Food, Ritual, Food, Sleep, Food, Outing, Food, Sleep – this was our routine for the past 2 days in Kulipirai, Karaikudi District where we went to attend our college professor’s Authentic Chettinad Marriage!!
Chettinad is famous for Delicious Cuisine and so are the Chettiars for their huge bellies and bigger hearts. We got to know the reason why! The cuisine is so rich and varied that it is really hard to resist eating the food and your protests of not able to eat more would go in vain in front of their love and affection. They keep you serving and always comment on how less you eat (You would have eaten 3 times more than your regular meal when this comment comes along and you would go on to eat 2 more servings!). During functions such as marriages those take place in their palace like homes (yes most of them cover up to 8 grounds in size, that is enormous indeed!) preparing for the culinary fest is a tedious task. You would get something or the other to eat round the clock. You would not pity the cooks at all as the taste, flavour and variety of food that you get to eat will override your senses and you would get lost in it. Every two hours the dining hall would be bustling with activity, a new À la carte would be in store! Kandharppam, Masala Paniyaaram, Vellai Paniyaaram, Pal Paniyaaram, Idly, Vada, Idiyaappam, Thengai Pal Aappam, Podi Bhajji, Adai, Athirasam plus a Non-Veg Platter too on which my knowledge is negligible! Phew – Tired of reading?? Imagine how tired you would be of eating????
The Food Fest was scheduled for the 22nd and 23rd of May. College group, I guess around 20 odd people, reached the serene, pious village of Kulipirai in the early hours of 22nd May. I call it pious because the villagers are all God-Fearing and simple. It is sure that you will find at least one temple with huge, clean pond for every mile you travel. I call it serene because the houses are huge and far apart. Less noise, less clutter. Only a handful of them are left in the vast houses; the younger generations have migrated to bigger cities and countries.
Visit to Pillaiyarpatti and Kunnakudi temples was the agenda for the day. Seeing the main deity of Pillaiyarpatti– Lord Ganesha was totally an enriching and fulfilling experience. He was simply magnificent! I was in ecstasy!! Kunnakudi had a temple on the hills dedicated to the younger brother of Ganesha, Lord Subramanya. It was called the Shanmuganathan Temple and that temple was equally good too. The day was hot and humid and our hunger was allayed by a Coke, Maaza, Mineral Water, Nannari Juice, etc. We reached home for lunch and had our afternoon nap. Then it was time for snacks and a small ritual in the evening. We pulled each others’ legs and chit-chatted until night after which we had sumptuous dinner. And who said you shouldn’t eat more at night??? Sleep follows food and we lay in a line in the extra long hallway under an intrinsically painted high roof. We were under a colourful Sky!
23rd May had an early morning muhurat for the marriage. We were all up by 4 a.m and were all dressed up (beautifully ;)) by 5:30 a.m. The bride’s house was similar in structure and design as that of the groom, in fact all houses were symmetrically, structurally, aesthetically, geometrically (All had Geometric designs, they weren’t modern art I say!) same. It was a quiet and a simple wedding in terms of rituals and a loud one in terms of jewels and accessories and of course food! We couldn’t spot a single lady without Diamonds! Bevy of Beautiful Ladies!
It was soon time for us to leave and we headed for dinner and packing the bags. Our bus to Chennai was scheduled at 9:30 p.m from Pudukottai (Town). So, the hurry-burry and last-minute rush to the Bus Stop to catch the Bus to the town was normal. Now where’s the fun? Adventure? A boring anecdote with an ultra-boring climax??? Naah.. That’s where I pop into picture!
As we reached the bus stop my friend, Srikanth, gave me my mobile phone. He said, “You dropped it in the Marriage Hall”. I exclaimed, “Oh my! Thanks a lot; I never knew I missed it!” He said, “Oh man, I shouldn’t have given it to you, I should have made you go berserk!” Uneventful closure of Hungama 1. [Notes: Srikanth wanted me to add this piece – Srikanth, my friend pledged his life took great efforts and greater risks to get my mobile back. He was very quick dynamic and acted swiftly to retrieve my mobile back. It was a timely help lest I would have lost my very dear mobile. He is a great person yet is very simple after doing such a big help to me. I m thankful to such a great and a modest person. If I were the President I would nominate him for bravery award or Bharat Ratna (cha no smilies here in lotus notes!!!)…]
Getting water and medicines for Ashok who was down with fever, in a shop near the bus stop started Hungama 2! Bus came and we were still in the shop getting the change. In the excitement of getting into the bus before it starts, we rushed ahead and boarded the bus with vigour! We got window seats and settled comfortably for the next 45 min ride. Ashok was sitting next to me and pointing out how irresponsible I am to lose the mobile and not even know that I have lost it. He was on and on and on (One of the few occasions where he gets to speak more than I do) and I was gazing out of the window enjoying the cool breeze and the still night in our over speeding bus. I couldn’t retort as fault was on my side so I just said bluntly, “Hey, I haven’t lost anything big right? Mistakes happen, people tend to forget and there is always a first time. I am not foolish enough to lose big things and will be careful in future ok.” I returned my gaze to the pitch dark view when something dawned onto me and I suddenly screamed, “Guys, Did I take my suitcase from the Shop?” Ashok gave me a filthy look! Everyone searched frantically underneath their seats to see if I have kept the suitcase somewhere. No luck. I had left it behind. People of the bus were staring at us curious to know who missed what. I was wondering, “Now what do I do? If I get down, go back and pick it up I would definitely miss my bus back to Chennai as there are no Auto Rickshaws in that place I would have to wait for the next bus to and fro.” My friends were scolding me – Irresponsible Goose. Senseless Idiot. @#$%^!@#$$
Asha recovered immediately from this haze and she called up couple of other friends of ours, Karthi and Ganesh, who were to leave almost half hour after us and asked them to pick up the luggage. Karthi reached the stop immediately and the bag was intact. He took it back to the marriage hall as he was leaving by car late at night. But Ganesh thought that he could pass the bag onto me in Pudukottai itself as our busses were scheduled to depart in an interval of half hour. But by the time he reached the bus stop Karthi had taken the bag. Learning this he went in search of Karthi and got the bag from him and in the process he missed his bus to the town. After 10 minutes the next bus came. By that time we were almost in the town. Nevertheless we were all happy and relaxed that the bag was found is en route to our place. I was kidding (and trying to justify) saying that since Ashok was unwell, I was sad and depressed, I was praying that he gets well soon, I was unable to see him suffer so much (all this hype for a simple fever); with all these things running in my mind I forgot about my luggage. Filthy looks from everyone. By now it was time for the next enlightenment. Ashok blurted out, “Madam, where are the tickets?” I stopped mid-sentence, open-mouthed, eyes widened. Feebly I said, “In the suitcase” Filthier looks from everyone. It was Anil who reacted on reflex this time. No no, he dint give me a slap, he immediately rushed to the nearest Internet Café, struggled with an ancient, mouse-not-working, keys-faded, dust-settled system and got a print out. My mouth closed with relief!
Our bus driver started on dot, on time. I asked him to wait for 5 minutes for Ganesh but he said that would create a traffic jam and he wouldn’t be able to wait. We had no other go. Ganesh told us to proceed as the bag was light and a small one and he would transport it to Chennai. So I came free-handed to Chennai amidst everyone’s scolding and got more from my mother the next day. I rushed to office immediately after coming home in the morning shift as I had to collect the luggage from him in the evening. Friends in need are Friends indeed!!! All of them came to my rescue!
Eventful 2 days and a very tiring Monday! But Robert Frost said – Miles to Go Before I Sleep! I don’t have miles only Inches – I need to measure my waistline!!! After consuming cart loads of food I bet on a 2 inch increase, alarming isn’t it?!