2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,100 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 35 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Where ever men have lived…

“Where ever men have lived there is a story to be told.” Thoreau 
 

This is Mylikakunnel. The literal translation is ” The hill where the peacock sits”. All my life I have not seen a single peacock around the place.

This is where my grandmother grew up. This is where my dad and his ten siblings grew up. This is where I spent my childhood. To all of us who grew up in Mylikakunnel it is more than a house. It is a treasure  trove of memories.

Myliks as we affectionately refer to the house tells a story better than any book. Each and everyone room in Myliks is a chapter from the story.It is difficult to walk in to a room without a wave of nostalgia sweeping over you.

All chapters in this story share a commonality, booming resounding laugher.Let me give you a sneak peek into a few of the chapters.

Prelude : The facts

My grandfather was the architect and the engineer. He renovated the existing house and extended its area and usability. He  studied for civil services exams, was ranked third and found a lifetime of peace tending his estate.

My grandmother never made it for the house-warming. She was in the hospital having just given birth to my uncle.

The house is as old as my dad’s third brother, the 9th child in a family of 11 children.

Chapter One: The Entrance

The most permanent feature at the entrance of Myliks is the round table. Invariably there will a couple of newspapers on the table. Over the years the number of cigarette butts in the ashtray have reduced with three of the five boys having given up smoking. Which brings me to the point that my granddad strongly forbade smoking! Is it a wonder then that all his sons were chain smokers at one point in time.

On one of the tiles near the round table there is a broken bangle piece embedded inside the marble. Ask anyone of us , we will tell you where to find it. If you were to look by yourself,one lifetime would never be sufficient.

Chapter two: The side office

Supposedly this is where my dad and his siblings were taught by my granddad’s good friend Padipikkuna Sar ( the sir who teaches). Sar, a gentle and patient man has  taught even the grandchildren, me being the last and he has used his stick on only one person,my dad. Is it a wonder?

This is where my aunt knelt and prayed to St.Martin when she got news that she has not passed her  ninth grade. All her siblings sat around mocking her. But my aunt a strong woman ( well after the exams) kept her faith and what do you know, the education minister revised the curriculum that year and as a result all ninth graders were automatically promoted to the tenth grade.

Chapter three : The formal dining room

This is where my grandmother would sit while my sister sat under her chair, tangling my mothers crotchet. My grandmother would let down her sari end to cover the bottom of the chair when my mother passed by. Thus my sister was spared from my mother’s wrath.

Chapter four: The main dining room

My favourite chapter by far . Every meal is a cornucopia of choice.  When I was growing up there was a ‘children’s section’ of the table which served less spicy meats and curry. Pillachan was the cook.  Feeding 11 children and their children is by far no easy feat. But my grandmom and Pillcahan did so with ease.

This is where my uncle coined the word ‘breading the butter’. He would simply sandwich two slices of bread between hundred grams of butter!

I do not favour the dining room for its meals only. Delightful though they are I am more partial to  the conversations. At our  get -togethers our meals extend to a couple of hours of eating and talking.  I have heard all the stories of my dad and his siblings but I never tire of hearing them one more time!

Chapter five: The Kitchen

Pillachan worked his magic here. There is a huge storage box that contained rice to feed an entire army. When her wedding was fixed my aunt was sent to Pillachan to learn the basics of cooking. Dutifully she took a book and pen, sat on the rice box with her legs dangling,  taking notes  from Pillachan.  He taught her how to make a chicken curry. He told the measure of the ingredients and his tips on making a  tasty chicken curry . It was a one on one cooking class.

Later  on after my aunt married my uncle she  decided to make him a chicken curry.  My aunt had all the ingredients and Pillachan’s recipe and his step by step instructions. There was however a tiny problem. All through the cooking lessons my aunts back was facing Pillachan and so she had no clue as to what the texture of the cooked chicken should be!

Norman Mc Clean wrote that if there is a river flowing somewhere in your childhood you tend to hear it for the rest of your life. Growing up in Myliks, I think  something similar can be said of laughter.

If there is booming, resounding laughter in your childhood you learn to sleep through all the noise.

2011 – In retrospective

2011 has been a strange year for me.I can honestly say that I have been fully alive this entire year. I have tried and lost, learnt and failed, cried and laughed.I have traveled far and near.

I have captured the essence of the 12 months of 2011 in a single status.

January: You can make things happen,watch things happen or wonder what happened.

February: The good Lord was at His best when he made sisters!

March: The greatest joy of traveling is the comfort of returning home.

April: The only constant in this ever-changing world is the love of your family.

May: Not every cause is a worthy one. Do not spend your energy in a cause you begin to doubt.

June: Breathe, Smile and Move slowly.

July: Life’s greatest gift is a friend who knows every single fault of yours but still thinks you are the best!

August: Sometimes you have to be lost, if you want to be found.

September: When you really work towards a goal, even the universe conspires to set things in place for you.

October: The more you move, the stronger you grow.

November: The best travel souvenirs are the friends you make on the road.

December: When life becomes boring, risk! You will discover the wonders of your own courage.

My age this year

My dining table is cluttered with greeting cards, CD’s, brown manila covers, scraps of papers of all kinds with addresses scribbled incorrigibly on them. It’s Christmas time.

This year I have a few new names on my  list.

Alistair McDonald. Motherwell ,Scotland

I can actually imagine him reading this card standing in his living room. I can mentally see all the photographs of his kids and grand kids tucked neatly into a collage and hung on the wall along with all his souvenir spoons and his bagpipe.
He was a wonderful host. My sister and I would have had such horrible memories of a failed Euro trip if he had not asked us to visit him in Scotland.

Cedrick Ombego, Nairobi, Kenya

I scanned the arrivals lounge at the Nairobi International airport. There was only one board that remotely resembled my name ,”Lisaa Mayiee”. A scrawny hand held up that board. I walked over and said hello. And that is how I met Ceddy, my first friend in Africa.

He was a strict baby sitter. I had to be always in his view so that he could keep an eye on me when we went out. But thanks to him I acclimatized myself to Kenya within a day or two.

Kevin Adenyo, Mombasa,Kenya

Timing was not his strong point. I remember waiting at the railway station for a good half an hour till this AOP field dispatcher picked me up.I nearly missed my bus back to Nairobi owing to the fact that he misunderstood my 8 a.m as an 8 p.m.
What he lacked in timing he made up with his sense of humor and fun. I traveled solo to Kenya but I did not feel alone even for a single minute thanks to  Kevo and his band of wonderful family and friends.

Taeko Nishigaki, Mombasa, Kenya

” You will be a stronger woman at the end of three weeks!”. That has got to be my favorite sentence from Taeko in all the three weeks that I spent volunteering at St. Peter’s. What’s not surprising is that she was dead on.

I have always wondered how long does it take an individual to change the world. Taeko taught  me that in three weeks you can set the wheels in motion.

Somebody, North Carolina, USA

The latest random postcard I will be sending is to a somebody somewhere in North Carolina, USA. In her postcrossing profile she has said that she does not have a preference in the type of postcards she gets.Well, that does not necessarily make things easy for me. Which one do I send her, one of  Hyderabad, one of the London Eye or the one with a quote by John Lennon?

Hmm.

In the background iTunes changes the song and John Lennon sings, ” Imagine …” as if saying ,”choose me, choose me”! I duly comply.

I write the address and turn the postcard to read the quote again ” “Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.”

If that’s true then I have aged quite a bit this year!