Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Places I Played In

Some more pictures. Actually, I must admit, I have been posting photos mainly to make up for all that I don't have the time to write.

Anyway, the first picture is that of my Chikku's house, that's ma's younger sister. This is a village called Pariyaltadka, Manila in South Kanara district. There is a motorable road but it is much easier to walk from the main road.

I love the house. It is old, creaky and whispers the memories of us cousins playing within its walls. I would go there once or twice a year. The best part of those vacations was that there was always something to eat there. Be it snacks, fruits, meals, wild berries, raw mangoes, cashew fruits....you name, we would eat it, and have place for a full, hearty meal. God! How much we would eat!

The house has an attic that was my favourite place. There used to be a lot of palm leaf scriptures lying around, I think they were written in Telugu. None of us knew how it landed up there. Only my cousins' grandfather knew. By the time I had wisened up enough to try and ask him, he had passed away.

The architecture and the shape of the house is very typical to these parts of the state.

The second place is where they used to tie cattle. Now it is just a storage area.

Apart from my own house, I love this place a lot, for a lot of things. It is old, full of strange sounds, far away from main roads... except the weather is very bad. But then again, lazing around in the heat is a beautiful thing too. I am reminded of a Mexican proverb that says: "Oh to do nothing at all and then to relax! What heaven!"

That was us years ago. Lazing around, eating, being naughty, doing everything we were not supposed to, living life, being totally, really, really happy........

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


A short post here. Thought I would put up some photos of my re-visit to my memories. Below is a picture of my school where I did half of my third standard (never studied the first half!) and my fifth standard (never studied the fourth standard. The school decided I was brilliant and gave me a double promotion from the 3rd to the 5th! He he!)

This was the usual city school, tucked away in the folds of a quiet residential street. It is in Besant Nagar, Chennai and is surrounded by old and large bungalows. i wonder how people living there must have hated us for the noise we made on the streets.

The Vidya Vinaya Vinoda Matriculation Higher Secondary School was founded by R N Jayagopal, a lyricist and film personality from the Kannada film industry and his wife Lalitha Jayagopal. This was the only school back then where they taught Kannada as the optional second language. I did not have to learn Tamil because of this. I and this girl called Bindu were the only two Kannada students in our class. We did not have it as tough as the Tamil and Hindi students and would have great fun in the Kannada hour. I lost touch with Bindu after I left Madras.

And this was the house we rented out, where ma and I lived. Back then it was a lot more better than this. Not dingy and run-down like it looks now. There were only three families in the entire building. One was a doctor couple from Andhra Pradesh who would always defy the very principle of hygiene. Then it was us and the other was a family closely related to the owner of the building.

The family of parents, three children and a grandmother lived in two tiny rooms. Whenever the granny was sick and the kids were not home, she would ask me to go buy 'roti' (her word for bread) from the nearby grocery shop, which, by the way, was still there when I went. I would play with the three children, all much older than me though. I would try to teach them English, play house and the other things that kids play. I think their names were Rajesh, Jyothi and Bharathi. They wrote once after I left. They must all be married or working now.

The house is in Laxmipuram in Thiruvanmiyur, on the way to Kalakshethram. The house looked quite unfriendly and uninviting. We did not go inside, though it would have been nice to see who lives there now.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Revisiting Memories

About two days ago, I went to Chennai with my best friend who, after a little world tour, had flown in to Bangalore for the New Year. The trip was an impulsive one. I took for two days and had more fun that I had expected.

For starters, I stayed with a Sri Lankan family, my friend is a Sri Lankan settled in Australia. That was some experience. Now Vani and I have been friends for nearly 14 years (unfortunately, as we keep telling each other!). Never once did I think of her as 'foreign'. But staying with a family showed me how so very different they are.

I stayed with her cousin's family. They themselves live in London and keep travelling all around the world. Yet, the culture, bless their lot, is intact. Right from the way they dress to the colour and prints on their clothes. Right from the Tamil they speak to the kind of chutney they make, they are different. The differences are not too distinct I agree. But it is those subtle things that put them apart. I am against comparisons of any kind normally, but I could not help but compare here because it was almost a jarring effect. All these years, I had not thought of my friend as belonging to a different nationality, save for the lovely Tamil she spoke (very different and more beautiful that what you get to hear in Chennai), but seeing her in her own surroundings, I saw her differently too, not good, not bad, just different.

The stay was lovely. There were little kids around. Three extremely naught boys and a little girl who bore the brunt of the boys 'torture'. A little angel she was. I learnt how to make pongal and had some very different chutney. Could not learn how to make it, though.

My friend and I walked the old lanes. I took pictures of the house we lived in, saw the old shops, the new buildings. I pointed out my dream house to here, one with the flight of stairs leading to the front door with parking space beneath. Long ago, I had decided that if I ever built a house, it would be like that.

We talked. A lot about those years, about me trying to learn how to ride the bicycle, about our fights on the way to school.... We even went to the old school we studied in and took a lot of pictures again. My friend is great at keeping in touch. After a lot of sweat, a number of international and local calls, we met up with a few of the guys we studied with. All were very nice to talk to, well placed in good companies, stylish, carefree, doing and looking good.

We walked down the beach, we walked a lot, in fact. Went to the Vailankanni Church, prayed at the Amman Koil from outside, talked some more. I went in hunt of some of the old shops I used to go to. Maharaja's, a supermarket, was still there, though it was shut. Golden Smiles, a fancy stores, was gone. In its place stands a CD store, from where I bought some excellent CDs. Next to it used to stand Veena Fast Food, where you would get the best uttappams and some great noodles. Now there is a Kerala style restaurant. We didn't bother going in. Sea Rock restaurant, where I tasted my very first piece of chicken, is gone too. Fashion Folks, a little shop that grew to become a brand, has a bigger, more expensive shop.

The trip was short, too short, but I had the most fabulous time. Met some great people, had really good food. Talked a lot. On the whole it was one great trip.

Re-visiting memories need not be bad always.....

The Dalai Lama

One of the Dalai Lama's pictures. This is him very happily posing for some pictures with American tourists. Later I heard one of them gushing in a squeeky, high pitched voice about how holy he looked. I beg to differ. I found him very down-to earth and ready to mingle with everyone, not like most other spiritual heads who keep their distance.

I did have a few other pictures but they looked too grainy.