Friday, May 27, 2011

Smiles worth more than a million dollars

I still remember my first flight.  I didnt sleep well that entire night out of sheer excitement - the flight was an early morning one and I was probably the first one to be ready.  I remember sitting in the window seat and feeling the exhilaration of the aircraft being lifted into the air.  The feeling of transcending into space, literally, a sweet dizziness and seeing the earth move away from you putting you into a completely different orbit are unforgettable moments in life.

During the flight, there were so many thoughts, inbetween all those conversations we had, but the one I clearly remember is the thought about taking  my parents on a flight journey somewhere, someplace... and that was many many years ago..

I almost lost the chance when my sister was planning the same with my parents, and fortuntely ( how mean of me) that didnt happen and a couple of earlier occasions when i suggested this to my parents, they werent actually ready.  They both were trying to get over a bad phase in their lives, and I didnt want to force them, into anything they didnt want to do at that time.

Now they are much better and when Joel, my third generation cousin, invited us for his marriage, a couple of months back ( his wedding was on 22nd May and he was so thoughtful to invite us in March, the next day after finalising his wedding.) at Kerala, the idea was back again.  By now, I pretty well know how to deal with my parents, If I ask them, shall we go by flight, there would be other suggestions, so one day I called them and said, we will go for Joel's wedding by flight. complete silence on the other end of the telephone.  Appacha, I have blocked the tickets and in another 2 days time, tell me if the timings are convenient.  No defences, no opposition, no contradictions and dad mumbled let me discuss with Ammachi and call you back.  Thank God, I thought.

A couple of days later my dad confirmed the dates are fine and thus my parents first flight was finalised.  Infact, we were going for Joels wedding from multiple directions - My sis and family along with my son, Dennu, were coming from Bangalore.  Dennu is spending time with my sister as part of his 2nd lap of holiday tour. Joe had a official trip to Coimbatore coinciding with Joel's wedding, so he promised to reach Aripalam, ( my dad's place) by car. And i was flying down with my parents through Cochin.

I much later realised, actually during the wedding day, I did the wisest things in my life in taking my parents to Kerala in a flight for a relatives wedding, as almost all my typical Mallu relatives got to know about their flight journey and my parents were brimming with pride.

On the day of the journey, I went to pick up my parents from their place and I saw my parents all dressed and ready like little children, who are promised to be taken to a theme park, excitement written large and bold in their eyes.  Smiling and laughing we went to the airport on a saturday afternoon.  I remembered the days when I held their hands and was led to the known to the unknown in multiple environments during all those growing up Juvinelle years, when all I had was the faith and trust in them.  I knew if my dad was around I had nothing to fear.  I am truly biased that way about my dad.  Years later, today I saw the roles reversed, I saw their trust and pride in me.

All went well.  The normally bustling airport was a little more crowded, being a saturday and also partly because of all the renovation works going on in the Chennai airport. unlike a working day when the lounges are filled with Corporate honchos with emotion-less faces going around in a detached manner, this day had more of a family crowd and I guess that must have made my parents a little more comfortable.

My mom was a little worried about her first flight - she is slightly claustrophobic.  Even in a car, the first thing that she will ask is to put the shutters down for air to come in.  she feels suffocated in closed environments.  Infact, i was a little worried too about her. 

The baggage taken in I handed over the boarding passes and they were thrilled to see even the tickets.  Security check for my dad was interesting - he missed his silver rosary in his pockets and the machine beeped so he had to part with it for few minutes.  He checked with me if the baggage will arrive safely.  My mom wouldnt part with her handbag, as it had jewels that we had to wear for the wedding.  she quickly grabbed her bag after security check and waited for a few minutes in the lounge to see the entire set of Chennai Super Kings entourage coming into the lounge. 

finally we boarded the aircraft with the smiles of my parents broadening by the minute, so many people calling from Kerala to check if they have started, and my dad wanting to sit near the window.  This being a big aircraft we all could sit in the same row and my mom told my dad, again like a little child, after a little while I want to sit near the window.  My parents are such lovely couple, in sync with each other and they have the knack of managing each other.  I sometimes feel they balance each other so well that i have so much to learn from them. I heard my dad say, "anyway you would sleep in a little while, so it doesnt matter".  I made a mental note to check with the inflight executive about availability of an empty window seat.

The excitement on my dads face was quite evident and I saw him explaining a lot of things to mom and I had the opportunity to see the expression on the faces of my parents took off. They were joyous, smiling and so happy.  Excited is an understatement - My dad could see and identify some landmarks in Chennai and after a while was enjoying the beauty of clouds all around. The flight touched Trivandrum before it reached Cochin and I heard Dad say to his nephew while the flight landed in Trivandrum, one journey and we have two take-offs and two landings. 

Before the flight took off from Trivandrum, checked with the airhostess and organised a different window seat for dad so Mom could also sit near a window.  My dad thoroughly enjoyed the journey, mom too, but she started having ear pain after a little while, but she was fine.

 
I was revelling in their joy and happiness all through this journey - The smiles of my parents brought so much of satisfaction and I know I could never ever repay them even in part for all that they have done for me and the sacrifices they had to make, which made me what I am today. Atleast this, and I am so thankful for this opportunity.  And as a first born at home, I could do it before my brother or sister could do it for them.


I have just one regret though - I should have done this much much earlier. :-)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Telepathy

If you search for the definition of Telepathy this is what you find - that it is the ability to send and receive thoughts from one mind to another and is a natural ability of the human mind. Okay lets park it here and let me go on to share how I am connected to certain people through this amazing ability called Telepathy.

Today was a hectic day – a full day session with around 27 participants can be a wee bit tiring, if I may say so.

And what am I doing in the middle of night, after the tiring day, typing on my keyboard like crazy – hmmm.. I need to start a separate blog ( not just a blog post) to discuss that. For the time being lets say that I am trying to distract myself from something that I am not able to pull myself away from.

The topic of my blogpost is about Telepathy and today while I was travelling back from office, out of the blue I was feeling extremely sad – to an extent where I had gooseflesh and I was reminiscing certain memories and how I am missing a very close friend. Its been a long time since I heard this voice and inspite of the nice session that I had and the laughter & fun that I shared with the participants of my session I suddenly felt so alone and my eyes were welling up. I am worst when I turn emotional and I didn’t want ending up sobbing in the office bus giving ideas to people who were travelling with me and so I decided to call back all those people whose calls I had missed while I was in the session. I finished all the calls and by then I had reached home and was feeling too lazy to do anything at home.

An empty house is not what I wanted to see at the end of this day, but I had very little options. I called Joe, and as usual his number was engaged and when I called the second time, he swapped his call and took my call in and I knew he is in the middle of a call and had to quickly wind up. So I sat there staring at the ceiling, not having the motivation to do anything. I was having my fruit dinner – started with a mango and the mangoes were really good, so I had yet another mango. With my dinner over,back to square one. What do I do now ?

That’s when the call came, and well, the friend who I was thinking of so much today called me and we had a nice lovely chat. Isnt this Telepathy?

I must have chattered away and bored this person to death, but you see this person is a very good friend and hence patiently heard me.

So is this what I wanted to blog about in the middle of the night?

I am feeling sleepy and I am going to bed now after a glass of warm milk while you can keep guessing why I am still smiling. A delicious thought perhaps ?

On a really Lighter note !!!

My title at the organization that I work says that I am a Leadership Performance Consultant and as part of my passion and occupation, I facilitate multiple streams of leadership programmes though I head an important initiatve within the unit, that I work.

Most of the days I am addressing different sets of people – sometimes seniors, middle management, some times junior folks in the organization and other times new joinees from the lateral stream. Whoever my audience are I feel a transformed person in front of a group and I usually give my best, though I completely realize, learning is the responsibility and it is the onus of the learner and not the facilitator and as a facilitator, I can only make the process of learning interesting, easy and the journey memorable.

And every session is unique and different and depends largely on the audience and their energy levels and interactions. I really love what I do, and I feel that is one of the reasons for all the appreciation that I receive and also the reason for my transformation in front of my audience.

So I went ahead full steam for the session today which was about branding our associates at the organization while they take up consulting assignments with the our esteemed customers and how to represent the organization by creating a powerful presence of the self. It’s a full day session and normally I take in around 20 nominations and today of all days there were around 27 participants and I went ahead with the session.

Right from the beginning I realized the session was going to be great, as there was a participant, who is a senior leader and a good friend with a great sense of humour and couple of others who are the type to make very intelligent interruptions. And the others were also quite interactive. So the session went on pretty well and I was quite happy about how the session was progressing and I was swelling in pride, while enjoying the whole experience of facilitating the session. The humour of some of the people enhanced the entire session and atleast to me there was no single boring moment.

The afternoon session had an hour of Dining etiquette through a group activity and the teams were working and making presentations on the activity, when it happened. I heard the joke and was wanted to walk out of the class to LOL ( he he), but I had to control myself and laugh very diplomatically. As part of the activity, I was giving some inputs about toasting and how it is generally done. I was explaining about how everyone would be given small wineglasses with enough wine to take just a couple of sips and the one who gives the toast raises the Wine glass and says a few words honoring a person, a relationship or about a special occasion.

I also on a serious note added that you do not drink the wine until the toast is made and out popped a question for one of my participants - “ Can I ask for side dish for the wine?” I was like “ what ?” “ Did I really hear you right?” and I saw some of the smart ones in the session were controlling their laughter and I literally wanted to ROTFL ( ha ha).. I had to tell him that the wine that I was referring to was not the Wine available in the local “ Wine shops” and by then the entire class was roaring with laughter. Sidedish for the wine during toasting – how funny can it get?

I took some time later explaining to this participant the significance of toasting and the occasions where toasts are given and how.

I still had a smile and I know this smile is going to be there on my face for some time to come.

What does my name symbolise?

The best sound in the entire universe is the sound of one’s own name – Dunno who has said this, but I am sure it is so true. I am very well aware of the fact that my name is a combination of my Dad’s and mom’s name combined together. My Dad is Vincent and my Mom’s name is Rosy. While the short form of Vincent is Vincy, my name has different reasons of its origin as cited above. Vincy is such a common name in Kerala that every house would have a Vincy in their household, if not, atleast some funny variations such as Jincy, Bincy or Sincy. By the way Joe’s sister-in-law is Jincy and one of his niece’s name is Sincy. Bahhh…

I was wondering what my name symbolizes and did a google search and here is what I found about my name.

Vincy originates from the Roman name Vincentius, which was from Latin vincere "to conquer". This was the name of several saints. The postimpressionist painter Vincent van Gogh was a famous bearer of this name.

Although the name Vincy creates idealism and the urge to help others, it causes a blunt expression that alienates others.

* This name, when combined with the last name, can frustrate happiness, contentment, and success, as well as cause health weaknesses in the nervous system, and tension or accidents to the head.

* Your name of Vincy has given you an idealistic nature with a desire to help others.

* Your initiative often causes you to be the first to act when you see a need.

* Since you are impressionable and receptive, you feel the misfortunes of others very keenly.

* However, this name makes it awkward for you to express your deeper thoughts and feelings with finesse and diplomacy to the extent that your candid, sometimes blunt, manner of speaking creates misunderstandings with others.

* Being somewhat self-centred, you learn through your own experiences, as you rarely take advice from others.

* Yet, you are sensitive and very easily hurt and offended.

* You long for praise and appreciation for your efforts, but others find it difficult to understand you.

I do see a lot of similarities to what I am and what my name symbolizes. So is it my name that makes me what I am or vice versa.

But I know one thing for sure, I don’t think there is anyone in this world who has completely understood me :-) :-()  Am I proud?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Culnary abilities displayed on Easter ( Photo blog)

This Easter we decided to call guests home that includes Joe's cousins and my parents.  I decided to showcase my abilities in syrian christian cuisine and I came up with the Easter Menu with consensus from Joe.  An A4 size paper was all I needed to put things together.

Easter Menu & my Cheat sheet
With the menu in place, after good friday service, Joe and I set out to do the shopping and the cutting / slicing / cleaning / grinding etc., was done on saturday. The main course Mutton Biriyani was ordered outside while I set out to cook the following and each one of these came out so well, that I had a lot of appreciations coming my way after the party.


The Easter eggs were a big hit with the college going kids  and the grown ups as they were scrambling together to assemble the toys with great difficulty while the little ones like Joel and Dennu finding it easy to put them together. Everyone had tatoos and here are some tatoos, that i managed to photograph in between all the regular confusions that come up in a party.  I did miss taking tatoos on chetan and chechi, which I really regret now.

Before the excitement of Easter eggs died down the men slowly moved to their favourite activity some willing to be photographed some not...
The Booze party

As per plan the ordered stuff came in on time and here are some pictures on what I cooked.  There were more salads, cutlets, biriyani and Kallappams, which I didnt find the time to photograph.

Chicken Curry

Chicken Roast

Syrian Beef Fry
 and finally, I managed to impress everyone with this one...

Russian Salad - my Favourite

Ice cream with chocolate sauce and Gulab Jamun were the desserts.  ( sorry, no photographs of that)

So thus went another family get-to-gether in the name of Easter. 

P.S for readers if any:
I see the visitors to my blog are slowly but steadily increasing.  I will be grateful for inputs on my writing style and about my blogs.  While i had no intention initially of letting others read what I am writing, I seemed to have changed a leetle beet..  :-).  so folks, leave me some comments and I would be glad to read them.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Memories

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. Yes, even if we have lost or not in touch with the people, happiness, the environment, or the ambience of a particular period, a memory helps in reliving them for a long time to come.

It makes us laugh, smile, motivate, love, sometimes cry and yes, sometimes it makes us sad. Memory can be triggered by sights, sounds, smell, solitude, emotions, and, why, even silence.

Every time I cross Chalakudy Railway station, which is my mom’s hometown ( a small but significant hamlet in Kerala), which used to be our summer vacation haven during our ( my siblings, cousins and mine) growing up years that are the best part of our childhood, I am pleasantly reminded of a frail old man’s figure in the station, which we all used to await when we reach that station. That face, that smile and little hug that my grandfather used to give is a wonderful memory that flashes in my mind when I reach or cross Chalakudy. These days my trips via Chalakudy are quite rare, but whenever I happen to cross this station, the appearance of this old man with a “thorthu” ( a towel in Malayalam) on his shoulders over his shirt, is a priceless memory.

My grandfather was a very gentle man to us, the grandkids, very lovable, but had a coarse voice. He was at his best in the evenings, after a few shots and always brings us goodies which he used to give us after our evening family prayers to each one of us, grand children, when we go to him where he sits alone near the “ Kaiyala” ( his room and that’s what we call that room) for prayer to give him the “ Stuthi” ( stuthi is praising the lord in Malayalam, that we do as a ritual after family prayers are over and it has to be given in descending order, the older family member gets the stuthi first and so on. We do not have to give stuthi to people younger than us). How we used to wait all through the prayer to see what he has brought us and he made sure every day, he brought something different. Sometimes it was small toffees, sometimes biscuits and sometimes sweets made in the local stores.

He always had a mischievous smile, ensured we were safe in a place like Chalakudy as we were typically the “city-bred” children, not very aware of the dangers awaiting us in the deep pond, or the force of water in the canal or the slithering creatures around and was sometimes very strict with us. My brother and I were the naughtiest and craziest among the kids, climbing trees, going to the pond and canal, playing with Mangu, ( mangu was our source of milk ), tying an oonjal ( swing) on the kada chakka tree and swinging on it like crazy kids, which all had an element of risk in it and my grandparents very well knew that my dad wont take it lightly if we even got slightly hurt.

Chalakudy evokes a set of memories, that are so pleasant, that I wish that the time machine turns back 30 years and we are all back into that time.

Then there are these memories that flood into my little head when I smell certain stuff. Take for example Cuticura powder. That instantly brings to me my grandparents dressing room with that little mirror and table. Those days actually the room looked so big and during my last visit I felt the room had actually shrunk and realized very stupidly that it was I that had grown in real life and in reality the room size remains the same. It was true of that entire house.

And similarly perfumes like Brut, Royal Mirage and Poison, ( very mallu perfumes) remind me of my college and pre marriage days and brings to me faces of Shajan, Johnson and Paulson who used to bring loads of these perfumes when ever they visited us during their vacation to India.

Zo-Zo reminds me of my honeymoon ( what a funny term, I am using it due to lack of alternative terms and any other word will not evoke the same kind of feeling as this word) time ( obviously with Joe) and reminds me of our trip to Yercaud, Thalassery and Thrissur during that time.

And there are feelings that evoke memories of certain people. Say for example, my comforter, Petula, when I am sad, its her face that comes to my mind. And many times unbelievably I have to think of her and she calls, wherever she is. A mark of true friendship and love. And Petula also reminds me of my Yercaud days, yet another lovely period in my life.

Solitude at office reminds me of the days when together the women at office enjoyed the powers of “Women mafia”. The HR, CoRCC and SLC of the place where I work were full of women and our lunch get-togethers used to be so much fun. The variety of food itself , the gossip and some intrinsic details that we discuss about many people in the organization, the conversations we have with some old men here and giving meanings to every word that we utter without any benign intention. It used be ruckus when we got together, laughing, joking, pulling each other’s legs, getting our spouses families involved and of course laughing at each one of us.

But you know what dear Reader, my blog isn’t about anything that I have discussed so far.

There are people who are in our memories, not constrained by any of these – such as sights, smells, emotions, feelings or solitude. They are filled omnipresent in memory and need no stimulant to get the attention. Memories of these ( very very few people, maybe just one or two and maybe alive or dead) people are constantly in mind. They never go away, except during sleep – We smile, laugh, talk, converse, look at these people in our memories constantly, they become so much part of you. They might or might not be in touch you in real life. They give you reasons to motivate yourselves, to smile, their memories are close to our hearts and are pleasant reminders of god’s blessings in our lives. And deep within, we love them as much as we love ourselves.

Do you have such people in your life? Such memories? I do and I know who I am talking about.

Identity Crisis

I am not a dreamer
But I dream
Consistently

I am not a Gardener
But I tend to my plants
Caringly

I am not a Painter
But I paint
Lovingly

I am not a Teacher
But I teach
Enthusiastically

I am not a great writer
But I write
Randomly

I am not even an average baker
But I bake
Rarely

I am not a reader
But I read
Emotionally

I am not a “Pray”er
But I pray
Sincerely

I am not a Learner
But I continue to learn
Energetically

I am not a “ love”-r
But I love
Passionately !!

That still leaves me
With one prominent question
Who am I?
WHO THE HELL AM I?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Nadavaramba Palli Perunaal

I want to start this blog post with two caveats this time.

1. This is going to be one hell of a long post
2. A lot of domestic affairs are to be discussed in this post and nothing of the intellectual kinds.

So, if you are still interested please read on…

While I fully well understand that the blog post heading itself does not make sense to anyone else other than me, I can promise that I will unravel the mystery of the title as we progress into the blog.

This post is about the terrific weekend I had during the last weekend ( 30th April and 1st May 2011) at my cousin’s place, where I was smothered in love by my aunt and cousins, pampered by my brothers & their wives and felt like the little kid, I once was, when I frequented this small town in Kerala’s Trichur district called Nadavaramba.

Nadavaramba is a humble little town near Irinjalakuda ( to be pronounced with a typical nasal twang of the Malayalee). Irinjalakuda is my dad’s hometown and has a railway station to its credit, which was opened recently. There is a little bit of confusion about the name of the station, which is commonly called Kalletumkkara. Nadavaramba is just 10 – 15 mins away from Irinjalakuda.

Nadavaramba is the place where my grandfather has married off his youngest daughter named Kochannam. My Dad is the youngest in the family and Kochannam is the youngest among the daughters. My aunt has 6 children which gives me 4 lovely brothers and 2 lovely sisters. We used visit Nadavaramba during every summer vacation. I remember playing with everyone. My older brothers Johnson and Paulson used to be very nice to us. Jaison was my age and he was the rogue and I distinctly remember him fighting with me once. In fact, he fought with me and threw ‘Charal’ on me. Charal is the coarser and bigger version of fine sand that you see near the seashore. Nadavaramba is rocky region and there is no fine sand there. I also remember throwing a tantrum to my parents saying that I do not want to stay there and would want to go to Potta. Potta is where my maternal grandparents stayed and I still love the place with all my life.

Potta needs a completely fresh blog post and I definitely have to do one on it.

The younger one’s there are a little milder which includes the girls ( Maries and Annies) and Vinu and they are mostly well behaved. The girls were all married off quite early and the last and the youngest of all my Dad’s side cousins put together, Winson ( aka Vinu) was married in 2009 and that was my last trip to Nadavaramba. Vinu and his wife Ria have a very cute son now who just completed a year last week.

The older two cousins ( Johnson and Paulson) were in Bahrain for ages and while I was in high school and college used come home at least for a week during their holidays every 2 years loaded with so much of gifts that I still think no one in my life has given me so many gifts. It is not the money value of the gifts, but the very act of choosing the right ones for every one in the family when they themselves has so many relatives in Kerala. Even during those days ( 2 decades back) our family was special to them and they were special to us.

In fact, to me, Johnson and Paulson, were the older brothers that I had longed for in my life. I always wanted to have an older brother, while I only had a younger one. They taught me and Viju ( my younger brother) to write Malayalam by insisting that when we write to them to Bahrain ( those were the days of snail mail) we have to write only in Malayalam. They used to correct our letters, add jokes and liberal dosage of sarcasm and send back the parts with mistakes, by cutting and sticking them in a new sheet. I used love receiving letters to them and we used to correspond regularly to them until I got married. Marriage brings in a lot of changes and I guess I was trying to cope with everything and lost the constant touch with them, only for a short period and I think it was Paulson chetan’s sickness which brought us back together.

I remember Johnson Chetan’s wedding, all of us went from Chennai and I was studying in Stella Maris College then. Johnson Chetan’s wife is Vincy and I have to call her Vincy chechi, which sounded funny first and now after 19 years, it does not. All my cousins are married now and in the Tharavad, my aunt and Jaison’s family live together ( Sheeja, Jaison’s wife is such a sweetheart), The older ones have built their homes at a stone’s throw away from Tharavaad. The younger one Vinu lives in Ernakulam where he works.

Paulson chetan had to return back to India after his kidney problem worsened a couple of years back and Jaison went to Bahrain. Paulson Chetan had his Kidney transplanted and was on rest for more than a year and he is now getting back to normal.

The last week was very special to my aunt’s family. There were a lot of reasons to cheer. 25th April was the blessing and veneration of their new church in which all of my cousins play an active part, 26th April was the 19th wedding Anniversary of Johnson chetan and Vincy chechi, 27th April was the first holy communion of Joel and Justin ( Johnson chetans third and Jaison’s only child), 28th April was Rivin’s ( Babloo is his pet name and he is Vinu’s and Ria’s son) 1st birthday, 30th April was their patron Saint St. Sebastian’s feast, which in Malayalam is called Perunaal. A perunaal is a feast of the patron saint of the church.
The St.Sebastian's Church at Nadavaramba

Now I guess the title “Nadavaramba Palli Perunaal” makes sense. Palli in Malayalam, in this context means Church. Palli could also represent a mosque.

The "Pradhakshanam" ( Procession)
Now more than that, Jaison and Johnson chetan had come down to India from Bahrain for their two month vacation after a gap of 2 years, and It was during this time last year that Paulson chetan had his surgery for transplanting his kidney, and for all us, this time denotes his rebirth. And these guys, especially Paulson chetan had called me and Joe and had asked us to block our calendar after Easter, to come to Nadavaramba to be part of their week long celebrations, not just once, but so many times. While we both enthusiastically agreed initially with a strong will to go there if not for 6 days, at least for a couple of days, later reality caught up, Joe was busy with work and he could not take off and I had taken a month’s leave and didn’t find it right to ask for leave again within a couple of weeks. So we dropped the idea of going there with definitely a heavy heart – To me meeting these people is meeting your own blood and they shower so much true love. They are extremely caring.

On a day prior to Easter, on 23rd April, Paulson Chetan and our dear Minnari, ( that’s the pet name of Veena Chechi, his wife) called and gave me a earful and a stomachful. I felt really really bad, They gave us some 6 months notice and repeated reminders whenever they called and here we are, not ready to go… I thought the long and short of it and decided to go at least during the weekend.

I waited for the Easter celebrations to die down and told Joe about my decision and he was only happy to send me ( as long as I didn’t ask him to accompany me, he didn’t have an issue). To any other house in Kerala, I wouldn’t want to go alone, but to these people’s house, I didn’t have to worry. And I managed to get tickets to reach Irinjalakuda ( onward by bus and the return by train, thanks to Joe’s efforts) and till Thursday, my tickets weren’t confirmed and the ongoing pilots strike didn’t leave me much options with the flight.

And on 29th after my sessions I boarded the Volvo bus to Nadavaramba alone. And I hadn’t told my cousins about my trip as I wanted it to be a surprise. The journey was quite good, except for the feeling that the bus will jam into something anytime, looking at the speed of the bus. In fact I reached quite early and managed to surprise everyone, every single person in the household. Every one had a similar set of questions, you came alone?, how did you come? Where are the others? Why didn’t you tell us? Where is Joe and Denny?. Some hit me lovingly, some hugged me, some rapped me on my head, some simply smiled and to me they all were such assurances of  being loved deeply, even after so many years..

After the initial questions and confirming multiple times that I have done the right thing, they set terms as to how I will spend the next two days.. Breakfast in Tharavad, Lunch in Johnson Chetan’s house and dinner in Paulson chetan’s house and the same next day. And thus it went.. I became a little girl once again, back into my childhood and gave into the pampering, love and affection being showered on me, especially by the 2 older ones. They kept watching over me like two mother hens.. The others were no better.. especially my aunt and the two older chechi’s. They wouldn’t allow me to do any work. I was checked on multiple times about whether I had food, sweets etc., etc., at least 3 times ( once in every house)

The Palli Perunaal meant “Ambu” or the “Arrow” being brought to every house, accompanied by a decorated Kuda (Umbrella), special prayers at home with the ambu kept at home and taking it back to the church in the evening as a procession laced with Crackers, fireworks and the entire neighborhood lit up in decorative lights. I had the privilege of carrying the ambu of Paulson Chetan’s house with Veena Chechi to the church and leaving it at the altar. Every house is also decorated with “ Kodi” or a flag mast made of “VazhaPindi”, ( trunk of a plantain tree) and the competition there is about whose Kodi looks the best. I had the opportunity to help decorate two Kodi’s and the one at the Tharavad was done by the kids and Jaison, which definitely was the best.  Here is a picture of all three Kodi's


We burst crackers, had traditional Syrian platter for Lunch and Dinner with the specialty dishes of Thrissur – Meen Curry ( Fish curry in coconut milk), Pothu fry ( Syrian beef fry), Pork and Kaaya ( Pork Fry with raw Nendhiran Plantain) and chicken fry. Puttu ( aka as battery by my cousins) is the speciality breakfast of my cousins and we had that as breakfast both the days. The other specialties include Vatteyappam, Kuzhiappam, Avulose podi and lot of sweets. The married girls with their husbands came and every house had at least 15 members and it was so nice to be part of such a big group – and especially being introduced to everyone as “Madrasile Achante Magal” ( The Madras Uncle’s daughter) an identity that I had forgotten for some time. I am only used to Dennu’s Mom, Joe’s wife, Leadership Performance Consultant, Satyamite and such stuff these days. It was nice to be called “Madrasile Achante Magal” and I would have been introduced at least 50 times like that. And the best part was internally like in the cartoon “Rose is Rose” that comes in The Hindu every day, Rose turns into high tech super woman some times and a small kid when she talks to her mother, I felt I was turning into that little girl when someone introduced me as “Madrasile Achante Magal”. Cheap Thrills of life.

What a difference it was – no laptops, I did not even carry my mobile ( actually left it in one house and completely forgot about it), flocked by my little nephews and nieces ( 10 of them to be exact, among them only 2 cute girls Joselyn and Merlin) and my sis-in-laws, talking, smiling, laughing, playing, pulling each others’ legs, remembering good old times, bursting crackers. Life was bliss for the last two days.

My aunt put her foot down and said I have to be in the Tharavaad on the last day, which I willingly obliged and had breakfast and lunch with her and went with the entire pattaalam to Church in the evening and took part in the ambu procession. I could not participate in the evening prayers after procession, final cracker show and could not see the “ Natakam” a drama staged after Perunaal in almost all churches in Kerala. I should not be complaining about the cracker show as Paulson chetan called me on my mobile and made sure I heard the bursting sound of crackers to complete my Perunaal experience. Where else can you find such fine brothers?

Both the guys called me multiple times to ensure I am safe in the train and have stopped calling only after they have ensured I have reached home.

Two days of complete bliss, fun and happiness and I feel so thrilled to have such a wonderful extended family which is such a rarity in today’s world. It was good to forget the metropolitan life, the masked smiles, non controversial conversations, corporate fundas, high tech IT world, maintaining etiquette, scientific gadgets and be with simple people with simple Joys, experience innocence and love and be what we are without having to put on an act in front of others.

I left this little town with a heart full of pleasant memories, gratitude for a wonderful family, real big grin and wanting to stay on there for just, just another day more. That reminds me I will be back in Irinjalakuda for Joel’s (a second cousin) wedding in May 2011, which could be topic for yet another long blog post.

The Nadavaramba Palli Perunaal rocked !!!