Building a house in Mallikassery is an art and an experience in itself.It is a remote place where most of the hi- tech gadgets built to make life simpler
a) will not work due to frequent power shortages
b) will not reach due to the terrain and remoteness.
What we lack in construction technology we make up in elephants.
Meet Shreeram, our local crane. He was transported by a truck and unloaded half a kilometer away from the house site. The whole process of unloading him and walking him to the site took about an hour.
He seemed like a nice guy, rather shy. He sure did take a long time making turns.
Elephants have a reputation for being very fickle minded. One minute they are all slow and easy and the next they can be fiery and dangerous. In lieu of this Appa kept a safe distance and watched from afar.
Maria on the other hand was rather brave. She fed him three chunks of jaggery and a coconut. Shreeram did not seem very excited about the jaggery and the coconut. He dutifully opened his mouth and received the jaggery from Maria’s hands while Appa looked on anxiously. The mahout placed the coconut under his legs , he casually stepped on it cracking it open and proceeded to eat the flesh.
What he did get excited about was the palm leaves.Elephants love palm leaves. Luckily for Shreeram we had a palm tree that was to be felled. While the leaves were being cut, Shreeram , tied by a thin rope to a tree stood without moving, only occasionally letting out a snort. The minute the first leaf touched the ground, he started flapping his ears and swaying from side to side. However he did not touch the palm leaves at his feet till the mahout had tapped him on the trunk and shared a few words with him.
Shreeram took 3 days to move 48 tree trunks. He was tied by a thin rope to a tree around which Amma’s precious plants grew. Every morning Amma checked on her plants ; not one was them was trampled upon.
And all the while that shreeram was tied at our house site, Appa did not sleep a wink.