Monday, February 27, 2012


Let me start with this – I have joined a new work place and it suits me fine, I like what I do and have time for my family. My work place is closer home and life has a completely new perspective.

The empty land next plot to my current office building is full of grass, plants some trees and creepers, uneven, unruly and showed signs of neglect and was pure wild growth. Some patch in the middle was cleared and the software engineers, from our office played cricket there every Friday evening. And when they did, the ball went into thick marshes when an technically able software engineer but sports challenged batsman hit the ball and everyone went searching for it. Most of the days there are cabs that come to my office that are parked there under the shade of a random tree. Its a L shaped plot and cordoned by a wall. In the middle of all this there is well, a large one, like the common wells that would be seen in villages.

The west face of our building faces this empty ground and since this is coloured glass and has the exit staircase that can be used by those who do not wish to take the lift. Since I take the stairs most of the time, I get an unobstructed view of this piece of land. Today as I went up for chai, I was thinking about how this entire area might have been agricultural land once upon a time and how this part would have been green and would have provided livelihood to many. The adjacent plot to this ground ( third plot in the row) has a huge unoccupied 10 storey building, the ground floor of which has some 9 audis, all White, parked, there. I also wonder why there are so many Audis parked there. There are many mysteries in life, I take this as yet another one.

Atleast for the last 40 days, whenever I watched this empty ground, I wondered how rich the owner might be and if I would ever own a plot this size and scope. Funny.. this morning however, I noticed a JCB levelling this empty ground. Both when I went for morning tea and lunch the giant JCB was slowly and steadily clearing the wild grass and was levelling the ground. Very evenly in giant circles and the lines it left behind was as if a giant ran his fingers through the soil there. I was so attracted to it, i spent a solid 2 - 3 minutes watching the careful, planned maneuvers of the IFE ( Industrial and Farm equipment). I guessed it might be levelled for some kind of a tournament the IT companies organise for their employees.

Only when I walked out today the smell hit me. Soil, the wetness below and the grass together brought out a smell that instantly took me back to my childhood. Memories of "Mangu", my maternal grand mothers’ house in Potta, memories of my grand parents all came together in a flash. Scents have this ability to draw back long lost memories, hidden under layers and layers of time..... My grand father and "Mangu" are no more. My grand mom does not live there any more and the house around 100 years old stands tall waiting to deteriorate. Anytime.

While we ( My siblings and me) were young, we went to kerala during summer holidays the complete two months was spent there in the love, care and embrace of our grand parents. And we were loved by our other relatives as well. Today I see that as a great gift my parents gave me during my childhood. Had an opportunity to mingle with my cousins, my uncles and aunts though we were far away in chennai. While we visited other relatives we had short stays in their houses, majority of the stay was at Potta which is my maternal grand parents place.

We had simple pleasures and past time while we spent our time at Potta. Playing with our cousins all kinds of traditional games, playing on the swing, going fishing in the canal and pond, going to our fields, helping with the gathering and plucking of mangoes, coconuts, eating and relishing all those lovely homegrown stuff at home. all kinds of Mangoes - we had atleast 4- 5 varieties of them, Jackfruit ( again around 3 varieties), Chamba (love apples) , Mulberries, Ambazhanga, Pera (Guava), Njaval ( the dark purple coloured Jamuns ), luvikka, cashew fruit and the nut, plantains ( multiple varieties), mulberries and whole lot of gooseberries ( again atleast 3 types of them).

I still remember the excitement of seeing a Bambloose naranga.. a huge really huge sweet lime variety. and whenever we could we were treated to tender coconuts - the ones from a special variety called "gowli thengu" which had orangish nuts. Other than the homegrown fruits, nuts and berries, our grandmother used to make such wonderful snacks for us to eat like Plantain chips, Tapioca chips, Achappam, Kuzhalappam, Chakka ada, Oulose podi, Unda, Kuzhiappam, Vatteppam, Kinnathappam and Kuzhalappam. These are stuff we used to eat other than our delicious breakfast, lunch and Dinner and as you can see, our primary past time then, however was giving as much work to our digestive system. And at that age, I guess only that mattered and so we filled our stomachs as much as we could.

One more important task we used to take upon ourselves was feeding Mangu. Mangu was my grandfathers buffalo specifically brought up so that we would have milk at home, during summer vacation when all kids land up. We had yet another favorite past time ( under the guidance of our grandfather, of course) - Mangu loves eating grass and it has to be pulled out from our " Parambu" and the best part is washing the grass in our Pond ( which strictly is done by our Appapan – that’s how we called our grand father). We loved it so much that as long as we were there, Mangu never gets to eat hay, we keep piling her food channel in the cowshed ("Thozhuthu") with green fresh grass. Ahhh that smell - when you pull fresh bright green grass from wet soil, the fragrance of rich brown earth mixed with the lovely smell of grass is unbelievably soothing and personally it takes me back some decades to the comfort of my maternal home where we had a safe, carefree loving life. And today those lovely days came to my mind for a flash and left me with a longing smile...


Mangu’s Thozhuthu is as old as the house.
I am amazed what the internet can do for you. all the above pictures look similar to the images that I had in my memories.

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