ID - 2

The first week

So, Onam is officially over ! Ho was it - well 5 on 10, I shud say, mainly because there was hardly any Onam atmosphere anywhere... or aleast I did not come across much . Instea of asking "whats up for Onam", it shud almost be "which TV channel are u watching for Onam"... there are some 10-20 mallu channels now, compared to the 3 or 4 that used to b there 5 yrs befoe.. and so more soaps or my mom :-) ... eventhen, there were glimpses of Onam here and there... here are some quick bits of my trip so far

the komies

well, looks like the commies and i do not match "in blood" itself.... here's what happened... needed to get some advanced blood tests (mostl I only told the doc to write them down), and since the doc was an employee of the EMS hospital (buit by the commies, in the name of the veteran commie E M Sankaran - well, there is a Namboothiripad, his caste name that the commies usually attach to the name, but then heck with it, E M Sankaran wud do ) I was asked to give blood in the hospitals lab ... well, my town here is a "hospital city" , with about 10 or so MAJOR hositals, and numerous smalls ones... and this one too, as such was big and well mainained

But then, the lab was a total idsspointment... after paying the 1090/- Rs, a traineee sort of young fella came to take blood... first off looks like nobody over here wears gloves... seeing the fellow (who was shorter than me and younger than me), I instinctively stretched my left arm,... he plucked in the needle in the wrong place (I cud sense that), and worse, seeing that no blood is coming , he started turning back and asking the ohers around there, and while doing so was twisting and turning the needle inside my nerves ... and then, even worst, he started pushing the some litle blood that came, back into the neves..... that was enuf.. i told him to stop, and did the rest myself... pulling out and stuff... then comes another girl, she did a good job taking the blood from my right arm, but then threw the needle full of blood carelessly on the table, so much so that the needle hit here and there and drops of my blood made its marks all over !!! I complained to whoeve there, they noted down my no: and suff, never heard back .... me remains anti_commie even in bloood !!

Trips and Treats

Was in for quite some pleasant surprises, for in the moring, in the temple near my house, Balagokulam kids had gatehered around and made a little flower carpet and were singing Onam songs... that was my first Onam treat...
I learnt that they had many more Onam pgms lined up for the rest of the day..

The taxi hired for us to go visit al elatives (daylong) had two CD collection of old Mallu songs... songs which I wud listen to as a 6 or 7 year old... that was lovely... for most of the songs, I wud sing along... I think the driver was surprised that I remembered most of the lyrics ! Over at my little cousins place, the 6yrold and her friend sang some Onam songs and danced to them (in their own ways - see the pic below).... O well, the deeper into the villages you go, Onam's still alive I guess

An overnite stay at Guruvayur.... me and my parents decided that we wil get up around 5, reach the temple by 6, get darshan and prasad by 8 and leave... but then , I could not sleep the nite.. at 2 am, I decided to get up and go stand in the early morning queue when then temple opens at 3 am ... It almost looked like the Lord wanted me to come earlier... I remembered an old experience of mine with this 3 am worship

Its called "Vaakacharthu"... at 3 am u get to see the Lord as decoarated the previous day... then they dress the lord as a kid, bathe him using the twigs of a particula tree (vaaka), and again dress him as a small kid ..all this happens very fast and in order to get to see all these, u have to stay put at the very door of the outer sanctum of the temple from 12 midnite the previous day... I did that once, and once the door opens, one has to run about 100 - 200 m before u can hit the door to hthe inner sanctum... among the crowd that day was a 60-70 year old man... people around discouraged him from being with the crowd and running . "Ammava, Odumbo Veezhathe nokkane" "Uncle, be careful, don't fall when u run with the crowd".. he just smiled...

3 am, the door opens, the old man is already on his heels... the rest of the crowd simply cannot catch up... he enters the inner sanctum first, with almost a 10 m gap from me,who was the second to enter , followed by the rest of the crowd .... O well, glad I came second only to such a soul :-)

Oh ya, another interesting bit.. For the Udayastahamaya Puja (a special daily Puja at Guruvayur), one needs to pay 50,000 Rs advance , and book.... (the real expense of the Puja I guess is much higher). And as of now, every single day upto year 2049 has been booked, and the board has stopped taking any more (the board run by govt now wants 10 Puja bookings per day to make money, where as the priest is insisting that only one person be allowed per day)

So thats a whooopping 75 crore rupees sitting as advance cash with the devaswom (meaning for govt to loot) ! For 50,000 Rs one can run 3 ekal vidyalayas (i.e about 90-100 kids education and 3 villages healthcare) for one full year !! with 75 crores, 365*43*3 schools for one year - or almost 8000+ schools for 5 years... O well, the day Mallus learn charity, I shall be blessed !

Leaving thoughts

Well, there is lots to write... lots and lots ... every minute here is full of life... something or other keeps happening... am being pulled into everything.. from the mobile revolution (remember those li'l cycle repair and rental shops or rather wooden box rooms.... u don't get to see those anymore, instead u see mobile service centers) to the fact that I am ending up drinking tea almost every 2-3 hrs ....... and so on andso forth... but then
I think this' is a good enuf update... One week over.. thats one phase of vising relatives, and eating lots f Onam food... and getting to know what has changed in this tiny yet hyperactive little town...

And now comes the second stage .... the next week of Chennais and Bangalores ... and in between, I shall come back for the Janmashtami celebs on sep 14 , by the Balagokulam .... for Onam has been a bit of a dissapp.. I hope the Balagokulam folks, will keep the flag hi

ps: Pics... ummm... upto downloading onto a comp or burning on a CD is okay, but then, many comps in internet cafes do not have softwares even to roate the pics, and sometimes no wnzip and stuff... so will upload as and when, but no promises :-)