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July 22, 2011

Notes from a Small Town.


The one good thing about my parents living in a small town is that Im totally relaxed. I am taking laziness to an all new level. Like in Madras, no mad shopping to do hunting for that perfect short kurta, no restaurant hopping looking for that elusive Schezwan fried rice, no beaches, no visits to the dentist,... Im not even moving my behind to go to any of the temples for which this town is famous for. Only one quick visit was done to Govindapuram the day before the Kumbabhishekam.

I signed up Ashu for a 10 day swimming camp in a hotel pool nearby. Never in a million years would I have thought that my daughter will learn swimming in Kumbakonam of all places!! Unfortunately I took my dad along for the first class and seeing her splutter and pant, he took the coach aside (Im not sure if he bribed him! Hes capable of it!) and told him to teach her swimming with her head above the water! sigh. The even more sad part is that the coach agreed and now after the last lesson, Ashu is swimming exactly like how our Labrador (God bless her soul!) used to when she fell on the Kodaikanal lake!

I hardly come online or talk on the phone. My mom and dad take care of the girls. If Im really tired watching TV or looking at the ceiling (during the power cut), I play judge to the Pallankuzhi match between my 96 year old grandma and 6 year old daughter. My happiness cant be measured when Ashu makes her move after she counts the Sozhis discreetly so that she can pothufy Kaasi or take a muthu. I can proudly say that she has become the member of the Secret Society of Pallankuzhi! Antu is having her own fun upturning the heavy wooden board and scattering the Sozhis everywhere. Some (read Sis!) might say that Antu is following my footsteps but for the record, I did it only when I lost a game, mind it!


If you think at 96, my grandma is the oldest in the family, you are wrong. My grand uncle turned 100 (One Hundred!) recently and he lives with my uncle and aunt next door. Ashu and Antu visited him as usual and he remembered their visit 6 months back and said, "The little one will come to me. Shes not shy like the older one!" Gotta give it to the old man! Sharp as a cookie even though hes very weak physically. The irony is that every time we visit home, my mom or my grandma will insist that we go visit him as soon as possible because "God knows when what will happen? Seekram poi paathutu vandhudu". This has been going on for the past 10 years and its really hilarious that this dialogue is coming from my 96-not-out grandma. Poor thing used to wipe her tears and say, "May be I wont be here the next time you visit. Take care of the kids"! But even she thought enough is enough and during my last trip declared, "May be Im not going anywhere until I see Ashu getting married! So see you next time!" Hope to God I have the same sense of humor when Im old. (Not that old, please God!)

I dont know why but I sense that my parents are very proud that we live in Switzerland and I cant explain why but Im most reluctant to tell near strangers where I live. Ashu being the girl she is hardly ever strikes a conversation with strangers and even if she does, she ll only answer to Yes or No questions. Antu being small, people hardly direct their questions at her and even when she says "I live in Zurich", people assume she said Zoo and give me a weird look! So that only leaves my mother! While on the train, I went to the loo for like 30 seconds and my mom had introduced her grand daughters to half the compartment and maamas and maamis are asking me how I manage in the snow! One gentleman is asking ashu what her name is in German(!) and another lady is asking me if I get Murungaikaai there! Some people dont even know where Swiss is (Adhu enna? Newzealand pakkathula irukko?) and I have to tell them that it is near London! (My apologies to the Swiss!)

I dont know how my parents did it when we were kids but watching TV with Ashu is like Chinese torture. It does nt help that she has nt watched a full length Hindi or Tamil movie. Or a non-kiddy English film for that matter. It feels like a different Ashu is unleashed when I watch a Tamil movie and she catches a few scenes. "Why is that baby crying? Why is the mom leaving the baby and going to fight a war? Why is she crying now? So what if she came to know she is adopted? She has a mom and dad, right? Why does she care about her real mom who left her?" All this for a two minutes scene from Kannathil Muthamittaal. As if this is nt enough, there was a scene where Maddy and Iduppazhagi are hugging and the Akka character stops them. "Why cant they hug? Why is she stopping them? So what if they are nt married? So why dont they get married? Why should they ask the dads permission? Why dont they just get married and surprise him?" This from a girl who still informs me that shes going to the bathroom before she does! God save me! And here we were my sis and I as kids suffering through rape scenes, kissing scenes, hugging scenes, near rape before the hero saves his sister scene, rape after which the girl marries the rapist and lives happily ever after scenes, rape followed by suicide scenes, rape followed by murder scenes, MGR duet songs, Moods advertisement, etc... etc... etc... without batting an eyelid and without a peep! And in those days, parents could nt even change channels like we can today because there was only one channel to watch and most importantly there was no remote. And even if one was lucky to get the Srilankan channel Rupavahini , changing the channel meant that someone has to go to the terrace and change the direction of the TV Antenna to a certain angle and for people below to scream, "Yes, yes. STOP! No, no. Go back! Yes. A bit more. No No. Too much." Im sure its hilarious to hear now but it was one of the most frustrating thing, let me assure you. Coming back to the point, what am I doing wrong?

All good things must come to an end and so did the mango season. Just when I was finishing a whole Rumaani Mango and scraping the seed with my teeth for that last bit of pulp stuck there, my mom announced that that was going to be my last mango for this trip. For a moment, I thought of swallowing that seed whole but the childhood conditioning of how a tree will sprout from my head if I ever swallowed a seed would nt let me do it. Well, theres always the next season I suppose. I can wait.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

So funny.
Think of all the google hits you'll get now with the copious use of the R word. :)

Poorni

Anonymous said...

Boo! Love your life! LOL!

Me said...

Lovely post Boo...:)

LOL! I can never forget your father's intro line about ashu...this is my granddaughter...she is made in Switzerland...does he say that even now?

During mid/late 80's whenever they had religious program on DD my cousin's paati will watch them and close her eyes with her hands whenever ads come up...:)

yaadayaada said...

Really! Are you my sister? How do you write so well? LMAO! And you do make it all sound so glamorous that I want a vacation right now!!

Anonymous said...

Hear you sistah!! on the movie watching bit...here it is my 4 yr old....

Loved your updates...

And of course Loling thru out this post:)))

-Bhavani

noon said...

Boooo!! Is there any chance you will adopt me as your sister?! Or may be I can maskafy Ashu and Antu into adopting me as their Aunt! I love your family. I love these family posts. This is the kind of life I had as a kid. Now nothing like it for my kids. No motivation even to go to India when my MIL and my parents are not even living there. Well there is, but you know that home feeling is missing and it hurts me when I go there. When I read these posts I just feel so moved...patti/thatha/pallanguzhi..acho avvlo azhaga irukku kekkave!

Meera said...

What does jala kreedai mean? I love the first picture with the girls and their respective pattu pavadais.. U have had all our share of mangoes so its only fair that it stops :):)
Have fun.... vacation sounds awesome :)

P.S: Will you blog more about the food pls?

Laksh said...

You make kumbakonam sound so glamorous. My mom and I had fun watching the pictures and as usual my mom came up with convoluted connections between your family and mine. Loved the pic of paati pethi playing palankuzhi. I have very fond memories of those.

Kookaburra said...

Beautiful pics ... especially with the grands - capturing grandness of the moment!

Loved reading the words even more! :) Giggling through switching channel through antenna ...

Giggling through all the R words suddenly remembered, I used to translate hindi movies to my mother, and I still remember translating a hindi remake of apoorva rangangal at an age of 12 ... "her mother is his lover but his father is ..." duh I got really confused and my mother was chuckling! :)

Aneela Z said...

yuvaar sweetness.

the three A said...

such a nice post boo....unga posts emits a lot of positivity....thanks a lot..keep posting...:)

Choxbox said...

ROFL! awesomeness as usual!

Anonymous said...

What a great way to relax..
Loved your holiday with all those yummy mangoes, panipuris,
molagabajjis...mouthwatering..
TV antenna stuff was jus hilarious..brought back old memories..:)

--Priya.

Anonymous said...

Deivamey! you raise the notch a bar higher every time you do a travel post. Rotfl.. you must patent your style of writing..

- Its our space

Elizabeth said...

Hilarious, you write so well.

d said...

ok i am officially your fan now. kicking myself for missing meeting you at art's.

d said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
L said...

How? How? How do you write like this Boo!! Super post! You have everything in you to write a R K Narayan type book..it will become a big hit!

Lakshmi

A and A said...

Lovely! I'm from small town like you but not from Kumbakonam far south(Tirunelveli dist) Love the lazy life when I get home. Can't wait for my visit. You make me want to go there now :)

DC said...

fantastic post! my small giggles broke into a belly shaking laughter by the time i came to the antenna stuff :-) super!

anubharat said...

Loved reading this post. Am sorry to tell this Boo, I am so so J of you ;)
Love your little ranis and their pattu paavadais.
TV antenna episode I can so very well relate it, orey flashback dhaan po :)

Anonymous said...

vaazhvu dhaan - tv paarkardhu, mottuvalaiya paarkardhu, saapadradhu, thoongardhu - soo J.
My grandma says the same thing and she is only 86.
Didn't your parents send you to get water from the kitchen, check if it is raining to bring clothes in, double check the front and back door locks, then go and check if upstairs door is locked during the R scenes and ads?
Well, enjoy your vacation!
-Vidya

ranjani.sathish said...

I was laughing uncontrollably at the TV thing...yes we watched everything as kids without batting an eyelid :-). Yes it is truly a torture to watch Hindi or English stuff on TV, with kids around, because every line has to be translated then and there, driving me completely mad !

Just had to leave a comment :-)

Medha said...

Boo... Like i've said before and I will always say.. you have a way with writing.
Even the simple funny dialogues had me ROTFLOL!! You are way too good...

Kookaburra said...

hi boo, I just now saw the link to Govindapuram ... I have been quite a strange fan of this Brahmasri Vittaldas Jayakrishna Dikshitar (know only his face until I got through your link!) ... since the day I accidentally stumbled upon his "paanduranga paandurangaa" bhajan while channel flipping ... It was very addictive and I always stop and listen whenever I stumble on him while channel surfing ... Have you listened to him sing ... There is a magic in it ... I know nothing else of him until today! Thanks for the link! :)

Uma said...

stumbled upon your blog recently. Love your style of writing..strikes a chord instantaneously.

A total fun post this, could totally relate to the T.V antenna thing, the R scenes with parents and all.

Tharini said...

Boo...I just love you for how much you make me laugh! :)

inbavalli said...

Each time I read your post I tell myself you can't get any funnier. Only to find the next one even funnier. You seriously rock :)

etcparenting said...

I wonder if all childhoods in all parts of India were the same. Loved every bit of it. Waiting for a book to happen!

Deepa said...

I loved your post. Gosh..you write so beautifully...I especially loved your tamil sentences in between....It reminds me of my summer hols in Madras......

Deepa

BangaloreMom said...

LOL boo...u lead a charmed life, you do!! :D And seriously, she is learning to swim in kumbakonam!!:D

Anonymous said...
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ashok said...

love to see her play palankuzi with ur grandma! hope the tradition continues...