Saturday, October 13, 2018

Down memory lane...

Got up at 4, thanks to the alarm and quickly woke up Kochunni and family as they wanted to visit the temple. Was groggy with sleep as it was a late night but the chores had to be gone through as Anto and his vehicle fetched up at a quarter past 5. Kochunni, his wife and daughter were dropped by Anto at their destination, then we made a quick dash back home to pick up my wallet that I'd forgotten. The queue at the railway station wasn't long, bought my ticket, the day's newspapers and took a seat in the 6th compartment. As is my usual custom, I recited the prayers much before the train reached Poonkunnam.

The train had the same boorish driver who'd parked the train in such a manner that it stood on the final concrete path where I saw many people fumbling as they had to cross the rugged terrain of the centre of the track that they were forced to detour through. I told him that it was not right and he just gave a I wished I was a top railway official, I'd have suspended him then and there! Guys like him should not be given any leniency. Period!

The train had departed, on the dot, at 5' to 6 and reached Ernakulam Town station promptly at a half past 8. I'd quickly polished off the breakfast of idiappam and stew, but for some reason the stew did not have the standard Preetha excellence. And as I was cleaning up the last morsel, the train began to lurch forward - and I disembarked quickly to do the cleaning. Probably, I'd overestimated the duration of the stop! I, then, had caught an auto rickshaw for the state road transport corporation, headed for the wash room on arrival and was well in time for a waiting low floor a/c bus to Thiruvananthapuram. The absent minded conductor returned me excess cash and I'd to remind him about keeping his wits around....he gave me a sheepish smile.

Manu had picked me up from the Ambalapuzha bus stand on arrival and I was at the KK Kunju Pillai school at Thakazhi, on the dot at 11. The medical camp was poised to begin on the culmination of the public programme and I went about each point to see that everything was in hand. The student police force, consisting of energetic, young and enthusiastic young girls streamlined and regulated the participants which was 160, in toto. The psychological trauma that they'd gone through, thanks to the deluge was on display and we're surprised to know that ours was the first camp in the area and mind you, this was the place that had seen a lot of flooding and prolonged water logging during the period...the place was beside the arterial Alappuzha-Changanasserry road and very much part of my grandmother's Kuttanad!

The organisers gave us a tasty and homely food on banana leaves! Met three youngsters - Kashyap(Guwahati) aged 35, Irfan Khan(Mirzapur) aged 40 and Deepak(Balliya) aged 30 who'd chosen this place towards flood relief at the behest of 'Arth', a Delhi-based NGO. Was impressed with their commitment and dedication to the cause. They've promised to be in touch and have taken down my contact number and e-mail ID.

We took up a room at the lodge of the Panicker's Travels within the temple premises and had a 'darshan' of Ambalappuzha Krishnan by about 7, in the evening. The vast expanse of the temple premises, the deities, the temple tank and the spot where Lord Krishna used to, presumably, sit and watch his devotees, going through their paces gave me a tremendous sense of happiness as this was the area where the PN Panickers and their children - my mom, topping the list - had spent their times, both in the mornings and in the evenings every day!

We'd, then, gone to the Sahitya Panchanan PK Narayana Pillai Library at the western wall of the temple which my grandfather had established to spearhead the Travancore Grandhasala Sanghom in 1945. I walked through each of the rows of book cabinets and tried to recall my grandfather's days as the energetic librarian. Was thrilled to see a photograph of his at a comparatively young age. The new block was shown to us by Naja, the grand daughter of the late KK Kunju Pillai and the driving force behind the library's new aura, along with a few dedicated youngsters to assist her!

We returned to our hotel, had a light dinner of dosas and coffee before calling it a day. It was a thoroughly satisfying day!


Kochunni and family had returned by a half past 11, from Guruvayur according to Lekha.           

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