Landing in God’s Own Country

Trivandrum, as we used to call our capital city of Kerala is the English version of Thiruvananthapuram. Literally translated it means, the city of Lord Anantha. The now world famous Padmanabha Swamy temple in the city houses the reclining statue of Lord Vishnu on Anantha, the serpent, this is known as Ananthasayanam and that is from where the name originated.

My Emirates flight hovers over the city as it starts it’s descend, the Kovalam light house and beach comes into view and so does the acres of coconut trees. Every time without fail my head bursts into this song by Yesudas ‘കേരളം കേരളം, കേളികൊട്ടുയരുന്ന കേരളം’. Ahh, I wonder, if only I could sing. There was a time when the coconut trees didn’t look so healthy but now they seem to be back in their full glory and the sight is welcoming. The streets are already bustling with activity as the busy city life gets underway. The flight was delayed by an hour, but once we land I am out of the terminal within half an hour. My mum has been waiting patiently outside. There is no rush to get back home since my dad died. We stop off on the way to do some clothes shopping. It’s a holiday today as it is Sree Narayana Guru’s death anniversary, but most of the shops are open. I wasn’t planning on much shopping this time, but once again leave the shop with a bag full of clothes. Anyway that’s shopping ticked off my to do list.

It is past lunchtime by the time we get home. A quick lunch and shower later we walk to the Gurumandiram nearby. We’ve already missed the afternoon feast but there are activities planned for the Samadhi day all through the afternoon and evening. As we walk along the main road, I shield myself from the sun’s rays. It has been a funny day, overcast one minute and then the sun comes out in full force for a little while, only to be overshadowed by the thick clouds. A short sharp rain later the sky is clear again.

At the mandiram two ladies take turns to read from the Bhagavatham. We sit and listen for a while as another lady pours us some hot tea. I don’t understand a word they are singing but it feels good to sit and watch people go about their daily village life. The milkman on his bicycle is busy doing his evening rounds as one by one he stops off at each house. Children are making the most of their day off. It is not a busy road, there is just an occasional scooter or bike going past. An elderly lady comes in with a lamp as a donation. We say our prayers at the mandiram, thank the lady for the tea and leave.

On the way back we stop off at my mother’s cousin’s house. She had some eye surgery recently and is recovering. It is one of those typical old houses with a dog tied up outside. He’s been barking continuously. The house is basic with wooden windows and a traditional old style kitchen over an open fire. It’s the type of cemented house that brings back memories of my grandparent’s place which has now been extensively refurbished with only the part where my grandparents used to live left as it used to be. It seems like we arrive at a good moment. She has just finished making some sweet payasam for her grandchildren and offer us some. Next stop is another friend’s house. It rains heavily and we cannot leave till the rain clears. Luckily it’s only a short one.

Back home I visit my mother’s new vegetable patch. The beans and okra will be ready soon. I hope to try some before I leave. As the sun sets, the mosquitoes are out and start buzzing around me as I sit out on the verandah leafing through my journals. I get ready for an early night. I’ve hardly slept on the flight and need to catch up. It’s not long before I nod off.

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