Memory Trigger 14. The Well.


There are two triggers for this story. One if the well and the other is Kerala.

I had the great fortune of being posted in Kerala for a thirty month stint between 1974 and 1977. For my late wife and me, this was the best posting ever as we were in a small community of friends and colleagues in a colony with some great amenities.

During the time that we were there, my mother came to visit us and she too had a grand time not only visiting many places within Kerala that she had dreamed of all her life, but she also accompanied me on a pilgrimage to Sabarimala, which she always maintained was a grand achievement with her arthritic knees.

A little background before I continue with my story. My mother’s parents and other uncles, aunts and cousins were all from a town in Kerala called Alappuzha. My mother however was born in the Northern part of India as her father had emigrated there in search of employment and my mother had never visited Kerala before I was posted there.

Among the towns that she wanted to visit was naturally Alappuzha and I obliged her on a special visit. She had no idea of where her home was or whether any of her relatives were there, but we went there trusting her higher power to lead us to what will happen. In Alappuzha, I had a very knowledgeable local businessman with the most unlikely name of Baby, quite a normal name for men in Kerala,  and he was delighted to arrange for an escort for my mother and me to explore various places in Alappuzha after she gave some background information about her family to him. We eventually zeroed in on one place which had a well like the one shown above under a jackfruit tree in the front courtyard, which was how my mother remembered her mother describing their home. A Christian family was living there but they were very hospitable and confirmed that they had bought the house with the compound from a family belonging to our community. My mother was more than satisfied and was elated that she could visit her ancestral place.

With that background let me now take you to what another Malayali friend, now resident in Mumbai,  sent me as being the kind of wells that are built in Kerala. A sure indication of new wealth made overseas, called typically and with some envy, by residents as Gulf Money. He had sent this to a group of friends and ex colleagues in WhatsApp and the combination of Kerala and wells triggered off my memory of the visit to Alappuzha to locate my mother’s ancestral place.  Please click on the images to get larger resolutions as then you will see how innovative the builders have been in locating the draw wheels for the rope.



Memory Trigger 13. Breakfast Food.

I was introduced to Dal Pakwaan in 1990 at a place called Ulhasnagar which has a fascinating story of giving refuge to refugees and becoming a town buzzing with small scale and cottage industries making the local populace a hard working and prosperous lot. I visited the place at the invitation of a delightful family to help them with their marketing efforts and have since been very involved with them and their clientele.

I stayed at a hotel there for a couple of nights visiting a number of the Agent’s customers during the two days and on the second morning the agent took me to have dal pakwaan at a famous local eatery where we were joined by a number of his friends and some members of his family as well. On many subsequent visits to Ulhasnagar, I always made it a point to have at least one breakfast in the same restaurant.

In Pune, the dish is not easily available and we have to go to a suburb, Pimpri to get them. I often get someone to bring them from there or have gone there on a few occasions to have this delicious and filling dish.

My memory of this dish has been triggered by this BBC article on a Real Estate tycoon, who belongs to the Sindhi community which brought this dish to India from Pakistan.

Effectiveness.


My exposure to the word effectiveness for the first time was when I got into corporate life and it was drummed into my head by a number of mentors that Peter Drucker was to be kept in mind all the time. I flatter myself that I have been effective rather than efficient in my life. So rather than bore my readers with a long pontification on the topic, let me share somethings that to my mind are very effective.

My young friend and ex blogger Ashok posted this on his facebook page recently.

“I am a commerce graduate sir. Have a real estate consulting business as well as a fleet of cabs. My wife and I met through mutual friends, fell in love and got married. She is exceptionally brilliant in economics sir and has a masters degree in arts with a gold medal.

My father also pushed her to do her B.Ed course. I am encouraging her to write the UPSC exam next. My dream is to see her become a bureaucrat and I will become her driver.”- Abdul, my Uber cab driver from today morning.

After seeing numerous instances of patriarchy and oppression of women, conversations like these really inspire hope. India shines every once in a while :)”

There are three stories to demonstrate effectiveness here. The first one of course is that Ashok is a remarkably observant fellow besides being of the kind who can get strangers to talk to him. A very effective young citizen of India doing his bit to change our society as a lawyer.

The second is that of the cab driver. Here is a graduate who instead of asking for doles and reservation from the government has decided to be effective as an entrepreneur. Not only that, he wants to be effective in exploiting opportunities that are available by encouraging his wife to compete and succeed.

And the third, the father in law in the story who unlike most of his ilk, wants his daughter in law to study and qualify for a professional life instead of again asking for favours from society. And, more importantly, instead of being a girl at home cooking for and looking after the menfolk!

Another case of effectiveness at its best. A corporate advertisement that strikes the right cords and conveys a powerful message too.

The story starts with an old Indian man telling his grand daughter about his pre partition times in Lahore and about his childhood friend whose family ran a sweet shop there. The grand daughter uses Google to locate the shop’s telephone number and contacts the childhood friend there. The grandson at the other end in turn uses Google to get passports and visas for the grandfather and himself and both of them eventually land up in Delhi for a reunion of the two childhood friends separated by events outside their control.

Has this post been effective?

I have suggested the topic for this week’s LBC Friday post. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin and Shackman.