Thursday, May 08, 2008

Off to heaven !!! - My Vacation to Kerala – some memoirs, some musings, some adventures

Well now if you have read me before, you would gather I am a South Indian brought up in North India. To put it in that oh-so-Indian-way of cleaving the Great Indian Diaspora, My parents are from Kerala, but since we settled in Gujarat from like, aeons, you might as well term us Gujjus. Someone once called that a Lethal combination, the Hardworking Mallu & the Shrewd Gujju !! Anyways, now this write-up is not about me, so you can heave a sigh of relief !

I am away from Office for 10 days. And though I could have gone to Gujjuland, I chose Kerala. For what I wanted is not to see my folks, but undergo a rejuvenation therapy – all for free !! I know I am selfish here ...Lol.

The Poet in Me:
Kerala is a wonderful Paradise and so aptly titled 'God's Own Country' ! It is Here that Mother Nature gives her Most dazzling Smile. It is here that you walk on white fluffy clouds while on the ground, coconut trees crowd together and lift their arched spines, paddy stalks sway to angels' music, the wet earth fills your lungs with her oh-so-delectable scent...

It is Here I trod on Flower-strewn paths, while my anklets stop the birds right in the middle of their songs, It is Here I chase the butterflies and they leave their Colored Butterfly-Dust on my fingers, It is Here I am seduced by the Jasmine stalks, It is Here that I realize I AM Alive.

The Usual Me:
I am super Excited because I got the day-Train which means I can savour the lovely sights enroute. I also got the side seat which is my favourite coz I don't have to share my Sightseeing-Ddelights with 5 others Idiots. I know the Train Journey will invite a lot of Ogling ( which is what Kerala Men are known for anyways, I have never understood, why, with a female:male sex ratio of 1058:1000, they grab their crotches at the sight of any woman ). I need to hunt for a Big Fat Book that I can Read. I already got some Choices : A William Darlymple Book about a tragic love story of a Britisher & a Hyderabadi Mughal Princess (this always has me imagining myself as a Mughal Princess with their Adabs and Coquettishness...I would definitely have made Extreme-Low-Rise Jeans Compulsory Mughal Attire- Haha.. ), the other is Gem In The Lotus ( another on Indian Civilization History ( read this for an Explicit Detail of the Ashwa-megha Ceremony – you have heard of this ceremony in the Ramayana – go figure..)..Or maybe I will just buy a Cosmopolitan ( I remember once a staid looking 'aunty' had borrowed the mag from me, and she gave it back in five mins flat..seems the first page that opened up was '65 ways to make your Man moan'.. Lol.. I can never forget the Horrified expression on her face, and after that she probably thought I was some nymphomaniac..)

The Nostalgic Me:
The upcoming trip has got me Super-Excited and I can barely sit in one place. I just can't wait for 24th to come!! I dont agree with people who think travelling by Train is Horrible. I would rather travel all the way to US by train than by Plane, if that was possible. Maybe its because my earliest memories of travelling were all about the schools shutting down in summer, going with dad to the station to book the tickets all for that apple juice that one glass of apple juice which w as available only there, mom packing us 'Train-Choru' (curd rice) in aluminium foil (which had us kids entranced for hours) shouting excitedly in the auto on the way to the station, catching the Navjivan Express that started from Ahmedabad at 10 in the morning, reaching Chennai at 7 am the third day., a frenzied rush at Chennai junction to catch the train to Shoranur ( this also brings to mind an incident - my 28 yr old Mom with her 5-yr old son n 8 yr old daughter (me ) crying after getting separated from dad who was trying to catch up with the porter, all three of us Bawling right in the middle of the Platform, and a burly Policeman rushing to our side, Mom stood at the same place for 20 mins, she knew Dad would come back the way he had gone, and he did much to the Policeman's Relief for having escaped from my brother who wouldn't let go of the rifle and Badges)..we would buy everything that was sold on the trains -eatables that is. Batata-vada in Surat, Kakdi in Maharashtra, the Packed lunches from Kalyan, Tamil sambar and rice from Chennai, Pazhampuri & Aluva in Palakkad, Fish from the market on the way home – how I wish I could relive those days !! Once we got down at Shoranur junction, where we always got a free porter (grandad worked with the railways and the whole world knows him) till the taxi stand, those days going by Taxi was a big thing, so we arrived in grand style to Vadanamkurrissi gate. Shantha chechi our maid (forever young) would carry our two large suitcases on her head ( such a contrast her petite body and the two suitcases made-such amazing strength these village-women have ), we would follow her and the retinue would finally stop at our home. The first thing I wanted to see was if the cow had delivered any babies ( I thought they dropped out like eggs) and whether my dogs had forgotten me. Sometimes I would find out that there was a new dog - to replace the one that had died.

The Animal Lover:
Talking of dogs – we have always had 2 of them anytime of the year. And they all had Grand names too. The first dogs in my lifetime were Darling and Dimman. Dalu was sweet and huge and carried me on his back. He let me leave slobbery kisses all over his face. I was in love with him...Lol! But Dimman was the Nasty one. He never let me touch him, but he was very protective of us kids. He liked my brother though, which left me feeling very very jealous. Dalu died some 8-9 yrs ago when he was 13. We got Reagan (named after Ronald Reagan, the Us Prez). This one had a curled up tail that never unfurled. We used to call him 'Jilebi-Walan'. He hated anyone touching him. I think it was an insult to his Image. He was snobbish with a Huge Ego. But sometimes, when he was resting, he would allow me to stroke his head and scratch his ears. This was for only some 2 secs though, after which he would give a little snort and this was my signal to back off. Someone poisoned him.
Marshall replaced Reagan, and Dimman died some 2 yrs after Marshall came. This one was the cutest dog you ever saw, he would stand outside my window and bark – this is at 5 in the morning – waiting for me to come out and play. Once I opened the door, I could not brush or piss or wash my face until I played with him for, like, 2 hours!!! Someone poisoned him too, I believe, though no one has told me this. Now it seems we have 2 new ones – both 6 months old. I will see them for the first time when I go now.

The Concerned Me:
I have got that unpleasant feeling – this always strikes me when I am nostalgic - that life is passing by too fast. And that I need to stop somewhere right now, and gather all I can before they scatter. But how can I hold the Bharatapuzha in my tiny palms? On its banks, time freezes, my mind is numbed with the sensations that arise awakening to Life. I see the trucks taking away the Sand. Across the river there used to be a high riverbank. Now that is no more so. The river is still wide, but the waters are not Blue and White anymore. I can no more see the Pebbles underwater. Weeds grow like a forest. The slime makes you slip. The river bed suddenly goes down in places and you can no longer frolic on the banks. How long before this river vanishes.? Will my grandchildren ever know that the River existed?

I refuse to listen to the Answer.