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March 09, 2006

Poochi.

***Warning: Creepy Crawlies ahead. Not for the faint-hearted.***

We had a surprise visitor at our house yesterday. A “Pooraan”. (Centipede.) My mom found it in the bathroom and I went in with a broom and did the honours. Ashu was in the hall and the bathroom door had been open all this while and it gave me the shivers imagining the worst. My mom goes bonkers even if she finds a mosquito at home in the evenings afraid Ashu will get her allergy again if bitten. This made me thinking. I grew up in our native village and a small town, most of my childhood. Visitors like these and even more dangerous than these were very common. The nearest hospital was miles away and the adults took care of the children but were nt overly paranoid. We were always outdoors by day playing and if we had nt found at least one scorpion and a water snake, the day was nt made. Ants, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, rats, wild cats, etc. lived harmoniously with us. I think I was only once bitten by a tiny scorpion. It did nt hurt much but I made a big scene. (Now that I think of it, I am not sure if I was actually bitten or I was just looking for some attention.) Anyway, I was nt even taken to the Doctor. Some home remedy and in an hour I was out playing again. Scorpions have also bitten my dad and my cousin so I knew the drill.

My sister, a friend and I used to go to the "pump set" almost everyday and have a blast in the "thotti" (Concrete tub) bathing and playing in the water. We would see a water snake or imagine seeing one and in a jiffy, will be out of the water and laugh hysterically that we escaped death. We used to climb the "vaikol por" (hay stack) which I am sure was infested with every insect and possibly snakes too and slid down from there. It was our own slide. We would go home only to eat. We would go to our Mango grove and climb the low branches and pick a mango in spite of truckloads of mangoes waiting at home for us. The "kadukka erumbu" (Big Red Ant) residing in the mango trees will take their anger out on us for disturbing them and it will sting like hell and I would scream and run home to my grandma who will promptly put some "Viboodhi" (sacred ash) and out I ll run again. This time to the dark woods opposite our house where there were “Iluppai” trees. If I was by myself, I would play a game thinking that I was Masha or Dasha (the young girls’ names in the Russian folklore books we had at home!) lost in the woods and pick “Iluppakaai” and “gundumani”. The red and black small bead- like “Gundumani” was poisonous, I heard from my mother. So I would make sure I did not taste it however tempting it was. And to think I was 4 to 5 years old then. We used to collect them and used them while playing “Pallankuzhi” (something like a board game. Picture here.) to fill the “peechankuzhis”. (the vacant holes in the Pallankuzhi game.) We always wanted some cool stuff to put in the “peechankuzhis”.

There were always lizards, ants, cockroaches and rats in the house. We also had a couple of cats, a dog and dozens of buffaloes and cows in our village farm. The large lizards were “marapalli”. Ants were categorized as “sitherumbu” (red ants), “katterumbu” (big black ants) and “pillayaar erumbu” (small black ants) which we never killed. I was very scared of flying cockroaches. If goaded enough, I would pick a cockroach by the whiskers and earn the gang's respect. Rats absolutely terrified me but I did nt like it when they were killed. Especially the “sundelis” (small mice), since I started watching Tom and Jerry and Mickey Mouse. (Once my mom killed a cornered small mouse and I did nt talk with her for days.) Another time, she was taking a bath and found a snake hanging in the clothesline. The snake could nt move because it had just swallowed a rat. It was a cobra so after killing it, we buried it in the "kollai" (backyard) with a 10 paise coin, some milk and rice, lit a lamp and prayed that we never get to kill another cobra. Then there were monkeys. Once when we were out, they entered the kitchen and had made such a mess that my mom started crying wondering where to start. And recently, a monkey started chasing me in Nandi hills and did nt stop until I threw my “Cornetto” ice cream at it. (Bloody ape! Nobody messes with my food. You owe me one Cornetto, chocolate flavour to be precise!) Then there were stray dogs everywhere. I remember while going to our village with my dad in his scooter, I had to keep my legs up as some dogs were really ferocious and did nt like two wheelers and would chase us for a mile! It was damn funny, I swear! And then there was this supposed to be ferocious creature called “Jalamandali”. According to my mom, it looks like a spider only with hundred more legs. It lives in water and a friend of her was in coma after being bitten by a “jalamandali”. Though I have nt seen it in my life, I used to be the most scared about this one. Everyday while taking a shower, I used to inspect the mug full of water closely for a second before pouring it on my head. I stopped doing it after a while. But I think I will start it again soon after finishing this post! Oh, what dangerous time we lived! And to think that I am worried about my daughter’s safety after a centipede-episode. Bah!

In our family, men were nt supposed to kill the centipedes (some curse which was okay for women but not for men!) and that’s when we girls got to show our true valour. Just like I did yesterday. Thank God HD was nt home. I am pretty sure he would have wanted to know if there were Exterminators in Bangalore and after booking a room in a hotel for us, would have sold the house to the guy who was brave enough to kill a centipede! The price I pay for marrying a city guy, I guess!

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Isn't "pooraan" a centipede?

You are a narrative genius...

Keep up the good work.

B o o said...

Gee, thanx. And you are right. I knew I should ve googled "pooraan". Right from school, I ve been confusing millepede and centipede. And I had to see some really creepy pictures in google images to make sure that the visitor was indeed a centipede. Probably I should put a link to creep out everyone! :) Lemme go and change now. Thanks again!

S... said...

Hey.. You forgot the "Nattuvakili", the grandmother of scorpion which is 1 feet long. We had the honour of seeing this one in the KMU bathroom when mom was getting into the bathroom to take a bath. Whatz with mom taking bath and the creepy/crawlies..

your said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
S... said...

Looks like you need a filter for your comment section to avoid spams!

F e r r a r i said...

nejamaave neenga maRa thamizhachi dhaan.
Sanga kaalathula peNgaL muRathaala puliya viratti irukaanga :-) Andha genes unga kitta nalla irukku.

Jagan said...

oru discovery channel patha effect irruku entha post padichathukku apporam ...ayyo sathyama na ungala sollave illai ;-)

Srijith Unni said...

Really interesting.
I must quip, i was floored at the narration. Whatever you have posted, looks like it`s been cut out from my memories as well.

City life is too safe and oh! so uninteresting

How true,

Regards,
Srijith
http://srijithunni.blogspot.com

the wannabe indian punkster said...

I was bitten by a "pooran", when I was 5:'(
I created a huge scene(but it wasnt that painful to be honest with ya:D)
And mind you, I am a city ponnu, so coming across a "pooran" was an event in my family!
Cheers
Megha

B o o said...

S - Yeah! How could I forget the "nattuvakili"? *shivers*

Ferrari - This is too much. :)

Jagan - This is three much! :)

Srijith - Now you are talking! I never knew there could be anyone without all these village experience. They dont know what they missed!

kuttichuvaru said...

sundeli paasam after Tom n Jerry n Mickey Mouse.... tat was hilarious....

tat was a funny post.... ya i too feel the kids of this generation wud not experience the kind of fun u r talkin abt....

B o o said...

Megha, Bravo! You survived to tell the tale. So nothing happens if Pooraan bites? Really? I wasted all my life getting scared of this? :(

Kutti - Thanks for coming by. Feeling so old. We have already started saying "Kids of this generation"! Sigh!

WA said...

Hmmmm Boo thanks :P

Worried about moving from where I am now , serves me right for reading this post in the middle of the night

Viji said...

Boo, this again reminds me about KMU. We lived in an ancient house (in Dabir Middle street). oru mini discovery channel'e enga kooda irundhudhu. :)
cows, stray cats and dogs, peruchaali, eli, thel, pooran, nattuvakkili, kambli poochi, pambhu, kili, korangu.....
onga inspiration la nanum idha pathi oru post poda poren, koodiya seekrama, in a couple of years ;) My cousins who visited, called our house the scorpion house!! engulukellam bayamave illa, pazhagi pochu... we used to fight with my mother, asking her not to kill the scorpions, but to just remove the sting... :) (We loved reading Gerald Durrell and James Herriot books, wouldn't you know?!)
Only thing I haven't heard about or seen is the jalamandali.

Anonymous said...

its 2.30 am n i hav an exam which will decide my fate... but i am here readin this.... wierd...

u seem to be a great tamilian.. (someone rather something i thot never existed)...

keep t good work goin....

n ya, i've been dyin to see the "jalamandali"...

i think its called jerimanjulum in english/latino watevs but aint findin a pic

DotMom said...

you have such an irreverant style of writing.. I so admire it!

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Jegan said...

actually you now only now did i kill a jalamandali but the problem is that i just cant sleep after seeing it

ambulisamma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ambulisamma said...

Hello boo
Stumbled upon ur article while searching for pooran in google.Since i had a visitor few days i wished to google about it,before i write.
Your article inspires.

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karthik dayalan said...

hey BOO,

I've seen a pooran many a times. I've been told they've a nasty bite/sting. But what i wanted to ask you or any one reading is-- What is a Jalamandali?? There isn't much available online. Is it a pooran or scorpion or a spider? a close friend of mine claims that one of her relatives actually died from a bite ( happened in the 60s or so). Thanks and great writing, might i add!