Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Good Walls make Good Neighbours....a nostalgic not...

Part of the old house still exist today.....the upper portion from the front 40 years later.!

Steps to upstairs from the outside! Today (40 years later)
Covered corridor to the backyard, connected to the next house.  
Today (40 years later)

Till I was eight years old, we lived in the town of Athirampuzha, in a high, steeply tiled, two storied house, rich in wood. The floor of the second storey, which lay in two heights, had smooth floors of wooden planks, with a dusty dark attic above it that housed old books and heaps of tattered papers. Each of the floors, except the attic, let sufficient air and light, through many wooden windows on all sides. In commercial towns, most houses huddled together. Mostly, two houses shared one or more common walls and a closer relationship with the other side. They were all strong and good walls and as the saying goes, good walls made good neighbours. May be, good neighbours made good walls.

My brothers and I could walk into all those houses and expect a door-less entry from the kitchen yard and run around with the young members of the household. One day, my two year old younger brother Justin lifted a tin of mustard seed from a neighbour’s kitchen cupboard and threw them all around the soft and watery backyards. A few days later, mustards sprouted, with tender green leaves in the rich monsoon rains. Everybody enjoyed the childish prank and such incidents never had any negative impact on the open door policy of the neighbourhood kitchens. Today Justin has grown up from that sprouted mustard seed to become a senior executive in a premier software firm in the United States.

‘Ding ding’, the bells of bullock carts sounded, and woke us up on Mondays, the market day in Athirampuzha. In the early hours of the morning, slumber still in our eyes, we would open the front door of our house and sit on the downward steps and gaze at the sea of activities in an otherwise peaceful road. Never ending chains of bullock carts moved along, in a slow jerky motion, laden with vegetables, spices, fish, coir or rice. The beasts wearily stamped their worn-out shoes on the sun burned bitumen and created painful patterns, while cart-men lashed their merciless whips and pushed them forward.

Men pulled handcarts faster than animals, with huge piles of banana bunches on them, as streams of sweat ran profusely from their bare necks and muscles and disappeared into the tightly wrapped dhotis around their waist. Groups of men and women walked happily home with provisions, balanced in cane baskets, for their homes.

Today, thirty five years later, as I sit on the steps of our old wooden house (a part of it still exist), all of those bullocks and most of those men stand still, like murals in the old walls of my memory. Athirampuzha wears a new face, with wider roads, modern buildings and automobiles rushing and jamming the town, a place where bullocks and neighbourhood walls once ruled.

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  1. concrete jungle oh concrete jungle...
    kerala is still gods own amazing country with its clean waters and backwaters... dunno how its gonna be in the coming years

  2. Beautifully written ...could picture it all happening. Kids thrive on the company of other 'young members of the household' and tolerance in such a joyful childhood :)

    Loved the mustard sprouting prank :) During our stay there, my kids made a habit of burying mango seeds in the hope of creating a delicious mango orchard in the yard but were sometimes tempted to dig out the saplings to make whistles with the sprouted seed.

    Many will be able to relate to this lovely piece :)

  3. Well written and a lovely blog..it was so vivid that I could visualize everything..
    As you know ,one reason to take bus for my work is this;the bus covers your town..When the bus enters the town,I sit upright fully woken up from my slumber...usually I take a window seat and the thrill and enjoyment I derive from this part of my long journey is just mind boggling..I do not have enough vocabulary to describe my feeling..Infact,this experience takes me to my ancestral village where there was full of greenery ..a stream flowing like a silver ribbon at the far end of our rubber estate...summer holidays were the days to enjoy the real village life which was always welcome for us children who are used to the city life,though my mom was fed up of the 'no electricity' status especially in the nights when we refuse to sleep complaining the humidity.... And she will be at her wit's end.
    I smile at myself and the journey continues..But the thought one day this place will also be like any other concrete jungle pricks me a lot..

    Thanks for reviving my childhood memories...all the credit goes to your lucid writing.
    keep blogging..all the best.

  4. It's something so special and touching... Beautifully pictured the situation... and have a personal touch.
    Feeling, experience, and afterall those lovely younger days of vigour and enthusiasm... with all thrill...
    Really touching...

  5. Very nicely written; I've read it twice through already, imagining it all as you wrote it. Much different than my upbringing in a small neighborhood, outside of city limits, in Midwestern America. Yours seems much more colorful. :-)

  6. very beautifully narrated. You have a very simple and efficient style of expression. You see a lot of things which others don't see. You are a person with takes great care in everything, paying attention to simple things will make one's life very enjoying. You will never get bored up in life, because you have always some creative living any where and everywhere you go.

    You love silence more and noise do not annoy you at all.

  7. Yes, Good walls do make good neighbours indeed, but the spirit of camaraderie that came from open houses has also vanished in the spree to build good walls.
    You have painted a beautiful picture with your words.

  8. I have been reading your blogg with intrest. Beautifully written in simple but very touching manner.
    Keep writing.

  9. beautiful blog. May be the third time I'm reading your blog. Every time I read it, just visualizing our village, Sreekandamangalam. Keep writing :)