Thursday, 16 July 2009

The end of one chapter

His death didn't come as a shock. He'd been ill for a long time, and this time it didn't seem like he was going to bounce back. Nevertheless, the family was optimistic. His swelling had gone down, and he'd begun eating. His only demand was, "I want to go home". After days, even the doctors relented. The nurses were pleased their gentle patient was finally on the mend. On Saturday night, he was coaxed into eating dinner amidst promises of going home on Monday. He even ate a slice of his grand daughter's birthday cake before going to bed. The family went home for a peaceful night's sleep. He was definitely better and coming home. Perhaps he'd live to a 112 like a relative of his? At 3 in the morning, he woke up thirsty, drank a glass of water, lay down and died. He didn't suffer.
Despite being prepared, everyone was shocked. I sat back and thought about him over the years. I met a much younger version of himself on the day when his son married my cousin. I was their flower girl, who followed them around till someone suggested I go and eat with the rest of the family. Then I saw him again over the years in either of our houses. He came over often with my cousin and her family, and theirs was the only house I felt comfortable enough to visit. He was friendly, hospitable, and the happiest if you sat down with him to watch a movie. He went on long walks every morning, and spent his sunday mornings in church. He loved a banana after each meal, and an egg with breakfast every day. At 4 he'd amble around asking for tea, and wait patiently if his daughter-in-law was resting. He pampered his grandchildren and looked upon his daughter-in-law as a daughter. A man with no formalities, he'd eat everything, sleep anywhere, and enjoy every trip he made. He liked going for weddings, meeting up with his friends, and he always looked a little sad when people left after a holiday. "Come again", he'd said. "I will also come". If not for him, I doubt if i'd have been half as comfortable going there as often as I did.
The funeral was in Coorg, as he wanted to be buried next to his wife. The family was coping well, though they'd all miss him terribly. We drove down from Bangalore to Mysore, where he had lived with his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughters. We checked into a hotel because the house would have been too crowded. However, even though we'd reached late, we decided to go to the house. At 11 in the night, we went there. He looked peaceful and fast asleep. Atleast the end hadn't been painful. The family was in different rooms, preparing for the funeral the next morning. Adiv was curious about why a man was lying inside a box. When he was taken closer, it scared him. After that he busied himself with a few helmets and games with the children in the house. He entertained everyone, and by 1 we decided to head back.
The funeral went off well. Despite the rains off and on, it didn't interfere with the burial. We spent part of it in the car, feeding Adiv who was quite restless. He wanted to run around, and we were holding on to him for fear of having him fall into all that slush.
After the burial, we drank some coffee, and drove to a nearby estate where lunch had been organized for everyone. We hadn't seen as much greenary in a long time. Lunch was well organized and in such a beautiful location. The lovely house lay nestled beside a pretty lake. And to get to this pretty house, you had to follow a driveway surrounded by tall green trees and reach their well manicured lawn and garden. The dogs barked furiously at being denied the excitement of having so many people over. We went to look at them, locked up in their cages.
After lunch, we said our goodbyes and drove back to Mysore. His family wept for him, but also shared amusing stories about him amidst smiles and laughter. It had been a beautiful end to that gentle soul.
As people who weren't related to him directly, we also sat around talking about him. We came away the next morning. With Adiv sleeping peacefully on my lap, I wondered if Adiv had been affected by this undeniable fact of life.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

One Morning in a Farm

Adiv's first trip to the farm was more fun than I'd anticipated. I was a wee bit apprehensive before we got there. I woke him up early for milk (so he'd poop and be done with it before we set out), and muttered hurried prayers while I got his food ready.

"Jesus, please let him be well behaved. Spare us the embarassing tantrums."

On the way to the farm, he fell asleep. Once we got there, he seemed to enjoy all the greenary, the distant barking of dogs, and Gerry's friendly welcome. We were directed to an open, cemented shed, where Gerry's wife Yamini sat mixing paints and getting the art projects ready. Meanwhile, after exchanging pleasantries, we busied ourselves with the toys arranged on the table. The other kids and mommies began arriving, and soon everyone was talking and playing. Initially Adiv wasn't so sure he wanted to share all those toys with the other kids, but eventually he got called for his art work. He sat on a little chair next to Yamini, and splashed paint on a piece of chart paper. He then gleefully dipped his fingers in paint, before giving his first masterpiece its final touches. He got off rather grudgingly, as the next child was waiting his turn. I distracted him with more blocks, while the other kids finished their paintings. Then, it was time to meet the animals. We first met and fed the geese. Adiv didn't seem even remotely scared. He ran towards them, while I tried to restrain him. Then it was time for the donkeys. Each child was given carrots to feed the donkeys. Adiv got his turn and enjoyed it. He even went searching for other carrots that he could feed the donkeys. He seemed to love Oscar, a friendly donkey who runs around, popping in every now and then for a pat or a tickle on the nose.

From there we went to the rabbits. They were fed carrots and beans. At one point, Adiv seemed to forcefeeding a rabbit who already had carrot in its mouth. I carried him out, and led him to the pig sty; a messy sight with two enormous pigs lounging in its midst. Between them, we spotted teeny piglets who were just two days old. Adiv was fascinated! On the way to the pig sty, we'd even felt the pregnant belly of a gentle cow. "Moo Moo" said Adiv, as he rubbed her patient belly.

After this enriching experience, the kids were led back into the play area, for their snack. Adiv gorged on the biscuits and watermelon, while I ate some of the delicious apple crumb cake that was served. The kids were given hot chocolate, while we mommies got tea or coffee. After our snack, it was time to pot a lily plant. A huge pot had to be filled with sand first, and the kids obliged only too happily, with little spades. Adiv merely dug into the pot with his little yellow spade. Then they used mugs to fill it up with water. Then Gerry planted the lily. The kids were then allowed to throw in fish and tadpoles. Adiv held on to his little fish for a few seconds with surprising gentleness. "Chisshh", he whispered in awe.

At the end of this activity, the kids were all tired and dirty. So we decided to part, amidst promises of returning every week for more. As we wandered out, we made one more stop. The huge netted trampoline beckoned to the kids. They enjoyed it, and Adiv seemed ecstatic, jumping on it. He laughed and ran in circles, falling, getting up, and jumping again. He was having so much fun, he didn't want to return. He was dragged back into the car, where he fell asleep almost immediately.

Thus ended our first Tuesday at Gerry's farm. Both Adiv and I look forward to more Tuesdays at the farm.

Pictures will follow later!

Thursday, 2 July 2009


Last week, we drove down to my mom's ancestral home in Mulanthurathy. We were in Cochin for a wedding, and we'd kept aside one day to eat at the Grand, and do some sight seeing. So when a cousin suggested we drive down to Mulanthurathy, we agreed immediately. Adiv slept peacefully in the car, while we enjoyed tales from the distant past. 45 minutes later, we drove in to what seemed like a developing town; shops, beauty parlors, offices! However, our disappointment was soon replaced with excitement when we turned into the road leading to the house. Suddenly it was dark, and the narrow winding road seemed surrounded by rubber trees and old homes. Part of the road had been tarred, but mostly it was a kutcha road.
As we approached the house, we saw it from a distance, standing in dignified silence. An old aging house that had witnessed several births and deaths, good times and bad, it now lay vacant. It however continued to have an aura of mystery surrounding it. The pictures in the house just made it more interesting.

My great grandfather, Kunjikora Chaly

Kunjokorah Chaly's father, Kochukorah Chaly
Kochukorah Chaly was a visionary in his time. Educated and friend to the Cochin Maharaja, he built roads, a hospital, and a school in Mulanthurathy. He did however use his influence to his advantage, when he transfered the Parimala Thirumeni from the Mulanthurathy church. The Thirumeni left, giving the family a curse. Then began the downfall of the Chalys. However, the Thirumeni also blessed another poor family who offered him rest and food in their house. That started the rise of the well known Kandathil family in Kerala.
The naalu kettu or inner courtyard

Wooden staircase leading to the top floor

Upstairs window overlooking the naalu kettu

We enjoyed this Jackfruit later Surrounded by rubber trees
We also went to this older ancestral tharavadu that wasn't very far from the house we'd visited. Supposedly haunted by the spirit of a manservant who was murdered centuries ago, this house has been desserted for years. Noone lives here anymore, and not many children come and play within its compounds. Legend has it that 6 pots of gold were hidden in this house. 4 of these pots were recovered and displayed in various homes. 2 are yet to be discovered. A house with a separate building that once housed soldiers and stables for horses and an elephant, now stands alone, an aging, tired, decrepit soul. We walked around the house, soaking up the silence and all the legendary tales that surrounded it.
Then, after this short halt, we were off to Cochin, to our next destination; Karimeen at the Grand!