Thank you for stopping by and hitting the follow button and reading the nonsense that I mostly indulge in... I appreciate it.
So, Attukal. What can I say. It was a bit more organised than it was the last time. At the temple, I actually didn’t have to worry about who was trying to grab my clothes in the pretext of trying to get darshan. This time, I actually went to the temple on time and I managed to see Devi. Good stuff.
I enjoy going to temples. I do. It’s a lot of fun listening to the stories associated with them. I especially like the hope that permeates the ambience in a temple. Just a sliver of it. For once, people leave their lives in the hands of the irony-loving universe hoping that they won’ t get slapped, again. At Attukal, especially during the time of the festival, women come in droves to put their faith in the hands of Attukal Amma. Only they know what they’re praying for, whatever it is, it seems to fill the air, palpably. You can’t help but be swayed by all that emotion.
I get really corny on occasion. This is one of them and I honestly don’t mind. My trip to Trivandrum this year was especially fun because both of my aunts were also there. My aunt flew down from Singapore just for this. For the first time since 1999, she left Singapore without her son and actually had a good time. Of course, my cousin was having a major case of separation anxiety and called at 3am IST crying his eyes out before he left for school to tell my aunt that he missed her and was waiting for her to get back. I feel bad for the guy who has national service to look forward to in 6 years’ time.
Once again, I visited too many extra temples. One of them was our kudumbakshetram, or family temple, on my maternal side. It’s one of my favourite temples in Trivandrum. It’s quiet and most importantly, it’s mine. The thing about Kerala is that all temples and religious institutions follow the most strict versions of their respective good behavior code. People like my good self, who go to temples to find a minute of silence, and not god, are bound to get the cold shoulder from the gods from time to time. It’s hilarious.
However, I’m a “good daughter” when I need to be, so I prayed in all sincerity and hoped to GOD that something does come out of it.
Onto the Pongala* itself. For some reason, this year it wasn’t as pushy-shovy. I chose to put my pongala outside the house and not in the shade of the banana trees. The sun on my face, my sunburn (see, I’m a Chennai girl, and yet, every time the sun shines, my skin looks like it belongs on a tomato and not a human being. It’s absurd.) and my pongala which cooked fast this time around made the whole deal very interesting.
I enjoyed the way I walked around like a so-called pro doling out unnecessary advice to my newbie pongala-putter aunt and managed my stove and my mother’s when she needed it.
The deal is that you have to put pongala for three years. That’s the (I don’t know the appropriate English word for this) of the whole Pongala.
So, I will be going back again next year and maybe a couple of years after as well.
Highlight of this trip? – LIME JUICE!!!
Fresh lime juice, nimbu paani, naarengya vellam, whatever the hell it’s called, is something I’m really fanatical about it. I judge the worthiness of a restaurant on the basis of the lime juice they make. I can’t make lime juice worth a damn. However, every third person and their grandmother can make awesome lime juice in Kerala. You need to taste it to believe it. It’s awesome, or to use an Urban Dictionary euphemism, awesomesauce.
To make my poit more specific - no one makes lime juice like the good folks of Trivandrum. Visit the city just for the lime juice and if you’re a Hindu, go to the Padmanabhaswamy Temple too just so you can look at a very Buddha-like Vishnu and very Balinese dwarapalakas (guards).
Remember, when in Kerala dress modestly and don’t hire a tourist guide. There are enough Malayalis in the world to help you out, for free also!
(*Pongala – it’s a rice dish that can be made either with coconuts and bananas or milk, coconuts and jaggery. Of course, the main ingredient is rice and you can go with a sweet or savoury dish. But it will have to be cookeed on a stove fired with coconut-tree by-products. There’s a lot of smoke involved.)
I will edit this post with pictures soon enough. And will be back with more unemployed sarcasm!