Saturday, October 20, 2012


                     Kovval is a magic  place- It is the macondo  of payyanurians especially gramakai (Can we call them gramers ?) Every village will have a space for holding meetings and other functions. In gramam we have kovval – patrat kovval  to be exact -as the public sphere. It is a sin to call it a mere ground . There used to be several groups sitting in circles on hours on dry evenings engaged in ever ending gossips. It is said that no one will leave such a gathering prematurely as he is destined to become the subject of gossip for the remaining period of the day. All gramers will have fond memories of kovval- It may be the memory of a foot ball match they had won, the first meeting place of their love (of course the aradhana drumbeats in the background), the first dance or drama of their beloved, speech by their leaders or the like. We love kovval as we all love our childhood days. The nostalgia of kovval is so large that the gramers  have constructed a second  kovval where ever they live- in India and abroad. Even in Dubai there is said to be a kovval- the name is synonymous to a common meeting place of gramers.
Gramers study everything from kovval. The first lessons of childhood fantasies, the first speech (full of shivering due to stage fright) the first attempt as an actor dancer, player and as an adult. Kovval is a playground of all human interactions. No newspaper is necessary if you frequent kovval. Every kind of reporters -there were a few best- reports in their masterly fashion. Some are specialized in local politics, some in human affairs, in sex and anything under the sun. Only thing is you have to be a patient hearer. Every one likes to be heard. At some moments the speaker lowers his voice and explains in great detail how he chanced to come upon someone in an awkward situation.
It is in one of such sittings that I learned of Gramers  Casanova who frequented the palilvalappu, a local forest, along with his love every day on the pretext of answering to the natures calls.  But the villain who was plucking goose berries, which were plenty in that season, was watching the duo from above. While the game is in progress he gave a start to the lovers jumping down and caught them red handed. He had only one demand –He will make the affair public if she do not consent to his wishes- Here the story has a twist- One version is that the lover deserted the love mercilessly for shame. The other version is more romantic- She declared that she will not consent to his wish even if she dies. The third version seems more real. There was no such incident. It is the enmity of the tree climber against the Casanova which resulted in the gossip.
Kovval is also a historic place. It is here that the great feast in ‘Payyanur pattu ‘ was held.  Neelakeshi's brothers were executed here. Here settlement might have stated centuries back- humans have played life’s drama a thousand times. In the beginning after the advent of Brahmin settlers, the great Subramanya Swamy temple  came into existence. Ten poduval families were transplanted from neighboring places . They grew in number and the present gramers are  their off springs. Brahmins were the ruling class who had a special place in the social ladder. Poduval chiefs acted as their secretaries and when time passed they also grew prominent. Being a typical gramam belonging to the 64 gramams of old Kerala people belonging to all castes live in gramam with their own 'kavus' and theyyams.
At the time of freedom struggle Payyanur played a lead role.  It is called ‘randam bardoli’ thanks to the scores of freedom fighters from the area. The library in Gramam originally conceived for enlightening people towards freedom movement was named Mahadeva desai smaraka grandhalayam in fond memory of Desai, the Secretary of Gandhi( or was it because gramers know well the importance of secretaries to men of importance as they themselves were in the past?)
Chindattan's tea shop ,Bhaskarettans stationery shop, Murali's tea shop are the silent remainders  of the old times when Kammarettans tea shop (with its famous idly and kadla ) and Chandu's and Muliyan govindan's grocery shops ruled the poor customers with unpaid debts.
Fine arts society, Gramam Prathibha, Cultural Movement Payyanur Arts and Charitable trust and several other cultural organizations add spice to the lives of gramers. 


Saturday, October 6, 2012


When my son got admission in BITS ,Pilani I thought of accompanying him to Rajasthan despite the fact that it is a disgrace to him, a grown up graduate, to have a guardian with him to join  M.Tech. But I have the strong desire to see the Pilani Campus . So we set off to Delhi by the Mangala Lakshadweep Express. The navy man from Kanhangad proved to be   good company for the next two days. The konkan path was dangerous during monsoon but the scenery was entirely different from that of other seasons.

I had the privilege of travelling through konkan during other seasons of the year and it was the first time I travel  during monsoon . During winter the landscape offers a monotonous scene. But now it is very enchanting . The emerald valleys glittering in sun dotted with several waterfalls were indeed a treat to the eyes. The greenery of the valleys and the life that flourish in it is beyond words. The rain continued to follow us through Goa , Maharashtra, MP and  UP relieving us of the intense heat that prevailed in North India a couple of days back. It rained in Delhi when we reached there. We have booked a room in Kerala House thanks to the efforts of Prakasan. 

 Team Anna's agitation was started in Juntar Mandir and we spend some time with the agitators. To quench  our kerala appetite we troubled to find out a vegetarian hotels run by Tamilians who cut our throat in good earnest by charging some four hundred rupees for a masala dosa and coffee. We had some purchase from cannought place. The kanji and puzhukku with pappadam heated over ambers at Kerala house was splendid.

Next day early morning we hired a taxi to Sarai Rohilla staion from where the train to Loharu originates. The breakfast at kerla House will not be ready until 8 am and we decided to have it at te Railway station(Before leaving Kerala House we had a chat with George Sir, a Secretary at the Kerala government Secretariat who also has come to Delhi for the admission of his daughter at BITS. He proposed to travel the 220 Kms to Pilani in a bus which he claimed will take only a couple of hours.) Sarai Rohilla Railway station was in a dilapidated situation displaying   a destitute look. It was  a pity to think that the station is only ten km away from the capital. There were no hotels and the single railway stall does not have even bread -not to speak of a proper breakfast. Fortunatly I noticed amul cakes which were recently stocked and a packet of the cakes with a tea was a good subtistute for breakfast. The heat wave was beginning to lash and for the first time during our journey we experienced the heat. There was still time for the train to arrive. Looking around I saw a father and son in some what an identical situation and instinctively I quipped" to Pilani" . 'Yes',  the father whose name was Anand a Businessman from Hyderabad replied. It was a relief to see some one heading for Pilani 

 In the III AC coach there were other students going to Pilani Together we traveled to Loharu, which is in Hariyana , the nearest station to Pilani. From Loharu we got a taxi to Pilani . Krishnamohan a graduate studennt of BITS from Guruvayoor who was acquainted to us through another student had arranged accommodation for us in Yathri Nivas   in Pilani. But unfortunately the driver of the cab was stranger in the area and we were taken to another Yathri Nivas which was full when we arrived . So we had to pay a very exuberant rent at Tani Bani for a room which they claimed is AC  with dirty toilets and dusty bed.

In the evening we hired an auto to BITS. We found that we have been  foolish to hire a room. BITS has arranged everything. Even the stay of the parents. There was a reception counter at which the photo of the student was taken and immeately we got a computer generated  form for admission to the Hostel. Walking through the campus we were astonished to find the greenery in the Campus full of birds and even peacocks.

The buildings were of archaic design reminiscent of old college days. The huge Library building and the nearby  park spoke volumes of the academic discussions that may fill the air at busy college hours. The students appeared to be less concerned about the strangers in the campus immersed fully in their academic pursuits.The canteens were full of mirth with youngsters sitting around tables chatting with cool Lessie in hand discussing seriously about - perhaps -gaps left by their teachers during the course of their lectures. 

 What astonished me most was the cycle stands before every building- initially  I thought they were part of some mysterious constructions-until I stumbled upon the truth when a lady put her cycle there. The Campus, I was told is pollution free- Students are not allowed to use cars or motor bikes. The alumni association lends cycle  to all students charging a small fee. I think this is indeed a very good model for other colleges in the campus and should be given wide publicity.