Unfading village scenes from ‘yesteryears’

-Memories of a better life

A quick weekend at my mother’s native village had me longing again for the life once lived by the inhabitants of that beautiful house. Beautiful ‘sunful’ mornings, and time spent roaming about the abundance of fruit trees, taking a pick of seasonal fruits from among them; afternoons spent sucking ripe mangoes, alternating it with raw ones; enjoying the companionship of cows, hens, ducks and other animals, their revenue itself remaining meager compared with the silent joy these loving animals gave. Of course the dogs were always part of the family and they still are for the old house keeper who remains alone in that house. I also remember a cat which ventured to make our ‘Palasseri’ home its own when I spent summer there in 1995.

I captured a few snaps to record the shadow of ‘once upon a time’ so that I could still associate the memories of my childhood – which in itself was a shadow of my mother’s childhood there.

Here are the snaps with a few comments:

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The outhouse and the well taken in the early morning rays of the sun

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The same captured just before twilight – more lighted and brighter like my spirit when it lands on this soil.

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Many summer rendez-vous have been spent with cousins, uncles, aunts or just grandma, papa, mama and my sister, sitting on this veranda, swinging like a monkey on those pillars and even stretching out in the L shaped corner for a quick nap – still love doing that !!

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The cowshed can be seen in the background where the milkman used to come and collectMilk. Now all that remains is the shed, leaving a tad of the taste of fresh, thick milk in my mouth and scenes of frolicking calves on the canvas of my mind. I remember feeding banana peels to some of the cows which I used to name after my sisters and cousins (a long-kept secret shhhh!! )

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Standing tall – I’ve spend many hours gazing at the chimney smoke and even getting doubts in my toddler mind on how chimneys worked. A sooty old chimney against which the freshness of the mangoes stand out – I love this shot.

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Dew drops on the leaves, just after dawn – it’s a sight which will captivate any mind dirtied by the pollution of modern cities.

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Droplets on yam leaves – they are THE best but the beauty is hardly seen in the pic taken on a low pixel mobile camera.

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Ah the indigenous genius fruits of Kerala. Any mallu (keralite) would love this sight. Note it that I only love the sight!

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This was a glorious sight too… so many upcoming (downfall-ing) promises of tasty meals and desserts and stomach pains! Oh, by the way, my mother recollected some of her halcyon days spend studying under the cool shades of these trees. No wonder she went on to be an engineer. I have an excuse to tell her that I was never so comfortable with the fan in my room.

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After taking a round of the one acre land I came back on the other side of the cow shed. I have stood here and watched dung fall out – fresh from the holes as it was washed down to be collected in the trench and later made into dung cakes (for floors n walls –FIY gen X) and also used as fertilizers. One thing which amused me enough to look into the dung trench were the hens which used to sit on top of the dry dung on one side, to hatch its little eggs. Maybe it used to know instinctively that it was safe from my curious pokes down in the dung hole.

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A heritage monument – a wooden hen house used to be on top through which the hens could potty down into this hole. I have spent many summer afternoons trying to teach a cock to sit down and not stand pulling at its tether. I used to be furious that it disobeyed me so I would literally press them down and make them stay that way with my hand. I never knew that it was only the force from my hand which kept them down. Cruel me!  But I loved those clucking, colourful, spotted and speckled hens and I ran behind them as they tried to evade me as well as approach to the sounds of ba ba ba baa kozhi baa – sounds which promised them mouthfuls of tasty, crispy grains some of which I myself stole to taste. I didn’t share their joy at the taste though!

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This sight on Saturday morning brought tears to my eyes because words cannot express the number of tasty meals this comfy nook has prepared for me and my family. As sooty and old as it seems, it still fries the best “karimeens” (pearl spot fry) and makes the best meals a mouth could ever taste.  These stone stoves with firewood collected from the land behind, crackling cheerfully can give you hunger pangs and other worldly tastes one can never forget.

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A closer look at the rice boiling over- getting ready for the afternoon meal.

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The store-room from time immemorial, even the termites eating into the threshold seem to be doing a slow job relishing even the taste of the centuries’ old wood. This place was out of bounds to mischievous children like me, begging for extra mangoes and sweet jackfruit- jaggery desserts. 

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This was where the vessels with fresh fried foods were kept so that the ants nor us reached them before the appointed time.

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As old as it is, it is still the strongest roof in Kerala-dom and the light filtering through a misplaced tile could easily be corrected with a little re-arrangement. Albeit, it be done before rainy season or the kitchen would be flooded. But isn’t the sun rays coming through a pretty sight?

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She is the talkative keeper of our beloved “Palasseri” house. Doesn’t she just fit in with the scene?

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She is amused that I should take so many pictures. Her condescending look showered on me!

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Fresh white dough being swung into swirly white noodle strings, for my morning breakfast.

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On the way to becoming sweet soft Idiyappams. I was hungry just seeing the sights of noodle strings, fresh grated coconut and sugar.

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These white flowers have always stood sentinel on either side of the gate. I never remember a time spent there when these white flowers were not in bloom. They represent the purity of the memories I associate with “Palasseri” house.

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My mother says one of these can feed five poor families. Wow!! Imagine tht…. Maybe I should start a jackfruit farm and feed the poor? (*Blink*)

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Kanna – smart doggy , keeping watch. He is a fussy eater and his ribs can be counted out but he has a powerful bark which can scare anyone away.

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Vellu – best friend of Kanna and mine too!

He eats jackfruits papayas mangoes and 2 kilos + of beef . He took some time to come to me but once with me, he didn’t want to leave.  You know, he even growled at me when I imitated his panting (I got scared 😛 )

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Waiting faithfully for his share of mangoes. He is a plump one- this one.

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“Don’t come in or leave without my permission. This be my territory! “

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Sigh! This little mango tree represents the evergreen memories I have of this place. They are etched deep into the recesses of my mind where a few cobwebs can climb in which can nevertheless be wiped away by the love captured within the frames of these pictures.

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39 responses to this post.

  1. A heartfelt post..! You brought me all the memories of my childhood. Drinking milk directly from the cow; now carbonated water always. Hot Rice with chilli powder and ghee was our best lunch at that time; now pizza needs double topping. Running with the sun then and now running with the clock all day..!

    Thanks for bringing all those memories..! Loved it..!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Nick on March 26, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Reminds me so much of the home I grew up in when I was a kid…it was a house built in the 1920s or 30s….. Big old house roofed with red British Commonwealth tiles. We had a large compound with all the fruit trees you could think of…trees which I’ve climbed and played in. Reminisce…..ahhh 😥 always manages of bring a tear to my heart and I end up thinking ‘If only I could be there now……….’

    Reply

  3. Posted by Reena kurien on March 26, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Hey shantini…u have brought back lots of memories.I can’t believe this is the same house where we used to spend our summer Hols while growing up. I remember everything u said from the yummy mangoes, idiappam, karimeen (esp we used to get made by our beloved ammachy), beef curry, etc. The front entrance ,many a time me and renchach used to spend climbing on tht step.(he used to go across while I was too scared).haha Those pillar seatings like u said we used to swing from, beautiful golden memories.!!! Sometimes I wish we could go back to those days…no tension, no hurry burry…just pure fun with everyone. Life certainly takes a diif mode once we grow up,married and have kids…u have to be prim and proper to be a good eg for your kids.hehe.nikhil was just saying to me today morning,’mummy-I wish I was a baby again. So I don’t have to do any homework.’haha I told him, I wish I could too!take care mol.keep writing…

    Reply

    • 🙂 ah that is right…. beautiful times , words cannot express the joy it brings and fond remembrance of all of you 🙂 … nikhil is already wishing he is a baby -lol… i strongly feel all of us should get together again in that house.. been so long 😦 … but u know biju unc has done lot of planting .. (mostly mango trees) and the karimeen n beef fry are still so good wen eaten from those old plates, sitting on the same chair facing the pic of the Lord’s supper….. maybe its the memories more than the taste that we love now :)… can u pass this post to rennie chach too 🙂 ??

      Reply

  4. Posted by Reeny George on March 27, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Really beautiful piece santhini…brought back so many wonderful memories and even sum weird ones which i thought only i would have…I thought only i used to imitate the dogs and then ammachy wud give me some smart comments which would make me shutup!!
    the cat that u mentioned was a kitten that i had wanted during that vacation so badly…i kept pestering ammachy and papa to bring a kitten while i was there… and when they finally brought it i was scared to go near it…
    i think what really made me eager to go to kundara was to always go see all these animals…those days satheeshan was there and also a lady called rajamma chechi…i used to walk behind them like their tail and wud go to give the cow a bath, the hens their rice, pour water for plants, etc
    den dey wud put up a swing somewhere near the hen coop for us and i would spend so many afternoons der making satheeshan or papa push my swing…or we wud play sum badminton !! apart frm that those mornings and evenings on the verandha… and seeing the big old so called christmas tree out there on the lawn…dat was sumthing so unique to our house!! then of course our favourite game of uno or carroms esp when reena chechi nd renni chachan wer around.. then sitting around the emergency light during power cuts…i used to sit nd watch at all d pakkis collect arnd the emergency lights…
    u’ve really opened up a box of memories santhini…wish we could have taken more homevideos and photos in those days…but i guess that’s also what makes it so special…these wonderful memories have all been so deeply etched in our hearts!! 🙂

    Reply

    • reeeeeeeeeeeeny that is so wonderful … what you have written has opened a bigger pandora’s box… gal .. plz plz listen to me… u have an awesome memory and you bring it all back so crisp and lovely…. please do write reenz… i wish i had ure talent to record all that in my memory… my piece is nothing compared to what u n reena chechy has written here! love uuuuu…. umma

      Reply

  5. Posted by Robin Thomas on March 27, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Hi Santhini!

    Thanks for posting this. It really brought back some delightful memories for me. I also showed it to my German flatmates and they loved it as well. I was proud to showcase a bit of our great heritage 🙂

    Great post, keep up the good work 🙂

    Reply

  6. Posted by ancy on March 28, 2012 at 6:10 am

    Whew!…Read it through in a single breath…so nicely written…so aglow with the warmth of the love and joy you shared in this place! Praise God for every good gift!

    Reply

    • 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thank you 🙂 *widest grin* … yes ancy chechy … i thank God for those memories too and i enjoyed writing this one.. 🙂 because like you said it brought back all the joy and love we shared in that place 🙂

      Reply

  7. Posted by RENNIE on March 28, 2012 at 7:17 am

    Hi Santhini , in this day and age of ultra modernism you have bought back some sweet memories and some not so sweet memories of kundra lol. I had to walk few kilometers to get a new video cassette haha , i was drowning in boredom that was called dooooordarshan but i miss the sweeeet watersss of the kenere (well) , no mineral water from anywhere ever came close to that 🙂 , ,just adding my sweet memories to the conversation.

    Keep writing ,keep dreaming ,keep being our sweet santhini ,god bless

    Rennie chach 🙂

    Reply

    • Rennie chach 🙂 🙂 glad to see your comment here 🙂 … and thanks for the added memories …. i agree with what you said about the kenere water 😀 … ill surely keep dreaming.. cant give that up 🙂

      Reply

  8. Posted by Sini George on March 28, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Well i jus read the post too…..seriously ppl, t was jus so very nostalgic….esp. bout d karimeens, chakka chips, d tall xmas tree (which was a prominent landmark dat i wld never forget), d swings, d power cuts , esp. d funny thing i rem ws v all wld sit in front of the old doordarshan after 7.00 pm, watch ammachy’s serials, den all d video cassettes dat v bring frm dubai (so many of dem v had), chitrahar, chitrageetam nd jus wen smthin xciting is bout to happen – BOOM Current poyi…..den all of sit around d emergency light, nd wen d power returns, dinner is served…..ladies in d kitchen busy preparing d delicacies, cousins goofing around each other wd carroms nd ludo, nd uncles sneaking around wd der “paripadis”…..
    such glorious vacations of simply lazing round in d house nd of cou…rse complaining too dat ders nuthin to do nd ts boring in kundara (i rem i used to keep moaning like dat)…….nd wen v get bored, v used to ponder nd walk behind d eldest cousing in d family like his or her tail nt knowing wat to do….(well dats reena chech to b specific, esp wen she cmes frm her hostel, nd den der was a phase wen i ws d eldest nd joobin nd allen used to keep pondering behind me, i seriously owe u guys big time coz u both made me feel so comfy esp wen dat ws d time, i ws put up in college nd dint get 2 return 2 dubai)……

    bt most importantly i believe ts dese small things that v all shared equally, dat actually enhanced d bonding and strengthend our relationships, nd evry1 is so very attached to one another despite being miles apart…..jus wish v cld all gather together like dat once again in d same place, sit near dat dining table nd verandah nd d lawn, and cherish d moments once again…..Sigh!!!!
    Jai Ho Kundara…….

    Reply

    • 🙂 🙂 i just cant keep smiling… so very glad to see ure version of our life there too 🙂 …. thanks for the comment chechy 🙂 “most importantly i believe ts dese small things that v all shared equally, dat actually enhanced d bonding and strengthend our relationships, nd evry1 is so very attached to one another despite being miles apart….” so very very true… lets all get together again chechy 🙂

      Reply

  9. Yes it has touched me too, being my second home away from home. Here is something down to earth real and natural. Great mansions may keep you awe stuck for a while or again, but nothing remains to keep close to heart. For here in your imagery and graphics are true bob ticks of life and the spin of half a century. Though the important characters in the real drama remain behind the curtain, it tells a lot about their moulding and maturation. Kudos!

    Reply

    • 😀 i loveeeeeeeeeeeee ure comment…. when u retire you are definitely going to start writing… 🙂 ….. true appaji… all the characters remain behind the curtain but it is their life which comes alive through this little piece and the added memories… 🙂 …… “For here in your imagery and graphics are true bob ticks of life and the spin of half a century” – love it 🙂 …. thank you 🙂

      Reply

  10. Posted by raaki on March 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    🙂

    Reply

  11. Posted by Reeny George on March 28, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    i just made papa read your blog…and he was surprised that we children remember so many things abt kundara more than he does…he never expected us to have such fond memories of the place… really it brought back so many memories to his mind as well…so many things that he had forgotten hav come bck to his mind now…
    p.s.: he also said “avalu aa randu divasathinte eddeku eppazha ee photo ellam eduthe??” hehe…also he’s happy that u r spendin ur time doin such creative things…so keep bloggin more nd more beautiful stories like dis!! 🙂

    Reply

    • haha.. say thanks to uncle.. but i dont think more n more stories like this will come.. this was a lucky chance n the defining part of our childhood.. let me try though… by the way did u pass it to biju uncle… i have an ulterior motive for writing this 😛 😛

      Reply

  12. Posted by Reena kurien on March 28, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    So wonderful to see everyone’s comments ! Santhini-u have started something crazy which seems to be catching wildfire!! Love it! There r more in fb kundara kids.chk it out!!

    Reply

  13. Posted by reena kurien on March 29, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Oh yes, u have left that..I am not sure how to send that particular link to you, but anyone does know ..pls.. do send it across to santhini…tc!! whats the ulterior motive?????

    Reply

  14. Posted by V.G. Thomas on March 29, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Santhini,

    I read your study and observations of kundara village life. I too tasted
    a part of that which still remains green in my memory. Well, there is a
    great writer hiding in you. Give some light to that mirror the same to world.
    My congrats!! Ponnachan uncle

    Reply

  15. Wow! marvelous writing! luvd reading it ! Bought back memories ..though mine is very limited.. hardly used to stay in Kundara ….But .i also like to add smthg. Its the group prayer we use to have very night …ammachy n appachan used to be so keen on saying the prayers and reading bible and never missed it….. Tht was smthg distinctive and now these days one doesnt get to see such family prayers held everyday !!

    Reply

    • ah… im so happy u reminded me of that… that was special.. real special…. appa was saying that one too :)… and thanks chechy 🙂

      Reply

  16. I love this post- I feel like I was visiting with you 🙂

    Reply

    • 🙂 oh thank you .. i am smiling so much here… which place are u from?

      Reply

      • I live in the US- in Colorado. I have been here almost my whole life. My husband tried to transplant me to Chicago but I missed the mountains and the big blue sky. I haven’t done any traveling outside of the US but have always wanted to- your post let me do that in a way. I loved the pictures and the way you made it feel like I was there feeling it and smelling it and tasting it!

      • 🙂 i didnt even imagine i could do something so powerful for people through that simple post…. but the feedbacks have been so great…. so glad you loved it 🙂 …… i also have never travelled anywhere other than in India .. always wanted to 🙂 … all my knowledge about the world comes through reading.. I have read a lot about Colarado and know that it is a beautiful place.. i actually had pictures of the mountains there in my room 🙂

      • 🙂

  17. Posted by ammee on April 5, 2012 at 5:03 am

    Thank you santhini…. Actually you put it on words what was in my mind and have no capacity to write. Wonderfull and keep writing.
    I recalls how a journy to Palasseril rejuvenated me when I went for a day’s holiday in weekends during my P G study,early days of Employment, family life etc at Tvm.

    Reply

  18. Posted by Vani on August 5, 2012 at 5:40 am

    Poignant! So many people before me have commented that your post brought back memories, and I agree. That is the greatest achievement a writer can hope for, to touch the readers’ heart 🙂 I was very happy to discover your blog and that you are still writing. Keep writing santhu, give words to that part of you that is most special and beautiful!

    Reply

    • And this comment is so precious coming from a dear friend and writer herself :* … thanks vani … Hopefully, i will continue to write . . But any given day your talent to write is more inspiring than anything i have read in a long time.

      Reply

  19. It’s beautiful Santhini and I love re-reading it:).

    Reply

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