Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Switching to the new version

My blogger account could not be switched to the new version (one or more of your blogs cannot be switched to new blogger). The help page was not very helpful. Can someone help me please. thanks.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Kombai - some videos

PS: Video quality degraded at youtube

Monday, February 19, 2007

Coming home

Windchill woke me up. The knotted hair flying all over the place, pain in the back of the head reminding me of the iron bar on which I rested my head to sleep slipped away from occupying my mind in just a few minutes. It is the green paddy fields. Early morning wind fast by my face, farmers and crows.. I am suddenly alerted by the need to realise the town the bus is heading to or the towns the bus has passed. I try to jag my memory to recognise the place. It is the paddy fields again. I have to wait until the next stop. Hope I have not missed Palayam yet. Not a big deal though. I might end up reaching Cumbum. I can always come back. Bus stops. I wagely recognise and I believe that it is one stop before Chinnammanoore. Hmm, I have missed Veerapaandi then. It is the river and the temple by the river I like to give a passing look. It has been a long time since I have been to the festival in Veerapaandi. It is a blurry memory I have of the place and the festival. The village looks totally different during non-festival days. It makes it difficult to recognise the fig tree under which we cooked pongal for the festival. There was a lane of palmfruit (Nongu) vendors, I remember. I guess it was just the festival shop and the lane. That would explain why nothing is recognisable in Veerapaandi anymore. But the place always interests me. All the movie personalities from my area either write about Veerapaandi in their songs or they come here and shoot their movies. Again it looks different in movies too. It is not the same Veerapaandi I remember. But then it was a long time ago, and my memory is blurry too. It is Chinnammanoore now. I look for my periyamma's lane. I also look around in the bus stand to see if my periyappa is there by any chance buying anything at all at this time. I smile. The Jackfruit vendors have not started their business yet. I won't miss them tomorrow when I will be coming here to see my periyamma and periyappa. I may come today afternoon itself. I smile again. The bus moves. I look for my bag and suitcase. I have to collect them and get ready to leave the bus. It won't take long to reach Palayam. I don't know whether the river is running full or is it dry at this time of the year. I like the sight of the river in Palayam and in Veerapaandi. There look, it is full. It brings a smile on my face automatically. It is Palayam. I collect my things in a hurry to leave the bus. I forgot that it is not the city buses I am used to these days. The driver will wait, I remembered. I leave the bus, smile at the driver and conductor.

Kombai bus came after a few minutes wait. I boarded it, took a window seat. An old lady comes and sits next to me. The conductor is asking for us to buy tickets. Old lady asks for Pannaippuram. I ask for Kombai. The conductor and the old lady both looked at me at once, the conductor recognised me immediately. "Vaappa Latha". "Are you coming just now? Does your family know? Will they be waiting for you at the bus stand, how are you going to manage the suitcase and the bag. Don't worry. I will get it sorted for you"... I smile. He is a chithappa (uncle) and a far relative. The old lady wants to know a lot. Chithappa helps there. I look outside. Paddy fields disappear and dry lands start. Red soil. Seenithai aachchi's kaadu (unirrigated rainfed land) is somewhere here. They don't have a well. When I went with her to her kaadu, we had to hunt for surface springs for drinking water. Luckily there was one. We go past the Palayam college. There is a temple before entering Kombai. I don't know if anyone has ever done any prayer here. I have never been to this temple. I don't think anyone has ever been either. It is an abandoned temple. Coconut orchards change the scenary for me. My place has got so good water you know. I smile with pride. There is my school. Changed. They have got new entrance now. They don't have to cross the gully water when it rains. Then, no holidays after heavy rains then. Children of these days miss the village life. pchch. It's all too modernised now. hmmm. There is the board welcoming to Kombai. They don't change the dump-yard location or the location of the board. They do not seem to care what an outsider coming to Kombai for the first time would think. che che. I look away. The other side of the road is nice. It is the coconut orchards. Kombai is full of coconut orchards you know. We used to have one ourselves. I smile.

It is the theradi bus stop. I smile again. Whosoever coming to Kombai for the first time would get down at this stop. Conductor would always stop them to ensure that this is the stop the passenger wants. That would always confuse any new comer. Does that mean Kombai has more than one stop? Is it so big? yes dear. Kombai is not as small as you might think. It is big enough to be a town. I smile again. Not so long after, the next stop, the main stop, the bus stand, the one I want, comes. I collect my luggage. Coductor chithappa comes to help. He calls out loud for Muragan mama who is always there in the bus stand. I am unlucky today that he is not there. "No problem chithappa. I can leave luggage in Subbiah mama's shop and father can come and get it later". I convince conductor chiththappa that I can manage the luggage to the shop myself. He whistles. Bus leaves.

I look around. Kombai is fully awake. Early morning sun is catching up with its potential heat. I pick up my suitcase and bag and start walking. I am weak and hungry. It must be the travel. I have not brushed my teeth yet. I did goggle and washed my face too while I was waiting for bus in the Palaym bus stand. Mama's shop is not too far. "Vaamma Latha". Are you coming just now?" "Does your family know?" I tried refusing the coffee he offered, but failed. It is a coffee shop after all, although named “tea-stall” and he is the owner after all. Mama sends one of his assistants to my house to let them know that I will be there in a few minutes and they should send someone to come and collect the luggage. I can never keep my visit to my house a surprise.

Ok then. I take leave from him and start walking. It is the communal well. It is not a well first of all, neither small like you would imagine something similar to the one shown in movies, but it is a big water tank that supplies water to every lane and street in north and east streets. I don't know about other streets and their source of supply of water. It looks like water has been on for sometime. The crowd in every communal tap is less than normal. The vaasals are all wet. True that it is just morning and the sun hasn't dried up the water sprinkled on vaasals yet, but it also shows the trails of water being carried from taps to houses. Cows and bulls walk past me. Some carts too. Paper periyappa (paper delivery man) cycles past me. He never shows the kind of smile others in my village show. I guess it is just that that he is not my relative. I guess. But he does show a sign of recognition. I smile at him.

"Latha, is that you? vaa Latha. are you coming just now? where is your luggage? Is it there at mama's shop?" Akka asks. "Yes akka. Are you fine?" “I am fine. How are you? Come and have some breakfast and go”. “It is alright akka. I haven't brushed my teeth yet”. “So what?. Brush it at our place”. “It is alright akka. I will come later. See you”. Akka sends her son to let my family know that it won't be long before I reach home. He runs like a bullet.

Few more welcomes, few more breakfast offers and few more "later" replies delayed me a little. I enter our lane. I can see all my family members standing outside my house. Our house is on the left at the corner of the lane where it bends left and has a side branch to the right. We get a good view up to the end of the street, where it meets the main street. I walk towards my house. "Why so late? The boy from mama's shop came a while ago". I just smile. "ha?, why late?". Gawd. I can't shout from here. I walk closer. "Is it Latha?" Ennaappa, Are you comping just now?" another stop. I smile and reply and then I continue my walk towards home.

"Why so late. Why are you answering to all those stoppers?" - Chithi
"Have you fetched water for our house?" - me
"Why, are you going to help us?" - Amma
"Why so late? Lathappillai, you have gone thinner. You get thinner and thinner every time, do they give you food at all? What do you eat every day?" - Aachchi
"Look at her hair. She has cut it again. She has ruined her hair. She uses shampoo. Thickness has gone less too. She cuts it you see". - Amma
"Amma, I just cut some length that is all. Hair with split ends does not look nice. Anyway, cutting the length cannot make the thickness go less amma.".
"how" - amma
I just failed explaining.
"You use shampoo don't you?"
"No I don't. I still have the arappu you gave me last time".
"It is because you have not used it at all. You use shampoo". - amma
"adadada. Leave her to brush her teeth. Get her some coffee, akka. One cup for me too. Yes, your hair does look thin. What shampoo do you use?" - chithi
"Lathapillai, do you want iddly? I can get from our thaththa's shop. Give me a thukku, let me get some iddlies for lathappillai" - Thaaththa. (iddly is not a regular breakfast item in our household, particularly if I or senthil is not around).
"Where is Senthil? He told he was going to come one day before me.
“He is sleeping, see”.
“Wake him up. He shouldn’t sleep this late”.
“You just mind your business ok. Don’t start fighting with him already”.
“I am going to sleep for sometime".
"What, eat first and then you can sleep".
"Amma, I need to brush my teeth" .
"Use water from this thotti It is fresh water, I just filled one extra thotti for today. Use less water. We don’t get water in taps here remember?".
“Lathappillai, use less water. Just throwing water away is not a good habit for a girl. It brings you bad luck”.
“She never listens. She has emptied one full thotti for brushing her teeth”.
“It is not empty”.
“What is there in those teeth to grind it with your brush like this?. You are going to lose all your teeth and gums if you brush it like this. Is this how you brush nowadays?"
"Latha, are you coming just now? Why so late? Did you not get ticket in the previous bus?” Velthai chithi comes in. "What happened to your hair? Have you cut all your hair? It looks so thin. You don't seem to be eating anything either. Chuppakka, Did you not fill up this thotti? It is half empty"….…..

Chithi and chithi

Note at the end of the videa that I am a chithi myself (that is, I have a niece myself)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Maruthaani (Henna)

I like Maruthaani (Henna) on fingers than on the nails and like the big nice round inside on the palm. I like at least one inch or if I can get more share for myself, I like to apply for two inches on fingers. I have nice long fingers. Well, except those old-lady-like-veins that I inherited from my aachchi. Fingers will look like dancer’s fingers tomorrow. I will suddenly change too girlie. I can't wait. We have a separate ammi (stone tool used to grind curry paste) to grind maruthaani paste. They say it is poison and should not mix with food, so we don't use the regular ammi to grind maruthaani. The maruthaani ammi is a small and nice looking one. Whosever grinds maruthaani gets shapeless red colouration all over their hand. It doesn’t look very nice. I don’t like it. No one does, I would think. I generally do not offer to grind. I want my nice round red in proper shape and in good contrast. Everyone is waiting. Chiththi the impatient tests the quality of the paste for every five back-and-forth- grinding strokes of the kulavi (kuzhavi/kuzavi). It has to be nice and smooth, no pieces of leaves. A small piece of leave will leave a blank patch. No one likes pulli (blank patch). We all wait. We have all finished our dinner and have planned very well that no more work to do. It is going to be our maruthaani session and good nice sleep after that. We have to keep the hands separate not touching anything so that the design remains in shape and dries nicely when we wake up tomorrow. We are all still waiting. There are atleast ten girls and women from all our families waiting and watching the maruthaani being ground. Nice moon day.

There you go. Finally done, nicely ground. Chiththi tests the quality and is satisfied. She divides the portions according to size of fingers as she puts it and manages to get a good big portion for us. There are three of us who need to divide now. Chiththi declares that there is no more dividing, it is just we should get on with applying. Amma gets less, she declares that she is fine with just for nails and takes little quantity. I don’t declare anything. I just start applying. We finally finished with one inch long on fingers and little round on palms. Mother had just for one hand and as there was nobody available to apply for her right hand, whereas she applied for me and Chiththi. Chiththi stretched a bit too much claiming for her toes too but we protested it and were able to stop her. We let it dry for sometime before going to bed.

Chithi is already is out of bed and is taking the dried maruthaani off. “Akka, give me water to clean”. She is shouting. I wake up. Amma is already in the kitchen doing her daily things. I am anxious to know the result. The round on my palms have fallen off. And it looks orangish for me. Amma’s hand looks orangish. Not very dark red. Mother is little disappointed, I can say. It never gets dark red for her, she says. Chiththi’s fingers and palms are all nice dark red. It is do with the quantity that was applied I think. She refuses to admit. It always gets dark red for her she says. I haven’t removed it yet. I need coconut oil before that. I remove from each finger carefully and apply coconut oil. Leave it for few minutes and clean it with water. The round on the palm is little bit of a disappointment but the fingers are not so bad.

It is all display time in school. Everyone noticed, I guess. Hand gestures for conversation are essential to convey the message clearly, you know. :-) I keep my fingers like dancers in Bharathanatiyam. I noticed that I often Keep the ring finger folded like rotated L, and use fingers as bookmarks while reading. When talking to girls, I often go confused, is the nail side or the palm side that has to be in the display. But, remember to turn the hand around to show the other side too. :-) I jump or dance and even try a few steps from the movies too when I get time alone at home when I can close the doors and windows.

PS: This is for you Shantha.
PPS: I guess my recent meet up with chiththi had a lot of influence while writing this above post. This is not what exactly Shantha was talking about. I need to write another one for her.


Chiththi and Amma
(Chinnak kopuram, periya kopuram)
(photo taken during my previous visit to India in July 2005)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Recent visit to Kombai

It was a flying visit. Managed to take a few photos to record few moments. Recorded the Kombai/Chennai/Coimbatore pictures in UK time and came back to UK and recorded the snow pictures in Indian time.

Thaththa has become a picture.


the face changed home of mine

our new house in kombai

Chevaththa puliyamaram looks shorter and fatter after 30 years. It has got some green-tamarind trees as company as well. (click on the images to see full size picture)
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Some old days discovered.


1984 (ananthi came to see me. Missed to take photo with her).

senthil's letter to me
1987 Senthil's letter to me.

onerupee_front onerupee_back
1989 - some poor soul's autograph to me. Arul is no more.

The stones I used to play thattangal (girl's game using stones), well preserved in my petti

Narrowed down lane of mine

Kombai girls
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Chiththappa's thottam (my uncle's farm)
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Cousin brother - also Senthil.

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Thumbai (rackadip poo)

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The Ghats and the temple at the foothills

Catching up
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Annalatchumi mathini

And, Friends ;-)
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