Thursday, August 6, 2009


Paati’s house – Pachaiappa Mudali Street

During this pilgrimage trip, I was very keen to check out my Paati’s house in Kumbakonam – of course, it is not Paati’s house anymore as she sold it long ago. I recall staying in this house on a couple of occasions when I was a kid. Once was during my Babu Mama’s wedding and the next was during his child Anu’s birth. I am able to recollect only some incidents from these trips, but my love for the house and hometown Kumbakonam developed mainly because of my mother’s interesting narrations of her happy childhood days there.

When we reached Kumbakonam during my first trip, I remember travelling by bullock cart from the station - I still cannot forget how I kept on hitting my head on the side of the cart as I did not know how to balance and sit. I hated the journey, though it was quite a short one and had an aversion to bullock carts for a long time after that.

Paati’s house had a fairly big thinnai (porch) in the front, a narrow passage to the main hall with its mitham (open courtyard) and an oonjal (swing) in the hall. There were two rooms on either side of the oonjal, one towards the entrance was used as kitchen and Paati had let out the other room to a family. From the other end of the mitham, there was another passage leading to the backyard. Though the first trip was for my Mama’s wedding, I don’t remember the wedding as such as I was too young then. The second trip was more fun as I was about 8-9 years old and I had my cousins from Bombay for company as they were also there for the occasion. There was a big pond right opposite Paati’s house, and it definitely had water and was clean during my earlier trips, but this recent trip I felt sad to see that it was not a pond anymore but just a junkyard with some shrubs and lot of garbage dumped in it.

Mama took us all to Thanjavur Periya koil (Brahadeeswara Temple). I also remember that we had ilaneer (Tender Coconut) to drink near the temple. I think that was the first time I drank ilaneer in my life. We also visited my mother’s cousin Paaru in Swamimalai. During our stay in Kumbakonam, each night after an early dinner, Mama used to take us (all his nieces and nephews) to Venkata Lodge to have cold rose milk. I really looked forward to those walks to Venkata Lodge to have that drink. Also one evening we had snacks in Venkata Lodge, it is quite different from the hotels nowadays we all sat on the floor and were served tiffin in vazhai ilai (banana leaf).

During my latest trip when I enquired about Venkata Lodge, nobody seemed to know about it, maybe I asked the wrong people.

I used to hang out with my immediate elder sister Sabitha and my cousin Rohini as we are of similar age group and one day I quarrelled with them (rather they quarrelled with me) and the next day morning they took off to Mahamaayi Koil (Amman Koil) without me. I was quite upset when I came to know that they had gone to the temple leaving me behind. But they came back running from the temple as they were scared of the Poojari (Priest). I was quite happy that they had had a bad experience there.
During the recent trip, my mother asked me to visit Mahamaayi Temple if possible. When I checked in Kumbakonam, people didn’t seem to know it as Mahamaayi Temple, but only as Padavettu Mariamman Temple. Unfortunately, I could not find the time to visit the temple.

I remember that we used to have bath drawing water from the well there and Paati used to have some cows in the back yard. I also tasted pachai sundaikkai kootu first time in Paati’s tenant’s house and acquired a taste for it.

The oonjal in the hall used to be my Paati’s favourite place and she used to rest on it immediately after lunch. All of us loved the oonjal as we never had one at our house in Madras. All of us went to the MGR movie Neethiku Thalai Vanangu there. It is one of the very few movies of MGR’s that I don’t like as it does not have a happy ending.

With all these memories, I took an auto to Pachaiappa Mudali Street to check out the house, but alas, I could not recognise the structure as there were 2-3 houses in front of the erstwhile pond, but none resembled my Paati’s house! Finally I came to the conclusion that the house which was converted to an office only should have been my Paati’s house because of the location (the beautiful thinnai was gone) and when I came back to Chennai, I crosschecked with my mother and she confirmed that Paati’s house was indeed converted into an office.

Paati’s house is history now! Sigh…

1 comment:

  1. Wow! This sets me off down memory lane and inspires me to write a lot about THOSE DAYS!