Tag Archives: kerala

Birds in my neighborhood

This is the first chart Siva has done by himself. Well, It needed a lot of poking and patience from my side.

One of Siva’s new year resolutions ( of course , just like you thought I made it for him ) is that he will write down the pictures that comes to his mind and just like they come. No need to think if it will be OK !

They had to observe 3 birds for a few days and write down what they saw.

And here we are, All done and hmm.. well… almost neatly !

My moment of pride is he wrote the name himself. He would not have done  it,… if he thought it is not up to it or that he did not earn it . Until now I had written the names for all his assignments. And this is something!

Birds in my neighborhood

Crow

It is the most common bird in Kerala. It is black in colour.

There is crow’s nest on my mango tree. I can see it from my terrace. The nest is made of sticks and dried grass. One day I saw the crow chasing a cuckoo away.

It perches on the branches and pecks almost anything. Sometimes I see it flying in small groups. It readily flies down to eat the bread crumbs and grains we throw.

It returns to its nest by sunset and there will be a lot of noise.

Sparrow

It is a small bird. Light and dark brown in colour. I see a lot of sparrows in my front garden.

They perch on small trees and hop on the ground. They feed on the  insects and earth worms.

Sometimes we keep left over grains for them. They even comes inside our house.It has a sweet voice.

There is a sparrow’s nest on our bed room ventillation. It is made of hay. Sometimes in the night we can hear the birds chirping.

Humming bird

It is the smallest bird. It has a long and thin beak.

There are 4-5 humming birds which visit my garden every day. They keep on flapping their wings while they drink nectar from the flowers. They can fly backwards .   Every evening two of them come and sit on the jasmine vine. We even took a photo.

Also in my neighbourhood I have seen bulbuls, Mynah, kingfisher, quail, parrot , egret, pegion, wood pecker, owl, wag tail, and crow patridge ( uppan ).

My Onam

My earliest memories of Onam is of “pulikkali” .Those beats !! I was very afraid of them. Appa had tried everything possible to make me understand  they were  humans behind their masks. But I would not listen! Then finally when they came to our house he asked one of the ‘puli ’ (tiger ) to take off its mask and gave it to me. Even then I was not convinced.

Up to  Uthradom( the day before Onam)  we would be at Alleppey ( My mother’s place) celebrating our holidays . My Grand mother would be waiting with all sorts of chips and ‘unniappom’ and pakkodas and ‘sarkara varatti’…. the list is endless. Have you ever tried gobbling chips and sarkkara varatti and murukku before brushing your teeth?  Then you should sure try it this time.

We would arrange our Aunty to put the ” pookkalam” (flower carpet ) for us till the exams are over and we could get there. It is a belief that “pookkalam” should be arranged from ‘Atham’ to ‘Uthradom’ without break.

By the time we reach Haripad ( my father’s place) it would be brimming with celebrations. One thing I remember vividly is the bus journey from Alleppey to Haripad.  Unlike the city area every house there will have “pookkalam” in their front yard. I used to enjoy immensely the variety of designs. It is a real treat for the eyes .

The designs are typical for each place.  Beautiful combinations with shoe flowers, mandaram, thumba, mukkutti , sanku pushpam , krishna kireedom , kongini poo and other flowers that bloom in the neighbourhood during Onam. Buying flowers for arranging flower carpet was unheard of .

Haripad then had the serene beauty which I think every village in Kerala possessed. Ponds  , green fields , coconut yards , canals , people busy with work , the smell of hay . No words can explain the beauty of nature during Onam . There would be flowers every where . Rose balsums and ‘thumba’ and mukkutti . The ground would look like a carpet sprinkled with every different colour.

And water lilies ! They were our favourite. The sheer pleasure of plucking them from the fields is something you have to experience yourself to enjoy. I can feel my hands thrusting forward among the entangling weeds, the slippery feel in my foot among the water plants with water up to my knees, my sister holding me from behind …… a little more to go …. and those  flowers would be mine….!

I remember the fields with small fishes . My favourite was the the tunnel connecting the two fields with water gushing through them. Even now I can remember them only with the wonder of a six year old. Then we had those water canals every where. We would find some lame reason to go to neighbors’ houses just to walk through those canals.

I had also gone together with Appa for ‘pirivu’ singing maveli naadu vaneedum kaalam . It was amazing. And then it happened .. blum !!! I fell into one of the fields and got all wet ! I had to go back home 😦

I remember Uthrada Pooja and other Onam programmes like tug of war at our family temple.

On the day of Onam everybody would be wearing new dresses. No body would sweep their house as it is thought to offend Maveli! Mom would be busy in the kitchen . After sumptuous Onam sadya( feast)  every body would  gather together in the ground in front of the temple to play. There would  be swings. I remember the huge swing at Bhaskaran Uncle’s House. Card games , Thalappanthu, Kilithattu…………..

(Now I know what was missing! Then there was no TV . that is it!!!!)

In the afternoon there would be ’ thumpithullal’. Even now I cant figure out how they do it. They shiver so vigorously, and believe me, it is not fake!

Years passed by,

Then appan and amma ( My grand father and grand mother) went to stay at Trivandrum along with my Uncle. Appa was adamant that we should go there to celebrate Onam with our Granma. Our Onam days changed to the time spent inside the house just gazing each other pretending some thing huge is happening. Kanakakkunnu Kottaram , dragging Appa to the Sankumukham beach……

After some years again back to Haripad!

The fields and ponds had given way to buildings ; All our friends were gone.. Either married off… or too grown up to play with us. Then television came. Our Onam began to centre around the Onam special programmes in the TV. Flowers were not be seen any where . Just one or two glimpses of water lillys. A thermal project plant took over all those beautiful fields. The tunnel with water gushing…………. was gone for ever!!

Appan took all the charm of Onam along with him.

I am happy that as a child, I could enjoy the serene village Onam and the Urban Onam. My Onam memories wouldn’t be complete without the frantic shopping at DH  Ground, Sugar cane Juice, Long Queues at Maveli store , Yellow Palmoil Dabbas which I used after wards for watering my plants , A green T shirt worth Rs.50 which I and sister bought for our little brother after so much bargaining .

Today also children celebrate Onam . Of course they celebrate it in their own ways!

Life always keep on changing and I like it.  There is no point in waning how we used to celebrate . No, that is not the way ….. Follow on , join in… Enjoy the new trends!

May be years after today’s kids  will tell their children how they used to roam around for shopping and went to amusement parks during Onam holidays !

They may tell how they could buy Onam kits and instant meals, how they could easily buy marigolds and asters from the flower market for  flower carpet competitions , how beautiful it was the during Onam when the roads were crowded with heaps and heaps of flowers for sale, how easy it was then to buy plantain leafs !

And , their kids would never understand! Their children would never be able to imagine what it was then ; .. just like our kids who cannot even imagine how we could have celebrated Onam so enthusiastically without TV and Video games.

Now also everybody here make it a point that the family gather together during Onam!

Happy Onam !

Sweet Pouring Monsoon Rain.

I love plants because they listen to me patiently. Always  empathic and never complaining.I love rain because  it always talk to me and is like my soul.Rain has been one of my all time friend. When I am moody I can hear its soft whisper and soothing words.  When I am happy I can hear its titter tatter.


These are my favorite lines from the beautiful poem Rathrimazha by Sugathakumari. The night rain. The dark silhouette of trees, dripping leaves, cold night breeze, sound of crickets, cry of frogs ;everything is so much intertwined with the night rain it is impossible to separate them.

While I am writing this it is raining heavily outside . It is only afternoon here and it is already dark. There is thunder striking and I can hear the rain drops hitting my window pane. It is very stormy and the coconut trees and mango trees around our house are swaying violently. My kids are in full gear ready to go out once the rain slows down.

image courtesy Google search

Every individual who has been brought up in kerala will have their own memories of monsoon. But I am sure it would be inseparable from the school reopening.We  are lucky to have a long and continuous Monsoon.Monsoon also has a predecessor – edavappathi ( as it starts in the mid of Malayalam month Edavam) Edavappathi  always start with thunder and lightening. It  remind us it is time for the school to reopen. The smell of rain kissed earth is something that is etched to my mind forever along with the coziness of childhood . The time when I was small enough to cuddle into my father’s arms.

When I think of those days the first thing that comes to my mind is my wrinkled feet, ghostly white from walking in the puddles. That horrible feel you get when you walk in  water with wet dress and chappal for a long long time.

image courtesy Google search

I and sister used to hide extra snack towels in our school bag just to dry ourselves nicely after running in the rain.Coming back home we used to select the way which will have the biggest flood . Thinking of it now brings goose bumps. How ignorant kids can be ! The road would be crowded with people busy fishing. And we would have our own small bottle with fish. However most of them eventually turned out to be tadpoles. 😀 😀 😀 The metamorphosis always surprised me though 😛

What I love most on a rainy day is to tuck myself under a blanket and simply watch the rain. I always managed to find a cozy place near the window and wanted to discover the point from where rain starts. I would sit there for hours  , just like I have waited the whole afternoon to see the 4’o clock flowers open. You would never see when and where 😛

image courtesy Google search

I get hilarious when I see the water rising. But now water logging has become a major menace in Kochi . Even then the beauty and depth of water never fails to allure me. (  May be people here will hit me if I say that loud 😛 )

Mostly we would be busy with schools during the monsoon and I have got only one or two chances to go to the countryside during heavy rain. It is somehow associated with the burning smell of  cashew nut shells and smoke. Children who have saved the cashew nuts for rainy season  put it along with the fire.All the fields where we played in the summer would be flooded. And all different kind of water plants would be floating in the fields instead of the dried leaves. I have even tried to bring some of them back home.The pond which is my all-time favorite almost reached our threshold as though it has come to welcome me. Not to say about the small fishes that came along. Every thing was so full , so supple and so complete.

One other thing about rainy season that has always fascinated me is “ njaattuvela” ( Njaaru – paddy seedling, Vela- playful deed). It is a beautiful phenomenon when we get both rain and sunshine one after another. This will go on repeatedly for days. Earlier when agriculture was the common occupation this was celebrated as a festival. I remember My father  telling me how they used to plant  the seedlings during sunshine . They would wait outside the field when it rained and all the seedlings got watered by itself.  ( eh, he has this habit of making a fool of me with all these silly ideas . I will always fall for it you know 😀 ) Yet , what beautiful ways does nature have!  We believe even if we plant a finger during ‘ njattuvela’ it will also grow roots and sprouts. Such is the power of nature.

image courtesy Google search

The  beauty of  ‘Kuttanadu’ during the rainy season have  always entranced me. It is not my native place. But whenever I want to think of something calm and beautiful this place always comes to my mind. This is one area which lies under the sea level.  It is a beautiful place in summer too . It is  surrounded by water bodies and during rainy season every thing is almost under water. People can only travel in boats. (I am saying only about the stretch of highway that passes through this place.)

Celebrating “Ramayana Month” or Karkidakam is another beautiful thing about monsoon. All those  days which we  spent reading this beautiful great epic. The rainy season illustrated in Ramayana when Rama and Lakshmana wait for the rain to subside gives an excellent picture of the monsoon of Kerala.

Then comes  my marriage. In the midst of monsoon. So now monsoon always brings along with it the sweetness and wonder of the ‘first touch’. My son. He is a gift of monsoon.

We decided to celebrate this monsoon with steamed groundnuts, bajji (one of my son’s new found favorites and my all time favorite), Bhel puris, hot black coffee with ghee droppings and most of all hot ‘kanji’( rice soup), red coconut chutney and scrambled egg with coconut scrapings. And believe me it is superb.

Here it has been raining continuously for almost ten days and I had begun think there is no life beyond this rain. I could not even imagine there will be sunshine while it was pouring  . To tell the truth , I could not even imagine of earth , shining in the sun , ever ! But Today the sun is out there shining hot. The bright beautiful sun that always follows heavy rain. I saw a group of butterflies, some bulbuls and a woodpecker in my garden.  Where were all of them when it was raining? What did they do?  I wonder!

When I think of rain every thing that comes to mind is so green, calm, wet and dripping, just like a beautiful girl who has just come out of a river after a dip.  Rain has such a cooling effect on every one. It  refreshes your soul.

I don’t know what my kids think about rainy season . But they also want to jump in puddles and play in the water with paper boats just like we did when we were kids. And you know what, even though I try to dissuade them often , in my heart I am happy that the modern life has not made them  mechanical and they are able to  relate to nature. I am happy that they will also grow as individuals who love the sound and smell of Mother Nature.