Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Bathing in a river

Another flashback to my childhood when I went to a river close to our home in Kerala with a couple of cousins and an uncle. The uncle in question was a very interesting person. Not much older than me, welll he may be around 10 years older than me at most. An uncle who was more like an elder cousin. He had decieded he wasnt into the whole school thing and had so stayed away from a whole lot of it. Since he bunked so much school he knew all the cool and fun things to do in the small sleepy village of Puthupally. So during the afternoon of a summer day, he comes up with the brilliant plan to go to bathe in the river. The river was a short walk from the house and one has to go with a change of clothes and a soap and two "thorthus" . Why two you may wonder. I shall let your think about it for a bit before I tell you why. I cannot remember who else was there with me but I do remember some other kids along with me as well. I was probably the only one in the group who was new to the whole bathing in rivers thing. Surprisingly my folks allowed me to go as they would usually not let me attempt such things that could in their minds be considered life threatening. So with the parental units approval, soap and clothes in had we headed out to the river. The walk was pretty uneventful as the destination was what we were interested in. Finally at the river the whole two thorth requirements were understood. I was instructed to wrap one around my waist and then strip out of my shorts and undies. The shirt of course was to be taken off before that. One had to do the whole disrobing routine while holding on to the set of clean clothes wrapped in the other clean thorth. We placed our clothes on some big kappa ellas we found nearby and eased our way into the water. The water was cool and dark and the river bank under my feet felt cold and slimy. The water though cold at first touch and causing me to shiver seemed like the best thing in the world. We waded in till we were waist deep in the water. Amazing feeling of being in cold water on a hot summer day looking up at a dark green sky. Trees. Of course I was not talking about the sky but of the thick canopy of trees that entirely covered the river totally blocking out the sky so that all that one could see was just green. We played around in the water , splashing it around on whoever was nearby. Fun as one could get ones hair wet and still not worry. The only clothes we wore , the thorth was soaked through as well. There was some weird joking going around about how one could indeed take a rest room break of the liquid kind right then and not have anyone realise. Yikes. To this date I dont know someone in the group actually did so or not.
Then the soaping up. Another amazing experience as for some reason the soap lathered up much more than what I was used to. To wash the soap off was even more interesting. One has two choices: either move in to deeper water or resume the splashing. I tried the deeper water and the splashing.
By now it was slowly getting late and even though it didnt seem like much a couple of hours had gone by. I got out of the water and dried off and dressed. Walked back reluctantly with the wet towels on one shoulder examining my fingers that had wrinkled up like the elephant man.

Hope to go back to the river again some day and repeat and rinse :-).

Thorth - Towel
Ella - Leaf
Kappa - Tuber plant

Filed Under: Memories

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Going Fishing In Kerala

Digging back into the earliest memories of my youth I found one of the day one where I went fishing when I was around 7 years old my Paternal Grandfathers home in Puthupally, Kottayam, Kerala. My Appachen as I called him was an avid fisherman who would wake up at a really early hour in the morning like 3 or 4 am and go fishing. This was while he was still working on a full time day job ! He was into fishing with a Vala and was not a rod and reel type of guy. When he planned to go fishing he would have to make sure his fishing Vala was in top condition and repair it if it was torn in any place. He would have to get the vala dried and properly arranged (Im struggling to find a word to describe it as "folded" does no justice to it) from the prior fishing trip before it could be used again as it was pretty heavy when wet. He had also carried along with him a bright torch , a wicker backet to carry home the catch, a stock of paaku(paan type mix) and vethala(betel leaf) and beedies along with the vala. Attire was pretty casual ...a mundu and shirt was worn only if it was cold. And the Mundu was one of the older more comfortable "Color-Mundus" than the more formal Church going ones. This was a loner type sport and he always went alone. No one else got the privilege to go with him. Not even his own two sons.
But surprise surprise... he asks me if I would like to go with him ? Of course I wanted to and spent the time till we went in eager anticipation. In preparation of the big event I was given my dinner early the night before and sent to bed early. Was woken up at what was to me at that time "the middle of the night" but really only around 4.30 am or so. Later I was told Appachen went later so as to give me more time to sleep. I was dressed and ready in shorts and t-shirt and "hawaii"(rubber) chappals. Drank a bit of water and off we went in the darkness down the long and dark drive way of our home to the road. The driveway was not paved but had two grooves where vehicles and walking had worn away the grass that covered the rest of the place.
I was given the job of holding the wicker basket in one hand and was holding my grandfathers hand with my other hand.
Dont remember much of the fishing as such but do remember that Appachen caught two small fishes which I had the privilege of putting in the basket and carrying home when we were done. It was fish fry for lunch that day ;-)

Vala - Net
Mundu - Dhoti in Malayalam
Color-Mundu - Lungi in Malayalam

Filed Under: Memories