When I was thinking what my next blog should be, I had no choice other than dedicating one to my house in Kalpakkam Township where I spent the major part of my life. The house which has seen me growing from a kindergarten child to a NITTian, the house which has seen most of my happy and sad days! If I have a choice of settling where I had stayed before, "No.6, 5th Avenue" would be my first choice though it was just a quarter. But I simply loved our quarter! You all might think what the big deal in a township quarter is, but perhaps by the time you reach the end of this blog, you might think it is.
So here goes a blog exclusively to my "No.6, 5th Avenue, DAE Township, Kalpakkam -603102". ( Wow I still remember the pin code..!!! Kalakkare Aishu...;) The credit goes to Meera teacher in 1st std in school.
I suppose those who have spent some part of your life in a township will be able to appreciate this better. For others, no worries..I'll take you through this wonderful experience.
Ready Set and GO!
Township is basically for those people who work for an organisation/company/plant etc. My appa worked as the Head of Instrumentation Group in IGCAR. Now I reckon you will understand my inspiration to take up ICE in my undergrad though it was the most threatening dept in my college (a whole different story....I don't want to mix that up with this blog.) So where was I? Hmmm.. ya township..
Before living in "No.6, 5th Avenue", we stayed in many other quarters which were smaller in size. The funda is the higher your amma's/appa's seniority becomes in the aappice, the bigger your quarter. Fair enough?
Since my dad was very senior, we got this bungalow with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1 kitchen, 1 living room, 1 dining space, 1 store room, a big terrace, large garden in front, an equally big backyard with washing space, 1 small outhouse behind (for servant maids/others), and a big garage...try calculating how much such houses might cost now..phewwwww!
I vaguely remember the time when we moved into this quarter. I guess I was doing my UKG (upper kindergarten) then. Nallamma (my nanny) used to take me to Shalimar kindergarten school where I think was in Lotus (what a name!) class. Every morning, I would walk to and from school with her. In the afternoon, after coming back, I'd play in the jula and have lunch listening to radio (God knows what I understood!!!). I used to be an attention seeker then (come on ya..I was a kid!), so I would make a big fuss wanting to see amma in spite of knowing the fact that she was still in school. My poor akka, after coming back from school, would try hard to dissuade me from crying, carry me and give me a ride on her bicycle. Nothing stopped me from crying though, till I heard amma's moped's sound.
Our garden was the very first thing every guest used to get attracted by. There was a big neem tree in the front garden on which a big money plant (jade plant) would grow leaves as big as plantain leaves. It was beautiful and quite astonishing to see how huge that money plant could grow! There used to be lots of flowering plants and croutons as well, which added to the beauty. Amma used to make bouquets with great care for akka and myself to give the teachers on teacher's day at school. I remember securing first or second most of the times in the flower arrangement competition in my school as it was pretty easy to make a good flower vase with the flowers in our garden.
Apart from these our garden had 2 orange trees, a mango tree, 2 lemon trees, 2 coconut trees, many plantain trees, a guava tree, a pomegranate tree and many more. The whole credit goes to amma who took utmost care of the garden, watering them daily and nurturing them in all possible ways. On Sunday afternoons, we usually plucked the mangoes and oranges from these trees. All 4 of us used to do it and here is how we did it:
1. Appa used to stand on a big stand with the long stick with a kokki at the end,
2. Amma used to hold the stand from bottom for stability,
3. Akka and I used to hold the ends of appa's angavasthiram to catch the mangoes/oranges which appa would pluck and throw down.
A very simple desi procedure yet effective..right?
Akka and I would move a bit here and there at times fearing that the fruits might fall on us and miss the target. This would end up in the fruit falling on the ground and we would blame each other for the kannunjifying of the fruit. Typical akka-thangai illaya?
Our trees used to bear so many fruits that we used to give them to many of our neighbours. It was to such an extent that if in case in a season our garden didn't bear much fruit, they would even sometimes enquire "where are the fruits this time?"
My most favourite spot was the jula in the patio. Right from my school days to college , during every class test, unit test, quarterly, half yearly, annual and semester exam, you could find me on this jula studying! I used to keep swinging and studying so loudly that people walking on the streets could hear me..;-p Actually speaking, I would spend most of my time on the jula except for sleeping.
Most of the time, it was me who kept Krishna paadham on the cemented path from our gate to the pooja room during Krishna Jayanthi. During Pongal and Deepavali, amma and I used to clean this floor the night before and draw huge kolams and put rangoli on that. I miss doing that here since our floor here is carpeted.
The next fascinating thing was our terrace, long and broad. Amma, akka and I used to make jevvarusi and vengaayam vadaam and dry them on this terrace. We did kaanum pongal's kannu pudi also here. I used to be very excited to light diyas on the walls of the terrace during karthigai. I still remember reading before my exams, lying on the terrace in the dim evening light, something appa didn't like.
We had huge space in front of our house where my friends and I played shuttle and softball in the evening. This also used to be the morning walking area for appa, and the place where we used to light the bussvanam and shankachakram during deepavali.
Our house shared an edge with a coconut groove. Needless to say, we got to see many uninvited reptile guests too, in many colours (green, black, grey)...ya man, I mean snakes! I am scared even to type them!!! Usually, amma used to spot them but the moment I saw them, every wire I saw for the next week would look like a snake! Gossssh!
The location of our house was convenient because it was close to my school bus stop, market, playground, open air theatre, temple and most of my friends' houses. I remember Madhu anna waiting with Shruthi in front of our house to take me to school bus stop.
Apart from all these, I consider this home special for the following special occasions:
1. Akka got placed in IBM in her campus placement.
2. Akka got admission in University of Utah for persuing MS.
3. Akka got engaged.
4. Akka got married.
5. Those adventurous days appa and I spent without amma when she was transferred to KV-Tambaram for a short time.
6. When appa used to buy Paneer butter masala (my favourite) for me for dinner and wait for me to come from AIMS coaching class.
7. I came 3rd in school during 12th board exam.
8. I got admission into the NIT, Trichy college.
9. When akka came alone first time from USA for holidays.
10. My parents became paatti-thaatha after Ranju was born.
11. Appa got retired from IGCAR.
12. Amma was lucky to get transferred to KV in Tambaram near to our house.
I cherish each and every day I spent in that quarter, but the sad part was not being able to accompany my parents when they shifted house after appa got retired since I was having my semester exams then. Good in a way because I might not have even let them do that!
I hope that I get a chance in future to go back to Kalpakkam and get a glimpse of my "No.6, 5th Avenue".
P.S: Look for the translations below:
NITTian: National Institute of Technology, Trichy - ian
Appa : Father
Aappice: Tamil/English slang word for office
Akka: Elder sister
akka-thangai illaya?: elder sister - younger sister right? (literal translation)
Krishna padam: Foot print of baby Krishna
Pooja room: Prayer Room
Krishna jayanthi: Birthday of Lord Krishna
Pongal: Harvest Festival
Deepavali: Festival of lights
Kolam: Decorative patterns made with rice powder
Rangoli: Decorated with colour powder
Jevvarusi and vengaayam vadaam: Sago and onion rings usually deep fried
Kaanum pongal's kannu pudi: Day after Pongal (Harvest Festival)
Karthigai: Birthday of Lord Murugan, Festival 15 days after Diwali
Bussvanam and shankachakram: Fire crackers