The Kottarakara temple pond looks still from a distance. Part of the surface is covered with lotus leaves but there are no flowers. As I peer down the side of the railings I can see shallow ripples. Huge ‘karimeen’ are happily swimming in circles. They know that no harm will come to them.
I wait for Amma to buy her usual temple offerings and we walk the periphery of the Ganapathi temple. First stop is to throw and break the coconuts, the fun part of visiting temples. My first attempt is a pathetic failure. I don’t know if the shell cracked. I have one more go, while Amma and Asha have a go each. None of us manage to shatter the shell but it cracked which apparently is enough. Our young driver shatters his to smithereens. It must be all in the wrist action.
It is a special day today and the place is packed. As we do our rounds inside, we get stopped for a short time as we reach Ganapathi’s side of the temple. The priests are taking the freshly cooked ‘unniappams’ in big containers to be blessed by Ganapathi. It is his favourite sweet. Even Ganapathi is developing metabolic syndrome, so much so that the cooks have reduced the amount of rich ingredients in the mixture. It used to come covered in sugar as well but now there is only a light sprinkling. As we wait we can see the big special pans in which the cooks are pouring the mixture into and waiting for the unniappams to cook. The heat from the kitchen escapes through the side vents and reach us.
Back home I try the unniappams. Once you start it is difficult to stop. I stop at two with difficulty. Amma gets busy in the kitchen, while I make the most of my last day at home. As both Amma and Asha are vegetarians till their Sabarimala visit, Amma makes me eat all the fish and sea food dishes that she’s prepared. I eat too much when I am here and pile on the weight. I have to take another shower before my evening temple visit.
Asha’s car has gone in for repair and we call an auto rickshaw. We lock the gates and wait outside. Further up the road next to the Godown a drinks outlet opened recently. The air is pleasantly warm as I wait and watch how busy my neighbourhood has become. Scooters, bikes, cars, buses, lorries and auto rickshaws whizz past. Some sound their horns with varying levels of decibels.
The auto arrives. He is late and apologetic. He takes us the long way along the main road and through Kundara junction. The ride is enjoyable, if you don’t mind the dust and mud particles getting into your hair and everywhere. Cars overtake us, but when they get stuck in traffic, we find a space and shoot past them. It is always busy here nowadays. Shops of all sizes and shapes line the road. Clothes, jewellery, bakery, electrical shops, and banks and many more. We drive past the fish and vegetable stalls. The red earth, grey roads, colourful shops and giant billboards with their adverts all add to the vibrancy of the place.
The temple is open and the ‘Devi’ is waiting patiently to bless her devotees. We pray, circle the temple, do our usual drill and make our way back. This will be my last visit for a while. Dusk is falling as we reach home. The jackfruit tree is full of young fruit. I will miss the mango and the fruit season. Will the giant spider and millipede which only seem to come out when I’m in the bathroom miss me when I’m gone? I sit outside and and leaf through some journals. Amma gives me tender coconut slices to eat. I’ve already drunk the fresh juice earlier. There is hardly any breeze. I am starting to sweat. I need to take another shower.