I was invited to a night of celebrating  Parsee music and good food at a friend’s place yesterday.

I was the only Non Parsee, but I didn’t feel out of place at all, for the food was very similar to what you find in North India. There were Biriyani, pulao, meat curry, aubergine barta and raita. The only thing that I have never tried until yesterday was the Parsee version of ice cream. Vanila ice cream blended with crushed pistachios, saffron and rose water. Dinner was followed by cardamom chai.

After dinner, music and dancing started. My friend’s 74 year old mother in law did the shoulder shimmying ( belly dance step) !

But what impressed me the most was a 7 year old boy. He played an instrument called Ney Anban ( Iranian version of bag pipe). It felt like he was breathing music. After a while, he decided to play Iranian Santoor, then he joined others and played Tabla. He knew to play every single musical instrument that was there. He knew all the old songs, but he has never been to Iran.

Every single male attendee knew to play a musical instrument and the women sang and danced. None of them have had formal lessons in music or dance, but because they meet often, their children automatically learn all these.

When I had my children, I wanted to pass on my heritage to them. The only things I could have done was to send them for Malayalam lessons, or dance lessons or perhaps Karnatic music lessons. I often had my cousins and friends over for dinner when I was living in Malaysia. There was no music and there was no question of dancing.. Everyone sat around in groups, talked (bitched), ate and went home.

I wish I had something to pass on to my children..

That thingy..

My children love to keep  some of their childhood treasures for their children. Yaya kept all the special books ( classics) I bought her. My son kept entire collection of Pokémon Gameboy games and baby has so much junk including a calling card from spaghetti factory Seattle !!

I don’t have anything from my childhood to give my children ( not even photos) and the only thing I can share with them are my memories. My children ask the most oddest questions sometimes and yesterday baby asked me “Mom, what is the one thing you used often as a child and that we will never use?”

(That question is open to all of you, please leave a comment.)

As you can see, it really was a tough question. I thought of my first ‘foreign’ pencil case. It was bulky, made of plastic and the cover was filled with sponge and had magnets on it. I spent hours opening and closing the pencil case cover. But my children too have various types of pencil cases and still use them.

I went through all the things I used and couldn’t find something that my children never used. There had to be something, I was sure of it, after all Technology has advanced so much and a lot of things have become obsolete. Eventually I found one thing.

It is a thing that I don’t know the name in English or Malayalam.

The first time I saw this thingy was when my father brought his office files home. His office files were a mess with paper falling out and sticking out of the folder, making it a really ugly sight. But someone had tried to hold it all together with the nameless thing..A small piece of orange and red twine with a metal piece on either end.

The last time I used that thing was for my final MBBS exam. All the additional answer sheets had to be tied to the original answer sheet. I had to tie my answer sheets with a kurukkettu ( knot that can’t be undone), so no one will swap my answer sheets.

I have not seen that thingy since I left India and even after explaining to my children, they still don’t get it. They think a stapler would work very well. Little do they know, sometimes in life we all need that hold all the irregular, out of shape things together, that an ordinary staple will not do..


This was the first Malayalam song I learned. My father taught me the song. Even to this day, I feel so liberated every time I say “ponal pokattum Poda”


Today, walk with me through the streets of Kottayam.

The year was 1984, a very important year, I was in the 10th Std, my future dependent on the outcome of how well I did that year. It was  like one of those rocket fire crackers you place in the old Limca bottle and waiting to light it, having no idea where the rocket is heading or if there is going to be a beautiful show of sparkling lights..or if it was going to be dud.

I just wanted to score more marks than my oldest sister, a very difficult task because my sister is incredibly intelligent while I was deaf, dumb and blind. Yet, there was still a possibility albeit tiny that if I really worked hard, I might just get what I want.

Oh, yeah, I forgot, we were supposed to walk through the streets of Kottayam. It was raining that morning and the first thing I did was to check the Manorama paper, to see if the education minister postponed school reopening for few more days due to kala varsha keduthi.. ( one of those beautiful Malayalam word that just can’t be translated to English without losing the meaning). Of course, I was really excited to go back to school, but few more days of freedom wasn’t going to harm anyone, was it? After all, school was not going anywhere. Sadly the minister was not very magnanimous.

My school bag was a sling bag made of brown corduroy material that was in its deathbed and the shoe repair guy sitting in front of Seematti tried his level best to fix it. I used to carry the bag with the strap across my chest, till one vayum nokki from CMS college, pointed to my boobs and asked me, ” percentage ano?”

As I left home that morning, my oldest sister asked me ” motta kachodam thudangan pattuvo?” ( Will you score enough zeros ( mottas = eggs)  to start selling eggs). I glared at her, hoping my eyes could send forth fire. I never  understood why all the mythical characters had such abilities and I wasn’t given the same. I could have solved all my life’s troubles if I could incinerate everyone who bugged me.

I know we still haven’t started the walk. There are many little lanes that I had to walk, till I reached the road we are going to walk today. Normal people will take the shortest route. But I am not normal, so I hiked up to top of the 70 feet road ( Shasthri road) and then walked down. The street was full of kids and parents. Some going to the school near MT seminary ( can’t remember the name) and most heading to MT seminary. That was the year, I had decided to do no Vayum nottam,  So, I didn’t. I looked down and walked.

 I loved walking in the rain. Every now and then, I stopped walking and looked around. If there was no one near me, I spinned the umbrella and watched the rain drops going on a merry go round. I also walked through every single puddle, knowing very well that my Bata sandals was built to last another century ( So Amma will not be mad at me for damaging the sandals) and that this was the last year of my life I will be able to do something that silly and not get in to trouble. With age came responsibility and respectable behaviour.

By the time I reached my school, I was soaking wet, my uniform skirt was painted with mud splatter and my school bag too didn’t fare better..But I was happy, because I knew, I could go places and do things I really wanted to do, if I believed in myself.

How far I have come, since that day..

Today, kids in Kerala will be going back to school and the Wheels of life goes on..