Monday, December 25, 2006

A merry Christmas indeed!

It’s a lovely Christmas eve morning if I may put it that a way, here in my village in Kerala. From the time I have landed here, I have been roaming around visiting people, in our neighborhood. It’s a delight to see people’s reaction as you open the gate and walk in. Pure joy, some tears and some emotional outbursts, it’s like walking back into time to childhood. Yesterday I went around the small township, walked into the quaint old shops, wished the elders, took blessings and reveled in their attentions. I prefer to wear a salwar as I do my rounds. The gesture is appreciated. Women landing up at the market in pants are still looked at as outsiders.

I can see several NRI’s shopping. Some of the buxom ladies are wearing tight pants inviting stares. You can see the chasm between the two sets of people. One are quite oblivious of the stares and quite comfortable in their outfits, while the townsfolk are embarrassed at seeing fat women in pants. I am caught in the middle, while I giggle at the jokes doing the rounds in which me, “our” girl is included I empathize with the NRI ladies too because they are acting naturally and not trying to make a statement or something like that. Annam, my maid, who is accompanying me is wonderstruck at the NRI ladies and whispers that she thinks they are going to explode any moment. I tell her that these ladies were wearing what they felt comfortable in and that we had no right to pass judgment! She agrees solemnly trying hard not to laugh.

As a kid I remember, when we drove out back to Bangalore after our vacations, we would stop at this small village market and say bye to all the uncles who ran the shops here. There would be wistful byes and the all too familiar scenes of people standing at bus stops waving goodbye to families heading back out of Kerala. We would be the only ones going to nearby Bangalore.

There is a change in the air now. People seem somehow ‘grown up’. There is a comfort level among people. Unlike yester years, when family members worked far off in the North, nowadays most people have their kith and kin in Bangalore and Chennai. Visits are frequent and thus there is more contentment in homes.

Infosys, IBM, Microsoft, Accenture, GE are common names and being an English grad is not such a sad deal anymore :P People understand what I do, or least have a hazy notion and know that there is more to IT companies than software/hardware engineering. I saw an appachan working in his field wearing an Accenture T Shirt. “magan accenturil annu” he informs proudly.

The area is seeing a huge rise in IIMites. A good sign indeed! Changanassery town hasn’t changed much, though I can see some snazzy Supermarkets and shops. But the white mundu clad men and Ammachis with the ubiquitous umbrella still abound.

Today at church I met the entire village. This is an agrarian community and everyone knows everyone. There is so much joy when people spot you and as is the usual practice, we lingered around till 11 after mass, greeting people asking about "viseshams”. My Dad comes here every month or so, so he is not the centre of attraction…we are :P Thanks to the many airlines that have mushroomed, my Dad can now fly down monthly.

Liberalization, besides providing job opportunities, has bought families closer together. Children drop in more regularly and not only during summer vacations like the olden days. There is less talk of whose car is better and more talk of which car is more fuel efficient. More emphasis on two wheelers than four wheelers. I see a lot of people who want to return and in my area; land is being preserved for such an event. A very heartwarming thought indeed.

There is less talk of getting girls married and more talk of a girl being career minded *whew* :P A welcome change I see in the women folk is the increasing trend to marry late after settling down in a job.

The contentment in the air is almost palpable. Yesterday I went to meet our old parish priest. He presided over my parent’s marriage, our baptisms and First Holy Communions. As I wheeled him around the well manicured lawns and garden around the convent, he filled me in on all the happenings in our village. He is like a social barometer for us. An acutely sensitive person, he has always rightly predicted the mood of the people. He seems to be happy that the young population has more opportunities to come home now. He feels this will infuse new thoughts and ideas into the population here and bring about changes in the mindset. He feels that this is the crucial transfusion of new thoughts that Kerala needs. Sitting and talking to him I feel so far away from Bangalore and more close to my roots. I realized as he talked, how much part of this community I am, wherever I am and whatever I may be at work.

Change is inevitable, this community is also experiencing it, but what I witnessed is a change for the better. Perhaps there are ugly sides to it, I don’t know. But for the common people, there seems to be reason to cheer this Christmas.

(This post was written on 24th December)


Mind Curry said...

the change is inevitable..well true..even i am home..and trying to appreciate the subtle pace at which things are changing in the background..eventually it will..but as i walk around i wish i can fast forward some things, while freezing some others. and i also hope people change with the times.

nice post..enjoyed..very real.

The iceman said...

the mallu gets out of kerala at the earliest..but Kerala never seems to let go of him :-)
nice post..appreciated by a fellow marunaadan malayaleee
merry xmas

Alexis said...

Nice to know that you are having a nice time. Hope you went for the midnight Xmas Mass and had a wonderful Xmas breakfast, lunch and dinner :-)

Yes, the IT revolution and the advancements in infrastructure and other facilities are bringing in a new awareness and also bringing people closer.

As you rightly concluded, there are many negative aspects to this. But during this festive season we will concentrate and enjoy the good aspects.

Wishing a very happy New Year

Jeseem said...

So there is talk in town, of this fat lady in salvar too :P
Merry Christmas.

Rockus said...

Very true!!!
Career minded girls...IT savvy parents...yup lots have changed...

Its really nice to see things changed from the 80's malayalam movies...where job hunting and gulf ruled the roost...made me desp those movies!

Iyer Education said...

a very merry christmas and a happy new year to you :)

have a blast

silverine said...

MC: Thank you! :) Guess we cant hurry things up...but then things seem to be moving and thats a good thing!

the iceman: Well.. I am a fraud marunaadan malayaleee as I have been in Blr all my life, but spent every single vacation and long weekends in Kerala, so you can call me a marunaadan malayaleee in a way :) Thanks for the appreciation!

Alexis: We went for midnight mass and then sat talking till 5 am !!! :P Then crashed out only to get up 11 am, so b'fast and lunch got combined lol And you are right, this is Xmas, let us dwell on the pleasant aspects of the IT revolution :)

jessem: Compliments of the season to you too! :)

rockus: You are right, the changes are astonishingly rapid!!

ieyr education: *hugs* Wish you the same and hoping for more of your side splittingly funny posts this year!! :))

Synapse said...

indeed we are living in fast changing times! kerala has undergone a revolution in the past decade. its good that the people are finally breaking out of the engineer doctor mindset and there are opportunities galore for the best in every field.
N glad to know you still have a mallu soul, in fact i've got to know my own feelings 4 kerala better after reading the blogs of all you expat mallus! :)
ps: just passed thru chenganassery on my way to kottayam! may b u could have shown me around! :)

abhishek said...

I was watching this song...and the first thing I remembered was your post.


Newbie_Blogger said...

You write well. Mallu Christian babes are so hot :-)

Nariyal Chutney said...

Hmm . The scenes in most Mallu Villages should have been the same one day prior to Xmas. The clash between the modern and the old , The fashions and the traditions . In between all of us have nice Xmas too. Hope you had a nice time as well in your ancestral village

flaashgordon said...

Nice portrayal of the community !!Could relate to this here in Alwaye - a semi-rural semi- urban setting u cud say !Also traveled to my wife's place north of shornur and visited several relatives all around. One thing i noted here was that every home i visited were empty nests with just the parents home..grownup children were all workin elsewhere. Heartened to know that IT companies are comin to cochin one by one. Also know a few IT Guys who have rejected higher offers to move here to TVM or cochin - The next couple of years should be interesting :-)

mathew said...

This christmas was quite different for me this time around..spend time at the 'mecca' of christians in vatican..

Honestly i missed the appam and chicken curry and the grand coming together of all relatives at one place..

neways njoy..

silverine said...

synapse; Nice to hear that we NRK's helped :)

abhishek: Nice song :) Have seen this movie many times too!

newbie blogger: LOL thanks :))

nariyal chutney: There was the usual blend of the new and old in my village too :) I had the most wonderful Xmas and New Year!

flaash: You are right, it is indeed heartening to see that mallus can now work in Kerala. We are doomed as a community otherwise.

mathew: "Mecca" of Xians, that was a very innovative term :) Hope you had a great time, I heard it was quite cold there. I am sure next year you will be with all the relations and eating appam and stew!