Thursday, March 31, 2005

Fowl play!!!

Summer holidays are here and it brings with it a rush of warm memories. My thoughts go back to the good ole' days in my grandparents home in Kerala.

With two sets of grandparental homes, we had to split our stay in Kerala between my maternal grandparents home and my paternal grandparents home. My grandparents lived in our ancestral house in Central Kerala and the lack of company ( as I was the youngest) always drove me to innovative methods of amusement. The wide expanse of the paddy fields in the valley floor and the rubber trees that covered the mountains were our playing fields. And we thoroughly enjoyed exploring them.

One fine sunny morning when we sat down for breakfast, I heard Amma remark to Pappan( Grandfather) that it was time to bathe the hens and the rooster. Poultry lice were rampant in Kerala villages and a chemical bath was the prescribed treatment. My eyes glowed at the thought of the spectacle. Farmyard chores were always exciting for city-bred kids like us. And we pitched in whenever we could or were allowed to. Amma was the typical doting grandmother, who could never get say no to her grandkids.

After breakfast, I took my unsuspecting little cousin brother and picked up the chickens one by one from the kozhi koodu. I was determined to help out Amma and Pappan in this chore. We went down to the other end of the parambu(a sort of meadow) where the well was situated. I explained to my cousin brother that in order to bathe the chicken we would have to put them into the well first. With help from my brother we threw the chickens one by one into the well. The rooster in the meantime had run away fearing for his life.

The chickens were now in the well and swimming for dear life. I felt proud to have helped my grandparents in this arduous task. It was then the thought struck me.We did not know how to get them out of the well! I was however never short of ideas. I pulled out the plastic weave out of a chair and made a loop, which I tied to the end of a pole. We then managed to push the loop through the chickens’ neck after much maneuvering and pulled them out one by one. Shaken and stirred the chickens took off like white flashes of lightening. There was however a hitch. There was one chicken left in the well and with the space cleared by the other chicken’s departure, decided to give us a run for our money. All our attempts to snare the frightened bird failed.

It was then that I reluctantly called my grandmother for help. Curious as to how her chicken had got into the well, my grandmother came down to the well. I explained to her the whole story. My grandmother’s face started twitching. She turned a ghastly red and her shoulders started shaking. She then burst into uncontrollable laughter. In all her very staid and sober life my grandmother had never come across such a situation. Unable to stop her laughter she hobbled back to the house and explained the situation, between paroxysm of laughter to my phlegmatic grandfather. A frown is all she could elicit out of him. My grand father sighed as he got up from his favorite chair on the porch and went to call for help. Soon word spread around and to my embarrassment the normally sleepy village came to life as the story spread by word of mouth.

I was very remorseful and we had cloudy water to drink for days till the well water cleared. When our parents came to pick us up, they had yet another story for their ever-expanding kitty of incidents that we had managed to gather all those summer months in our grandparents home. Today the story of the ‘chicken bath’ has become folklore in many homes.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


I am suffering from delayed 'Keralitis', a common affliction of Malayalis when they have stayed away from 'native' for a long time. While searching for Kerala information on Google I was catapulted into the thriving cyber world of the Malayalis. This is a vast unseen and unheard of world that most non Malayalis ( and a fair number of Malayalis) don't know about.There are sites dedicated to Malayalam Movies, Songs, Cookery, Dance, Drama, Blogs,you name it they have it. These sites have thousands of registered users and how come I know nothing about them???I have signed up for umpteen such sites. I have found a thriving online community from Moovattupuzha to Minnesota exchanging notes on topics like growing 'Kariveppu-ella' in Florida to making Payasam with Carnation Milk. There is an insatiable appetite for 'pazhan chollu' and 'pazham porris'. Malayalam is being written in English and italics be damned!There is a resurgent pride in being a Malayali. The Internet has united Malayalis like no trade union has.
Long live the online Malayali community!!!!