Friday, August 5, 2011

Cochin tales

It was when I was a kid that I visited Cochin. I have vague memories of seeing the Jewish Synagogue and going in a boat, but do not remember much. I wanted to go and spend time with my friend Ranjini, wanted to take a break from work and also spent some time traveling. I realised I did not want to the rough travel that I usually do. I think I was mentally, physically drained to the core. I went to stay at my friend's granma's house. They called her 'Ammana'. I got her sweets..My mother always says that when you go to a house for the first time, especially when there are elders, you should get something. Ammana was happy, when I touched her feet and offered her sweets. I do not know Malayalam, but yeah I can speak and somewhat manage..I could understand what she said...Thanks to the Palakkad Tamil. She said, she understood english, but she also told me she would teach me Malayalam and as always I was game to learn a new language..

The rice is Kerala is unlike the rice we eat here, huge ones..but after traveling to so many places, I was flexible to eat whatever was offered to me..another thing which travel taught me is to be grateful for having what you have..Ammana cooked authentic Kerala style dishes, like how my amma makes it..and for everything they used coconut oil..She made variety of food and papadam everyday. I just hugged her and told her that she is awesome. Ammana lived alone, but she is a strong willed lady, enthusiastic, cheerful, a great sense of humor and cheeks that you can keep pulling..:) I loved teasing her. I literally asked her to make new things for me..and she made it..and she also appreciated that I ate every single thing that she made, including karelas..I never eat bitter gourd, but for her, I ate. She had taken so much pains to make it.

She used to get me stuff from outside, vadas..and I loved it..At night, she recited Ramayana, and I used to sit and listen to her and then pray and go to bed. She gave me whole loads of tea, and I loved it. Sitting on the steps outside the house, watching butterflies, reading book, playing with the cat and sipping chai. The cat also became very friendly with me and everytime I came back home, she would call me out..waiting to be pampered..

I also got to attend a two day conference for environmental education at Mangalavanam bird sanctuary where I met Anup's mom and dad. After the conference, I went to their house. Aunty made ada..and I always loved it..I had loads of them, shamelessly..aunty and uncle became very friendly with me and I had loads of coffee..with coriander and jeera..I never sampled a masala coffee before, but I loved the taste of it..Anup's house was an eco friendly house and aunty and uncle had a huge garden full of medicinal plants..The next day, we went again for lunch at aunty's place and ended up talking about old scriptures and all that..Suddenly, I heard a tuk tuk sound, and when I looked out, it was a woodpecker..I watched it for a long time before it flew away..I loved Anup's home..I told aunty and uncle I would come and stay with them and sit and write there..they were only happy..they were living by themselves..I hugged aunty before I left..

I met many people in this journey, an auto wallah who was at a roadside tea shop at Fort Kochi..His name ended with Cochin..So, isnt it a created name, I asked..Yes, and he laughed..He said he belonged to Bombay and we started chatting up. Right from the ticket sellers, to people on the streets, everyone was helpful to me and I am really thankful to God for making me meet such wonderful people.

Ammana and valli chechi (next door neighbor) showered so much love and affection that I belonged to that part of family..I was humbled..The day I left, Ammana told me that I should live with her and go to Coimbatore once in a while, I smiled at her and promised to come often.. a promise is a promise..I am gonna take amma and go there again very soon..

I called ammana yesterday and she said, how do you do? English,,hmmm..I am good and how are you I asked..she started laughing..I managed to pull a broken malayalam conversation for 5 mins (big deal for me) and end of it she said..if you cant communicate something in malayalam, say in english..I am glad I could figure that out..I was happy..New families come into my life like this..I love my life!! :)

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