Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy New year

To all,

Happy new year to you all. May this year bring all your wishes true.

Premalatha and Balan.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

Hi Visitor,

This is for you.

Merry Christmas.

This was the white christmas we had in Scotland in the year 2004. The person in the above picture is a friend of ours. you can see him going crazy in the next picture.

The moon (or was it the sun?) so poorly in the following one.

Our friend did a nice job of shaking our picture. It is Balan and I in the following picture.

Merry christmas and Happy new year.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Four Girls - Don't know what it is.

Meena

I look around. Hope no one noticed me. Just a quick look back down the road. Yeah. I see his legs. He is still following me. He doesn’t live in my street. To his home, there is another straight route. But he still comes in this route. Also I see him waiting in that corner and following after me everyday after school. I go to my teacher’s house for tuition. I am bit relieved that he doesn’t follow me to my home or anywhere near my area. I don’t know how exactly I feel about it. I certainly do not like it. I am not that type of girl you know. But I still feel excited when I see his legs following me. I cannot stop my head turning around to look for his legs when I approach that corner where he waits for me and then follows me. One day I didn’t see his legs. That made feel little, how should say, not exactly upset, not exactly sad either, certainly confused and wanted enquire, Oh that might be right, I just wanted to know. You know, just my enquiring mind. That must be it then. It was just my enquiring mind. No, I recognise his legs and feet very well actually. I know his hawaii slippers. Slightly worn and faded a little. Not too bad you know. I like the fact that he is not wasting money on buying new one, when this old one is still in good condition. He is the right sort of guy for a good family. I know his family. They are good people. He studies well too, I have heard. Well, not too bad, actually. Grades in his class do not necessarily mean good character, do they? Sargunam in my class, though is a good competitor for me, doesn’t exactly qualify as a good charactered boy, does he? I must say I feel ashamed to have lost my grades to him in the last monthly test. I made sure I didn’t lose out in the quarterly exam. I came first. I don’t mind losing it to Anandhi. Never to Sargunam. He is an arrogant boy. Doesn’t think girls are any worth. Meeran is fine. He is a good friend of mine. He shows his marks and I show my marks to him always. We exchange notes too. Not a problem. Sargunam thinks he is something really big. He doesn’t answer to any question in the class. It is only in the exams somehow he makes it to good enough marks worthy enough to spy around to get a sneak peek at his marks. I have reached my teacher’s house. Just a quick look back. I smile to see those slippers guarding those feet resting at the corner seeing me off for today. Bye bye for today.

-------------x-----------x-------------x-------------

Preethi

“Hey, run, run”. Raji is shouting. “We are going to miss the bus otherwise”. Bus arrived right in time. We had to really rush to get in the bus. It is alright today. Doesn’t look too crowded. Did do a sneak peek back to see if he is there today too. He always waits there. Purple tinted white shirt. Must bee regal blue his mother uses. Momma’s boy. Does your mother know your this particular routine? He is quick too. He always is. He has boarded the bus too. He always does. Raji doesn’t know anything about it. Haven’t told her. Is there any significance in there to tell her? I don’t think so. I am not that kind of girl you know. It is just that after all someone boards the same bus. No; actually it is not his regular bus. I found that out when I saw him waiting restlessly the other day when I missed this bus. Yep, I did not miss to note his smile with relief when he saw me little later that day. Ha. What do you think I am, I am not any less smart, am I? One day when Raji was off, I got down at the same stop as his. I know. He was puzzled. Didn’t care. I went to the florist and pretended as if I was buying something. Then I followed him. He took next bus that took him back to his regular route to go home. I know what you are going to say. Hey, it is me remember. I know what I am doing. Nope. I am not that kind of girl. Don't try to confuse me. Nope it is not what you think. It is just I want to know what is going on around me, that is all. That is all it is. Oh; it is my stop. I have to get down here. See ya Raji. I wave. She waves back. What was that my tuition teacher told me? Lemme check my after-school notebook. Father has taught me well. He is very organised you know. I take after my father, they all tell me. I am the rettaivalu of my family. Aha, it is history today. Thank god. There is no homework for history. Ok. Bye bye for today. Sorry teacher I am late today. I rush in to my tuition class looking for a place to sit.

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Ritu

Wassup! Giggling.. It is me giggling. Wassup? He was shocked and went speechless…. Ooohh, exciting.. virgin, are ya, aww, don’t be shy, I only meant flirt virgin. Keep your real (wink) virginity safe. Me not gonna steal it.. ooohhh, shy are we…. Exciting.. giggling… me giggling.. He is a poor nice boy, who has been following me to my tuitions. I go to tuition only to please my father. I hate tuitions. Well, I used hate tuitions, but he has made it exciting these days. I have started looking forward to it. It is kinda exciting to see some nice poor boy thinks that you could be his love of his life. That is funny, ini? It makes my life less boring. That much I can tellya. Today I fooled him by hiding behind the bus stop. He was all waiting for me there. I suddenly appeared from behind and said booh. Ha ha ha. He went all shocked and speechless. Exciting it was for sure.

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Nush

Hello, it is called stalking. Get the fuck straight and you leave me alone, you paki. Fuck.


____________________________________________________________

Tamil version

Previous posts in this series
Pray
Dad's lil girl
Goin out
Play
First solid food
Nights
Born and named

Will change the template later

This is the best I could do now. not 100% satisfied. Will certainly change it later.

I am actually interested in using this template but, want to change the ocean for the goat-village picci I had as header before. I know it was a dark-shade picci, I can play around to bring the tone/color together. But I need photoshop (and time) to add screengirl and goat-village. Until then, it is the "premalatha lookalike girl" is going to be the header-picci. Not that I don't like this picci. It is one of my favs.

PS: the four comments were about my previous header-picci,

which can be found at
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us


and its full picci can be found at
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us


click on the images.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Four Girls - Preethi - Don't know what it is

Preethi

“Hey, run, run”. Raji is shouting. “We are going to miss the bus otherwise”. Bus arrived right in time. We had to really rush to get in the bus. It is alright today. Doesn’t look too crowded. Did do a sneak peek back to see if he is there today too. He always waits there. Purple tinted white shirt. Must bee regal blue his mother uses. Momma’s boy. Does your mother know your this particular routine? He is quick too. He always is. He has boarded the bus too. He always does. Raji doesn’t know anything about it. Haven’t told her. Is there any significance in there to tell her? I don’t think so. I am not that kind of girl you know. It is just that after all someone boards the same bus. No; actually it is not his regular bus. I found that out when I saw him waiting restlessly the other day when I missed this bus. Yep, I did not miss to note his smile with relief when he saw me little later that day. Ha. What do you think I am, I am not any less smart, am I? One day when Raji was off, I got down at the same stop as his. I know. He was puzzled. Didn’t care. I went to the florist and pretended as if I was buying something. Then I followed him. He took next bus that took him back to his regular route to go home. I know what you are going to say. Hey, it is me remember. I know what I am doing. Nope. I am not that kind of girl. Don't try to confuse me. Nope it is not what you think. It is just I want to know what is going on around me, that is all. That is all it is. Oh; it is my stop. I have to get down here. See ya Raji. I wave. She waves back. What was that my tuition teacher told me? Lemme check my after-school notebook. Father has taught me well. He is very organised you know. I take after my father, they all tell me. I am the rettaivalu of my family. Aha, it is history today. Thank god. There is no homework for history. Ok. Bye bye for today. Sorry teacher I am late today. I rush in to my tuition class looking for a place to sit.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Four Girls - Meena - Don't know what it is


Meena

I look around. Hope no one noticed me. Just a quick look back down the road. Yeah. I see his legs. He is still following me. He doesn’t live in my street. To his home, there is another straight route. But he still comes in this route. Also I see him waiting in that corner and following after me everyday after school. I go to my teacher’s house for tuition. I am bit relieved that he doesn’t follow me to my home or anywhere near my area. I don’t know how exactly I feel about it. I certainly do not like it. I am not that type of girl you know. But I still feel excited when I see his legs following me. I cannot stop my head turning around to look for his legs when I approach that corner where he waits for me and then follows me. One day I didn’t see his legs. That made feel little, how should say, not exactly upset, not exactly sad either, certainly confused and wanted enquire, Oh that might be right, I just wanted to know. You know, just my enquiring mind. That must be it then. It was just my enquiring mind. No, I recognise his legs and feet very well actually. I know his hawaii slippers. Slightly worn and faded a little. Not too bad you know. I like the fact that he is not wasting money on buying new one, when this old one is still in good condition. He is the right sort of guy for a good family. I know his family. They are good people. He studies well too, I have heard. Well, not too bad, actually. Grades in his class do not necessarily mean good character, do they? Sargunam in my class, though is a good competitor for me, doesn’t exactly qualify as a good charactered boy, does he? I must say I feel ashamed to have lost my grades to him in the last monthly test. I made sure I didn’t lose out in the quarterly exam. I came first. I don’t mind losing it to Anandhi. Never to Sargunam. He is an arrogant boy. Doesn’t think girls are any worth. Meeran is fine. He is a good friend of mine. He shows his marks and I show my marks to him always. We exchange notes too. Not a problem. Sargunam thinks he is something really big. He doesn’t answer to any question in the class. It is only in the exams somehow he makes it to good enough marks worthy enough to spy around to get a sneak peek at his marks. I have reached my teacher’s house. Just a quick look back. I smile to see those slippers guarding those feet resting at the corner seeing me off for today. Bye bye for today.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Chevaththa puliyangaa (Red Tamarind)

We are going to see the chevaththa puliyanga tree today. Last week kutti brought us some chevaththa puliyanga. It was not sour at all. Very sweet and, my gawd sooo red. I applied on my lips. We all did. It did not stay, but we had it until we finished eating the puliyanga, which was until evening, btw by the way. We all were giggling and running all over the street. Kutti has promised us to show the tree today. So today we are going to see the chevaththa puliyamaram (Red Tamarind tree) and going to get sooo much chevaththa puliyanga for us. It will last for days. We all will have lipstick on for days, this time. Mother was complaining when she heard about our mission. Kutti took responsibility for all of us. She knows this area, she goes there to collect grass for the cattles her family owns. She goes to all farms/fields in the west. She said she saw this chevaththa puliyamaram one day, and, she brought some chevaththa puliyanga for us all. Since when our school is closed for summer holidays, I have been exploring east and west. Well, some north and some south too. But it is the east or it is the west, that the stretch is very interesting.

“Do you know about the seven virgins?, that one, is virigins’ woods, they say”. Kutti showed me the other bank of the gully. Looks ghostly to me. Scary. There are seven stones standing erect. “What is the story”?. “Well, I don’t know the complete story, but they say when there were heavy rains up in the mountains, water came roaring down the gully, which carried the girls who were harvesting and collecting grass for their cattles. They went straight to heaven. People from the village saw that and they erected stones here to remember them and to worship them". Hmm, I nod. Looks ghostly. I know the rains. They are capable of such thing. I have seen the gully full, washing away the huts and small houses that existed on the banks. Whenever it bore full we got holiday, as we have to cross the gully to go to school. It is the same gully there, by my school. Small but same water. In the west it looks magnificent. It is small and like a vaikkal close to school. But same water they say. “So, they worship the dead? Do they do puja here like in temple”? “No. They do puja alright, but not like in temples. Only once in a while”. Looks true. The stones have dried garlands.

“Ok, let us run for some distance”. “okKKEEEYYYYY”… we run. “Let us see who touches that tree first”. we are running, and hearing the instruction from kutti. “Which tree”?, we still are running…”that tree” we still are running..” which that tree”? we still are running… Kutti is athletic. She is running ahead of us all and she stopped by one tree and said, “this tree”.. huh u huh u huh u… breathing heavily.. “that is cheating”.. “No it is not, it was me in the front anyways”.. “I will be the one who decides next time, let us run baAACCKK”.. “you idiOOTT, COME BACK”, I stop running and listen. “The whole objective of running was to reach the west soon. Running back east, what are you trying to achieve”? Focussing on an objective is never my strong point is it? Anyway, we all follow kutti. "Look there is a shop. Let us buy some thenmittai”. After a long stretch, there is a shop. “This is the last shop, so we have to buy whatever we want before we go”, Kutti the knowledgeable behind the mission, lets us know the information at this point.

Oh boy, so many questions that woman asked. Last shop you see. We couldn’t afford to skip. We had to reply all her questions. We needed our thenmittai. I love thenmittai. It is juicy, semisolid and sticky inside, but crunchy outside. Pink in colour. We love it. I don’t like viral appalam (like hoola hoops) . Many like it. I don’t. We bought some anyway. We run again.

“Let us go to the Gounder thottam and drink some water”. Yep. We are in there now. There he is, shouting.. “We are just drinking some water goundare” Kutti shouted back. “Who is that?” “It is me, Kutti, goundare”. “Ah, you, is it. Ok. Who are they”? “My friends. We are going to see chevaththa puliyamaram”. “Oh no. That area is very lonely and you girls shouldn’t go there”. “I go there everyday goundare. The grass there is lust green and healthy. I get good harvest there. I go there everyday. That is how I know where the maram (tree) is”. “You poor girl” “We have many bulls and cows, you know that don’t you. We have to feed them you see. Poor those cows and bulls. If I don’t get good green grass they will have to eat rice-hay or cholam stalk. Very dry you see. They love it when I give them some green grass. One of our cows, the black one with white patches on its face, it has given birth to a calf you see. Small little fella. He just loves to eat green grass. I give him very young/tender grass. I keep it separate for him. I cannot let him eat dry straw or cholam stalk”. “Take care of yourself girl. Take some older women with you when you go there”. “Are you mad? If I go with other women, how will I get good harvest day after day? If those women who sell grass start going there, it won’t last for a day. Am I mad to let everyone know that area”? “Take your mother with you at least. Take care of yourself girl. It is a very lonely area”. “I know. But, my mother has to cook at home you see. If she comes with me then how will I get hot food when I go home”? “I can never win you, can I”? He laughs. We drink water. “Stay there. I will be back in a minute”. Gounder asks. OK. He disappears for a minute. When he comes back, he has few papayas. “Take it. Nice and ripe, take it”. “Thank you goundare”. We thank and depart.

The dreamy chevaththa puliyamaram is not exactly in a pradaise looking place. It is by the bank of a dry sandy gully. A farm on the other side. Thin, like a old lady. It looked sad to me. A lone tree. Well there are several karuvela trees there. But, only one chevaththa puliyamaram. Taller than all other puliyamarams I know. Little difficult to climb, but we have experts in our team.

We came back home with a bag full of chevaththapuliyanga and few papayas that was left after catering our hunger. We also brought few roses from another farm. Mother was complaining that I might get fever the next day. I thought it was worth it, even if it is typhoid that I am going to get tomorrow, it was worth it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Mushroom hunting

Senthil's story.

Appa and his family secret and our mushroom hunting! I love mushroom hunting. I do like to eat mushrooms as well. Mushroom fry is my favourite. Mother prepares it very well. I love it. But early morning waking up? Nah. Well, I do like it after we have reached the fields. But waking up is not my favourite part. Father doesn’t get that this is still midnight and not early morning. He calls it morning. He and his mornings! It is 2am for God sake. Midnight. Uffffff. Eyes are begging me. I feel like I am sleep walking. It is misty and dark. Don’t really understand any of it. He calls it our secret path. Family secret! Every family-father has his secret path to collect good amount of mushroom for his family. See, you don’t cultivate it like a crop that you can be sure about your harvest. I think it is just luck. But these fathers are so sure about their paths and their harvests. When there is a lightening the previous night, they all go hunting for mushrooms. Every one of them thinks it is just him who is clever enough to realise the harvest time and go hunting. So is my father. “Senthil, come this side. It is too bushy there. You don’t want to be bitten by snakes.” Whaaat? Heaven sake. I don’t wanna die for mushroom. Le’ts go home. “We have been part of these fields all our lives. Snakes are part of it too. They don’t bite. We don’t die”. Well, snake doesn’t bite you everyday to let you know that it does bite, does it? We keep walking. “Come this side. Let us take this route. No one knows this route. Last time, I got plenty of mushrooms in that red soil field. It always gives good mushrooms. I discovered it. We must keep it as our family secret”. It is too dark to remember our way back home. We see torch lights. “awww. These people. They must have followed us. Never mind. Let us take our regular route”. I just follow him. Don’t know any of his routes. “There”, father shows me a mushroom. There are few. Small white mushrooms in the middle of the green weeds and cholam plants. I run to pick them. All over the field. Soft white tiny umbrellas. I unroot them carefully. So soft that it breaks easily. I run all around the field. It is browny whitey dark now. Almost dawn. I can see the soft white tiny umbrealla mushrooms very clear. We have brought two yellow bags, one for father and one for me. Both are full, well, good amount, if you ask me to be accurate. I am very happy. Very happy. We head back to town. It doesn’t feel as long, as it was before. When we reach our giramachavadi (the village hall), others are waiting there discussing their harvests. We join. “How much did you get Annae (elder brother)?” Ponrasu chithappa asks. “Enough for both of our families”, father smiles and gives him one bag. Whaaaat?! I don’t get it. “Appa, it is ours, we collected it”. I don’t get it. Some more join us. They all shared their harvests. When we all left the chaavadi, bags are full according to each one’s family size. Some mothers prepared kaalan kulambu (mushroom curry) and my mother prepared spicy mushroom fry. Mushroom fry is my favourite.

A jump and a run - version: modern

Left left jump. Right right jump. One two three four. Left left jump and right right jump. A jump and a run, a jump and a run… Right crunch. One two three four. Left crunch. One two three four… “Why are you breathing so heavily? Did you run to come here? It was after all kurusamy maama’s shop. Not that far”, inquisitive mother wants to know. “She has been jumping and running all the way from the shop”, report from a passer-by, some athai or chithi or a paatti or an achchi. They are all the same. Even chithappas/periyappas or maamas and pattiyaas even thaathas are the same too. “Ahh. Why doesn’t that surprise me! I have been telling her to behave like a girl. She never listens. I don’t know how I am going to deal with her. It is me who is going to get the blame when she goes to her in-law’s family. Her mother in law is going to point her finger towards me for her bad upbringing. She is definitely going to shame us all”. One two three four. Left crunch. One two three four right crunch. One two three four. Haa. Some more would be good. It is burning. But, see how big the tummy is. I had to hold my breath all day to keep it less showing. Formals makes it worse, doesn’t it? Left crunch. One two three four. Right crunch one two three four. Advanced crunch. One two three … four…. Five….. haaaa…. Enough for today… “Premalatha, Premalatha, awwhat? You must be joking. I am slaving in the kitchen washing all the dishes, and you? (left left and a jump, right right jump) Nice to see you keeping yourself fit, but, please get yourself in there and prepare the sandwich for our lunch pack”. “Last time in the formals I was looking so ugly”. “Yeah, I know. I know your concern. (a jump and a run). That guy you were flirting with, you both forgetting the topic and purpose of your meeting, (a jump and a run) I know, you needed to be very fit. Has it ever occurred to you that you are approaching forty, F O R T Y and you need to age gracefully now?” ahhh. “What?” “I have cut my finger. What else? It is the knife. I always tell you to keep the paring knife off my sight. Where is the serrated one? It cuts the sandwich better”.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

have moved the off topic posts

to wordpress. Have deleted all those off topic posts from this blog. This blog will remain exclusive for the home town and the four grils theme from now on. Just this post will remain for reference.

Can someone tell me how to add a team member in wordpress, please (these days this word please has gone out of my system without my consent, sorry. Thank God, atleast, this word sorry is still living in here. Thank you sorry! Happa, some consolation that this word thank you is alive too. :) )? (Michelle is not registered in wordpress yet.) Thanks.

The normal self

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Four Girls - Pray

Meena
“Come here, come here, pray. Bring the palms together, close your eyes and pray. Yes, pray for good health for your grandparents, pray for good job for your father. Pray for a good future for yourself. Pray. Please apply some thiruneeru (holy ash) on her forehead, Priest”.



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Preethi
“Eh, come here. What are you doing so naughty. Pray. Hold, pchch, hold your palms together, stand still, what is mother teaching you, so disrespectful, stand still, hold your palms together, close your eyes, pray. Pray for good character, that you grow up to respect elders. Turn around, let me apply some thiruneeru. Don’t, don’t, pchch.. if you wipe it off, you will be sinned. You can go and play now”.


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Ritu
“It is prayer time. Come here. Pray. Hold your palms together, close your eyes pray. Pray that you will get to go to USA. Ask God. Ask him that you earn a lot of money. Ask him that you reach heights. Remember us when you are there, ha? Ahh, pray. Apply that thiruneeru. Ufff. Yeah, you can go and play now”.


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Nush
“Pray. Hold your palms together, close your eyes. You have to remember our roots. This is how we do it. Hold your palms together, close your eyes. Pray. Wait, let me apply thiruneeru. Ufff. You can go now”.

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Tamil version

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Cycling

It is hot. Spinning columns of dry mud all around us. On hearing something grrrrrr, Murugan shouts, “Dey, Palarampatty bus is coming. Bus is coming”. We all pause. Wiping the dry mud around our eyes and mouth, and me being a girl, I hurriedly adjusted the tucked skirt to fall free. I couldn’t see anything on the left. Nothing on the right either. We are at a T-junction where a ohdai (gully) meets the Pannaipuram to Pallavarayanpatty tar-road. The ohdai is deep and covered with fence type dense shrubs and some trees on both sides, covering the ohdai with complete shade. Tamirnd trees and Neem trees. Shades under these trees are heaven. I am sitting under a neem tree watching Senthil ride a cycle. He is showing me “how it is done”. Mother asked us not too go too far. Murugan had to really explain a lot to get her to come to a compromise to send us off to manthathohtta (Mantha farm) Maarimuthu’s vaasal, which is slightly spacious than ours. We agreed because it is off her sight, as it is just behind the last house in that lane. We ran off to the ohdai. After some cycling, we have long left the Minar’s farm, which was the farthest place I have been to in that gully-path so far. After Minar's farm, the ohdai becomes quite deep. It has a nice blind summit before it meets the road. There where Senthil has been showing me how to stop the cycle exactly at the summit, just after reaching the top of the steep summit with such acceleration. The summit is really too short, and yes, it does need a great calculation to stop without falling down the down slope on the other side. Senthil is all proud to show me his talents, more so, that I can’t do it. He is teaching me to ride a cycle. He and his friends.

“Muruha, there is no bus”. “It is coming Mathini (I am mathini for him), listen carefully. Ley, stop talking, stop talking, listen carefully mathini, it is coming”. “From which side, left or right”? “Akka, akka, look one more time, ha ha ha ha..”, Senthil stopped exactly at the top of the summit, this time as well. His friends are laughing with him applauding his achievement, this time as well. The bus comes from the left. Conductor was standing on the footboard, wondering at us. The bus stops. It is not a regular stop. I stand up. “Ley, what are you doing? Who is she? Why are you with these boys? Do your parents know? Are you alright”? I am tempted to say that Senthil did not give me cycle at all, he has been keeping the cycle all the time, but he claims that he has been training me. He is laughing at me whenever I fall down. Murugan, promptly replied. “She is my mathini. He is her brother. We are teaching her to ride cycle”. Senthil and his friends take a break to listen to our conversation. “Whose children are you all? Those two (myself and Senthil) look like they are school-going-ones, why are they here? Do their parents know that they are here? Are you alright, girl”? Again I am tempted to complain that I fell down few times and Senthil laughed at me. Again Murugan replied. “These two are military man’s children”. Nope. Conductor does not get it. “Whose son are you”? Conductor goes on adding questions, without giving Murugan a fair chance to reply. Some voice from inside the bus comes to help, “Conductor sir, what is happening? Need help? Whose children are they? What are you doing here, in the middle of nowhere”? “Aren’t you Muthamma’s grandson? I will speak to her. And these two, awright, amukkana Ponniah’s grandchildren”. “Isn’t Ponnaiah Muthamma’s nephew? So, you are all related?”. “Yes sir. She is my mathini”. “How? Isn’t she your sister’s daughter?”. “Yes sir, Chuppakka is Latha-mathini’s mother. Latha mathini is elder to me”.. “Right. So, what are you doing”?. “We are teaching her to ride cycle”. “Are you ok, girl? What is your name? “Latha. In schooool, Premalatha”. “Are you ok”? “Yeah. But fell down few times”. “Why do you want to ride cycle? You are studying and this cycle business is only for jobless boys. Why are you coming to these kinds of places? Go home. Alright. I will talk to your grandfather”. Some voice from inside the bus, . “Muthamma is the only one alive among her sisters and brothers”. “How did you forget Solayppan? He is alive”. “Ah right, he is Muthamma’s younger brother, isn’t he? I forgot. Ponniah is the eldest sister’s son. And that little girl and his brother are Ponniah’s grandchildren? How time flies!!”. “Ponniah’s younger daughter works in Seelayampatty school. Ponniah’s younger sister used to work in lakshmipuram school, but she has moved to Chinnammanoor after her marriage. Her husband is also a teacher. Ponniah’s elder daughter was married off to a military man”. “That explains. This boy was referring to some military man”. The bus leaves. “Vettip paya (jobless) conductor, asking all sorts of questions. Tomorrow my grandmother is going to know that we were all here. She is going to kill me for bringing you both here. They have no clue about cycling. They are asking to teach cycling in our vaasal. Wtf !”. Murugan shakes his head. I know Murugan’s fear for his grandmother, i.e., my chinna-great-grandmother (chinna = younger. My great grand mother’s younger sister). Training continues. Gullies generated some more muddy storms.

“Where have you been? I went to watch your training, but you weren’t there”, mother asked when we reached home, after a solid six hours of training, well, Senthil’s talent-show. Mother didn’t need the bus-conductor’s report on us; our clothes, our dry-mud-covered faces and her visit to manthathohtta Maarimuthu’s vaasal just after five minutes of our departure were good enough.. “You nuts, you didn’t even have your lunch. Come here. Go and wash yourselves first. Then eat. Muruga, where are you going? Eat here. You mother is going to kill you, and probably you are not going to get any food at all for today. She has been looking for you since morning”.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Four girls - Dad's lil girl

Meena

Long day. Mmmhhhhmmm… “Meenu, come here da. Where is your mother? Still in the kitchen?" shakes head. "I want you to study well and become something really big. You should not depend on others. I don’t want my daughter working like a servant maid in the name of a daughter in law in somebody else house. I want you to be independent. You should study well and get a good job for that. You promise me you will do that?, Ahh, my chellam. Look. She is the dad's lil girl”.

Nod. Proud. Happy.

*******************************

Preethi

Long day. Frustration is an understatement. ~sigh~. “Preethu, come here da. What are you doing? Yeah, add one plus one, what do you get? Two, two, say two, two, yaay, she is a genius, Maths genius. Next Sakundhala Devi. Yeah. I want you to be intelligent. Get good marks in the 10th, get a seat in the maths group and then good marks in +2 and entrance exam.. There are no good coaching centres for the entrance exam these days. All are fraud people…”

Confused. Nod. Looking at the two fingers, seems something interesting. Happy.

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Ritu

Long day. Why the hell I always get a nutcase for Boss. ~sigh~ “Ritukutti, come here da. How is your vocabulary doing? What, ahh, your mom!!. Does she talk to you in Tamil? Tell her that she is an illiterate. English is important baby. You know, there is this TOEFL, and there are few other exams to pass…What is the new word you have learnt today? Dinner, say, dinner, dinnnnnnerer, dinner. Yeah. Good. Ask mom for dinner. Yaay. My daughter is definitely going to America. Flight, flight, zooooozooooooo”.

Happy. Zooooooozoooooo…thinner…

*******************************

Nush

Long day. ~sigh~. “Nushamma, Nushukkutti, what are you doing? Come here da. What did you do today? you went to playgroup. Did you? Wow. What did you do? Is that butterfly you created? Wow. So beautiful. Did you colour it yourself? Wow. What, what, you got a new friend too? Who, Mia, is that her name.. what a beautiful name.. ok. What else did you learn?”..I should teach her some maths at home. I want her to be an accountant or a Doctor when she grows up…

Happy. Flying all around the house, like a butterfly…fly, fly, fly, fly…

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Four Girls - Goin out

Meena
“Did you warm the banana leaves before packing the food?” – mother in law.
Looking for the comb, there comes another question, “Where is my watch?” – Husband.
“Give me a towel, paappaa has vomited on me” – granddad with granddaughter.
All dolled up. Jimikki, new neck chain, new anklet, new skirt… too big though.. comes on the way when trying to run.. Jalak Jalak anklet, jiljiljiljil when I run.


Preethi
“Where is the comb?”
“Where is the watch?”
“What, don’t you know where your watch is?”
“And don’t you know where your comb is?”
“Have you packed the food properly? In our days we used to pack in banana leaves. My mother in law used to warn me to warm the leaves all the time..”
“Give me a towel, paappaa has vomited on me…”
All dolled up. Jimikki, new neck chain, new anklet, new skirt… too big though.. comes on the way when trying to run.. Jalak Jalak anklet, jiljiljiljil when I run.

Ritu
“Where is the comb?”
“Where is the watch”
“What, don’t you know where your watch is?”
“And don’t you know where your comb is?”
“Don’t run, don’t run… look, she has vomited now.. gosh, where is the towel..”
“Ask me for everything. Here.”
All dolled up. Jimikki, new neck chain, new anklet, new skirt… too big though.. Comes on the way when trying to run.. Jalak Jalak anklet, jiljiljiljil when I run.

Nush
“Have you packed her stuff”?
Looking for the comb, there comes another question. “Where is the watch”
“Don’t ask me for everything. Don’t you know where your watch is?”
“Have you taken water for her? Have you taken food for her… Ok, don’t look at me like that. I am going.. Give me a towel, she has vomited on me. OK, I know where the towel is. Now, you stop looking at me like that and get ready please”.
All dolled up. Jimikki, new neck chain, new anklet, new skirt… too big though.. Comes on the way when trying to run.. Jalak Jalak anklet, jiljiljiljil when I run.

Tamil Version

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Four Girls - Play

Meena:
Play time. Neighbour’s boy is the senior. “Teach her how to use your key-car. No, no, don’t give it to her. Just show her how it goes. Yaay. Clap, clap. Very nice". Sitting on mother’s lap, having neighbour-brother to guide, Smile.


Preethi
Play time. “She is a brat. She does not listen to anyone. It is very difficult with her these days”. Proud words, coated or not, very clearly proud. Playing in the common landing, having neighbour-brothers and sisters to guide and fight, Smile.

Ritu
Play time. “Chotu (small boy), will you keep an eye on her, I will be back in a minute, just have to grind something”. Playing with colourful toys, having neighbour-brother to guide, Smile.

Nush
Play time. “She gets bored with any new toy very soon. Look at her. There are so many toys in front of her. What do you want me to do? She is always following me wherever I go; to the kitchen, to the toilet. I can’t go to toilet. I keep the door open for her. Otherwise she cries. People in other flats might complain you know”. Mom always in the sight, and/or holding, Smile.



Tamil Version

Related links:
Learn by playing
Crying language
Start a tradition
Sign language

Monday, April 10, 2006

Ther thiruvizha (Chariot festival) in Kombai

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us



This photo was taken when the Ther (chariot) was just in front of our lane. If you take a right turn just after (behind) the Ther, (just behind that little yellow chimney) that is my lane. My house is there at the end of that lane..

The photo shows a part of the North street. In the front end of the North street is our temple. Ther has almost finished its rounds, and is going to take rest at the temple.. The hills in the background is the Western Ghats, Kerala. Kerala is just 10km from our village, if you go by trekking :D.

Last year photo. End of May is the Ther (chariot) festival season.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Four girls- First solid food

Meena:
“Did you keep that food in front of God to get his blessings”? “Yes, athhai (mom-in-law)” First solid food. It is just rice, well cooked. “Ewww. Plain rice?” Neighbour’s kid questions. “No. no. There is little salt in rice. Paappa (babygirl) doesn’t eat spicy. It will be too hot for her. She is so small isn’t she? You also ate like this when you were like her”. Mix well with little lentil, well cooked again. And a touch of little ghee... Good.

*************************

Preethi:
“Did you keep that food in puja room to get blessing from God”? “Yes amma (mom-in-law)”. First solid food. Open the tin. Pour hot water in that special silver bowl. Pour couple of scoops of cerelac powder. Mix well. Good.

*************************

Ritu:
“Did you keep that food in puja room to get blessing from God”? “What room? You mean that cubboard?. When did you give any consideration for my puja room”? “Ok. Don’t start. What I mean is, did you keep the food in front of God”. “Yeah baby, yeah”. First solid food. The strawberry and apple flavoured baby rice in a bottle opens with a pop. Take a spoon. Good.

*************************

Nush:
“Did you keep that food in front of God to get his blessings”? “where is the “place” to keep anything there? If you mean, I did take the food in front of that picture in that calendar hanging in our bedroom”. “Don’t be sarcastic. Did you mix it well”? “Hand blender works fantastic”. First solid food. Baby rice and broccoli, well cooked and mixed well using the newly bought hand-blender. Good.

*************************

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Four Girls - Nights

Meena
“Wake up, wake up. She is crying. Feed her”. Grandmother shakes the sleepy mother. “She is not drinking. May be she is not hungry”. “She IS hungry. Just feed her right”. Crying continues. “Switch the lights on, if you feed her in the dark, why won’t she cry?” Grandfather wakes up. Milk in the mouth and those glaring bright lights confused.

Preethi

“Wake up, wake up. She is crying. Feed her”. Husband shakes the sleepy mother. “Just now I fed her. She is full”. “She is crying”. “You might have disturbed her”. I didn’t touch her. I was sleeping too. I have to say keeping these lights on all the time does disturb my sleep”. “What is going on”? The mother-in-law wakes up. “Nothing amma. She is full but still she is crying”. “Feed her. Feed her. She might not have been full. It have been just a distraction and you might have thought she was full. That is why she is awake and crying. Feed her”. “These days, girls are lazy to feed their children. In our days we used to… “Ya, right”. Milk in the mouth and those confusing same lights.

Ritu

“Wake up, wake up. She is crying. Feed her”. Husband shakes the sleepy mother. “I just fed her. Take that bottle and feed her please”. Husband heats the milk/water. Checks for its temperature. Milk in the mouth, street light through the balcony, and that intense breeze confused.

Nush

“Wake up, wake up. She is crying. Feed her”. Husband shakes the sleepy mother. “I just have fed her. No, no, don’t switch the light on.” “She is crying”. “I know. Keeping the lights off helps her to understand that this is night, meaning sleeping time. It is there in the book. Also, you should not feed her all the time. We should give warm water…. Don’t look at me like that. It is there in the book”. “Listen, that is only for the white kids. Our kids are different. Feed her”. Milk in the mouth and those glaring bright lights confused.

Tamil Version

Must read:
bedtime blues
newborn care/index
one month old
family bed
raising a happy baby
pampers
huggiesclub
Motherhood

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Four Girls - Born and Named

“You are blessed with a girl”. The nurse announces. “It’s all right. It’s all right. Don’t worry, don’t worry. After all this is the first child. She will be very helpful to her mother when she grows up”. Sad faces convince each other. “How’s my daughter? Is she alright?”, only the mother asks. “She is not awake yet. She is alright”. Some relief.

“Have you decided on a name”? The priest asks. This is the first ear-piercing ceremony for the first grandchild for both the families. “I would like her named after a deity”, Head of the father-side family speaks. “You are very right”. Head of the mother-side family concurs. “She was born on the day auspicious for Goddess Meenatchi. I believe Meenatchi herself is born in my family as my granddaughter. I would like her to be named as Meenatchi”. “We can call her Meena or Meenu, as Meenakshi looks too old fashioned”, mother’s murmur in her husband’s ears goes unheard amidst the priest’s chanting, except his Meenakshi.. emphasised, with a little gap before and after…




****************


“You are blessed with a girl”. The nurse announces. “Can I see her”? The happy father asks. “We don’t mind a girl child. It is also a child, right? Grandchild is a grandchild. I am a grandpa. She has made me a grandpa.” Grandmothers and grandfathers try their best. “Is she alright?” mother asks. “She is not awake yet. She is alright”. Some relief.

“Have you decided on a name”? The priest asks. “don’t tell, don’t tell. You have to tell in her ears first. Who is going first?” “It has to be her father, right? In our customs it has to be the father of the child who gives the name first. Go, say her name in her ears”, mother calls the son. “Have you checked with an astrologer”? Worried priest questions. “Oh, yes. He told us that the name has to start with P or R or T, as her birth-star is Hastam. We also considered numerology. We don’t want T, as it will go very last in the attendance register in school. Even in interviews she will have to go as the last candidate. By that time, the interview board might have become exhausted and that will ruin her career. R is not very different from T. So we have decided to stick with P. “Preethi”, the proud father announces on the 11th day naming ceremony.


****************



“You are blessed with a girl”. The nurse announces. “I always wanted a girl Can I see her”? Excited father asks. “We support girl child. Granddaughter is the one who is going to take care of you when you are really old and need care. Sons and daughters won’t give a damn”. Grandfathers and grandmothers hide their faces from each other. “Is she alright” The husband asks. Mother joins. “She is not awake yet. She is alright”. Some relief.

“I don’t want a typical Tamil name. They are too lengthy and not easy to pronounce. I want my girl to be modern and her name should reflect it”. “How about Jennifer”? “Nah, that’s too Christian. We don’t regret our roots. We do respect it”. “Ok. How about Shruti, you know she is the music of our life”, mother teases her husband. “Honey, listen, I want a short and sweet name. When she goes to the States or England, I don’t want her name pronounced wrongly. Or, atleast I don’t want her having to explain her name all the time. You know, also, it has to be less common, if not unique”. “oh, yah yah, I know. You want everything. You don’t compromise, do you?” “Honey you chose. That is it”. Passionately looking into the eyes doesn't make it easy. So beautiful. She is everything. Hmmm, “How about Rita Ritu”? “Rita Ritu” loud and together; happy.


****************



“You are blessed with a girl”. The nurse announces. “Wow”. “Hold on, hold on, let me wrap her”. She is just beautiful. Tears in father’s eyes. “She is not awake yet. She is alright. She will be out soon, I will let you know.”. Smiles the nurse. Father becomes restless. Don’t know what to do. Should I call..., it must be midnight there. Wait. Let her come out of the recovery room. She has to know first. Wow. She will be on the top of the world. What name? Let her come out. Some relief.

“Are you tired? It is a girl.” face glowing out of pride. “How is she?” feeble voice. “She is fine. She is here. Do you want to hold her”? Slowly trying to sit up and coming to terms. “See. It is our daughter.. honey, what name”? “I have short listed five names. It was there in that paper”. He opens the draw. Looks for a paper in his “kit”. “Did you pack it when we left”? “It must be there. I kept all important papers in a folder”. “I packed your clothes. You were in pain. I was in a hurry. May be we have left it at home. Do you want me go home and get it”? “haaaa. I am tired”. “I know. I know. I am sorry. You were in pain. I panicked and didn’t pack everything as we planned. I will go home and get it”. “No. don’t worry. I might remember.. Akash.. No that is a boy name.. Anushka, and…”. “Honey, I love anushka. Its very modern, unique, reflects our roots. We can shorten it as Nush… It is perfect. Look, she looks like Nush.. She is so Nush”.. A week laughter from the mother. “Ok. You lazy bugger. Nush it is”. “Have you got a name?” The nurse asks. “Anushka”, a feeble and a happy voice joined together.


Friday, March 24, 2006

Pangunipongal - Maavilakku - II


Prescript: Senthil is the central character in this post


“Dei, have you booked a terrace”? Murugan is the man of resources in our group. “What for”? “How are you going to watch maavilakku today”? “Loosu, there is no fun in watching maavilaaku from terrace. I toldya, don’t include these school-going makku (stupid) boys in our group. They lack common sense”. That hurts. I don’t dare to ask another question. I just have to follow him. Raasa comes in help. “We will go around and around, walk with the maavilakku. That way, you can have more fun”. “What? No., I am not walking with maavilakku (procession). Akkaa is carrying maavilakku today and the whole clan is getting ready for it. What do you think I am that stupid to walk with them”? “I toldya”. Murugan laughs. Others join. Raasaa helps again. “Loosu, we will walk separate totally outside the procession”. Then how will you get to see things? I don’t want to ask another question. I will ask Raasa later.

I have to get ready. House is in total chaos. They are really making big fuss about akka carrying maavilakku. That loosu (akka) is also making fuss about it. She is not letting me get ready. Always a pain, she is. “I am going to take bath first. I am getting late. You can do it later”. Fight for the bathroom. “Where are you going? What late? What do you have to do”? Nosy! “Senthil”. Raasa is outside. “Raasa, what are you going to do? Why is he telling you are all getting late? What is the plan”? I signed him not to tell her. “Raaasa, come inside. Where is your mom? Has she ground rice? We need another ulakkai”, mother. “Have you had food? Come, I have some idly for you”. Aachchi. “Aachchi, I have finished lunch. I did eat idly for breakfast”. Raasa replies to the eldest questioner. “Come let us go”, I have finished. “Eeh, did you eat your lunch? Look at him, he has finished his lunch. Where are you going without eating”? Aachchi’s voice slowly disappears, as we run. “Where are we going? There is still time for maavilakku”. “We will have to find who is sponsoring oil today. We have to become volunteers to distribute oil”. What? If we work, how are we going to enjoy? I am not going to ask that.

Oil sponsors have linked us with some other big guys who each will be the in-charge for a big oil andaa (tall cylindrical big brass vessel, equivalent to barrel). We have to fill thukku’s when the public brings one for a refill. We will move along with the procession. There are few groups. Our leaders (big guys), and our distribution points are explained to us. Ok. Joot (run).

“Sinnangulam maavilakku has come, it has come” someone is shouting. Karakam has started. "Look, it is your family in the front. Looks like lathaakka’s maavilakku is the first in the line”. Oh god, she will be bragging all day tomorrow. Hope there are enough entertainments outside tomorrow. I can’t see her. She is surrounded by Chithi, Amma, Selvikka and the whole clan. There is no distribution point here. They don’t need refill yet. The line moves towards the temple. We run to the temple to join our group. It is still twilight. The real thing starts after it gets dark. We wait.

I finally got their plan. The distribution starts only after sometime the line has moved, as people come with their own oil in their thukku’s and already the vilakkus have oil in them so they last for sometime. This gives us time to get a glimpse of everything. As there are few groups, we are not constantly distributing. When it is not our point/location, we have enough time to enjoy. Big guys refill the andaas (barrels), we have nothing to do with that either. Distributing is fun too. I even went with Murugan when he went to the line itself to refill oil for one family, no, no not for his folks, that girl’s. My god, all those girls are wearing so much gold. Their heads are completely covered with jasmine and kanakaambaram flowers. Murugan was talking all nonsense and was laughing for nothing. He said this is how you get the “close look” and winked.

It is full dark now. Best time of the season. I run. Silambu group leads the whole thing. They play as if they are fighting to entertain the crowd. It is like an art they are doing it. I walk with that group for sometime. Theeppandham group also playing similar art, but it looks one needs more practising to play this. It looks like a magic to keep the pandham (flame) alive and still move it like the way they do. It is windy today. That helps him when he spits fire out of his mouth. Whoo. Fascinating. Aknichatty and aayiranganpaanai are also there. Their lights are very dull in front of the loud maavilakku lights. They are everywhere. Line of lights, few in each, moving slowly, overpower the entire crowd. They take away my “enjoying” mood and calm me down. That’s strange; Yes, it is; Strange. I stop where I am. No more running. The crowd pushes me away from the line. I jump on to a bullock cart. They make some space for me. I stop there and watch. Now I hear the loudspeaker from temple. The kottu goes past us. Silent heads shaking nodding, talking to each other, oils being refilled, exchangers move in and out.. the line moves. Winking lights in each kudam wanders in the wind and moves with the head… “Senthil, Where did you go”? Raasa has spotted me. “Come, let us go. There will be orchestra tonight. We are not going to get a terrace for tonight. They are all fully booked. Murugan has gone to get his brother’s bullock cart. We will have to find a place for it. And we are going to stay there until he comes”. I jump off the cart and there we run.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Pangunipongal - Maavilakku - I

Part6-Maavilakku-2 Part4-Mulappaari Part3-The games Part2-The Shops Part1-The Announcement


Maavilakku starts in the same way as mulappaari. That is, servaar thaaththa takes karakam and leads maavilakku. But, girls take mulappaari from temple and wait for the karakam there. But as maavilakku gets ready at home, in every street/lane they start in their street/lane and join the procession led by karakam at some specified points/locations, as the procession proceeds. In our lane, it is our vaasal, as servaar thaaththa’s house is just opposite to ours, we get to join him first as well. Today the whole day has been very busy preparing maavilakku. Removing bran from rice, and grinding it into powder and then making that into paste.. Always Selvikkaa comes for that, as mother alone cannot do that. We don’t have Kuthural. So we use Velthai Chithi’s. We borrowed another ulakkai from pushpaththai so that mother and Selvikka can do it together. They are very rhythamic. I love watching them using two ulakkai like that. They are fixing three vilakku on the side of the kudam. Because, I will need space to keep my hand to hold it. The kuthuvilakku that is being fixed on the top has five threads. “Bring oil, bring oil”. Chithi shouts. “do you know who is sponsoring oil today”? There are few families. There won’t be any scarcity for oil today. I think there will be more than 100 maavilakku today. In our lane itself there are fifteen. There are those thekkuththeru people, kilakkuththeru people.. have you forgotten the Sinnangulam group?” “Sinnangulam maavilakku has come, it has come…” someone is shouting outside. Sinnangulam is a small village outside our town. Traditionally they join Kombai for all festivals. They come in a line and wait just before our lane. They get to join the line next to our lane people. I am ready. I am bit anxious, nervous, excited, all of those. “Bring Summaadu, bring summaadu”. Summadu is a basically a towel folded like a ringball, kept in between kudam and my head to keep the kudam balanced and keep my head cushioned. “keep your head straight”. "Careful, careful, it is windy, look, the oil is spilling. Bring white cloth to wipe it.." Mother comes with a full kit: few white cloths, a thukku (stainless steel container) to carry oil, and another towel for another summaadu. "We need two thukku, one to collect oil from the sponsors and I will keep one to keep filling”. Chithi, the manager. Mother brings another thukku. “Careful, careful, it is windy. Keep your head straight”. Guarded by few people to keep the lights not-off, the maavilakku goes on my head. I hold it. “Keep a cloth yourself, hot oil will spill, you will have to keep wiping them, otherwise you will get hurt”. Two white cloths are given to me for both my hands. It is little not so convenient to hold the kudam, rather, I am finding it very difficult. "Don’t worry", there are few of them holding it along with me. Ok. I turn my head to see if thaaththa has taken karakm. “Don’t move, don’t move”. How am I going to walk if I shouldn’t move? “Slow, slow. Slowly turn your head and walk”. Great.

The karakam started. I join the karakam as the first maavilakku in the line. Others join after me. We walk. Slow. Slow. We reach the end of our lane. Sinnangulam group joins the line. We walk towards the temple. Few hands are keeping the lights not-off, few other hands are holing the kudam with me, oils is being filled by a hand that manages to find a way, I keep wiping the spillage, We have reached the temple. Wow, it feels like an achievement itself. Another some poosai and kottu. Another group from koyiladitheru joins the line. we move.. “Do you want a break”? Selvikka asks. I can’t nod. She got the signal. She prepares her summaadu. Few hands lift the kudam off my head. I move out of the place finding a way through their legs. They move keeping the kudam in the air. Selvikka moves in. The line moves.

I have got a break now. “Chithi, Can I go and see the whole line and come back”? “No, what are you nuts? You can’t go anywhere”. “I will be back in a flaaASH”.. I have vanished from their eyes like a flash indeed. I know how to negotiate the crowd. I am in front of the procession, I mean karakam is first for the maavilakku line, but preceding karakam there are some entertainments. Here is where all the fun is.

Someone is playing silambu. I stop there for a couple of minutes.. run, run, there is this guy spitting fire out of his mouth and playing similar to silambu but he uses theeppandham, a stick with kerosene dipped cloths tied at both the ends and are lit, flame, whoo. Scary. run, run… someone is carrying agnichatty. A pot with oil light inside, carried on hands/palms. Hope that neem leaves cushion keeps the heat off their hands. The difficult part of carrying agnichatty is he/she should get saami, otherwise everyone will tell that he/she didn’t fast well (during the whole panguni month). I suppose shaking like that helps them to keep the heat off their hands. run.. run… I am running short of time. “Eeh, what are you doing here”? Karuvayan chiththappa has spotted me. “Aren’t you supposed to carry maavilakku”, “Yes, I have got a break. Selvikkaa is carrying now”. “I know. They have sent me to look for you and bring you back”. We go and collect oil from the sponsors and go back to our group. The maavilakku comes back to me. It is slow-walking time again..

During another break, I got to see aayiranganpaanai. It is carried on the head as well, like maavilakku. It is a clay pot with so many flowery holes in it. The oil light kept inside the pot glows through the holes and looks very beautiful there are few of those in the line. Filling oil in this kind of pot is little tricky. They generally come out of the line, fill up and go back and join the line. The crowd makes it little more difficult, but, hey, they are not strangers for such a crowd. They manage.

It was a very long slow walk. Tiring. Do I complain. Nah. I will do it again, any time. The whole town came and watched the maavilakku. Many walked with us. Some stayed at the front end of their lanes and watched us when we walked past them. Some were hanging from their terraces. Some on the street lights. Parked bullocks carts were working hard. I would say that it is the best idea to stay in one place and watch, if you want to catch up with the whole thing. Silambu will go past you, theeppantham will go past you…. But, but, you can’t get a good look, as it is sooo crowded , you just can’t see anything. Senthil gets to see all the fun. He runs, runs, runs and runs. He is a free bird during these days. I will have to ask him if I have missed anything else.

We are home. Mother is busy taking the rice paste off kudam. Tomorrow we will get paniyaaram (not from the maavilakku rice paste) as there is always too much rice ground in excess off maavilakku, and it is always paniyaaram day after maavilakku. I love paniyaaram.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The foundation - II

Compettion went well the other day. I don’t know who won the competition. Was it me, all those aachchi’s stories reminding to be “fair” all the time, giving each girl her fair turn (boys suck, they don’t know any answer btw), and getting bad name from each girl when the turn goes away from each girl? Was it Anandi, no, no, she doesn’t give a damn about being “fair”.. Was it every one of us, screaming and jumping for every question asked and answered. “Asking” part is always more enjoyable than the “answering” part. I always think deciding on what to ask needs more brain than to answer those questions. I enjoy “asking” part. I enjoy “why this question”, more than “this is the answer”. I would say, the biggest winner is our teacher. The other day she taught us how to learn this new language, English. Simple, she started from a, aa, e, ee, u, uu… same as Tamil. Simple. Today we have spelling test. Ambiga teacher will tell a word. We all will write it. And then it will be assessed.

Klerk…. Teacher says the word loud... we all start figuring out the spelling. I write, clerck? Klerk? Clark? I believe it has to be klark. See, k is for k, l for l, a for a, r for r, k for k. so, it has to be Klark. You can see that table showing each English equivalent of Tamil letters on the board. She has left it on for our reference. She always tells that we should never mug up. Also, she always writes some reference material on the board whenever there is a test. We have to work out the answer, she tells. See, k for k, l for l, a....

Yaay, klark is correct, even though the actual English word is “clerk”. Because, it is not the "correct" spelling that is correct, it is your explanation that gets you "correct". Girls who have written "clerk", but couldn't explain why and how it is "clerk", got "wrong", but I got "correct". Honestly, I don't know the actual word. I just wrote from the reference. My maama is a clerk in a bank, I do know the word, but don't know its spelling. You see, it is k for k, l for l, a for a... Yaaay, I got all correct and I am her favourite girl. Don't believe her when she complaints to my chithi that I cry if she gives me a 99½ out of 100, and ask her (ambiga teacher) to explain how did she come up with that minus½. She is the one told me that it is the explanation that counts. She is secretly pleased about me questioning her like that. I know. I know. (Grinning ear to ear.)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Help, Maavilakku

I am looking for a good picci for my next maavilakku post. Maavu (rice paste) is pasted onto the surface of the kudam (ellipse and those badly drawn black lines), on which akal vilakku (kuzhiyanchatti) is fixed, then oil is filled, thread is placed and lighted. Also, top of the kuththuvilakku is placed on the mouth of the kudam, again using maavu (rice paste) to fix it. oil (ground nut oil) is filled and threads are used to light it as well. If someone can send me a picci, that will be great. thanks.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Pangunip pongal - Mulappaari

Part6-Maavilakku-2 Part5-Maavilakku-1 Part3-The games Part2-The Shops Part1-The Announcement

I like watching servaar thaththa taking karakam. No, no, it is not the karakam you think. Karakam is the one that leads mulappaari, maavilakku or any such procession for that matter. It is like a small ther (chariot) without the pulling things, carried on head. Kudam (a type of pot used to carry water from well/river), with a full coconut kept/tied on the mouth of the kudam, decorated lavishly using jasmine flowers. Jasmine flower decoration covers the kudam completely that you cannot see the kudam at all. some stickes are tied and covered with jasmine as well. It is so beautiful. Only jasmine is allowed to be used in a karakam that leads mulappaari or maavilakku. The other karakam you know is different, the one that entertains, doesn’t it? (We will have that tonight for entertainment.) Servaar thaththa family is the only family entitled to carry karakam. After thatha’s time, Dayalan maama will carry karakam. But I don’t know how it will suit Dayalan maama. For me Karakam means it is always servaar thaththa. I can’t imagine anybodylese carrying karakam.

Mulappaari is a bunch of millet plants of nine varieties, sown in a bamboo baskets/pots, and grown for a month in a dark room (that’s why they are pale yellowish) in our temple. They sow it in the beginning of the panguni month. Girls who will be carrying the mulappaari pots identify their pots once it is sown. They water their pots every day. Some people prefer to sow themselves but, temple also prepares some pots for people who might want to join at the last minute. Puussari (the priest) waters those pots. Whether it is temple pot or privately sown, it has to kept in the temple. Today girls go to temple to collect these pots and carry them on their heads and wait in a line there. Kottu from the temple comes to servaar thaaththa’s house to invite him to lead the procession. Thaththa does a puusai in his house. The puusari from temple holds the karakam in his hands and waits for him. Thaaththa gets saami and starts shaking (he is supposed to. I always wondered what will he do if he didn’t get saami one day, will he just shake still?). He comes out of his house. Puusaari gives karakam to him and places it on his head. Thaaththa takes it by kneeling down. Kottu goes faster to mark the moment. Then they walk. We all go following him. Mulappaari girls waiting in a line join him when he reaches the temple. It is generally a dull procession compared to maavilakku. First of all this is started around 3pm and finished (the plant pots are disposed in the temple pond) before the sunset. No any entertaining things in front of the procession. There is no any fun watching the plants being carried by these girls on their heads. I don’t know why girls go excited to carry these plants. They always do. They always go crazy when they go to choose their pots when it is sown. They go very excited when they carry this on their heads. May be it is the procession thing that excites them. The whole town comes to watch them carrying these plant pots. They get to flaunt their new clothes. In maavilakku procession, as it is done after the sunset, your clothes are not that noticeable. Glowing maavilakku attracts everyone’s eyes makes you and your new clothe even less noticeable. But, it (maavilakku) is still my favourite. I will have to wait until tomorrow to carry my maavilaaku. Yes, I am going to carry one this year. Either mulappaari or maavilakku, if you want to carry, you should do so for a three consecutive years. You cannot break it. If you do, you have to start again and complete the three years. You have to pray that nothing bad happens in your house during these three years. For example if anyone dies in any of your immediate relative family, you should not participate in any of the temple activities for a one whole year. That will forbid you from carrying a mulappaari or maavilakku in that year. Your continuity will be broken that year. You have to start again and do for next three years, and again you have to pray nothing goes wrong… kind of vicious cycle, ha. Good for the temple. They will get a good turn up every year. Not that they do not get volunteers, but this kind of rule keeps the people turning up by default. There, thaththa has come out of his poosai. I have to go. I love watching him take karakam. Thaaththa takes the karakam. Kottu is going faster. It does give me a shiver, that fast kottu. It marks the moment. The karakam has started. The mulappaari has started. This marks the starting of the pangunipongal officially. Close your eyes. Hold your palms together, bring them in front your face. Pray.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Blog-a-thon 2006

Prescript: A pretty lengthy post. I promise I will make it worth your time. Thanks.


All same, two eyes, two hands, two legs, perhaps a better brain, unfortunately an additional pair of breasts.


I feel very proud about how I have come so far. Every time I feel that whatever I was so happy about until then have become just nothing in comparison to whatever I was happy about at that point of time. Where should I start? It goes a long way back. I have to start at some point. As this is all about my job, let me start from the day I joined here. Well, how can I not include how did I get this job. It was miracle in itself. It was my celebration day. I still can’t believe that I got this job. G told me that now she can believe that she can get a job too, if not today, oneday, she says. It was the day we all got some hope in our lives. Everyone in my class was happy, not just for me, for themselves too. It gave them hope. S was worried about me. He said it was not good for me to go that far. He said men are not that good. What does he know. Being ugly helps me. I laughed and told him that I can go anywhere anytime. I am not scared about men. Before he said anything, I stopped him. “No, it is not what you think. I am not talking about my will power, women liberation whatever nonsense I usually talk. I am not scared, because, I don’t think anyone would want to rape me. That is the advantage of being ugly”. I laughed. Ph took efforts to come and see me, especially to advise me, rather put some sense into my head that I should not make a mistake of accepting this job. what? it is the best place in the country. No. 1 organisation in the country. How could he be so narrow minded to tell me that I should not go that far? Ri was supportive. He came with me wherever I went. He wanted to spend his time for the last time with me as we don’t know we are going to meet ever again. OK, ok, let come back to track. Forigve me if I go offtrack, sidetrack and all tracks other than the main track. I am just on the top of the world. Will tell you all about it.

I have to get ready. I took the sandal colour salwar kurtha. I think it will suit me. It will go with my washed hair looking pure and fresh. I can’t stop thinking about what RS told. He is one of the big cheeses in our HQ you know. I was stunned and speechless when he said “P..., mm, it rings a bell”, when I introduced myself to him, “Sir, I am P, workin..”. Wow. Wow, means a big wow you stupid. He is a bigcheese. He knows my name? wow. It rings a bell? Wow. I still remember the day I first met RC. I didn’t know who he was at that time. It was a conference. It was in my hometown, well kind of, it was in my college, where I studied. So, I started helping my friends in the reception. I didn’t look/feel like a delegate. It was just a year ago I was a student here. Nothing looks/feels different. I still feel like a student. People are same. RN Sir came running asking me to sing a song in Sanskrit to start the conference, as the player didn’t work. I don’t know any Sanskrit. I sang Maasil veenaiyum. This is what brought RC to me. He came looking for me during tea time. He introduced himself. He was surprised that I was working and not a student anymore. A self absorbed a** I am, I was all proud and started telling my stories, didn’t ask who he was. He is head of a division in A-branch. Wow. He asks for me whenever he comes to our office. We go for lunch together. He prefers spending time with me rather than with big heads whenever he is in our office. He doesn’t like silly politics. He is a gem of a person. I got to know him a lot during our lunch hours. I am very proud. Not because he is big cheese, well that too, but mainly because he is a great human being. And he prefers to be with me. Wow.

I am asked to co-ordinate the presentations Director is going to do in our institute. It means that I will be his assistant whilst he is here. Director has remarked a few times that I am very good. “Sharp” is the word he used. Wow. All marks and ranks I have got before in my entire life go simply nothing in comparison to his remarks. He asked me to read those articles and explain them to him the next day, as he doesn’t have time to read them himself. He trusts my understanding abilities to that level? Wow. I did brief him about those articles in the morning when he was taking breakfast. He is so active and workaholic. It was yesterday. Yesterday went so busy. I was involved in few meetings as well. It felt so great to participate in the discussions. I did get a few appreciations for my inputs. Lifetime opportunities. Should be very sharp and crisp in these occasions you know. I made most of it, I believe. It is not just the appreciation you get is important. The experience itself is so great, so great. Observing others points, remembering everyone’s agenda, well the secret ones as well, remembering the politics and playing by it and playing so safe so sharp and so crisp… It is an experience you can not get by paying and doing a course. Wow.

Well, I am getting late. I should stop this day dreaming habit. That is one thing I should do immediately if I want to take this experience any further, and make anything useful out of it. I should grow better. I should develop those qualities. I should become thick skinned, observant, and what not. I am not greedy, but who knows, I might become a big cheese myself one day? Why not? Stop, stop for godsake. Where is that comb. Urghhh.. that key!. “Aunty, could you please use your key to lock my room? Thanks”. Leaving a key with the house owner, who lives just by the other side of the house, comes very handy you know.

Haaaa. It was a long day too. Very busy. Very busy. Running all over the place, when projector was not working when the coffee didn’t come in time, when Director wanted few books (your selection of books are so sweet, sugar. I have not seen this book before. Who is the author? Can I take it? Oh, do you use this normally. Wow that explains where you got your brainy answers from). Anyway, it went well, as the Englishmen say. :-) It did go well. It was good in fact, it felt so good. I have to go back. Director has asked me to come for another discussion. He is staying here tonight. He doesn’t waste time. He is going to discuss about that project until, well, he sleeps I suppose. RJ is coming too. RJ is everyone’s pet. He is loaded with this type of work by all these bigheads. It is coming to me now. RJ doesn’t do subject oriented discussions. He has forgotten all about it. He left college ten years ago. (He studied in my collge too). He is long absorbed into administration these days. I don’t know anything about administration. It is an art by itself. I have to learn that. I have a lot to learn. RJ is very good. I have to learn those things from him. Now I have to go. It is getting late. Director does things very quick. I have to go.

“Come in”. I smile. “Sit down”. I take the chair and sit down. “No, no, come here. Sit here. We are going to read that book. I want you to read that book for me. I want you to explain as you go along. I want you to show the book as well. It has some good pictures that go with the explanations. I want to see them; I am a physicist you know. I am a scientist”. He laughs. “Wait, should we use the laptop to work in the mean time as well? Ya, we should. You know what P, I am not as techi as you young brains are. I am an old man. I have asked RJ to come and teach me computer. He will be coming now”. I start the system. I start the software. I open a worddoc to type. “wait wait, what are you doin? Slow, slow. I want to learn. Didn’t I say I want to learn. What did you do?”, “Sir it was ctrl, and C to copy and ctrl and V to paste”.. what, ctrl, and C… no sir, press ctrl, I mean that button, yes, yes, that one. Don’t leave. Press the button C. yes this is to copy. Where did it copy? It hasn’t copied yet sir. Why? We haven’t selected anything sir. You said ctrl and C copies. Yes, sir, but we have to select it using our mouse sir… you young people, go slow, go step by step, tell me what is the first thing I have to do. Do not tell me something and then ask me to go back and forth… ok sir. Use your mouse, select the text…. Knock knock…. RJ comes in. Ah, you don’t need me anymore. You have P. No no. come in. sit. She is teaching me to select, copy and what is next? Paste sir. Where? Wherever you want sir. Where do I want? I don’t know sir…you should know. He smiles. RJ laughs. I smile too.
RJ leaves after some discussion. It was something politics. I don’t understand much of it. Anyway. We have to finish this document today. I have to walk home and come back in the morning. There will be the article briefing session in the morning during his breakfast time…He is grinnig differently. Did he ask anything I didn’t notice? I should stop this day dreaming slipping into my own thought process thingy.. Why is he grinning? He is holding my hand.. Doesn’t look like it is to do with the mouse. He is holding my hand close to by elbow. We are sitting far away from the system. I am sitting in front of his desk. We have moved away to the desk a long time ago. He is sitting opposite to me. I am holding the book. I am having papers and papers all around me I have been using to explain things to him. He found sitting opposite to each other convenient as we needed to look at each other during our discussions. He is holding my hand and grinning at me. Did he put an argument which I didn’t get? Why is he grinning at me? “I am very influential you know”. I know. He is THE Director. He is THE BOSS. The tube light inside me eventually lit and lit bright. I start shaking. My hearbeat goes faster. Still confused. He advances his hand. I freeze. Damn freeze.

Walk back home was very cold. “Sharp” is the word he used. My sharp brain worked eventually. My polite “I will ask RJ to come hereafterwards Sir” taking his hands off me putting in its place feels like something I did in one of my day-dreams. It was a cold walk back home.
PS: give me a title please.
PPS: this did not get lost in silence. there is a big story after this episode.
PPS: RS and RC did not do anything ever wrong. They are good men. Just wanted to give a glimpse of good men as well in the post. They were/are indeed good men. Great human beings. I still adore RC.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Pangunip pongal – The games

I hear a loud voice outside, laughing and saying something. I run out to see what it is. It is Easvaran chiththappa. He is all soaked in oil and water. Thank God it is not his new clothes. He is laughing very proudly. Looks like he has won some game. Maattukkaara pattaiya is shouting and he too looks like is coming from the main street where all the games are being held. "Eh, eh, look what your son has done? He climbed up that oily stick, looks he is all soaked in oil, look at his clothes. Paataiyaa is complaining to paatti. “So what, my son has won something”. She is all proud. “I have not spoiled new clothes, look, I am still in old clothes”. Chiththappa is trying to save himself from some of his father’s anger. “It is not the clothes, you stupid, what happens if you fall and break your bones? Who is going to plough the field then?” “Look at this man, he is all worried about his field all the time. My son is not for your field works. What is wrong if he goes and enjoys some? He has won the game”. She picks up fighting. “I am not saying it for the sake of our field. I am worried about him. What if he fell from the stick and broke few bones?” “What did you think of my son? I have fed him well. He knows how to climb. Hasn’t he proved. He has won”. "It was oily stick for godsake. Oil spilling from the top all the time, for every little shake. Anyone can fall because it is slippery. It is not about your food or about his talents. Oil doesn’t pay attention to you, do you know that?” Pattaiyaa goes annoyed. Patti and chithappa have long gone inside their house. Ah, there comes Ganesa chiththappa, soaked in oil again. “What did you do? Only one can get that money in the cloth tied to the oily stick, Easvaran has got it, so, how come you are oily and showing all teeth? What, you have “money in cloth” too. Where did you get this?” Pattaiya asks his eldest, annoyed of the fact that his most responsible son has gone crazy too. “Did you not go to the other area where they make you blind, and you have to hit the oil and water filled pot tied at the centre and if you are successful, you get the money in cloth kept in the pot? I have won that” Ganesa chithappa replies, showing all his teeth. "What is wrong with you people. What happens if you had hit someone else?” He goes worried and shouting again, chiththappa has long gone inside his house. I can hear paatti’s voice going screaming and laughing out of pride and happiness. I am not allowed to go to watch these games. They say that I might get hurt. But no one could stop Senthil. Look, Easvaran chithathappa is out again. In his new clothes this time. “Where is Senthil?” Pattaiya is coming out as well, following chiththappa. “Where are you going again? Why do you want Senthil? Do not spoil him as well.” “Where is Senthil”? Chiththappa asks me. “I don’t know”. “You donot know anything about your brother? “What kind of elder sister are you? Don’t you have to be responsible and keep an eye on him, particularly these days when there is so much crowd in town, so many things are happening, what happens if he gets hurt”. This time, it is me for Pattaiya. “Why are you sitting at home on a thiruvila day? Come with me”, "What, are you determined to spoil somebody or the other, that too trying to spoil a girl child? Go away". Pattaiya shouts at him.. I run to hold chithappa’s hands. He takes me with him to the streets…

People, people people everywhere. Noise noise noise everwhere. Songs coming from loudspeakers are not decipherable. Few games are being conducted. Those men who are conducting games are announcing, moderating, instructing, entertaining using loudspeakers. They are not decipherable either. I hold chithathappa’s hands tightly, thinking that, that is what chiththappa told me, as I cannot really understand what he is saying, even though he is screaming in high pitch and telling me something. I just look at him and nod my head, to let him know that I heard him. He says it again.. He gave up.

I cannot see the game or follow what is going on there, really. It is only chiththappa’s hand, few people’s backs and few other people’s hips I can see. They all smell new clothe’ or, oily smell or even crushed flowers smell, chrysanthemum and jasmine mixed smell… can’t tell clearly. Above my head, through people's head, I get s glimpse of colour papers and mango leaves all tied in ropes, hung above, across the street. I don’t know what senthil is doing in this crowd. What possibly can he enjoy in these streets, what can he see here, other than people’s backs and hips. He is shorter than me, he can only see legs. Still I don’t want to go home. There is this another kid playing peepee inside my ears. What, are you nuts? I have gone deaf. I want to shout at him. He laughs. He gives me a peepee. I smile and play at him. I look around. He is not with his parents, or may be they are here, he is just not holding their hands. He shows me his watch-mittai. A flexible candy strip made in the shape of a wrist watch and tied around his wrist. “Do you want”. “Yes”. “Come with me”. “I don’t have money”. “Ask your parents”. “Chiththappa, I want watch-mittai”. “What”? He can’t hear me. I show him my wrist and play some sign language. He seems to understand. He gives me money. “Dey Muruga, get her some watch mittai and bring her back here, ok?” He sends me with my new friend. We run to get watch mittai. Mittaikkarar (the candy man, who sells candys) is selling few types of mittais. This flexible strip is one, using which you can get a wrist watch, or a train too. He always gives an extra kannaththuppottu mittai(a little bindi on cheek) to girls. He also sells panju mittai. I buy a panju mittai and a watch mittai.

We came back home very tired. Senthil came back as well. He looked very tired too. I wanted to ask him where did he go and what did he see. But I was too tired to ask, and the loudspeakers haven’t stopped yet, mother shouting, aachchi shouting, chithti shouting, thaththa shouting,… I decided to eat first. Senthil eats quickly and runs away again.

It is going to be mulaippari in the evening today and karakaattam after that.
PS: different period of time (my age) than the other one (shops post). I am younger and small in this one.

The last sausage roll - by Michelle

It's early morning in late summer in South African and I'm on my way to my graduation. It is going to be a very hot day. Already the air is shimmery and full of the noise of Christmas beetles (Cicadas). My family are going to the ceremony to watch me. My parents and my grandparents.

We reach the college and there are friends already waiting for me on the steps. I have come from out of town so I am late, plus we had to stop to pick up my grandparents and that made us later still. I have travelled to town in the back of an already hot car between my grandparents while they argued with each other. This isn't unusual. This is what they do. Some people play sport or take up a hobby. My grandparents argue.

On the steps of the college I have to leave to get my black gown to wear. My mother kisses me. She looks so proud. She has tears in her eyes. My father is taking photos. He has tears in his eyes. He is so proud. My friends and I have to dash to get our gowns. Mine is too long. Or to be more honest - I am too short. The gown is amazingly heavy and smells faintly of old dust, ancient wool and moth repellent. It's not a good scent for a hot summer day. I run down the passage to get to my chair in time thinking that this must be how a bat feels with those big black wings.


The ceremony was actually incredibly boring. By a twist of alphabet and class I turn out to be the very first person to be called up. I get up.. go onto the stage.. shake hands.. and then I sit for the entire five hundred hours of the graduation ceremony.

Afterwards there is tea and coffee and a buffet table of snacks for students and family in the one hall. I can't find a plate so I juggle a piece of chocolate cake in one hand and a cup of tea in the other. My one lecturer brings a businessman over to introduce me. She thinks he might offer me a job. He says hello and congratulations and holds out his hand to shake mine. My brain goes into a panic. I have cake and tea in each hand. Cake and tea.. tea and cake. I quickly stuff the cake onto the saucer. I have cake on my hand, but before I can do anything he grabs my hand and shakes it. Now I am trying to stand calmly and talk to an important man in a suit that now has squashed chocolate cake all over his right hand.

I cannot remember anything I said to him. I gabbled a bit and then ran away and hid behind a pillar. When I finally come out I can hear loud voices.

Oh
..
my
..
god.

It's them.

My grandparents are arguing.

I don't know whether to laugh or leap out a window. They are arguing over a sausage roll. A sausage roll! There was one sausage roll left on the centre plate and they both reached for it at the same time. Now they stand on either side of the buffet table and my gran is giving grandfather a good ticking off for trying to take "her" sausage roll. She gives his hand a slap, takes the sausage roll.. and WRAPS IT IN HER PAPER SERVIETTE AND STICKS IT IN HER HANDBAG.

Ok. It is official. I am about to die of embarrassment. My grandmother has just stolen a sausage roll at my graduation. Part of me wants to die and another part of me wants to giggle hysterically.

Oh God, let me die now. Please. Shoot me. Squash me with an earthquake.

The ground will heave and tear asunder and the earth shall be no more. I have smeared chocolate cake over a prominent businessman and now my grandmother has nicked the last sausage roll off the buffet to take home for her pet dog.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Pangunip pongal – The shops

Murugeswari akka is waiting for me. I am negotiating my pocket money from my mother. “how much do you want”, “amma give me more” "don’t buy anything else. Buy just bangles and comeback. Murugeswari, just get her bangles and come back ok?” “OK chithi”, my mother is chithi for her. We are going to the bangle shop. There are several shops in our town during this time. During Therth thirivila (chariot festival), whole town becomes one big shopping mall. People from all the villages around our area come to our town. During pangunip pongal also people from other towns and villages come here, but it is mostly people who have relatives in kombai. But, shops are the same regular ones. Some shops might crop up just during the pongal days, but it is not like therth thiruvila. Whatever new shop comes, we always go to our valavikkadai (bangle shop). But there are many sweet stalls we get. They sell kalar payasam (coloured kheer), and sorbet. I don’t like the taste of sorbet. Many like it. Kalar payasam is my favourite, though the taste is not that good, it just gives the festive mood. But all those shops will come just for the pongal days, not yet. We are going to valavikkadai today. All the locals finish our shopping before the pongal days to save ourselves from the village crowd who will be shopping during the pongal days. Also, we can wear valavi when I put on my new clothes in the morning itself. So we are going to the valavikkadai today.

We reach our valavikkadai after a few stops by some of our relatives, “where are you going latha”, “aren’t you pachchayee’s daughter, Murugeswari”, “There is no school today, where are you going? Does your mother know you are going? Do you have money to buy valavi?” all sorts of questions..

Naduththeru (centre street) is very crowded today. Every one in town seems to be in the naduththeru. Some are in tailors’ shops. Some are still buying clothes. There are few pattarai (gold smiths), where people are ordering new gold ornaments. Some are in valavikkadais (bangle shop, where all the girls’ accessories are sold). Some are negotiating the prices; well everyone is negotiating the price of everything there. That girl standing with her mother in the goldsmith’s shop looks very happy. She is getting something new it looks. Happiness on her face is heaven. I will wear my jimikky (a type of ear ring) too. This time of the year you can really count, er, weigh the amount of gold reserve available in every household. Particularly if there is a girl in marriage-able age in that house, she will be wearing “all” gold ornaments. I like the head/hair decoration using flowers during pongal days, which is very special. It is bridal style decoration. Girls love it. All girls get to rehearse in this hair-do before their marriage, during these pongal days. Also it makes sense as they all will be getting married in the following months; surprised? It is not rocket science. They get noticed during these pongal days don’t they? Particularly when all the eligible bachelors in town are doing no any work, other than following these girls, in the name of “volunteering” in the temple. It is not their (girls) maargali prayer, but their pangunippongal hair-do gets them their men, if you ask me.

Nadutheru is generally a busy street, but is packed with people today. Songs from loudspeakers come so loud and mixed, I can’t really figure out what song is being played in which temple. People are either negotiating with the shop-keepers, or talking to their acquaintances/friends/relatives. Some are standing in the middle of the roads. Children are playing as well, but their mothers are shouting at them to come back, in order to keep them safe and not lost. Buses do not come through this street, as this is the shopping street. But still some motor bikes and cycles come through this street. Occasionally some bullock carts come too. Generally they do not need to come through this street, as the fields are outside the town and farm owners houses are not in this street. Also, bullock carts leave in the morning and come back in the evening only.

We have reached our valavikkadai. We live in the north street, and it is just the cross lane to Nadutheru (centre street), where the valavikkadai is there. There are few other valavikkadai as well, but we always go to our regular valavikkadai. The shop owner knows my family and he knows our liking disliking very well. I like going there. I go there sometimes on the way to school as well, just to talk to him.

Valavikkadaikkar (the shop keeper) recognises us. “Vaanga (please come)”, and smiles. There are already three groups of girls examining few designs and checking if they suit them. "Valavikkadaikaarare, is there any new design for this season?” Murugeswari akka asks. He shows us the new designs. Some of them aren’t that great. I don’t fancy too gittery type. I ask for less glittery bangles. He shows me few other designs, but tells me that they are less pricy. “I know you school going girls are very decent and do not like all these too glittery ones. It is for those village girls who will be coming for the festival. But, if you would listen to me, I will say, it suits you. You are maaniram (not so dark skinned) and this golden colour enhances your colour. It doesn’t look too glittery on your hands. It might look too contrastingly glittery on a dark skinned girl's hand, but it suits you very well. Also, do you not want something different for this festival?” "She doesn’t wear bangles valavikkadaikkarare. She says that bangles interfere when she writes, also they make too much noise in the class she says”. "That is when you go to school. You can always take them off, but wear just two in each hand, you shouldn’t wear one, as oththappadai is not good you see" (wearing one bangle will bring bad luck). "Valvikkadaikkarare, even two bangles are enough to make noise and even one is enough to interfere while writing...” “I can never understand you girl.” He laughs. "There are some new designs in ear rings, would you like to see?” He knows my likings for ear rings. "No. no. her mother has strictly told me to get her bangles and nothing else". Murugeswari akka says. “I will talk to mother, show me those ear rings valavikkadaikkarare”. He goes inside. The other groups have finished their selection by now. A few new groups have come and are waiting for valavikkadaikkarar. “he has gone inside to bring some ear rings”. "Are there new designs in ear rings too?” one of the girls in one of the new groups asks. “Oh yes”, I reply. She is all excited and looking forward to buy a set pf new ear ring. Valavikkadaikkarar continues his sales with this new groups of girls.

“Why did you buy the ear ring? Your skin is allergic to metals other than gold, don’t you know”? Mother has started her questions. Murugeswari akka is answering them; I go straight to my little mirror, to see my ear rings on me.
PS: needs rewriting.