Saturday, July 28, 2007

Puthucode Memories

As promised, I am (finally!) ready to write about my trip to Kerala to participate in the Upanayanam and Choulam of my nephews.

I would like to warn at the very outset that this is not intended to be an elaborate commentary on Upanayanam and Choulam, as I could not keep questioning the priest at each ritual. Even otherwise, whenever I asked him to explain the meaning of some ritual, he would say, “here she comes with a paper and pen.” However, the meanings of some of the rituals could be seen here and there.

As I have already said, we had just done the grihapravesham (i, ii) of our flat and were planning to shift to the new place before we left for Kerala. Only later did we realise that the builder had some more work to finish, like the final coat of painting and the final polishing of the floor. Hence we decided to postpone shifting to a later date. However we had started the packing and were loading one room with the packed cartons.

This is how one of our rooms looked then (and now also).

Going to Kerala has always been exciting for me. I get lost in nostalgia. Though I have spent only ¼ of my life in Kerala, to this day that remains the most memorable time to me. We didn’t have any coffee joints or any cinema houses where we friends could get together. Nor did we have any shopping sprees where daddy’s hard earned money could be spent. We were confined to our agraharam and we did not even go to the other agraharams, unless there was a purpose. Then we had our thodu, (the stream) where we friends would meet every day and exchange stories (what happened between 6.30pm the previous day and 8.00am on that day) and had a lovely time splashing about in the water. Some of us also took along our younger siblings and taught them swimming. Our washing would also get over along with the bath. When we did not return in some reasonable time, our elders would stand outside our houses and would send word with others coming to the thodu, to ask us to come home soon “or else.” After school, we would again get together on the street, gramam or agraharam as it is known and play games of dice or I-spy, or simply run around and make a lot of noise. Nobody would check us. Then we would all go to the temple and meet others from the other gramams and by 6.30pm, we had to be inside our respective houses. No staying out after 6.30pm. There were so many events and happenings and stories to relate to our echiyamma (grandmother) and others when we came home. This was the only communication line they had. No phones; no getting together for the older women. Even we young girls had the privilege only till we attained puberty. After that it was only going to the thodu and temple. No loitering around in the gramam. Luckily for me, I left my gramam at that age, so I did not have any restrictions until I left. All these memories rush to my mind each time I plan a visit to Puthucode.

How come there isn’t as much to remember from the later years as there is from the first 14 years of my life? As usual, I always put this question to my best friend and philosopher, my dear husband. Depending on the mood of the day, he will give me a different but acceptable answer each time.

I had been going back almost every year in the beginning; actually every vacation when I was in college and also as long as our children were in primary school. It was only after I took up a full time job and my in-laws became old and I could not leave them alone that my visits became rare, just popping in for some important functions and returning the same evening.

As always, having started writing about my Upanayanam trip, I have drifted to my childhood days and Puthucode. This is, perhaps, what makes it so memorable. I don’t know if today’s children have so much to remember about the place they grow up in. Even today, when I start talking to my mother over phone, we will drift from one topic to another and finally wouldn’t discuss the topic on hand at all. Alas, that trend is fast disappearing. Today people have nothing to talk about after the cursory, “Hello, how do you do”. I sometimes feel, they are afraid they would disclose something about themselves or their family, if they talked more. It was not so then. Two people had to just meet and they would exchange everything they knew about everybody. They were not hesitant to discuss their children or family with others. Everyone accepted that every family had problems and by discussing with others they would invariably get a solution from the experience of someone or by drawing parallels. At the very least one got the tension out. I do not remember hearing of anyone having to go to a cousellor or a psychiatrist in those days. There were always friends, philosophers and guides in the gramam. It was one large family after all.


Suganya said...

This is a breeze from the past :). I remember my mom having similar stories, except she grew up in a village with lotsa cashew trees.

Srivalli said...

very nice to an insight to that time...great..


Asha said...

Pics look lovely.What a great trip.Good luck with your moving:)

Anonymous said...

Very nice post, but too brief for me.
I am totally with your comment about not speaking too much in case we blurt out our secrets. Yes it is true. Now a days everyone is busy only bragging about the super achievements of spouse and kids or buying some even more extravagant thing or another. It is hard to find someone to trust, sad but reflects the times we live in. Even one doesn't like to confide in family for fear of over burdening them with our worries, and friends are not real ones to whom one pours one's heart out.
I am pasting a translation of an article of Mahaperiyava of Kanchi here.
I hope it is OK.

"There is a belief amongst people that if they tell their worries to God, the problems will get solved. Let aside God resolves their problems, the fact that they are able to voice their concerns aloud , itself is pacifying to people.
Whereever they see God, they want to tell him their problems.
God is every where, but is not visible. People think that God is existing in only certain places.
They do not come to see me giving me some special respect or anything.
There's this belief that God is near me. Having the belief that whatever they tell me, it is similar to telling God, they get soothed by telling their problems to me.
Why spoil such a belief and such comfort obtained from this belief?
Why am I here? My life is to be spent listening to people's problems and comforting them. SO what if it is day or night? This body is made to listen to people's problems and comfort them.
If , by giving darshan and talking to people considerately, my health will get affected, that is no problem.
However the body is, this is strength for the mind and heart.
I am not proud that people are worshiping me. I am happy, that people see god in me and have such belief in God and worhiping HIM.
Because of me, people experience God and whatever work they do with the feeling that God is with them, such work will give me immense pleasure.
This is my strength.
So, please do not come in between the people and me."

SO this is our only refuge.

Please keep writing more and more puducode memories. Even though I love the food blog, this is much more close to me.

thanks, a fan.

peearkay said...


More puthucode stories please

kalyan said...

Itis very interesting to read
Visweswaran keep it up

vis said...

yes yes visweswaran keep it up.
though i wasnt aware he has a husband and wandered around puthucode in girly clothes trying to be back home by curfew time.

Anonymous said...

I am so much in agreement with you, with everything that you have mentioned in your article. I feel that children today really don't have much fun in life apart from spending time in school, in front of TV, eating junk food outside, etc., It has been one year since I came to USA and my mind thinks so much about India, my childhood days, my mother and sister. I speak to both of them everyday for more than hour and time just doesn't seem enough. Everyday we have so much to talk - sometimes (as you said), we forget the main intention of calling up. It really is good reading your blog - so much to read and learn from you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ammuppaatti (V.....a)
I am P S Hariharan (Hari) Puthucodeian and staying for the past 2 decades in Delhi. Recently,
I happened to see this Puthucode site and thought of conveying you my thanks.
It is a marvellous job you are doing. You made me to travel my good old childhood days. As a Puthucodian I am really proud of you by way of providing various facts viz., stories, receips, festivals etc., which, I agree, is very much necessary to understand for the current generation, who are living in jetspeed YUGAM.
Once again I am very grateful for your service.
You may be knowing me! (Some clues)
Both of our mother's name same (R....) Your sister (V......) is classmate of my cousin sister (K......m) I am from East village.
Hope we meet this year's Navarathri.

With warm regards,
P.S. Hariharan

Ammupatti said...

Hi Hariharan

I am glad you liked my blog. Thanks much. I dont think I am able to place you. I am not able to recollect any Hariharan from east village. You could be more open perhaps.Perhaps my brother would be able to recognise you.My mother's name doesn't start with a R either.

Anyway, thanks for visiting and posting a comment.

Happy Onam to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much. I hope your brother is Visweswaran who is 2 years younger to me. Chupra vadhyar (East village) is my periyappa. Guruvayoorappan and Seshan are my cousin brothers. Sugantha is my sister. Hope, you may, now understand.

Happy Onam

Ammupatti said...

Hi Hari

Now that you mentioned Sugandha I can recognize you as Sugandha's brother. My brothers and mother could recognize you as well.

Best wishes

Anonymous said...

Dear Ammupatti,

I accidentally landed on your blog when I was looking for pictures from this year's Navarathri celebrations. But it is a nice accident. I like your blog.

I have affiliations to both East Village (Grandmother's) as well as South Village (Grandfather's) from my father's side. However having grown up in Bombay my travels to Puthucode and stay was mostly during Navarathri and sometimes during summer vacations. I have been living for the past few years in the United States but still get fond memories about Puthucode especially during Navarathri.


Ravi Subramaniam

Ammupatti said...

HI Ravi

Thanks for visiting by. I am really keen to know more about your family at Puthucode. Could you give me more details, like your grandparents' and your father's name and if possible the location of your ancestral home.

I understand Navarathri was a grand affair this year also as usual.

Best wishes