Monthly Archives: March 2008

tagged

Silverine tagged me and here goes my first take at a tag. As a disobedient tagee this comes a bit late…
I swear all the answers are best to my knowledge and the most honest answers I can give.

1. LAST MOVIE YOU SAW IN A THEATER: “Taare Zameen Par”. Bolo wi-fi and youtube zindabad. Saved a lot of money( does not mean I’m stingy!)

2. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING? The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. Considering the fact that I have my exams coming up, my course books have been excavated and I’m trying to read them.

3. FAVORITE BOARD GAME? Chess if it is considered to be one. This sudden love for the game arose the other day, when I won a game for the first time. The opponent being a 8 year old kid ( Also, I taught her the game :P, sometimes being mean feels good)

4. FAVORITE MAGAZINE? Frontline, Business World, Outlook, Marie Claire, Reader’s Digest. When I started to learn Malayalam, Vanitha used to be a hot fav( even if I couldn’t understand half the stuff in it). With passing time, I’ve become mature enough and the magazine has become useless :P.

5. FAVORITE SMELLS? The smell after the first rains… I like the smell of petrol, turpentine, kerosene 😛 . ( don’t get ideas, people!!!), Jasmine and the smell of ripe jackfruit and mangoes.

6. FAVORITE SOUND? The sound of the grand-piano, the sound of streams or rivers flowing, the sound that babies make when they giggle.

7. WORST FEELING IN THE WORLD? When you feel you’ve lost all your self-respect.

8. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU WAKE? Till last week it used to be ,” Oh God! I hope there is water in the hostel today”. Now it is,” Isn’t it a bit too early to wake up”.

9. FAVORITE FAST FOOD PLACE? Bobby ka Dhaba near Ulsoor. Cheap, reasonable and delicious food. Love their butter-milk.
In Trivandrum it has always been the thattukadas.

10. FUTURE CHILD’S NAME? Deepti., That’s what my mom wanted to name me. I’ll give them simple names, that can be spelt properly. I had enough trouble with that already.

11. FINISH THIS STATEMENT. “IF I HAD A LOT OF MONEY I’D be as clueless as I am now, to give an answer

12. DO YOU DRIVE FAST? I did. Back in 2001, I was in class 9 or so, I was learning to drive. Was trying my driving skills in a football ground. I sped and like one of these, I crashed into the goal post. It is by God’s grace that I’m alive to recollect the story of antics and that I escaped from being blinded by an inch . Since, then your’s truly is careful.

13. DO YOU SLEEP WITH A STUFFED ANIMAL? Used to, till the age of 2. A teddy-bear named Ponnan, until I tore him apart to vent my frustration.

14. STORMS-COOL OR SCARY? Cool.

15. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CAR? Maruti 800.

16. FAVORITE DRINK? Coffee, Sambharam, Thenga vellam. I’ve started hating fruit juices after my bout of jaundice and over-dose of juices

17. FINISH THIS STATEMENT, “IF I HAD THE TIME I WOULD….. sleep more

18. DO YOU EAT THE STEMS ON BROCCOLI? no

19. IF YOU COULD DYE YOUR HAIR ANY COLOR, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR CHOICE? There’s no question of IF here… It’d always be black

20. NAME ALL THE DIFFERENT CITIES/TOWNS YOU HAVE LIVED IN.
Kothamangalam, Bangalore, Trivandrum, Hyderabad

21. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? Cricket

22. ONE NICE THING ABOUT THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU.
She’s currently my stress-buster. Her blogs are addictive.

23. WHAT’S UNDER YOUR BED?
The unopened Carton, containing my good old Yamaha PSR-GX75. In the packing and unpacking confusions, my parents forgot to get the adapter. I’m waiting to lay my hands on it. Now, if it is about my bed in home away from home, everything I wanna hide from public view and whatever wouldn’t fit in my cup-board are lying safe underneath the bed.

24. WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE BORN AS YOURSELF AGAIN? Yes! but not as the only child

25. MORNING PERSON, OR NIGHT OWL? Night Owl when the mosquitoes give me company in home away from home, and the fan refuses to move an inch, forget about circular motion.
Morning person, only when I’ve got to attend the compulsory weekday mass in hostel.

26.OVER EASY, OR SUNNY SIDE UP? Anything will do… I love eggs.

27. FAVORITE PLACE TO RELAX? Haven’t figured that out in my new abode. Didn’t have much of a choice in campus coz the good ol BBC ( basket ball court)is gone now.

28. FAVORITE PIE? Apple pie

29. FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR? Vanilla

30. OF ALL THE PEOPLE YOU TAGGED THIS TO, WHO’S MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND FIRST?
Anyone can pick up this tag.

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If tomorrow comes!

Tomorrow would be the last day, I would

Wake up at 8.25 for an 8.30 class. I’ll always be indebted to the college bell (which makes my life a hell), conveniently located right opposite to my room.

Rush into the class at 8.35, unbathed and uncombed in some drab clothes (courtesy the dhobi) and give the eternal excuse of water shortage in hostel. But a more lame excuse can come up this way… And I’ve been hearing this for the past 3 years.

Me or any other member of, home away from home sistahood : Sister, there is no water in the hostel.
Sister : That is because you girls finish of all the water.
Me thinking: If not for our basic necessities, are they preserving water to make wine out of it! I know Jesus Christ did that. But these people??? so who has a better excuse?

Sneak out of class for breakfast, 10 minutes before the first hour ends. If the possibility of sneaking out seems impossible, then get into the evasive act of showing a sullen face, marred by starvation and gain the lecturer’s sympathies for this poor famished hostelite who never gets proper food to eat. I’d get a proxy while I’m out scavenging. If I face the forthcoming trials and tribulations in the hands of the examination department, for attendance shortage and other similar charges, I shall denounce the class rep for Breach of Trust.

Feast on the homemade food that my day-scholar friends generously share with me, while the lecturer is distressed about the Sensex crash, the sub-prime crisis, and the appreciating rupee.

Control that irresistible urge to yawn or nod my head while class is going on. SMS in class without the lecturer noticing… who passes chits or talks in sign language these days?

Pay those fines finally, and get into another verbal assault with the librarians. Its going to be the last time, hence, I rather speak out whatever was unspoken and tell them that they deserve to be throttled for commiting such abominable crimes against, a small section of humankind who were interested in a simple task called “reading” and another section who had to enter the gates of this forbidden place, to do their assignments.

Shuttle back and forth, class, and hostel, for every book or paraphernalia that I keep forgetting (deliberately) and grab a cup of coffee on the way. One of the reasons of the detour being, forgetting to change my bathroom slippers ( A habit that hasn’t died ever since ragging days).

Cut a innocent sorry-figure for those unfinished assignments and for those wouldn’t fall for my innocent CHARM, finish the assignment, in a supersonic writing speed.

Tomorrow would be the last day,

I would Binge on the exclusive delicacies responsible for adding on extra 10 kilos to this body in the past 3 years i.e., ice creams and chitchat (chips).

Wait in the long queue ( if that scary, unruly, disorganized cluster of young women can be called a queue) , get pushed, thrown around, tossed and twisted by the girls, have my feet crushed by stilettos, and high heels(ouch!), have sambhar spilt all over me, my last chance to have a sambhar bath(pun intended). In Bengalooru, anything that contains rice is called a ‘BATH’ is guess.

Fight with the canteen chechi for acting like the treasury-keeper of GOI. Even if you ask for salt the reply is “Illa”
Go online during the shortest of breaks, expressing my sincere gratitude to the wi-fi. Did you notice the rare note and tone of appreciation for the obvious reasons?

Tomorrow would be the last day I would,

Bunk classes for one last-time*sob* Sleep in the confines of the classrooms, the lectures being lullaby to my ears and the last bench being my favorite cradle in class( too corny), only to be woken up by my classmates for moving out of the class.
A sleepy faced-me would enter class and the lecturer pops the question, ”Aren’t you feeling well”?
A simple nod and she says, “ok take rest.” The siesta continues after a short commercial break. Crib about the nuns, the lecturers, the college staff, the students…and ramble about how hopeless they are. Though you know, its not gonna make a difference. Only if… I’ll figure it out soon.

Hold on strongly to my faith and cross the road in front of college, counting my lucky stars, each time I manage to cross, unscathed by the distracted uncles and their younger versions on cars, autos, bikes and all possible vehicles , while passing by a reputed women’s college in the metro.
Dash towards loafers’ street, feast on Raj uncle’s ( we call him uncle to prevent a family feud) chaat while frantically searching for the Xerox copied notes and bug the person at the Xerox shop.
Hail thee, goody-goody punctual and organized girls. How would I ever survive without you for those notes?
Hang out at the drive ( havent figured out which one is the front drive and which one is the back drive yet) and give our critics review of every random girl we see, which can also be termed as bitching or gossiping.

Tomorrow would be the last day,

We would all gather at the dining table and share our news and woes for the day And I know, for once, all of us would be sharing the similar woes, (not about the sickening food) but that of going away.

We would share our stock of junk food for the midnight snacking cum gossip sessions.

The last time, we’d all fight for the boiler room, the newspapers, and the T.V remote
We’d be breaking into fits of laughter seeing the exclusive comedy show performed by goose-berry ( read warden)

And this would be the last time I would be blogging like this,

Writing down all that comes to my mind, when the teacher thinks I’m actually taking down notes in her class.

This happens ( writing down notes in class) when I’m afraid that noticing my recurring illness, my lecturers would drag me to the non-existent dispensary in college, to that moron I once met, who said she was the Doctor in-charge.

(Right now I’m having a tough time, trying to figure out the location of the blog drafts and the notes dictated in class).

And until today, I thought it was all routine stuff!

This is the first time I realized, however I crib, cavil or complain, I’m sure I’m gonna miss it all.
I’m tired of writing slam books and journals. Its ok, if I know you very well and it all comes from the heart. But, the first time you talk to me, is asking me to fill your slam book , what shall I write?
And with promises of keeping in touch we are gonna bid goodbye. I’m sure how many of them are going to do it after all.


How I wish tomorrow never comes

PS: don’t misjudge that all I did in college, which was also my home, for the past 3 years was to eat, sleep and grumble.


Spiritual Foundations and Confrontations

This post has drawn its inspiration from here.
For a 7 year old, who shifted to Kerala from Bangalore and knew kurichu kurichu Malayalam, the Catechism classes in Malayalam used to be a night-mare. To add to my woes, I was a KV student, which meant no Malayalam was taught in school.

My parents decided to put me in Class 1 for catechism while I was in class 3 in school.
The teacher, a frail woman, with thick glasses perched on her long nose was teaching “Dhaivam Snehamanu.” (God is love) when I entered the class, hiding behind my dad, tightly clutching his fingers.
MJ,” Hello, I’m MJ. This is my daughter. We want to put her in your class”
Teacher” Oh! No problems. Let her join”
MJ,” She doesn’t know Malayalam properly”
Teacher,” That’s alright”.
MJ says to JJ,” Ok, you sit in the class. I’ll come at 10.30″ and leaves.

Teacher was entering my name into the attendance register. “What’s your baptism name”?
I was clueless. This was the first time I was hearing something like ‘ Baptism name’. Now did I possess another name? I was already disgusted with people not getting my name right.
I spoke for the first time, “I don’t know. I’ll ask my parents”.

The teacher asked me to recite some prayers. I loudly recited Our Father, Hail Mary etc with the same enthusiasm as multiplication tables (Remember, I was not so good in math, saw you might draw your own conclusions about that statement).
End of the day, I was called by the headmistress. A fat, old woman clad in a brown habit looked scary. She was the Mother Superior. (MS)
MS,” Your teacher said, you’re smart enough. I think I’ll directly put you into second standard”.
I nodded my head and got the second standard textbook.

(Apparently, the teacher was apprehensive about teaching me in English, and though she didn’t know or understand a word of the English prayers I recited, I was given a good-feedback. I know she cheated. The teacher just wanted to get-rid of this soul and my spiritual foundation was shaken because of two subsequent promotions, rather double promotions… I never attended first and second standard, and you talk about how a strong foundation makes up a good structure… Guess my spiritual structure is hanging in the air.., coz I never learnt the basics)

I didn’t have to use the second standard textbook for long. Due to the over smartness, I was promoted to class 3 the following Sunday. This time the class was handled by a young man, on whom they rested their last hope, coz he was educated in an English-medium Christian institution.
He was teaching me the 10 commandments. When it came to the one which said, “anyante bhryaye aagrihakkarauthu“, like many other jinxed mallus like me, the version was ,”aniyante bharyaye aagrahikkaruthu

I had to give my catechism exams in 2 months time. This was supposed to be a written exam in Malayalam. There was no provision to give the exam in English. I had learnt a few letters in Malayalam symbolizing them, like when you joined the upper tails of number 13 you get the letter ‘Dha ‘. Horrified by the forthcoming circumstances, MJ and AJ embarked upon the task of teaching their daughter the script of their mother-tongue.

I wrote the exam.
Two Sundays later, I got the answer-script. The marks read like 6+ 14 =20. 6 for the number of questions attempted, rather questions copied to the answer-script, and 14, grace marks for good conduct. (I guess that would have been the highest grace-marks until date). This entire math was done just to make me pass.
Therefore, JJ’s foundations were laid at the mercy of few kind people who promoted and gave her grace marks.
Gradually I learnt to write in Mangaleesh. The answers read like, “Lazarinte one of the 2 sisters Ishone welcome cheythu.”
“Dinar aarnu annathe currency”
Dhoorta puthran , avante pithavinte vasanthiyilekku thirchu ponnu“.
The eternal confusion between parishudhathmavinte daanangal and phalangal( was balangal for quite some time).
Every year people would have a good laugh seeing my paper, especially coz, I wrote the answers in a colloquial way. I was totally illiterate in Malayalam grammar. Anyways, the 6:14 ratio now proportioned to 14:6.

Few years and many Sundays passed.

Every month, the priest used to mention about how parents don’t care about the spiritual development of their kids, and emphasize on materialistic things, indirectly, meant
‘Catechism classes and Tuitions are parallel lines.'(Obviously, both were held at the same
Time). There was even a system of internal assessment, which meant all you needed to do was suck up to the nuns. There was a lot of confusion, partiality, and rivalry in these matters. Spirituality was now being turned into something, which could be attained by gaining marks. Isn’t it ridiculous to judge a person’s faith based on how much he/she scored in catechism. I found it even more ridiculous, when it was the other way round. Your spiritual display fetched you marks. Coming to mass early fetched you marks, attending prayer-meetings fetched you marks, and we were even given some sheets to fill in, to determine how regularly we said the rosary and all that. I’m pretty sure people cheated on that too. In a society obsessed with marks, this too enjoyed its temporary hype. New concepts, new techniques, new methods etc, were devised to make kids interested in spiritual matters.
My First Communion was actually held under iffy circumstances. Since, we KVians had classes in April and the prep classes also happened during the same time, I used to attend the prep classes only once a week. My preps for Holy Communion were done in a crash course mode (read, 2 hours prior to my first confession). I was damn scared as to whether I’ll be given communion after I confess! Sorry, me not interested in divulging the details of my first confession here, though I’m pretty sure the priest would’ve been rolling with laughter after that.
So my holy-communion was also at the mercy of few nice people

Fast forward…

Class 11.

I guess the church was faced with threats of inter-caste marriages and its ‘vazhithetti pona kunnjaadukal‘. The students were scheduled to have a debate on inter-caste marriages, probably, the church was following suit with the DPEP system of practical and interactive teaching, I guess.
Since, I was over-enthusiastic about this topic, I asked our Parish priest that, on what circumstances does the Church accept such marriages. He gave me small lecture on it and then I saw his serious expression changing into that of suspicion. “Why are you asking all this now”? Poor priest must have thought another kunjaadu had gone astray. Before he broke into another SHORT lecture on how I can cause shame to the family, spoil their reputation, and result in all of them getting, kicked out of the Sabha, I clarified the matter.
Acho, we have a discussion, atha“. I gave the sweet-innocent smile and escaped.
The discussions happened in full swing, and it was obviously a biased one. Fools like me who opted to support inter-caste marriages realized, we had no scope of presenting our arguments. Moderator uncle was a devout Catholic. Anyways, the limelight of the day was the spontaneous thanksgiving prayer.
Dhaivame innu njangal padichethallam jeevithathil praavarthikamakkan njangale sahayikkane.( Oh God, help us so that, all that we learnt can be put, to practical use in our lives).
All those 12 pairs of closed eyes, which pretended to pray, were wide open and people burst out laughing.
Most of us girls make this silly mistake of blurting out seriously, at some point of time, in our brainless childhood that we want to become a nuns. The memory of nuns who hear, such ambitions, would never fail them, even if they were in the advanced stage of Alzheimer’s disease.

After growing up and when you learn to use your brains, if you are a seemingly meek and sweet girl ( I’m not talking about myself), the nuns in the convent will get ideas as to how to drag you amidst them, giving you visions and versions about the “CALL”, so as to see a ray of hope in their clan, which is facing a threat of extinction. The day you finish your 10th standard exams, they will start recollecting your childhood days, your AMBITIONS and try to literally brainwash you.
Since, ours was a small Parish, and I was among the minority, educated in a non-Christian institution, I was often subject to critical observations. Like, not wearing a chain with a cross pendant, or a rosary, or a rosary finger-ring. Does the number of crosses and rosaries displayed on your body, determine the strength of your faith?
Once I ended up fighting with a Sunday school teacher for some derogatory remarks, she made against another religion. I voiced out, “You can teach us about our faith, but you have no right to pass a judgment on other religions.” This confirmed the doubt of the nuns that, this KV educated kunjaadu was going out of control. From then on, the so-called internal marks never crossed the minimum required. I still do not understand how education in a Central School would deter my faith.
I think even God; decided I must experience what it is like, to study in a convent institution. Honestly, there is a lot to write about it… few more days to step out, and I want to step out in one piece, in the same mental and physical condition that I had entered the portals of this institution. I do not want to take any risk to forfeit the caution deposit that is going to be refunded. (My extra pocket money for this month). As I was writing this post, I got this certificate, which said “JJ of …….. Has been awarded for contribution towards chapel.” Such a thing was unheard of in my existence of 20 years. Anyways on account of the due recognition, I’m not defying the testifiers.
Few posts can wait to be published! 🙂 ‘Draft zindaabad
Convents, catechization, complications, confusions and confrontations…on their way!!!!!!!


Nostalgia

This post by Silverine, inspired me to write about “kundry mallus”, as she described it. Life in the land of our ancestors, holds special memories in our hearts. The simple unsophisticated way of life, the delicious naadan (traditional) dishes, the fresh air and exposure to nature at its best is something our future generations are missing out on (why do I already sound like an old grandmother?)

My sphere of influence here is limited to a small village called Ramalloor, in a small town named Kothamangalam. There is a typical mallu usage ‘Ethappa Kothamangalam’ coz people weren’t aware of where this place was located, though they used to hear a lot about this place. I was born here and the occasional yearly visits, or rather visits spaced out with time and distance, has left a considerable time for me to observe, compare, analyze and give my views ( Blame this introduction on the research project I had buried myself into for past 2 months, I think my over-exhausted brain is suffering from a hangover).

One of my fondest memories conjures up an image of a little girl, who would pester everyone possible at home, even before her mom unpacked, to take her to the Canal, close to the house. I love those days, when people were not obsessed with hygiene and all that. It was fun to splash into the canal, irritating my aunts and then becoming a drama queen, since, I didn’t know how to swim. I used to hate the part when they said,”Molkku ithonnum parichayam illalo, asukham vannalo?”(You aren’t used to all this, you may fall sick, i.e., playing in cold water). I really disliked it when they treat me like some alien delicate darling. This was the only closest thing and closest place I ever had, to experience nature at its best. The canal was a common factor for the people to bond, since, not everyone had water-supply to their homes.
I used to tag along with my cousins, to draw water from the well in a neighboring house during summer, and insist on having a small kodam (pot) for myself. Finally, my grandmother obliged, by giving me a puttu-kodam (Though I didn’t realize it was actually one, those days).
Thinking about the food at home itself, makes my mouth water. The fresh vegetables grown in the backyard of the houses, the livestock, and the rubber plantations, sharing the delicacies among neighbours etc… When we used to take the ‘city to home eatables’ like cakes and fruits etc, my grandmother always divided it and had them marked for each family in the neighbourhood and those were out of bounds for all of us. One thing I found really amusing was the hens. Going in search of eggs was a major time pass. The intelligent hens would hide their eggs if they escaped from beneath the baskets. So also was the task of ‘ kozhine koottil kettanathu’. How many times, I used to imitate my grandmom, the way she used to feed them making sounds like “ba ba ba”. On special occasions these hens would be caught and killed and feasted on. There was no need to even give second thoughts about, how many days the chicken was kept in the freezer, whether its is cleaned properly or not etc. But, the sight of killing a hen is very disgusting (at least I found so, and didn’t eat chicken for at least six months, after seeing it).
The traditional ‘aduppu’ or choolha was another object of amusement. One had to blow through a cylindrical pipe to set fire to the firewood uniformly. I used to sneak in and start blowing only to find myself choking in the smoke and spreading ashes all over the place and getting screamed at by my grandmother.

There was a small chapel in this village, where Novena used to be held on all Thursdays. This was the occasion where I would meet all the distant relatives and ammachis, perammas, ammayis and give them all a blank expression trying to remember who they were.
There was a school adjacent to the chapel. It was a sight to see… girls clad in white shirts and blue skirts and pink ribbons walking to school, with a handful of books. (I used to envy them for not having to wear those shoes and socks and carry those heavy school-bags). These girls lived a totally different life. Early morning few of them used to take milk to people’s houses, few of them would be seen fetching water, few of them would be cutting grass and many would be helping out with work in the rubber plantations etc.
Talking about churches, life of the people used to revolve around the parish church. People led a very pious and religious life. Just as my envious eyes observed the young girls clad in school uniforms, so did the sight of ammachis on their way for mass daily, delight me. Clad in chattayum-mundum ( The traditional Keralite Christian Women’s attire), with the pressed- pothamundu, adorning their Meykkamothirams (the big bangle-like earrings worn on the upper ear), carrying the kaalan koda (the olden day’s umbrellas), the rosary and the bible, these pretty Ammachis were objects of my curiousity. They had so much of serenity and grace in them and they led an austere life.
For those of you, who have seen such ammachis portrayed ridiculously on screen, all I have to say is, Don’t go by what you’ve seen :P…The conversations amongst them, usually centered on catching up with the latest village gossip, cribbing about their daughters-in-law, bringing in marriage proposals for people of marriageable age in the family circles etc.
Reminiscing the ‘evening prayer session in the family’ when everyone used to assemble in the main drawing room, enlivening the statement “A family that prays together, stays together”… We would follow the custom of ‘sthuthi kodukkal’ (wishing each other in the name of God) after prayer, and this had to be done in seniority order (age-wise). Ammachi, aunties, uncles, chettais and chechis would shower you with their blessings. It used to be very difficult to figure out, who was elder to whom, in a large gathering of all perammas and perappans, chachas and ammayis. Ammachi used to top the list and my cousin 2 years older to me, formed the last person in the list. In between, whoever came, was a random order for me. The elders used to get some sort of pleasure in laughing at me, when I wished people in the incorrect order. Me being youngest of the lot those years, had the maximum number of sthuthis to give and none to receive. After rosary, my mom and her 3 sisters would carry on with their never-ending, typical verbal banter, the “vedim, kushumbhum and paradooshanam session”(read gossip session). My grandmother had to scream her lungs out to get the womenfolk to serve dinner.Conversations would extend from late night until wee hours in the morning. When everyone dispersed, each sub-family would have loads of coconuts, jackfruits, mangoes and tubers to carry back home
.
This was life, family and village in the early nineties when, the village was not influenced or rather unadulterated by globalization, modernization or parishkaram, as we’d call it.

Times changed, perceptions changed, locations changed and people changed. Our visits were spaced out with wider gaps. Today, the canal has lost its glory with only a narrow stream of water flowing down. All it does is evoke memories of the past we had, whenever I pass over the bridge. The puttu-kodam is in a dilapidated state, and no one goes to draw water from the well, thanks to the electric water pump and the municipal water supply… The fresh vegetables comprises of only jackfruit, mango and chena (yam) and certain other tubers. No hens, no cattle, no cow’s milk. The choolha is used once in a blue moon.
I haven’t attended Novena in the chapel for ages. Though I meet those distant relatives and now I’ve mastered the art of pretending to know people, though I’m clueless who they are.
Though the school has been upgraded to an English Medium school, there aren’t many students there now. The uniform has also been modernized with shoes and socks (that I detested the most). You can’t find girls walking in groups these days. The horns of school buses and school vans make up for those, once upon a time endless girly chatter and giggles. Today, the younger girls retort back when their mothers ask them to take milk to neighbouring houses, or when asked to help with some work. Most of the parents, don’t want their kids to do such chores. They struggle to send their kids to well-reputed schools in the city. Parents don’t want their kids to be deprived of what they lost out. Most of those chechis I used to see, were sent to nursing colleges, paying hefty amounts as donation. These nurses are currently employed abroad. This is a marketing mantra in the local marriage market. The nurses are the visas for the prospective grooms to go abroad and seek employment. With foreign money flowing in and facilities improving, this place has regenerated.
Lives that revolved around the parish church… Now the church revolves around the lives of the rich, group politics etc. The old generation Ammachis are too old to walk to church, and most of them are now permanently in the vicinity of the church, in eternal rest. The new-generation Ammachis are afflicted by everything from cholesterol to diabetes to blood pressure. Their visits to doctors and hospitals outnumber the number of masses they attended. Most of them, as described by their own children, are waiting for eternal rest. It is a sad state, to see Appachans and Ammachis with home-nurses, suffering in pain and agony in old-age. Meykkamothirams have now become an antiquity.
What used to be friendly chatter and harmless gossip among ladies has now turned into talks filled with spite and vengeance. Even in family circles, you can feel that air of indifference, the growing distances and discomfort in each other’s company. I think the only occasion where these walls break down are when all uncles are sloshed and embark upon their kalaparipaadies.
The evening prayer session has now become a half an hour affair, synchronized with the timings of the weekly power-cuts. Nobody misses out on the serials and the present hype, the reality shows. I have to ridicule or bully my younger cousins to give sthuthi to me. But, it feels nice, when everyone talks about the censored version of how I was so enthusiastic on giving sthuthi to everyone in the family. I hope the kids don’t make me a role model.
Now it’s been ages since all family members gathered together and rest of those occasions, remain sheer memories. I really miss those days and I seriously pity my younger cousins, my only niece and nephews who missed out on those days.
Yes, those were the days…the best of days…

(PS: The part in italics was written by me almost 8 years ago. If you ask me how I remember all those things in the early nineties, blame it on the countless chyavanprash or chavanprasham bottles, I was forced to polish off, to increase my memory power. Or accept the alternate hypothesis that, I was a curious observant and held these memories close to my heart.


The Jinxed Josephs

St.Joseph would be perplexed if he happens to see this. Before the Josephites figure out and come in search of me, let me state, this has nothing to do with any St.Joseph’s educational institutions all over the world.
The Joseph’s family is jinxed since November 2006. Blame it on the efforts initiated by the Government of India and few invisible, dubious conspirators to disband familial bonds in the country by playing soccer, with Central Government Employees as the soccer ball…Nagpur- Goa- Trivandrum and Bangalore are the Goal posts in this game… It’s a Central Game, 2 or 4 goal posts, no matter. Yaha Sab chalta hai… Rules are so easy to bend.

In spite of the dire straits we are faced with, ignoring the factors responsible, we the Josephs stand unflinching and intrepid, unfazed by the tribulations. You guessed it right, this has something to do with transfers

A brief history of the Jinxed Josephs

Main characters

MJ : Father
AJ : Mother
JJ : Obviously, the ekasanthaanam, the only daughter, yours truly.

Nov 1st 2006 :MJ gets a transfer order to Nagpur
Nov 24th 2006 : MJ is due to leave for Nagpur
Nov 22nd 2006 : JJ ends up in Hospital (Entry heroine 1). MJ is compellled t0 stay back
Jan 4th : MJ shifts from Nagpur to Goa
* Commercial break 1*
April 2007 : JJ leaves for GOOGLE Hyd to do her summer internship ( Blowing my own trumpet)
Jun 3rd 2007 : AJ has a role to play now,, (Entry of the heroine 2)
AJ fell sick and MJ is on leave. Goes back to Goa in the last week of July

August 1st week 2007 : AJ is hospitalized for chikanguniya, because she was the only one among the Josephs in Kerala. MJ is back in town
August last week : AJ is advised bed-rest, and both husband and wife are on their way to Goa to spend their very late post-marital honeymoon, coupled wiith bedrest and recuperation..

Re-Entry JJ
Same day : JJ is diagnozed with Jaundice and MJ and AJ take a diversion to Bangalore( honeymoon disrupted, why do I sound like the villain in the movie…or a bitchy Ekta Kapoor ishtyle character who plays speed governor, barrier, happiness destroyer
* Commercial break 2,hospitalization, bed-rest for JJ, uneventful days*

Dec 2007 : JJ is back in college. MJ gets his transfer order back to Trivandrum, but the sigh of relief didn’t last for long because the relieving order was delayed
Feb 28th 2008 : MJ gets his relieving order finally
3rd March 2008: MJ joins Trivandum office
6th March 2008 : AJ gets her transfer order to Bangalore
I’m as much confused after writing this as much as you are after reading it.
Are we really jinxed or is it just a testing time…?

But we the Josephs are ready to face the trials and tribulations unitedly. Needless to say…
At the moment, JJ is
*Doing three projects simultaneously- Survey on sexual harassment against women in India, Comparative study of Stock exchanges in India and another Project on BPO sector and employment Generation all of which, has to be completed by the weekend. ( Not even over the weekend).
* Going through some tough times in life ( as you can read in few prev posts)
*Irritated by a phone which is jinxed, adding on to the non-living Josephs assets which are jinxed, which includes a PC, a stereo system, a washing machine, the landline phone etc.
* Missing home badly, thinking when will all of us stay together again?
* Dying to have the ChakkakuruMaanga curry AJ has made back home.

And finally as Kareena said in Jab We Met
” God! you have given me enough excitement in life for the past few years especially past few days, can’t take it in anymore or else I’ll die of stress or Heart attack. . Make my life boring for sometime….”

Signing off…

Coming up next :
MJ and AJ idiosyncrasies, in the jinxed era…