Thursday, December 25, 2008

A December Nostalgia

Let me engage in some rhetoric..its been a while.. Managed a quick visit to India and returned last evening. It was an official trip with a holiday of sorts squeezed in and as always turned out to be more hectic and tiring than a workday.
Scene 1: Nostalgia Bangalore Chapter
Meeting Location - Ranjith's house at Domlur, Bangalore .
In continuation to Sajith's note on our brief Bangalore meeting at Ranjith's house with Nostalgia's Bangalore chapter, here are some updates. Vimal and Manoj chose not to meet quoting busy schedules. We believe them and pray for more time for good things in their lives as well :-) I managed to make everyone wait for an hour before turning up for a short visit.I did not rendor apologies and was promtly thrashed verbally and then forgiven immediately. 1 full whiskey got over in 30 mins and only 3 were drinking! In the animated 30 mins or so that i spent there i noticed a few things: Madhavan remains the same but has sprouted a French beard and a glint in his eye that shows his success in his family life and business :-). Way to go mate :-) Sajith had the typical analytical eye of the successful HR professional that he is which was quite visibly represented by his expanding tummy :-). Pradeep's demeanor and his physical proportions demonstrated that the medical profession has no recession even if the world goes bankrupt. Ranjith in his everpresent kavi mund reminded me that here is a guy who might have been born wearing it! The nice fellow made us all feel at home literally and was the perfect host. The banker in him was kept beneath covers during the discussion and the naadan mallu changathi was the one visible. His mention that he doesnt want to travel via KSRTC to Palakkad with me but will drive the next day with his boss in a FORD has me rethinking about his character now. I will deal with him separately :-)

Scene 2 : Nostalgia Headquarters meeting
Location - Fort Palace Palakkad.
Rajith's mutiple efforts at organizing a Nostalgia meeting over two weekends finally bore fruit. We all agreed to meet at FP last Sunday at 4. I managed to be late by an hour thanks to my dear friend promising to get me my return ticket to Bangalore on KSRTC and then merrily driving around at Nelliampathy with his boss on the FORD while his dear friend Sunil desparately tried to get me a print of the ticket with the BSNL DSL connection being very friendly to connect and but unwilling! He finally succeeded and my father dropped me at FP so that I can meet(read drink) with my friends ;-) The setting was inside the 'AC' dark room inside of the upmarket bars in town! We cant change FP nor Palakkad, we can change the venue next time :-). Amidst plates of Beef fry and chikkan pepper fry and a few bottles of beer and soda bottles and some glasses, i could barely make out 5 men huddled around a table , when i entered the dark room . I uttered a namaskaram with a raised hand and a few others reciprocated. I realised I had found them :-) Rajith the arbitrator uttered the initial pleasantry and then all the others proceeded with similar courtesies and i reciprocated with equal elan. A few moments of sight acclimatization and i settled in and ordered a kingfisher to many surprised exclamations. Little did they know that I was trying to drink less by drinking more, read beer :-) Prashant was in the middle - nursing a beer with finesse; spoonsful of beef finding its way to his expanding waistline at a steady pace. We made polite conversation and then the table assumed quietness. Rajith popped the question - China visheshangal para. And the rest of the table assumed an audience mode while I assumed the speaker's stance and rolled out my speel of China. I was jabbed many times with questions and at some points of time, there were more longer questios than the answers itself with the questioners taking longer and longer to probe without providing me a chance to answer :-) some even complained that i was not loud enough! I must say I had a tough time keeping up with my beer that was going flat and eating answering the questions. Hope I did some justice to the questions. Sunil chinnathambi refused to recognise me initially and then went on addressing me as Etta throughout :-) He is a must have in all such parties. That guy rocks.. way to go mate :-) Sunil Shivadas with his classic sense of humour was very quick to captilise on every opportunity to crack a good one and we all thoroughly enjoyed it except for Sunil Chinnathampi who was at the recieving end most of the time :-) Govindan kutty was the typical academic - he grilled me with a QA session and then i saw disbelief on his face and even inacceptance many times of what i said because I was speaking about the Communist party and the Chinese govt. I was in fact positive and maybe candid which was the reason why GK was a bit disturbed. He demanded that i write a note on 'China visheshangal' everyday and I promised i would. I hope to keep up that promise GK ..but with a slightly reduced frequency. Sanjai turned up in between quietly and mentioned he was coming from the station. His first few words were - Kulichitilla, pakshe Pallu thechu! It sounded like both the activities were exceptions for him!! :-) I was surprised that he was actually trying to recognize each person. I then realised that he was faking ignorance. Not much has changed in terms of his appearance except for a few grey hair that comes as part of the grill in a Journalists life and maybe a few extra hair have greyed with the difficult times he is faced with for some time in his family. He went on to explain his child was recovering and we all hoped and conveyed our support that he gets well soon. Today's mail from him mentioning that his child is fine is a great relief and we hope and wish that everything looks brighter by the day for him and his family from now. He also spoke at length about his profession and it was great fun listening to him as always. Chinna thambi slipped out to have a separate meeting with some one then spoke loudly on the phone for a while while making himself the greatest entertainer around :-) Rajith looks the same. Looks like a disciplined health freak with no alcohol, no smoking , no meat and no tummy :-)Rajith the arbitrator asked some very strategic questions and let the others speak more and drank in many fruit juices along with whatever nonsense we all said :-) Thanks Rajith for oranizing the meeting da. You are doing a great job of keeping us together and in touch and such meetings certainly go a long way on carrying Nostalgia forward. I formally announced the plans that Ranjith and I had finalised one evening at Bangalore on making a film. We will be rolling out the project in 09 and will keep you all posted. Will seek your inputs very actively as it progresses. Sanjai also announced his movie creation plans and said he will confirm the date. I am sure Ranjith who joined later from Nelliampathy would have discussed the plan frward with Sanjai and the team. I, with Rajith sounding the alarm that i will miss the bust at 7.30 , i sought help to get to the KSRTC transport stand and our dear friend Prashanth offered me to be dropped in a chauffer-driven AC car to the non AC KSRTC bus :-) and after saying the right goodbyes and the customary hugs and handshakes later, I said bye to Nostalgia December 21 with the hope and promise to meet again soon for even more great times. Thanks guys for making it happen. I really enjoyed it. Hope everyone else also did.

Author - Pallassana Vadassery Vinod Kumar
Email -

Valiya Vadassery Tharavad - A Rememberance

It is with deep grief and great respect for our Tharavad that I decided to write this piece. I recently went home with Achan, Amma and Vani and spent some time there. It was a great feeling and I wish to share some of my memories there that some of you will also identify with.

The house has withstood more than 400 years of tough Palakkad weather and might live another 400 more. We all know that I am being wishful and the reality is that it will fall anytime. Many parts of the great house has been falling from a long time.Our external walls have collapsed many times almost on passers by many times. I remember once the kitchen room fell on Amma's head and once the wall of the well caved in while she was drawing water from the well. I have had tiles fall on my head and seen many a displaced tile, stone, pillar, pattika, wall etc.

I remembered some occasions and experiences connected with our life at our Valiya Vadassery Tharavad and felt like writing and sharing them. Our school days at the Tharavad without electricity, without running water,without proper toilettes, without proper medical facilities, without much money, without any krishi, without any revenue, without any scope for improvement it in a long time, the times when we had visitors from our family residing in different parts of the country and the world who would come and live with us for a weekend rarely or for a few hours or minutes because we dint have facilities to help them stay longer like the above mentioned and yet we lived there for so many years with just the name of the Great Vadassery Tharavad and our Guru Karanavars and Muthi Muthashanmar and Ayyappan protecting and nurturing us till date. I have very fond memories of those days and will always cherish them. I am fiercely proud of our heritage and feel extremely fortunate to have experienced it in good measure. I can also imagine the greatness and glory of our Tharavad in the past which our karanavars lived and left for us to carry forward and handover to future generations.

I remember the many Vishukanis that Saraswathy Muthi showed us by keeping awake and doing the Kani kootal. I remember the innumerable nights when Muthy opened the door for me with a smile when i used to come back late from secondshows or even otherwise.I remember her taking care of me when I was unwell and ensuring i et well.She is the most unbiased person in the whole of universe as far as I have experienced. I remember many stories told by Muthy regarding our family, its members and our desham.

Let me start with my young days at home. Ammamma helping Amma manage the two us us -Manojetta and I. The ageing Ammamma with many kadams and failing health but unfailing affection towards Amma and us even in her last days to ensure we grew up and had a life of our own. I remember the days when she used to use 'kozhal' for lighting pacha verake at the kitchen and manage with some maids in extreme conditions. I remember from hearsay from my mother and her siblings on the great grand woman that she was at one point of time with Muthacha as the Circle Inspector of police and other able and great brothers at tharavad with wealth that anyone would envy and all kinds of facilities unheard of for even wealthy people couldnt afford. I remember the picture of the Ford that was hers and which my mother and her siblings used to travel in. I remember Kalam and the various stories asscociated with it. I remember the kalam itself and the kolam near it . I remember some of the workers at kalam and some of the names when mentioned. I remember the days of greatness from what i have heard and experienced about our Tharavad.

I remember Sundaramamas walking trips and then cycling trips each week to Tharavad from Koduvayur and back,I remember Udaya mama visiting periodically and always sitting thinking at the Dharmathara or Thalam near Ammamma.

I remember the days when Kuttymama used to come and stay for a week during kali and made us all practice the steps at Nadumuttam and Dharmathara. I remember the days of Kuttymama being Kaliachan and then Papamama being handed over the same Sthaanam by Kutymama.I remember the days when we used to go for Kali kumbidal at Bhagavathy temple, nariyum puliyum kollal, Karivela, kali abyasam edakkali at Pathiyaatil veede, Praying at our Mache and Ayyapande thara before Kali.. giving guru dakshina to Ammaama and then later to Papamama when he became kaliachan and then proceeding for Arangu kali each day of the kali.

I remember Ammas struggle in managing us with the limited facilities available at home after returning from Kolkatta. I remember all my mothers efforts in very fine detail to grow us up into what we are today amidst all the crisis, pain, inefficiencies in the shade of our great tharavad. I will not venture into detail as I am sure my prose will not do justice to the magnitude of her efforts. She is a great women. A true Vadasseryite and I am proud to be her son and be called so because of her. She has been with me every moment of my life and will continue to be the most integral part of my life ever. I pray to all the gods and our Tharavaatu Deivangal to give her good health, long life, peace and happiness always.She is truly a great mother and I am proud to have her as mine.

I remember Acha staying with us there while coming on Holidays from Kolkatta. I remember Achan initiating and putting the first power connection at Tharavad in 1990 so that all of use could have electricity to study. All of us studied and passed out from there and went on to pursue our future better . Achan's effort to make a difference in our lives with such acts are many. I remember Achan initiating and ensuring that we have a telephone at home so that everyone is connected to Tharavad. I remember Achan coming home each year after travellling miles, with sweets, savouries, clothes and goodies for all. I remember Achan's fond care while he used to come and remotely via letters. I remember the great times that we spent listening to his advice on how to live life and make good of it. I remember Achan sitting at Dharmathara and discussing various matters with all of us at home.

I remember Papamama getting us all admission at Chinmaya Vidyalaya and requesting for donation waivers with the management committees since we couldnt afford it. Papamama was keen to make us all study at CVP to provide for a good future for us. He then helped pay our fees many times and then created a healthy competition to motivate us to perform well at studies and rewarded us with cash and many eatables each weekend as that was the most valued and scarce resource then. I remember Papamama teaching us the Kali steps and paralelly teaching us to ride a bike. I remember Papamama coaching us on the ways of the world and how to deal with matters in life. I remember him taking us around on the bullet and then the Kawasaki. I remember the numerous weekends when he brought us brookebond tea, chicken , chips and many eatables. I remember his engagement and then wedding to Ammayi at Kudallur. I remember Tuutus childhood days and their family visits and then later their visits with Teena when we used to run around carrying the beautiful girl baby around. I remember Ammayi adapting to our culture and the ineffiencies at home and supporting Papamama in everything.I remember the days when Kuttymama used to come and stay for a week during kali and made us all practice the steps at Nadumuttam and Dharmathara. I remember the days of Kuttymama being Kaliachan and then Papamama being handed over the same Sthaanam by Kutymama. I remember Papamama treating us as young men and then men and women when we grew up without the prejudices of an elder Uncle. I learnt character from him. I learnt principle, value of relationships, corporate culture, sales and mediation techniques, budget management, priroties and a whole lot of things from him over the years.

I remember Janardhana Mamas visit once in 2 months in his car just to collect the coconuts that belong to his one tree in the Vadakkorathe mittam, I remember Saromama's kalyanam at Kunissery, and reception at Tharavad.I remember Sreemama at home in Padinjaarara upstairs. I remember Cheriamma coming home with newly born Anitha/Sunitha and Pappu/Prasan in tow.I remember the girls starting to talk, they starting to walk, going to school, and turning out to be very naughty and lovable girls and now into great women. Little did anyone know that they will live there till 2008!

I remember Valiacha's table at Padinjaarara upstairs corner which later became Srikanth's studydesk.I remember Valiyachas Krishi management, koythu season, nel vevikkal, onakkal and vilkal, podikkal etc.I remember his many sabari mala seasons and his komaram thullal and sharanam vili during the season and at Vilakke times. I remember the difficulties that all our mothers at the Tharavad faced in helping is grow. I remember Valiammas doshas at her kitchen on many days and nights. I remember the great Vishu times when we used to get Kaineetams, new dresses and huge amount of crackers to burst. I remember her supporting Amma many times .

I remember the sacks of crackers we used to buy for vishu and the big heaps of tamarind at home with all of us helping to clean it up and eating kilos of tamarind in the process with Muthy giving us a earfull. I remember the secret room at Vadakyaara upstairs which was also called Nidhiyara,the kalyana ara, the 3rd floor Mache thatte, the room that Cheriama used - kezhakkaara, the room that we used - Thekkaara
I remember The many engagements, kalyanams, vela time, kali time, mandala maasam sharanam vili with valiacha and the numerous Ayyappan poojas at Mache and Ayyappans Mulla thara.

I remember enjoying atleast 10 Onams there with all of us putting pookalam led by Shobha chechi and Andha Sundh in tow, making Madhor and the daily thrice poojas and melnottam by Saraswathy Muthy for everything, sitting in our Thalam with Ammamma and Saraswathy Muthy Omana valiamma and Cheriamma and Amma on the Charupadi in the Ahaaya teaching us values in life.Valiyamma, Valiyacha, Amma, Cheriyamma, Sreemama and all of us children along with Ammamma, Muthy in the Dharmathara in the evenings seeing Anitha and Sunitha learning to walk for the first time and then seeing them grow up.

I remember Praveen and Prasan running around playing, Srikanth and I building temples at kezhakkoram and doing what all many young boys do - doing many fun things, Manojetta studying at Andraalathara - ensuring i get back home on time from mannam and study well, ensuring i go in the right direction in life, ensuring i dont pick up the wrong values etc, Shobachechi putting pookalam and Anitha Sunitha learning to walk and go to school. I remember we running to catch NTP to Pallavoor, we playing football and shuttle at mannam and the numerous 2nd show films at lakshmi talkies.I remember doing pressups and pushups at the Thalam upstairs everyday and having a great neendhi kulikkal at pudhukulam every day, twice, come summer, winter , rain or anyweather.

I remember the kadhakalis and the mudras which Amma used to translate for me, the ayyappan paatus, the poraattum kalis, the paana chaatam, the vettakaruman paate, the niramaalas, the sabhamadam , pudhukulam neenthal, the chiluke and the desham activities . I remember all of us growing up there breathing the air around, eating the food made in that kitchen on veraku aduppe, and learning kali steps at nadumuttam and tharmathara, enjoying the rains inside the house at the nadumuttam, the cool feeling of thalam inside during summer, the mysterious rooms upstairs and the wonderful smell of old wood.

I remember the day when Ammamma and Muthi breathed their last at Tharavad and left us all.

I remember the all the experiences the great Tharavad house has given us. Our Gurukkanmaar, Kaaranavars, Machiley Deivangal and Ayyappan at Mullathara blessed us all and ensured that all the members living there and connected with the great Tharavad lived safely and left the home for greener pastures with enough strength and capability to move on in life. Many of us who have lived in that house and grown up there know every stone and every grain of sand there and it pains to see it just fall apart piece by piece , slowly and steadily. I am sure everyone attached to that house feel the same.We need to do something quickly together to ensure we dont lose it totally to time. Our Tharavad is too precious to lose. It is invaluable and irreplaceable. We need to get together quickly and strongly to keep the Tharavad intact in whatever shape, form or size. We owe it to our generation and the future ones. Long Live our Great Vadassery Tharavad. Long Live all who helps keep its glory alive. Long live Vadassery Family

Author - Pallassana Vadassery Vinod Kumar
Email -