you come when are you going back ? )

Over time as I grew older his talk to me would turn purple and blue as he recited juicier anecedotes and escapades with that typical guffaw .

Panniker would be a changed person in front of Karthiyayani amma my grandmother and the reigning queen of Thekkepat Kovilakkam ( kovilakkam means palace but this name was just added because it was thekku or south of parapannat kovilakam )

The only link to royalty in my house was my grandfather P.C.Manavedan Raja of Mangavu Kovilakkam Calicut ,he was of pure blue blood the Samoothiri kind .

But he was one of the most unpretentious royalty I have ever laid my eyes upon , not that I have over many .

Thambran as he was called by the locals was most of the time in dhoti ,shirtless pottering around the garden or dragging the cow for milking or going to the market with his sword like umbrella ,very unroyalish activities

He often reminded me of lord Emsworth of Blandings castle the famous PG Wodehouse novel ,like the lord he wanted to be left alone to his garden and cow

He was a monosylabbic and would get angry very rarely ,mostly his answers would be by grunts but he would open up with Panniker as he stretched his legs in the poomukam (front of the house )and panniker would stand near him with the rain pattering its beat over thier muted conversations .

Paniker knew how to manage both these diametrically opposite individuals ,he would be all attention to my grandmother as she began her diatribe and his soft replies would be lost to my deaf grandmother who once in a while would look at him in a "ee panikerentha pariyunadhu "manner
( what the hell are you telling ? )

I wonder if she ever heard her own talking !!

she had a soft corner for me and would send Panikker running to Kuttiyappus the local mall to get me yellow banana chips to which I was addicted to ( even now )

Early morning paniker would come and would dicusss about the days work the harvest details coconut felling market rates etc
he would lead the great coconut felling expedition as I would call it
I hitched along on one such excursion ,

we started with a parambu ( field ) beyond the river cherooti having a quick swim on the way thanks to Panikers idea of telling my grandfather to walk in front before the sun comes in full force .
The moplah buyers with thier huge nets to keep thier catch would walk with us
it was fun as they counted the coconuts which fell from the trees
onnne onnu rende rendu
one had to be very vigilant as sometimes the numbers would not move up ,one also had to be alert of coconuts which fell in the bushes disappearing dragged by sleighting hands that appear from nowhere .
Tender coconuts would quench our thirst and thier soft white delightful insides cool us
We would then move offf to the next parambu ,

All this time paniker was extremely busy

During harvest time too when stacks of grain was loaded in our backyard he would be on his toes arranging everything including food for the workers

The local temple Sariyekkil Bhagavathis festival during Navarathri was one time when Panniker would be at his smiling best or during marriage receptions when his smiling face mostly hovered around the female guests .

As I grew up paniker became more of a friend
Actually I never felt like calling him paniker etta though he was elder to me by many years
he was ageless
He came to chennai for my wedding reception and the day after I went to central railway station to send him back ,I put him in his designanted seat with a nice masala dosa packet for his dinner he was happy and looking forwards to going back , suddenly someone came and said "this is my berth " to Panniker

Both paniker and the other person did have the same number in thier tickets so we called the ticket inspector he looked at the tickets and said it was a mistake by the booking clerk

( no computer reservation those days )
I took it as a good oppurtunity to do a Suresh Gopi
I raved and ranted about how stupid could the railways be giving same number to two different people and troubling both and I had a receptive audience who murmured ascent
Paniker was looking at me with pride
"Monu inginyekko patto ? "( you can talk like this ? )
suddenly someone tapped me and said
"hey look the date in your mans ticket is for tomorrow better get out before the inspector notices this,he would kill you for all your talk ."
I quickly grasped paniker and his luggage

"panikkere vittolu"
( let us go )
I never gave him time to think only later when we reached home I told him you are only going tomorrow ,you see we want you here for one more day

adhunendha kutty ......santosham ....said our poor paniker ..

paniker did live long after that but left the world and us following an inocous injury and consequent tetanus .


Kannan said...

Hi Dr. Hari, An excellent writeup. Panikkar reminds me of Bhasi (Bhaskaran Pillai), our grandfather Ponnappa's Ghumasthan (Clerk) who is an Advocate's clerk, a kariyasthan, a handyman all rolled into one. As I was grewing up my relationship with Bhasi metamorphasised from a boy's friendship with a senior person to an accomplice on my surreptious smoking expeditions as Bhasi used to allow me a quick puff when we go out on some errands without Ponnappa's knowledge. I am sure the memory of Panikkar Chettan will be etched forever in the web with your excellent write-up. Kudos.


Bindu said...

Harietta,born&grown up in a NALUKETTU(KAROL)in the said MANKAVU itself,this story brought me some nostalgic of my friend RADHA THAMPATTY belongs to this KOVILAKAM & I had my ggrduation tution classes inside this KOVILAKAM.

harimohan said...

that is just great bindhu

kannan the wrold is small indeed

raj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
raj said...

kannan's comment was excellent so was hari's blog......

Nebu said...

Hari, I don’t know how I missed the post on Karyasthan Panikkar. Reading it today brought back memories of Kunjcherukkan chettan the Karyasthan of my Great great maternal grand father ( A.T. sir’s grandfather). He took over from his father Velliya Cherukkan Chettan who was also the Karyasthan. (Kunju Cherukkan) Kunjcherukkan chettan once told me that both father and son together had spent nearly a century as Karyasthans to the family. The workers used to refer to him as ‘Writer’ (probably from one who writes accounts).

It was the practice of my G.G.Gf to dictate the letters to Kunjcherukkan chettan who wrote it on the inland to be posted to the receipients. My mother told me that once one of her cousin sisters, then a nubile pretty young girl, protested to G.G.Gf, “ Don’t make Kunjcherukkan chettan to write, Ente priya petta (My dearest) while writing letters to us”. I am not sure what answer G.G.Gf gave her or whether her wish was granted.

Nebu said...

Folks, I got a bit carried away by nostalgia that I added one ‘G’ too many. It should have been Great grandfather (G.Gf). The error is regreted, everything else stands.

harimohan said...

forgiven dear nebu

valliyil said...

Hi Hari,thanx for the post.infact i had heard a lot about this panikkarettan however, i was unfortunate to meet him at all in my life.the nostalgic feeling of one getting back to our tharavadu from that single platfrom raiway station of parappanagadi was ably described by fact i am deeply amazed by the way you present things,HARI please keep it up kuttettan

marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

Literature Review

Dissertation Writing service said...

This kind of information is very limited on internet. Nice to find the post related to my searching criteria. Your updated and informative post will be appreciated by blog

MBA Finance Dissertation writing

harimohan said...

Tks kutetta

Blog Archive