Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Homes That Shaped My Life

22nd July 2009.

In the 62 years of my life, I have lived in many places, many houses. As I look back at these places, a lot of memories - many pleasant and some unpleasant flash across my mind. Here I am, sharing these memories with you.

The homes that shaped my life.

1. 3rd Cross st., North Maravaneri Extn ., Salem

This was my first home after I was born in Oct 1946. This was the house of my dear mama who took care of our mother during the delivery. As my first home, this has a special place in my memory.

2. Cuddalore Pudupalayam Main Road

After a few months at Salem, we came to Cuddalore and lived in the above house for about 3/4 years. I vaguely remember my playing in the sands of nearby Rajagopalaswamy temple and also in the opposite house where one of our relatives ( Bragatha ) lived.

3. Uppu thaneer Veedu ( Salt Water House ), Pudupalayam

This house was known as Salt Water house because, the well water of that house used to be fully salty and not fit for any use. I remember the elder members of my family bringing water in Kudams from nearby and sometimes far away places. And solely because of this reason, we moved to another house in Mosque St., after a very brief stay in the above house.

4. Mosque St., Pudupalayam

This is the house where I spent about 2/3 years(Age 4 to 6 ). There are lots of faint memories about this house.

I started going to school from this house only. But I remember that I used to 'cut' the school for more than 3/4 days a week, as I was prone to frequent sickness and was suffering from breathing problem. Thanks to Dr Ganesa Iyer, who gave me injections continuously for more than a month ( injection vadu innamum en Shoulder-il irukkirathu ! ) , I got completely cured of the chronic problem.

There was a mosque nearby to our house and during Moharram everyyear, there used to be a very big festival in that Mosque that included the " Thee Midhippu". It was held right in front of our house. We all used to eagerly await this day ,when the fire will be started early in the morning with lots of Viragu in a large pit specially dug for this purpose and by the time, the Thee Midhippu started in the late evening, there would be very hot thanal for an area of about 6' X 20'. And hundreds of devotees would walk thro the Neruppu. Unforgettable .

Our periappa's house was just three houses away and one of our cousins Raghava Anna also lived very nearby. That Manni ( Janaki manni ) had a very high regard of our mother ,( like most of our other relatives ) and hence had a soft corner for all of us young kids. We spent a lot of time in our Periappa's house and anna's house. Here I must mention that our Periappa was a thorough gentleman and a very kind and soft spoken person. We always felt at ease in his company and he used to tell us a lot of stories. Though they were also very poor at that time with only Periappa's meagre salary to support the family, I remember having shared many a meals in their house.

This house also did not have good drinking water and we used to fetch drinking water from the water tank at the Gadilam River banks .This used to be about 1.5 Km's from the house and I remember walking the distance or going in a cycle along with the elders of the family. The Kamala Pharmacy from where we used to purchase medicines, Appa's dearest friend Gopala Iyengar's house in the Riverside Road where we used to frequent to play are some of the other memories I carry from my life at this house.

The railway station, bus stand, Pataleeswarar temple, Anjaneyar temple etc were all in the other side of the river. And whenever we had to go any of these places, we had to cross the river. Though there was a bridge across the river, we preferred walking across the river since there used to be only knee deep water most of the days . As a small child, it was a thrilling experience for me to walk in the water for about 100/150' holding an elder's hand.

After our father purchased a house in Tiruppapuliyur, we moved over to that house in late 1953. What a house it turned out to be !! We cannot forget it as it was a part and parcel of our life

5. 17, Babu Rao St., Tiruppapuliyur

We shifted to this house in 1953 and till it was sold in 1994, it played a very important and memorable role in all our lives. I lived in this house full time till June 1962. After that, this was a home away home to me ,like it was to many of my brothers and sisters. Ask any of my brothers and sisters, each one will have many precious memories of this house. It was in this house that many happy celebrations took place. Shastiapthapoorthy of our parents, Shastiapthapoorthy of our eldest brother –anna -, marriages of our sisters Padma, Saroja, and Savithri took place. The marriages of Anna, Sundaresan, Rajappa, myself, Jayaraman and Mangalam took place when we were residing in this house. Scores of Upanayanams, Seemanthams, Valaigappus, Births of Children, Punyahavachanams, Ayush homams also took place in this house. To crown them all, it was in this house that we all had the rare fortune and honour of celebrating our parents’ Sathabhishekam in 1979.

And this house also witnessed a few deaths including those of our dear parents.

The family strength that was just 12 when we moved in here, grew to 66 when this house was sold to another person in mid 90’s. That will amply show the contribution of this house. When we (me, my brothers and sisters ) grew up and had to move out for studies, jobs or married life, our parents continued to live here and this gave us all a chance to assemble here on various occasions . And what a jolly time we had when we all assembled. No other family in Babu Rao St or for that matter in the whole of Tirupapuliyur would have had so many members of the family ( including the kids) bringing such a joy to the family on such get-togethers.

We all have shared our joys and sorrows in this house. We have seen the family prosper many a fold while we were in this house.

I completed my whole high school studies from this house. I remember rushing to school in the morning, coming back home for lunch and returning to school all within 30 mins so that we will have about 30 mins to play before the school reopens for the afternoon session, playing in the Pataleeswarar temple outer pragaram ,playing in Babu Rao St, hitting fours and sixers on neighbours’ windows inviting their ( esp the Ceylon Mami’s ) wrath, Oh, what a golden time it was.

I remember the early mornings ( 430 am to 600am ) when I used to go to Veda classes where I learnt a no of slokams- Rudram, Chamakam, Sri suktham, Purusha suktham, Vishnu Sahasranamam, Venkatesa Suprabatham etc etc. I remember helping our amma in getting the water from the road tap to the house, I remember the beautiful bath we had in our Kinaru, And I also remember the long walks we had , to use the toilet !!

As our house was very close to the Pataleeswarar temple, we had the opportunity of worshipping in the temple quite frequently. Pataleeswarar, Brahannayaki amman, and Pidari amman were all very close to our hearts and no auspicious occasion used to be held in our house without first worshipping at this temple. And who can forget the annual Vaikasi Festival in this temple when the whole Tirupapuliyur used to wear a festive look . The Naga vahanam day ( when there would be mega fire works), Theru adaichhan on the 5th day, the colorful Velli Ratham on the 6th Day, Pushpa pallakku on the 9th day were the most important festival days ( as far as I was concerned )

Anjaneyar temple on the banks of River Gadilam is another temple which was very dear to all of us. The Milagu Vadai, Sakkarai Pongal and Kesari were some of the delicious Neivedyams at this temple and even when you think of these , naakkil jalam oorum !!

Those days , the river Gadilam used to be full of water during the rainy season and many years, there will be floods extending up to the bus stand ( which is about 100 meters from the river ). It was a thrilling experience to walk over the bridge when the river was full , but during floods, we will watch the water from a safe distance only !

During the summer vacations, the river will be 75% dry and I along with my friends used to spend the evenings in the river sand discussing the world matters ( read Cinema matters ! ) . On the way back home, we used to spend some time in the railway station till the Janatha Express comes there ( at 8 PM )

Babu Rao St in those days was full of young boys when I was in the school and the whole street would be busy with various teams playing a lot of games, mainly Cricket. We also used to conduct Cricket matches between Babu Rao st team and Tiruvendhipuram team . Some matches will be in Babu Rao St ( or in the school playground )and some in Tiruvendhipuram.

Oh, as I recollect my early days at Tirupapuliyur, more and more thoughts flash across my mind.

I remember correcting the SSLC public exam answer sheets on behalf of my teacher, ( the very same year I wrote the SSLC exams). I remember getting a pat from my maths teacher for solving a problem even before the other students were half way thro. I also remember taking part in a Hindi Pechhu Potti and securing a first prize ( That it was perhaps my only speech in a competition is another matter ! ) when I was about 10 yrs old.

As the house was in a dilapidated condition and since there was nobody to take care of the house ( as all had to move out of Tpr ) , we decided to sell the house after a lot of hesitation and on the day it was sold in 1994, tears rolled out of my eyes. And thus ended my 42 years of priceless relationship with the house or should I call it 'the temple'?

Wait for my next blog to read about the other houses where I lived.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Audio Cassettes

Last week, when we were rearranging the things in the rooms of our house, I came across a box which was full of Audio Cassettes ( AC in short ). This took me to some good old memories.

Those days- I am talking about 30/35 years back - collecting AC was a craze among many people. And we were no exceptions. The types of AC's were -Slokams ( Vishnu sahasranamam, Venkatesa Suprapadam for eg ), Bakthi Paadalgal ( Murugan Paadal, Iyyappan Paadal, Vinayaka stuthi etc ) , Carnatic Vocals ( MS, MLV, Madurai Mani Iyer to name a few,)Carnatic instrumental( Kunnakkudi, Kadari, Gayathri, Mandolin Srinivas etc), Dramas( SV Sekar, Kaathidi Ramamurthy, Poornam Visvanathan, Mouli, Crazy Mohan, et ), discourses ( balakrishna Sastrigal, Kripananda Variar etc ),the cinema Songs ( in various permutation and combinations ),Childrens Rhymes, and personal recordings of voices of family members etc.

And how do you collect them ? It was really an interesting hobby,though at times it pinched your pocket.

choice 1 is buying. The AC's used to cost Rs 30/35 and during Music festivals days, we used to get 10% discount. I remember, I and Girija used to regularly visit the Annual AC mela in Dec at TTK road (near Naradha Gana Sabha) . We used to buy 20/25 Ac's every year.

Choice 2 was recording from a friend or relative . For this, we used to buy blank Cassettes and then do the recording as and when possible. For this purpose, we used to carry blank cassettes whenever we go to a relative's place!. The blank ones used to come in 3 types, 60 mins duration, 90 mins duration and 120 mins duration. Since the price difference between a 120 min AC and 60 min AC was only about 20%, I initially thought that 120 mins AC's are cheap considering that we get double the time compared to a 60 min AC. Accordingly, I used to buy a no of 120 min AC's. Only later on, I came to know that the 120 min AC's put a heavy load on the Tape recorder and when the tape recorder has to pull the tape of 120 min AC's, it puts a high strain on the AC's too. Consequently, the life of both AC's and tape recorder gets shortened. After that, buying 60 min AC's became a standard practice.This method of taking copies from friends/relatives was widely followed by many and of course, many of our collection falls in this category.

Choice 3 - Giving a blank tape to a shop and ask them to record what we want. This worked out cheaper as the AC's bought ready-made from the shops used to have only a very limited songs - say 4 or 5 each side. When you get it recorded from a shop. you get 9/10 songs each side . Another advantage in this practice is that the shop will keep a huge collection of AC's and it is very easy to get any song that you want. I remember Suba has collected so many AC's this way.

Choice 4- Record the AC from radio ( Tv's had not invaded the homes those days.) Or, record while the children talk.( I still have AC with Sudha/ Suba's voices recorded in 1985 at Pondy ). This will serve as a very good memory.

Choice 5 - Get a AC from a friend/relative and conveniently forget to return ! ( I have lost a few AC's this way !! )

The first Tape recorder I had was a Japan made National Tape recorder which was purchased from Singapore, thanks to one of my friends who went there in 1978. With this Tape recorder, I have recorded many many AC's . The treasure among them are the AC's containing the voices of our mother, the young age Sudha/Suba, and the Ammavasya tharpanam recited by our great Venkatrama Sastrigal.

There were a number of brands for the blank AC's . But the two brands that I remember easily are TDK and Sony. I have purchased hundreds of blank AC's ( mainly from Burma Bazaar) for me and for relatives / friends. I have even gifted a set of 5 / 10 Blank AC's during the marriages of some of my friends.

Though we used to collect a no of AC's in all the above ways, I doubt whether we use these AC's to that extent. Girija was using this in the kitchen for many years when she used to play the slokams in the mornings while cooking.She was also fond of old songs which she used to hear when she gets some leisure time amidst her busy schedules. . But generally, most of us would heard some AC's 20/25 times, some others for 10/15 times. Many Ac's would have been used for less than 10 times . After some time, most of the AC's would not have been touched for many months !! Due to dust and normal wear and tear, the tapes would become not usable after a few years , but we will not dare to throw them away even after that. What do you say ?

Any guess on the AC that I have used maximum number of times ? It is the Ammavasya Tharpanam AC which I would have used atleast 200 times since it was recorded 20 years back !!!

With the advent of CD's, MP3 technology, internet etc, the AC's have now became a costly proposal and it is naturally going towards a slow death. No wonder , the tape recorders are also fast disappearing from the market. But we will definitely cherish those years when we meticulously searched here and there for the songs we wanted and had a big grin when we at last succeeded.


Unforgettable Moments Part 4

It was in November 1996 that I, alongwith four of my colleagues went to Italy and London on a week's business cum sightseeing trip.

We first went to Rome on 2nd Nov and spent the day going around Rome , On 3rd morning, we went to Vatican , the headquaeters of Roman Catholics. We were told that the Pope ( Pope John Paul II at that time ) would address the public once a week from atop the Vatican church , and only during that time, one can have a glimpse of Pope ( from a distance of about 50 meters - the distance between the ground level and the window from where the Pope would deliver His address )

As that day was not a speech day , we cursed our ill luck and were going around inside the huge and beautiful Vatican church marvelling at the amazing paintings and the wonderful architecture.

Then all of a sudden, some staff of the church came to us ( we, the visitors, were about 50 in that hall at that time ) and asked us to stand aside . We were also requested to remain there and keep silence for a few minutes. We could easily guess that a VIP was going to come that way and even as we were wondering who would be this VIP,there appeared the Majestic Pope John Paul II alongwith some priests and as He slowly walked past us, I could have a clear view of Him for more than 30 seconds .I was thrilled that the Pope was only about 3' feet from me when He crossed me. As He walked, He blessed us all.

Later on we came to know that The Pope had wanted to visit a room on the other side to look at some records and that such visits by The Pope are very rare. We were indeed very fortunate that He decided to visit that room on that day and that too when we were there.

I consider this a wonderfully lucky moment which I cannot forget in my life.



Dhanush has recently joined in Skating coaching class. The class is conducted at Besant Nagar beach on all days , but Dhanush goes there only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

I went there on last friday to see how Dhanush is skating. I went there with a plan of spending about 15 mins only but I ended up being there for more than an hour. The reason ?

There were about 100 children practising skating and their age would have been between 3 and 14 years. ( Most of them below 8, I guess). It was really amazing to see such a young generation skate with ease and grace. The skating surface was in eliptical form of about 100 meters long and I clocked a young student- about 5 yrs old- racing four rounds in 1 min. That works out to 24 km's per hour! What a speed at such a young age! The mind became very light after seeing the skating and I have decided to go there as frequently as possible.

If you have stress or worries, straight away head to a nearby skating coaching place and spend about an hour there . I guarentee you will return home a stressfree person.