This was my first Christmas away home. And this was one of the most memorable Christmases I had. More than 1000 km away from home I had celebrated my Christmas with three others who I used to meet every Christmas in our small village Seetha Mount. During most of such holiday seasons there, we visited each other’s home. We Shibin, Riya, her younger sister Unni and I have got such a wonderful and longstanding connection which dates back to our ‘Kalari’ days. May be, even beyond that.
There will be an ominous factual error if I say Shibin, Riya, my brother Manjush and I sat on one bench in our kalari (the country side kindergarten) because we did not have bench there. I don’t even remember whether we bothered to sit anywhere those days. But in Sunday classes we had benches. There we led a formidable rebel gang till we ourselves got sick of those shadow fights with our own neighbours who disguised as do-gooder teachers for a few hours on Sundays. But in our school (a good 6 km daily walk, to and fro) we were all studious, purposeful and relatively well-mannered favourite pupils.
Now, a decade later, whenever all of us get together I feel proud. Because the connecting thread of friendliness is still as alive as in the boyhood days and we all have thankfully travelled far beyond the muddy roads, `kammanist’ bushes and pepper wines of our distant village. A software engineer, a bio tech scientist, a business executive and a journalist.
About eight months back, when software engineer (shibin) married scientist (riya), it was a big celebration time for all of us. Now they hosted me for Christmas in their Pune house, three hours away from the Mumbai suburb where I live. We had midnight mass, cake, wine and loads of beef, quite in our traditional style.
Father's pork fry
Another Christmas in my memory is when I was in fifth standard. Mother was bed-ridden with a typhoid attack and father prepared pork fry for us. It was one of the most delicious pork fry dishes I ever had. It was a lovely Christmas because we rarely found him so ‘homely’ those days.
Easter in Indian Coffee House
An Easter six years ago brings humorous memories of those days when we were deep in romance with penury. (Not a choice but an imposition of course). It must be my first Easter away home. Caught in the film festival fever, we, three student journalists bunked Easter at home and stayed back in Thiruvananthapuram. In between Gloomy Sunday, To The Left of The Father, Taxi and Posthumous Memoirs we had our Easter lunch in the Indian Coffee House near KSRTC Bus Stand Thampanoor. With the yummy nostalgia of a minimum of three non-veg dishes at home, we happily shared one plate beef which then cost Rs.10.