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Nammude Keralam!

August 11, 2009

Some places leave such an indelible mark on you that you seldom forget them and one such place is Kerala for me.

Even though my family is based in Chennai and we are basically, Vadamas from a very small village called “Nagapudi” (which I have visited only once and blogged about long back) which is on the TN-AP border in the North Arcot district, I lived most of my student life in Kerala and I am what I am, only because of that.

Mythology has it that, it was the great sage Parasurama who created Kerala long back when he threw his axe into the ocean. Considering the fact that Kerala was a part of “Tamilakam”, about 1000 years back, I find it amazing that Kerala has a very distinct unique culture to it.

Kerala for me (with all its faults) is paradise on earth. It is unique because, there are no barren places in it devoid of population unlike its neighboring states. Throw in greenery, rain, lagoons, rivers, bad roads, and the red flag, you have Kerala; a place which has still not entered the new century, a place where people of all religions have lived in harmony for many years (which is disintegrating now). Since Kerala has a very high percentage of Christians, Muslims and atheists, the balance maintained is great and festivals of all religions are celebrated with great gusto. It is also not a religion/caste crazy cauldron like its neighboring states TN, AP and Karnataka.

 I am not much of a temple/church visitor, but when in Kerala, I make it a point to visit them. Kerala might not boast of great big massive temples like Tamil Nadu or the ancient structures as in Karnataka, but the ambience in these religious places (except Sabarimala) in Kerala is just great unlike anything else I have seen in India. The peace of mind that one gets in these ambalams (temples) in Kerala is unique, and that along with the constant chenda beats can calm the most frustrated soul.

It is often said that Malayalis are hard working when they are not in Kerala and it is true. That is the result of many years of communist rule and most Malayalis consider Kerala to be their retirement havens and that is why, you would find a Malayalee in every corner of the globe.

I was inspired to write this when I watched this song yesterday.

(If you are watching the video, dont miss 1:40 to 2:10)

This song reminds me of the carefree days I spent in Cochin and Trivandrum, reminds me of the great times we used to have in Kovalam, Shangumugham and the Cherai beach late at night singing naadan (folk) mallu songs till the early hours, reminds me of the great times, we used to have in Kavalam in my friends tharavadu (ancestral home), a pure pristine hamlet, a place still untouched by the madness called “tourism”.

The language Malayalam also holds a special place on my heart when though I am not an expert on it. It is the apt mix of two of the oldest languages in India, namely Tamil and Sanskrit with major influences from other languages as well. People who I have met have often complained that Malayalam is the toughest language to learn and they are right. A lovely language, highly emotive one too, I also find that it is the best language “to curse with” of all the languages that I know. 😛

The monsoon fury is something that is worth experiencing in Kerala. I normally don’t like rain but it is the opposite in Kerala.

I will forever miss the football games in the rains/slush; miss eating the great food in the thattu kadas (road side shops) especially the “thattu dosas” and the “puttu-beef” combination and the early morning fog during winters.

I will forever miss the time spent loitering in front of the eranakulathappan temple in Cochin with my friends doing “sight-seeing” 😛 , miss visiting the “Vettucaud palli”, Trivandrum every Thursday evening along with my friend Mr. KJ during my college days also for the same purpose.

I will forever miss getting up early in the morning to the muezzin’s chant from a nearby mosque when we used to live in Thevara, Cochin.

I will forever miss my “club cricket” playing days in Cochin in the Maharaja’s and Tripunithira ground when I was a school student. At that time, Tinu Yohanan was a role model for us, and our coach used to tell us that he would make it into the Indian team (which he did for some time). At that time, Sreesanth was just another bowler and my school/club team opponent.

I will forever miss the FC Kochin/Kerala Police football matches under lights.

I will forever miss the great food in the lavish church weddings and the fun we used to have being “wedding crashers” i.e. attend wedding of unknown people just to eat food (that was stupid of us, but at that time we were young and immature :mrgreen: ).

With all its faults, Kerala is still unique, will always be “Nammude Keralam” (Our Kerala) and when compared to many other places in India, still a joy to live in………….

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43 Comments leave one →
  1. August 11, 2009 4:25 am

    Dude,you made me home sick 😉 .Yeahhh very true standard of living in kerala is unique and no other place will come anywhere closer that….where else can get, those cool fog morning ,breaze and hot tea from thattu kada.In kerala we are not bothered about whether you are a christian , muslim or hindu……like we celbrate christmas,onam and ramsan with equal spirit :)……nyways that was a superb post.you covered almost everything..very nostalgic post 🙂
    OG: well said aliya 😛 nothing more to add 😛

  2. August 11, 2009 5:00 am

    damn you!!! now i m homesick… i wanna go back… NOW!!! wahhhhh 😦
    😛 😛
    OG: you are going there next week right…….. 😛 endhoru akkrantham 😛

    • August 11, 2009 5:21 am

      that apart, awesome post dude 🙂 brings back so many memories! ur Ms Z seems likely to be residing in kerala, considering u r so much in love with the place!!! 😛
      seriously, i dont think even a 100% malayalee can write so much the way a 50%mal-20% tamil-20% telugu-and-remaining %-whatever-else-person like u can!!! 😀
      OG: hehehehehehehehehehehehehehhehehehehe 😛 I dont know about Ms. Z 😛 but you had to bring it up here as well….. shesh!!!1
      agree with u on a lot of points… abt what i like in kerala….
      the religious harmony in the state irrespective of people of every possible different religion being there (my neighbours in tvm are christians and that aunty makes the most delicious chicken biriyani i’ve ever tasted in my life – which is another reason why i remain in good terms with them hehehe 😀 ), all the beautiful temples n churches (u cant help visiting both while u r there, irrespective of what religion u were born to), the atmosphere of some the ambalams and yes the sounds of the chenda 🙂 , the beaches sigh… (particularly kovalam, which is just half an hour distance from my tvm home and i keep visiting it each time i go to tvm), and of course the glory of monsoons in kerala… the rain belting over the backwaters, seas and lush green landscapes….aaaaahhh bliss!!
      OG: when will I see kerala again 😛 dont know
      which reminds me – u normally dont like rain???? u shud be thrown off a cliff!!! 😛 😛 i lovvvveeee rain (well provided i m sitting inside and watching it of course! 😛 😛 )
      OG: I love the rain in kerala and not anywhere else……… tee heee 😛

      I will forever miss getting up early in the morning to the muezzin’s chant from a nearby mosque when we used to live in Thevara, Cochin.
      me too!! in fact during my school days in tvm, i’d wake up to hearing either that, or the chant of bhajans from a nearby temple 🙂 our house was close to the zoo (u’d say my house is a zoo too considering I lived there 😀 😛 ) so very early in the morning where everything else is quiet we cud hear lions roaring ….
      OG: ROFL 😛 getting up listening to the lions roar….. that must be awesome 😛

      malayalis are the most sarcastic ppl i’ve known in my life. most malayalis are naturally humourous and satire is a way of life in most of the films released. i m yet to see any other culture where comedy films form the staple diet of the cinema-goer. as u said, the best language to curse with as well….!! 😛
      OG: ROFL 😛 I agree… the sense of humor is very zimbly outstanding 😛
      as u said, the malayali is supposed to be the most hard-working person if thrown outside the state and the laziest if dumped within it!! talk about reverse logic!! 😛

      of course who can forget the thattu kadas and kallus shaaps 😀 i still make it a point to have atleast one late night thattu kada dinner when i go to tvm! nothing like the porotta, chicken, dosa and omlette… yum!! 😀
      that reminds me… i shud do all that when i go next week!! heheh thanks for reminding me dude!! 😛 😛
      OG: you are making me jealous now

      • August 11, 2009 9:12 am

        P.S.: u shud have titled this post: ‘ente keralam…ethra sundaram!’ 🙂 along the lines of the song by usha uthup
        OG: i actually had the title “ente keralam” first but changed it to current one later 😛

  3. August 11, 2009 5:18 am

    LOL 😛 What can I say? The only places in Kerala I have been to are guruvayur and Munnar. 🙂 Oh! and do I count as a half-mallu , because of the Unni in my name?
    OG: Both the places are beautiful…… and yes, you do also qualify as a half mallu with that name 😛

    • August 11, 2009 6:34 am

      hee hee me gng to Munnar this weekend 🙂
      OG: WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! great!!!!!!! enjoy the hospitality of kerala 😛 and I can see that you have been learning your mallu 😛

  4. shraddha@theselfloveproject permalink
    August 11, 2009 5:56 am

    huuby is from palghat..i will show him this in the morning..
    OG: yo 😛 and where are you from?

  5. August 11, 2009 6:27 am

    aww…i guess you would be making all keralites homesick with this post.
    OG: heheheheheheheheheheheh 😛
    have never been to kerala but its in the must-visit list of mine 🙂
    By the way is this post by anyway inspired by the comments at Solilo’s?
    OG: post is inspired by that song which I have posted……… 😛 talks about kuttanad…. one of the greatests places in the world 😛

  6. August 11, 2009 6:35 am

    What a post! Kidilan 😉
    OG: it is kidilam 😛 😛 😛 but never mind……….. hehehe
    And at the right time .. I am gng to Kerala this weekend 🙂
    OG:I am so jealous of you……… 😛 😛 😛 me stuck abt 8000 miles awaty!!!!!!
    Luv luv luv this post!
    OG: thanku thanku 😛
    I want to hv that pucca Kerala thali nw .. hope I cn get one!
    OG: yes the veg thali is called “sadya”….. and if you eat non veg, dont miss the biriyani (if it is malabar style), the fish curries, the appam-stew combination, the “neeyyumeen” fish, “karimeen” fish fries…….. 😛 😛 😛 😛
    Deeps hs promised me she wil treat me to it next time she is in India 🙂
    oG: great 😛

    • August 11, 2009 5:26 pm

      Lesson learnt 😛

      Kidilam aliyaa 😉
      OG: ROFL 😛 😛

    • August 11, 2009 5:29 pm

      Me veggie .. mouth watering at the mention of ‘sadya’ Does it hv tomato rice, raitha n sambhar 😛
      OG: no tomato rice…… 😛 but a lot of other things 😛 dont miss the avial

      • August 12, 2009 8:54 am

        OG, I love avial too 🙂 Planning to make a proper sadya for Onam – anybody interested in joining us 🙂

        • August 12, 2009 10:57 am

          Yes .. pliss to send the tickets soon 😛

      • August 12, 2009 10:56 am

        Yeah .. hv eaten that! My neighbour used to give us some time bk. Yum!

  7. Pal permalink
    August 11, 2009 9:20 am

    Hey OG. A very nice post … almost like a tribute from you to your hometown and your roots. Beautiful! On another note, I always used to think Mallus were too shrewd for my liking (no offence !!).
    OG: mallus are the most misunderstood people because their sense of humor is slightly different……… very sarcastic to the core……. other people might not appreciate it 😛
    And when I did my MBA, I ended up having a huge gang of Mallu friends, and had the best times of my life 🙂 (peppered with crushes on Mallu guys 😉 and girlie days out with Mallu girls)
    OG: hehehehehehehehehehehehehehhehe 😛

  8. August 11, 2009 9:32 am

    Smartly written, clearly evokes nostalgia.
    OG: yes aliya……. 😛 complete nostasgia annu eppo
    Nice to be reminded about the part of the world we still have our chord attached to, and always will have. Its the sweet little heaven for us expats and no place on us will give us the free mind to live the life we want, like Kerala. Its ironical indeed, like you mentioned in your post, that Keralites never like to toil in their own backyard.
    OG: ROFL 😛 yes…..
    Perhaps it is true that we consider the whole world outside Kerala as “workstations” and want Kerala remain as our sweeeeeeeeeet home. Afterall who wants to work at home?? Home is the place to rest!!!
    OG: that is good way of looking at things 😛
    btw, you’re a half-pandi are you? never knew! ;))

    OG: yup aliya, we speak tamil at home 😉

  9. August 11, 2009 9:56 am

    Whaaat a post !!! Kalakki aliyaa Kalakki !!! 😀 😀 😀 Loved the way you described the states beauty !! It is indeed gods own country, but I really dont know how the devils aka politicians got in there !!!
    OG: thanks aliyaaa 😛
    “there are no barren places in it devoid of population unlike its neighboring states” —- thats because its too small a state. 😀 😀 😀 Have you ever imagined how Kerala would be if we all(and I mean ALL the mallus) went back and stayed there !!! The state would look like a moving over crowded bus 😉
    OG: I know……. if we all went back, it would be overcrowded……… and it has already the soem of the highest density population areas…………….
    “the ambience in these religious places (except Sabarimala) in Kerala is just great unlike anything else I have seen in India.” — cant agree more on this !

    OG: yo 😛

    • August 11, 2009 10:02 am

      (Clicked on the submit button before finishing my comment )
      OG: hehehehehehehe 😛
      “People who I have met have often complained that Malayalam is the toughest language to learn ” — adu nammalokke nannaayi naakku vadikkunnadu kondaa 😀 😀 😀 😀
      OG: hmmmmm 😛 yes, nyaan thanne korayya samayam eduthu mallu padikkan 😛
      Me too, I dont like rain too. I mean, its nice, but I dont know why people just go gaga over it. and they relate it to romance too, how silly is that ??? 😀 😀 😀
      OG: dai, it is time, you loved rain again dude…. remember feb……. 😉
      You knew Sreeshanth back then???? Thalli kollaayirunnilley aa saadanathine appo thanney ???? 😉
      OG: ROFL 😛 we have played a few times, thallam samayam kittila……. 😛 kalikumbo…..

      • August 11, 2009 2:50 pm

        LOL @ ajit on “it’s time you loved rain again dude.. remember feb…”
        be careful… vimmuuu will start taking his revenge when ur turn comes 😀
        OG: make hay while the sun shines……………….. 😛

        • August 11, 2009 3:18 pm

          i m sure someday he will repeat this logic to u and u will go: “aliyaaaa!!” 😀 😀
          OG: hehehehehehehehe

    • August 12, 2009 10:58 am

      Someone teach me Malayalam now 😦

  10. Happy Kitten permalink
    August 11, 2009 9:57 am

    OMG OG… u brought tears to my eyes…. ente keralathe ethra snehikkunnuvo? atho… is someone from there pulling your heart strings? 🙂 (i do hope so)
    OG: heheheheheheh 😛 no one is in kerala now…. 😉 Thanks!!!!!

    as Scorpio commented..
    Perhaps it is true that we consider the whole world outside Kerala as “workstations” and want Kerala remain as our sweeeeeeeeeet home. Afterall who wants to work at home?? Home is the place to rest!!!

    but then all the parties including the communist parties had a part to play in this role.. who else gives Kerala the most number of Hartals, bandhs and makes it the most laziest place on earth?

    OG: yes, we have a lot of good things with a few bad things as well 🙂

  11. August 11, 2009 11:00 am

    I have been to very few places in Kerala machi… and really loved it for its nature… 🙂 and next time if I visit there I will ask you about the places to visit 🙂 and I completely loved Wayanad, hoping to spend the retirement there 😛 😛
    OG: hehehehehehehehehe 😛 wayanad is also close to me…… 😛 and yes, ping me if you go to kerala next time 😛

  12. thethoughtfultrain permalink
    August 11, 2009 11:57 am

    Lovely! I am waiting to go back home … the joys of living in Kerala!! 🙂 Good one!
    OG: thanku tHnaku

  13. August 11, 2009 12:06 pm

    I’ve only been to Kochi and I loved it! A very nostalgic post – I wish I were lucky enough to have spent a good amount of time in one city to really miss it…
    OG: Thanks and now hopefully, you can live in singapore for some time……….. 😛 to love it

  14. August 11, 2009 12:34 pm

    had been to all parts of kerala with the coolest bunch of friends who never acted as tourist,we always felt at ghome and by adding a A,O,I in tamil we pretend we are malayalam literary figures :P..luckily mallus have been sweet enough not to thrash us.And the rains, I remember once was walking thru a play ground in trivandrum,it started raining,by the time i crossed the ground the sun was glaring down..the weather is at time fickler than the english weather and that makes it lovelier.
    OG: ROFL at adding A,O,I to make tamil, malayalam 😛 hahahahahahahahaha 😛 most mallus understand tamil and vice versa………….. 😛
    yes, the climate can be really like that… see sawing between extremes 😛

    • August 12, 2009 12:12 am

      Exception: My husband doesn’t understand a word of Tamil and he grew up in Trivandrum. 🙂
      OG: that is interesting to hear coz TVM has a large tamil population and tamil songs/films are famous in TVM

  15. August 11, 2009 12:37 pm

    ME feels you missed describing the girls of different regions of kerala 😛
    OG: you are now engaged dude……… remember 😛

  16. August 11, 2009 8:33 pm

    I am not from Kerala but I miss it too reading your post. The few months that I spent there were wonderful. We used to have maggi and parotta and boiled egg from the thattu kadas….
    Kovalam, beautiful backwaters, the constant rains, I miss everything about it. I stayed in the YWCA for a while and I miss troubling the matron!
    OG: ROFL 😛 how long where you there in TVM……….. yes, I also miss food from thattu kadas 😛

    • August 12, 2009 5:27 pm

      I was there for 3 months first and then for 6! Was working in TCS Technopark!

  17. August 12, 2009 12:04 am

    That’s a beautiful dedication, OG.
    OG: thanku Thanku

  18. August 12, 2009 12:07 am

    According to National Geographic, if Kerala is taken as an individual country then with its growth, development, standardised mortality rate (SMR) and many such factors, it would be considered a developed country. That is the state meets all the factors required to be a developed country.
    OG: yup, completely agree 😛 called the kerala model 😛

  19. August 12, 2009 6:56 am

    namaskaaram! 😀
    OG: namaskaarammmmmmmmmmm undu!!!!!!!!!! WOW!!!
    engnganunt? 😆 Yeah i am trying to learn malayalam :mrgreen:
    OG: ROFL 😛 I think you meant “engane undu” 😛 ROFL means “How is it” 😛
    I loved the post:)
    What a beautiful ode to Kerala OG!:)

    Whenever anyone says Kerala I only think of the beautiful Kerala backwaters and the fact that it is a completely literate state( a fact that we would proudly recite in school 😀 )

    Yeah we had and have a state that was completely literate and boy! would that fill us with pride! 🙂
    OG: heheheheheheheheh 😛 it is not completely literate……. 😛
    I also remember the boats of the fishermen and the fishing nets:)
    *sigh*
    OG: shesh, I am also missing the same thing
    BTW in the song’mile sur mera tumhara’ the lines the husband wife duo sing some lines in malayalam(is it?) nimme dwaniya something..( I cant remember the exact words)
    OG: ROFL, lemme check it, will let you know

    loved this post OG 🙂
    beautifully written:)
    someday I too will visit god’s own country:)
    OG: you shoudl indy…………. you most def. should!!!!!!!!!!

    kuzhappam illa. 😆

    *OG scratching head *
    OG: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAH 😛 OMG….. you are taking this seriously!!!!! classic!!!!

    upakaaram
    OG: ROFL 😛 hehehehehehehehehehe
    uh…let me consult the book for more 😀 😀 😀

    Now I am going hunting for Malayalam tutors :mrgreen:

    and if the above words dont make sense then dont murder me 😀 😛 😛

    *preparing to run*

    😆
    OG: ROFL!!!!!!!!!!!!! they made sense individually but not together….. dont worry indy….. I will take my decision back……. I will teach what mallu I know…………. happy??????

    • August 12, 2009 7:04 am

      yeah! happy 😀 😀 now get working on the lessons tutor! err I mean please start working on the lessons OG 😀
      OG: heheheheheheheheheheheheheh 😛

    • August 12, 2009 7:15 am

      It means how is it? whatttttttt?

      * frantically looking at the pages again*
      is that the same as ‘how are you’ or ‘how have you been?’? 😀
      OG: my mistake, I meant to type “How is it going”….. yeah, “How are you” is more apt 😛 😛
      see, the instructor is really not that good

    • August 13, 2009 11:52 am

      Oh thats kannada if i am not wrong 😛
      OG: wonly mallu 😛

  20. August 12, 2009 9:07 am

    Oh OG! That was so beautiful! For me, though Mallu by origin, Kerala was always ‘native place’ while we were in school 🙂 The place all of us used to pack up and go for the summer hols – go crazy with all the cousins who would descend from various parts of India 🙂 So much so that we would end up speaking in different languages/dialects – Malayala, Mumbaiya Hindi, Delhi Hindi and of course, Jamshedpuri Hindi 🙂 It was much later, as I grew up that I started appreciating Kerala for everything it is known for. I still remember, how the moment we cross Coimbatore and enter Kerala – the whole landscape would change.. it would become beautiful and green 🙂 Now I see that when I cross over from the Karnataka border and the landscape becomes all green and calm 🙂

    ‘ but the ambience in these religious places (except Sabarimala) in Kerala is just great unlike anything else I have seen in India’ – I totally agree! I just love the ambience at the Kerala temples more than anything else across India. I might be biased – but I certainly love it – and I am not a temple goer at all. I love the way some temples are lit totally with villakkus and no artificial lighting..

    ‘ I also find that it is the best language “to curse with” of all the languages that I know. ‘ – That is something I have to learn 🙂 I can barely curse in any language 🙂

    The one thing I donot like about Kerala is the liquor shops! I spent a few months in Trivandrum and every second shop used to be a liquor shop 😦 I hated that.
    OG: I read this 😛 will comment in detail 😛

  21. Nancy permalink
    August 13, 2009 9:16 am

    All ur experiences sound so good…with the right of friends those years must have be sublime. Without a doubt ur love for the land just shines thru….. 🙂

    Everytime I go back to kerala I look at it with new perspective…and never fail to be astonished by the greenery[all the more since I live in a desert now]
    OG: 😛 😛 😛 😛 😛 😛 😛 YAY 😛 completely agree 😛

  22. chewmysambhar permalink
    August 13, 2009 10:59 am

    You are vadamaa -vaa? Besh, besh:)
    OG: are you one as well? 😛

  23. August 13, 2009 11:54 am

    Nostalgia! It hits you like a stone in the water and the ripples seem to reach out thru your post!

    Now I feel nostalgic too!
    OG: hehehehehehhehehehe 😛 thanks!

  24. August 14, 2009 8:50 am

    great to read all these and revive the nostalgia… hmm… sigh(!)

  25. August 14, 2009 12:27 pm

    wow!!!

    and of all posts i miss this one!

    *colourful language directed to google reader follows*

    this was marvellous EOG! simbly sooper!!!

    the way u have described is awesome!

    tho i’ve been born n brought up in mumbai, i spent my school vacations in kerala….

    i can’t say i enjoyed it too much coz at dad’s place, i was confined to the house 😦

    but munnar i have roamed the tea estates like how with my cousins!!!!
    😀

    i really loved this!!!

    {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

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