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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.
Lin at her creative best again comes up with today’s LBC topic. It is mid summer here in India where I live and a sleigh, brake lights or no brake lights is far removed from our thoughts.
In any case, in India, Santa Claus travels by many vehicles and once, in Kerala, when I was much younger, I was persuaded to dress up like him and visit the children riding on an elephant. I can assure you that it was not an experience that I would like to undergo again and, no, the elephant did not have brake lights.
Even in our Himalayan regions where snow is available in plenty, Mr. Claus is not known to come in a sleigh and so, I am afraid that I have to stop this post with that little story about my experience.
Once again, it was Lin who suggested this topic for this week’s LBC Friday post when a few of us write blog posts on the same topic. I marvel at the synchronicity of it all when I think back to her list without any dates, and the topic just neatly fitting into Good Friday!
Before I come to write about Easter Eggs, let me address Hot Cross Buns. In India, due to our colonial English connection we call them buns and it is for the first time that I have come across them being called bunnies. Bunnies here would mean rabbits! So, please indulge me while I talk about buns rather than bunnies.
It was in Montessori School that I first heard of Hot Cross Buns. The school was run run by Christians and I wouldn’t be surprised if we were taught this during Easter. We were taught to sing the nursery rhyme there and not ever having seen or eaten one, I was quite confused about what it meant. At home, my parents decided to show me what it was and some buns were procured but to the best of my recollection they were neither hot nor did they have the crosses on them. It was much later when I was much older that I was able to see and eat a genuine hot cross bun. In India, it is still extremely rare to come across hot cross buns except during Easter time, though cold buns without the cross on them are available in just about every grocery shop. Most grocers even sell buns for making hamburgers at home, but again, without the crosses on them.
The song that got me interested in Hot Cross Buns is this one.
Strangely enough, my son Ranjan had brought some easter eggs just last week from a friend of his who runs a patisserie in one of our neighbourhood shopping centers. I thoroughly enjoyed the marzipan shell and not so much the toffees inside.
Easter eggs again were totally unknown to me till my early thirties. I had imagined that easter eggs were some kind of pastry made to look like eggs till then. When I was posted to a small town in Kerala in the mid seventies, the local baker had made easter eggs for easter and that was the first time that I understood what they meant.
This article in the Guardian led me to reminisce about my two and a half years in what we called the last outpost of the British Empire in India. I was working for a British company then and posted to our mill location which was in Kerala in the South of India. The mill was set up immediately after independence and we still had British managers coming over to manage the unit from there rather than from a metropolis.
Since Kerala is hot and humid throughout the year, the British managers would wear white shorts and shirts without ties to work and some of the Indian managers and workers also did the same. My mentor Alastair would also wear knee length white stockings and I too did the same. Unfortunately, I am unable to locate any photographs from those days with me in shorts.
I was among those that wore shorts whenever I was in the mill location, which also included a residential area inside the compound. I was in Marketing and had to leave on sales tours frequently and would wear trousers and shirts while away from the compound but once inside, would be in shorts.
I understand that Australians do wear shorts to work in the summer and I request Jim to confirm whether this is true even now.
I think that it is a very sensible attire for hot climates and would really like to see this trend, if it can be called that yet, catch on. I would however be surprised if this became a fashion even in India where the summers can be very hot and humid.