Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pulikunnel house, my Grandmother and a doctor.

This month I visited Pulikunnel house once again. It had been a long time since I went there (Pulikunnel house is my mother’s ancestral home). The reasons for visit, being a family get together. It was a low key affair compared to the 100 strong crowds that used to gather there for occasions like marriage, manasammatham etc.

My mother, being on very good terms with her mother, used to dump me and my brother there on all vacations till my grandmother passed away. We used to have two months of unparalleled fun. At all times there was a crowd there. Cousins, aunts, babies, wizened old men, the works!

To add to the human melee was the innumerable insects, hens, cats, cows and all such God’s creations. Add to that acres and acres of rubber, all types of trees (on which we honed our aerobic and acrobatic skills), big and small brooks, hills and boulders on the background, well it was a kid’s paradise. I am sure that it would have won hands down on comparison with any ultra-modern kid’s park.

Ammachi (our grandmother), was the pivot on which the house revolved. She was an excellent cook. The memory of her jack-fruit chips makes ones palate melt even to this day. The name of Bertie Wooster’s aunt’s French cook eludes me. But to P.G Wodehouse fans, I guess you must have got a fair idea of her culinary talents by now.

Kids, especially pampered ones like yours truly are bad eaters. My mother usually used the “round-eye-treatment”, “shove-the-food-in” and “plain-old-cane-and-blackmail” methods to get me to eat. Ammachi however used the much more diplomatic “story-for-food” program. Where she told the story and we ate the food and everyone was happy. This feeding program was made tougher by the fact that on most days we preferred having our food in the play houses we made on top of the adjoining hill. And/or in the shed where Appan (grandfather, but somehow we call him Appan) stored all the coconuts.

With the advent of the pizza age, the ceremonious lunch seems to have taken a back seat. I didn’t like ceremonious lunches much myself. Problem was there was an order in which to eat, etiquette to be followed, rules to be obeyed and all that hog wash. I am personally a fan of the pizza life but I still wouldn’t mind having that sort of lunch every Onam.

But that was not all. If ever there was an adventurous grandmother, then it was she.

As part of the “Grand Child Pampering Program” she used to take us all over the rubber country (Kottayam District) and allow us “holy baths” in all kinds of small, medium and big brooks. The reason for these circumambulations was ostentatiously “visits to old and dying relatives”. On rare occasions she used to take a dip herself, much to the consternation of older cousins who felt that she was a bit more wanting in her “modesty”.

On such journeys, on the way back, if it was already too late, she would make us tell the rosary in the car itself. That was one thing she was strict on. That her grand children should grow up pious and God fearing. But at least as far as my memory goes she was not "pious" strictly in the religious sense. But her life was.

Every time I reached Pulikunnel, I would run to the kitchen to see her and she would invariably pick me up grunting at how big I had grown over the year. Once she sprained/broke her arm (I don’t remember which) and my sister (Marina) tells me that I asked Ammachi to pat me to sleep. She patted me with her good arm, but I was not happy with that. I badgered her to pat me with her sprained arm and poor woman, she actually did that. Of course, I have decided to take a leaf out Kerala politics and “vehemently deny” that such a thing ever took place! A figment of an overstretched imagination no doubt!

Before the advent of distilled books on G.K, people genrally had proper G.K regarding their environment and acute practical knowledge about everything that was worth knowing. Ammachi was no exception. She passed on to us gems of knowledge that no G.K book could ever give. After all, I know that “thottaal vaadi” is a medicinal plant useful for small cuts and bruises and I know how to use this. But what do I do with “the first man on moon was Neil Armstrong” info?

Talking of medicine, how can one ever forget trips to Dr. N.E. Eeapens with Ammachi. English medicine was never much her strong point and to questions like “pallu maravicho” (do you feel the anesthetic?) the typical answer would be “maravichilla” (no affect) till he gets exasperated and says “aah, athrem maravichathu mathi” (that’s enough of waiting for the anesthetic to take affect), let me pull out your teeth.

I remember him taking out my teeth while I was talking, as if by magic! In fact, I only understood that it had been taken out when he gave it to me to keep as a souvenir.

For her the end came rather quickly. She did not have to suffer for too long. I guess at most she was sick for half a month or so (not sure here, cousins/Joechan can confirm).

Coming back to the house, it now has a new coat of paint and I had a camera. The rest is pasted below for all of u to see (Yeah, I wish, I had an SLR).

The house, it looks rather like a fortress from this angle.


inside out.


Frontal Right(I still haven’t mastered the padinjarae, karotae, thekkae and vadakae usages, so kindly bear with the right and left...:))

Frontal Left

TV Time, did you notice the clarity. I clearly remember seeing more grains than images on this TV for close to half a decade!

Chilling out on the easy chair.

Find the missing tree contest. The Mylanji tree is still there but something is definitely missing.


Rubber trees minus chocolate kuzhi

Flowers and trees. Anybody know what that "flowery tree" is called?


Geets said...

Nice post...What's chocolate kuzhi???

Abraham Menacherry said...

there was a muddy hollow there. During summer when the earth cracked it looked EXACTLY cubes like chocolate and so the name....:)

Anonymous said...

That flowering tree is called 'cassia' there are many species of cassia(s)! our own kanikonna is 'cassia fistula' aslo called 'Indian Laburnum' - nchechi
( forgot my password - so cant login!)

Abraham Menacherry said...

Thank you "nchechi"...:) in my wildest dream I had hoped to know only the malayalam name and here I have the mal/formal and sub names too!

rocksea said...

hello abraham.. where is your pulikunnel house? you must be related in some way to joseph pulikunnel, who is my neighbor?

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