From Mulund to Mayuram


From Mulund to Mayuram

All happy families are happy in the same way.

Baby [Saraswathi] Aunty dead, on heart attack, at Mayuram, Tanjore Dt., at her elder daughter’s house. News, on phone yesterday night. From mulund to mayuram it is a 3000kms last journey.

She came there to collect the final instalment of the land/house/properties dispute at Dindugal, supposedly 20 lakhs. For this dispute, they spent a lifetime, fighting in courts.

I clearly remember Aunty as a stout, short, chiselled woman. Her not-so-fair, broad eyed, always eye browed, slightly pock marked, but elegant face and body glowed with pomp, confidence and arrogance of a richly endowed lady. One can mistake her for Lata Mangeshkar.

She was truly frequently mistaken, "Are you Lata Mangeshkar?" during her flights from Bombay to Tamilnadu. Her voice is also typically stilted and coquettish, low pitched as a singer would have it as "Contralto". That voice is because of her Kerala connection, as She was born and brought up at Trivandrum, later on migrated to Dindukkal. Keralites usually have a singing voice.

Her attire and demeanour always speaks about her Royal past, the rich life she had as a Trivandrum parampara. I was introduced to their house at Kachery road, Dindukkal, still a large, big house with sprawling open spaces on the busy roads of Dindukkal. I also visited Baby Aunt’s brother's house at Trivandrum, just backside to the Old Trivandrum Bus stand.

As it always happens in Rich families, slowly their riches and their relations begin to vanish, reasons not known to many.

When she married to my Bombay uncle, she said to have brought lot of Gold ornaments and dowry.

Along with that she also brought the Habit of lavish living, vanity,

This seriously undermined his son’s attitude and his marital life.

I saw her only few times in my life.

When she came to Tuticorin with her Bombay daughters for a month holiday;

And during a marriage at Kumara Kovil, the lush green hill temple along the Kerala Border, where the Lord Murugan gets Rocket Pattasu as a "Kanikkai".

And subsequently at Nager Kovil, Panagudi, Tuticorin, Palani.

Then my stay at Bombay for 40 days.

Then some visits by her to Palani and Dindukkal.

That’s all, very few occasions.

The 40 days sojourn at Mumbai brought me closer to them.

Aunty and Mama took extra efforts to please me. They took me to all places in Mumbai.

Everyday I saw new, new places. Marine drive, Kamala Nehru Park, The Single Shoe slider for children that was famously published in most of the news papers & children’s magazines and even replicated as drinking water bottle [I had it as a child] , Hanging gardens, the Queens Necklace [night light view of marine drive], the rotating dining tables of marine drive hotel, Chowpathy beach [pani puri], Juhu beach, Centaur Hotel, Santa Cruz Airport, Elephanta caves, Gateway of India, Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium, Mahalakshmi Temple, Jehangir Art Gallery, Victoria Teminus [Bombay VT it was fondly called, now it is renamed as Mumbai Chatrabathi Shivaji Terminus], Church Gate, the suburban Central Rail system and so many others

My executive diary of 1989 is given by Vijyalakshmi Mathini, [Viji] daughter of Baby aunty. That executive diary is filled with Yellow Rail tickets of Bombay, and all other tickets of wherever I went in Mumbai, and I wrote my experiences every day. [I write diary from 4th standard onwards, till this day]. I must digitise them soon. That will provide more insights to my Bombay life. They even said Aunty and mama took this much pain to show me all the places of Bombay which they themselves have not seen or they have not bothered to take any other relatives.

So Aunty was very supportive, very affable with me. I told my akka, you should be proud of being a "Bahu" of this house hold. Later on that opinion drastically changed, to the detriment of all people involved. But still I have soft corner for them, as it is humane.

I clearly remember the evening of 06th June 1989, Bombay Dadar Railway Station, where I cried heavily inside the iron curtains of my Train bogey, under pouring rain while separating with them after 40 days living with them in the 2nd floor of Endeavour Buildings, 90 Feet Road, and Mulund East. That day morning Viji presented me the Jagjit Singh's Ghazal "Desires" which we bought at the Mulund, immediately I noted down the date and time inside the sleeve of the cassette, which survived all these years, bringing fresh memories of the lovelorn land, the mechanical mammoth, the Mumbai.

It was during my Polytechnic 2nd semester annual leave Chidambaram mama came from Bombay. They decided to send me on vacation to Mumbai, via Chennai. At Chennai we stayed at Santhome SV Pillai mama's house. I saw SV Pillai mama's household is very attached to this Chidambaram mama family. At Chennai central we boarded train to Bombay, my dream land.

Early morning 4.30 we reached Dadar, from where we had to catch the first suburban train to Mulund. We reached mulund home at 5.30 am, with milk packet stashed at the door. Aunty opened the door with not yet fully awaken eyes. My cousins Gandhi and Viji ran inside the room thinking that some strange guests came. Like that my Bombay story started, for 40 days it was a story of love, affection, closeness, Times of India, Readers Digest, Ghazal, discussions, chats, me singing at mulund neighbourhood park to Viji & Gandhi audience ["Katti vachukko enthan anbu manasa, thottu vachchkko endhan sondha manse, indha neram ponnana neram Ooo, Aahaha"], night walks with Viji along the Mulund East 90 feet roads [Wadilal Ice cream parlours, neat roads, posh area].

I was instantly attached with Viji, who introduced me to their college friends at the Mulund East suburban railways station. The White shirt striped with blue lines which I wore on the first day to Bombay was very much liked by Viji. She wore that shirt with her blue jeans to her Bsc Bio Chemistry college, many times. Finally I gave that shirt to her as a memorabilia, on her request.

Viji is a modern woman, fully mumbaikar, had a drive to achieve, [now working with Johnson’s & Johnson’s company, Mumbai] knows good Hindi and Marathi also, But her elder sister Tirumalai Gandhi never ever became a mumbaite; like her father. Chidambaram mama continued strictly as a new comer to mumbai, not even knowing proper Hindi after 25 years of Mumbai life. His full concern was office-home-office. That’s all, he knows nothing else. Soft spoken, well dressed man of his fifties. He was fully devoted to his wife and children.

When I was in Tambaram training center, I sent my Aunty and Viji 2 presents. One was a sari for my aunty [bought at Kumaran Silks, T.Nagar] and the other was an imported Japan KYOCERA pen set for Viji [which was rare in those times] which my father got it from Tuticorin Ship-Sea going friends. I gave those things to be handed over to them thru my entry mate CPL Panikkar, who is from Dombivili. He promptly handed over the things to them.

Now CPL Panikkar is in Chandigarh, recently gone to Congo, Africa for a year of Ex-India trip.

Recently I happened to cross Mumbai by An-32 flight from Agra to Bangalore, in order to attend my cousin Tamil Isai Selvi's marriage at Tuticorin [now she is at Boston, USA].

There was a night halt for the aircraft at Santa Cruz airport. We stayed at Sayon Airmen Billets which was converted from textile godown to Airmen living in billets. I could not sleep, I wanted to call them, but no numbers, but luckily my own elder brother was on deputation to Navi Mumbai Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust packaging unit from SPIC, Tuticorin. I called him on phone, the SPIC manager who took my call explained me how it is impossible to travel from JNPT to Sayon in the mumbai traffic, and anyhow my flight is to take off at 0530 hrs the next day.

That was little close call on them, with nostalgia.

I am trying to get a photo of her soon. As soon as I get it, I will put it on net.

Athaiyin Athma Santhiadaiya prarththikiren.

May She R.I.P.


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