A Quest on Overdrive … :)

An eccentric rambler on life's lessons and mercies, found and lost… :)


Mommy Dearest…

No, I am not plagiarizing a beautiful title, of a well known Hollywood actress’ biography (Joan Crawford’s by her adopted daughter). Rather, hot on the heels of Mothers’ Day, is yet another special one for me. Mine grows another year younger, and it’s about time I acknowledged that one 🙂 🙂

My SB said to me the other day, amma, you know we’ve been together the last almost 22 years, and it’s going to be difficult na, when I go? I mean, you’ve known me only a part of your life, but I’ve known you all my life! 😆 Understatement, isn’t it? Of course he was just rehashing an old cliché!! But that is the point I’m trying to make. All our lives, we know one person the mostest, I think, our mother, sometimes, more than our father. In India at least :D! And so it is with Mom. Yes, I call her Mummy, Mom, Maaaaa… somehow never got around to calling her Amma, though my kids call me that. On my insistence! My paternal grandma, at her insistence, was called Amma by my brothers and I. That is another story for another rainy-no-muse day :)!

Mom has been the strongest pillar of our family. Not just us, but even hers, I sometimes think. She takes after her own mother, who I have already described in “A Woman Extraordinaire”, with a zest for life, and an unconditional and uninhibited go-for-it attitude to life. She, like me, is the ham  of a club sandwich, the 5th of 10 children her parents had. 11 if you were to count the oldest, a half brother. Life was tough as they grew, she and her siblings; lots of ancestral property managed by the Kaarnavar, or the eldest Maternal Uncle, the head of the family, entirely matriarchal… a childhood of getting, not much at all, just enough to live, dreaming of things, rushing about doing a 100 jobs around the place, along with the others. Going to school, walking over 3 miles up, then down again; taking turns to carry the large tiffin carrier; being denied further studies after her 10th, which only she and her youngest sister passed, because she had been seen, approved and was to be married off!! Tough times. Times that could, I have felt, crushed one with a weaker spirit.

So almost 50 years ago, she got married, a charming 17 year old, to a handsome tall dashing young navy man. My Dad. Though there are times we, both mom n I, rave and rant about men, I have always felt she was lucky, way luckier than her sisters, cousins, relatives, heck, even me :P! But then, I am biased am I not? She got married to my .. MY dad :D! Tougher times ahead, unfortunately! Being the wife of an only son has its problems. A possessive mother in law, who, though never abusive or hurtful, was possessive enough to make things difficult! But, yet again, she was lucky in that she was able to join Dad and travel with him on his various postings. And then of course, she had us 🙂 🙂 🙂 Lucky her! Lol!

With just a year between my EB and me, it was difficult for her to manage us, especially with Dad off sailing for long periods. But manage she did, and beautifully. For, in an alien city, Mumbai, with alien language and customs, she took to it all like a duck to water, and sailed through with flying colours. In Delhi too, the same happened.

She has  taken us to heights, and been with us through all our lows, been firm, yet loosened the bonds and apron strings when required, and kept us grounded and level headed through everything. Just everything. Be it the double fractures my EB had, the sickly chap my YB was, the rebel I became through my adolescence… right through it all, like a rock, she was there, always there. Never preachy, though she had and still has a booming voice when she gets mad 😉 😉 Dad was also there, but he was the strong and silent type back then 🙂 Now he is just the opposite, ever since his grandchildren got him to open up 🙂 🙂

You see, she grows younger as I have already said. She gels instantly with persons of all ages. It takes just a few seconds to get anyone talking, with her listening and drawing them out. She never holds back, be it advice sometimes, knocking common sense sometimes, listening, encouraging, consoling. There are very very few people I have come across who can reach out the way she has. In fact even my kids’ gang of friends are her friends; she never holds back; nothing, absolutely nothing!

When she knew I was going to be alone, in a few months time, there was no, why don’t you come down here, or shall we come there… just a reminder to be stronger, and have real expectations 🙂 And while we still agree to disagree on a lot of issues, the bonds are stronger than ever. She guides, unhesitatingly, and silently. Waits. Never nags, or asks. It’s cool, either way. She gives us space. Our own, and asks we never trample on hers :D!!

Linda Goodman, in her Sun Signs, speaks of the Taurean Woman as someone who walks tall. That’s her, my mother. She’s barely above 5 feet, but towers in ways we never could. To her indomitable spirit, and endless enthusiasm, not to forget her sheer gregarious spirit, here’s a toast! For health, peace of mind (she says that is fairy tale :D), for smiles each day, and less pain, esp around the knee 🙂 :)… (she’s going to blow a fuse when I show her this one, but it will be worth it! )Since she has already approved the Vishu and Thrissur Pooram posts, I think I might strike lucky with a third I share with her 🙂 🙂

Mummy, you’re the best. That is why even we are 🙂 Happy Birthday! May you grow even more years younger, each passing day 🙂 🙂 And may we be blessed to have your grace with us, always 🙂

The slide above has been prepared by my sister in law 🙂 Thanks Trips and Vinu, for saying is so beautifully for all of us 🙂 🙂

(Click on pic to enlarge, to read the beautiful words they have written 🙂 )

11 May, 2010, for 15 May, 2010


Vishu- വിഷു

Sols and Deeps, this is just for you. I know how much you two love this sort of a thing 🙂 🙂

This is also for my MOM 🙂

Today is special. It is Vishu. It is also my EB’s birthday 🙂 (Elder Brother). Happy birthday to another special Arien, and also to a year, reborn again, bringing with it hope for a better tomorrow.

കൈ നിറയെ കൊന്ന പൂവും, നിറപറയും, നിലവിളക്കും, മനസ്സുനിറയെ സ്നേഹഹവുമായി വിഷുവിനെ വരവേല്‍ക്കാം … 🙂

If you are seeing the above in “????” or a whole lot of little squares, you probably do not have the malayalam font! I’ll just transliterate for you, in English.. “Kai niraye konna poovum, niraparayum, nilavilakkum, manassuniraye snehavumaayi vishuvine varavelkkam ”

Meaning to say:

“With our hands and hearts full of the beauty, and the golden sheen of the konna flowers (cassia fistula, or indian laburnum), the fullness of a nirapara ( a measure of paddy, in golden grain), and the light of a lamp lit on the morning of Vishu, let us welcome it with our hearts full of love…”

A nirapara looks like this 🙂

(Have taken the image from a search engine, and it belongs to flickr.com )


The Kani Konna (- Cassia Fistula, a lot like the laburnum) is the flower of Vishu. Gorgeous chandelier like flowers in the sunshiniest yellow golden, filling the tree, our eyes and our hearts, come Vishu 🙂 It is the key to the Vishu Kani (what you ought to see- kani- the first thing when you open your eyes on Vishu day 🙂 )Here is the tree, at my parents, taken about a week ago… a beautiful sight!

The Vishu Kani, mom’s

The lamp at the nearest end, is called a Maadambi (മാടമ്പി)- It is pretty ancient, a family heirloom,  has a wooden stand, on which is placed the brass lamp. Mom uses it only on special occasions. The nilavilakku is at the far end, on the other side of the uruli (ഉരുളി), the brass basin in which the kani is arranged. The pic above is when she arranged it, and below, when it was time for the kani, at 4 am 🙂

Incidentally, I was tweeted as to why a mirror is placed in the vishukani. I have been told it is because we need to see ouselves, the best in ourselves, to appreciate the Godhead in us, as we prepare to start a new year, with this auspicious sight! It figures then, I think that you need to love yourself, and respect yourself, to be able to see in oneself the Godhead, isn’t it? I like that viewpoint, immensely 🙂 🙂

The chakka (ചക്ക)… jackfruit, is then taken out, after the kani (കണി), and facing eastwards, it is cut 🙂 That is mom doing it the naadan (നാടന്‍), the traditional way with a mazhu (മഴു).. or axe 🙂 And below, the halves arranged, for a few seconds left as it is 🙂 🙂

I am also told, that Vishu begins the cycle of rain patterns, the njattuvela (ഞാറ്റുവേല)… 🙂 Today marks the ashwathy njattuvela (അശ്വതി ഞാറ്റുവേല), and it is likely to rain soon 🙂 Each of the 27 stars has its own pattern, with the rohini, makayiryam, thiruvathira, (രോഹിണി, മകീരം, തിരുവാതിര) bringing in the most amount of rain, which is so essential for the farmers.

Today is also the day when it is most auspicious to sow a few seeds, being the ashwathy njattuvel 🙂 ((അശ്വതി ഞാറ്റുവേല))

*Whew! Wipes sweat off her brow* This has been satisfying, but hard work. Finding a transliteration page to work with, and finally opening the google transliteration malayalam page, to write there, and copy paste the malayalam here. But it seems to be worth it!

Have a wonderful year ahead, everyone!

സര്‍വ ഐശ്വര്യങ്ങള്‍ കൂടിയ വിഷുദിനാശംസകള്‍

സ്നേഹപൂര്‍വ്വം …

Wishing the best of the season, for Vishu, greetings and blessings…

With love

Ushus 🙂

15 April, 2010

Edited to add on 18th April, 2010:

Found this video, of a favourite song , in Malayalam, Kani Kaanum neram (കണി കാണും നേരം കമല നേത്രന്ടെ) on Sindhu’s FB wall 🙂 Thanks Sindhu 🙂 Just to share, because I know those who love this song will certain find it in the right post 🙂



*This one is for the SB… 🙂 who makes me realize each day, how much more I have to learn, appreciate, and love 🙂 Thanks a zillion, sweetheart 🙂

Now that I am officially twenty-five years old, the X-files option to disclose is finally here!

By the way, why does to reveal have a word like “disclose”, to express it? Strange are the ways of the English Language! This will further get me into rambling about the vagaries of a favourite language of mine, so I had better stop before I start! 😛

Ah! You’re still here, and reading? Maybe you’re wondering what on earth I am going to disclose… 😉 Just a status message on Facebook, by the SB wishing his brother a Happy Birthday, that goes like this 🙂

Happy b’day Arjun Muralidharan on ur 25th 🙂 It was nice growing up with someone like you, – someone to lean on, someone to count on… someone to tell on! 🙂 😛 😀 Hav a great yeah ahead!!

And his response?

Thanks bro.. wat do i say.. cudn hav done it without you. All those years, those games, those rides.. seems like it was yesterday and i sure do wish like hell it will remain like that forever. Though i shud say, i hate it wen u keep growing up.. i always wish ud remain “chotu” Love u loads.. BRO

I am reminded of the song, from Ram Lakhan, “Mere Do Anmol Ratan”, that I love so much.

That’s them… 🙂

And what I feel most blessed is that the SB has found words, to express so beautifully his feelings! Prouder yet again, am I, of him :), for he has borne the brunt of many a dark day I have gone through, being there for me, always, but always… 🙂 And though we fight the hardest, 😛 :P, I know he will be the one who will pull me through the fires I burn in 🙂 🙂

Ash 🙂 You’re the coolest, most happening person, ever 🙂 Thank you, for you 🙂

And though I don’t need to say it… Love you… 🙂

13 April, 2010


I am twenty-five… :D!

What a liar! How can she go public with such a blatant untruth?!

Pssst… well, when you think of it, do you think…? Naah! How the heck?

Lol! The moment those familiar with this space read this blog post title, these must have been the thoughts that flitted through their minds? I’m just double-guessing, but I guess I probably would too… :D!

Well truth be told, this is true, you know. Maa kasam! (Pun intended :P- you’ll figure out the pun soon enough! 😆 ) I wrote about the first of the twenty-five birthdays on this very space, about a year ago. In fact that post still holds the record of the highest number of hits for a post, ever, on Overdrive :). I loved writing it, and also, this one, on A Quest, the other blog I am at 🙂

By now, hopefully, the truth of the title will have been accepted without doubt! I wanted to share this here, and today, because the FB has gone public on Facebook about this very event! (FB as in First Born, please note 🙂 )

The Sun Child write is very special one, for it worked magic 🙂 It was written years before the FB was born, and at that time, even the thought of marriage was far from my mind :P! The magic is that he turned out exactly the way I describe My Sun Child… not at all fussy, gregarious, pet lover, still dreamy… 🙂 Each time I read it, I am amazed at the way things turned out! He is an Arien, a Sun Child too!

He celebrated the occasion with his friends on Marine Drive, cake cutting and smashin and sploshing on his face… why they do this is beyond me, still! :o!

We, ie the SB and I celebrated too. We baked chocolate cakes and made it into a Black Forest (or so I like to call it… 😛 )… complete with whipped cream and cherries.. though we forgot the chocolate shavings… 🙂 Here’s how it happened:

Two chocolate cakes baked in a pressure cooker 🙂

Layered over each other, and slathered with whipped cream, on an overturned steel plate 🙂

Piping around the edges with Mehendi cone like apparatus made out of plastic covers, for lack of the real things :P!

More decorations… and finally…..


Now you will perhaps agree the blog post is not lying 🙂 🙂

12 April, 2010


At long last… of Onam, and an ending, to make a new beginning :)

Alert : Long flash back post! Lol! It started a  couple of weeks after Onam, and has been inspired entirely by Solilo and Deeps 🙂 They had both endearingly asked me to share the Onam moments; and I am so very sorry, Sol, and Deeps, that I have been so darned delayed in getting this to you 🙂 Therefore the relevance of this post stands outdated, yet it is one, like the Thrissur Pooram one, that I did so very much want to share:)

Also, this is to somehow make me want to get rid of my aches and pains, and my mental block, writer’s block et al, to energize me into getting back to blogging. I have been re-shaping this particular draft over the past three days, as and when time permits, in between corrections, spending time with the sons, and the parents, and renovation work at home 🙂 I guess I am a genius ( a self proclaimed one, please note) to have managed to get this far 🙂

Furthermore, this is to ensure that I tie up loose ends before the year ends, and that I will not carry excess baggage of “to do’s” into 2010!! (Huh?? Do I really believe that, I wonder!!! Rofl. Anyways, it feels good to have written that, and who knows, I may just con myself into believing it!!!! 😛 )

May the new year bring much happiness, love, laughter and luck into all our lives 🙂 May only good things happen most, and may the not so good ones help us discover more strength within 🙂 May we all be blessed to seek and acknowledge the good we see around, and speak out against injustice, and cruelty, most for those who cannot, themselves….

May we all just sail in tandem, with love, and enjoy each day for all its gifts…. 🙂


A Happy Happy New Year to each a every lovely one of you out there 🙂


This is for you, Solilo and Deeps (and of course, all of you who might find the patience to wade through the words 🙂 🙂 )

Years ago, as a wee girl ( sorry, make that aeons ago :D) my brothers and I would, every evening, at the twilight time, sandhya neram, as they say in Malayalam, sit down together with my mother, and recite little slokas, in praise of the different deities, and sing cantos from the Narayaneeyam, that my mother and aunt had painstakingly, and easily taught us. It was a lovely time, and we would vy with each other to recite best, and would be promised sweets for rendition without faltering. There was no forcing or indoctrination… just a feeling.. a good feeling of sitting down together, and praying together. At the end of the recitation of the slokas, we would recite the names of the “nakshatras”, the stars, that each day had, and the names of the months by the Malayalam calendar. So we’d go… “Ashwathi, Bharani, Karthika, Rohini, Makeeram…. to Poororattadhi, Uttrattadi, Ravathi… Naalu Iruvathyeezhu” – in other words, the names of the stars, followed by the phrase, there are 27 stars. And so also for the months in the calendar… Medam, Edavam, Mithunam, Karkkidakom, Chingam, Kanni, Thulam, Vrischikam, Dhanu, Makaram, Kumbham, Meenam… Raashi panthrandu- Translated, to mean… the names, twelve of them, being the 12 Rashis, of the year.

I narrate this incident only to tell you how very deeply ingrained certain things stay in our memories, because after the teenage years, I have not been regular, with the evening prayers, except for when my children were very little… 🙂 Once they too became teenagers, it had to be reminded to them, and even then sometimes we did not make time for it. However, they too, went through the routine of learning the nakshatra names, and the rashee names 🙂 🙂 That much happened, and they can recite it today too… though they perhaps have not recited it for more than six to seven years.. 🙂 I recall this more so now, whenever Onam comes around…

How I know that it is Onam, when the Thiruvonam day would come, and how we prepare for it, ten days in advance, on the day of Atham, and I also know how my children remember too! We still celebrate the English Birthdays, the day on which the date of birth falls, and the Perannal.. or the Malayalam Birthday, that comes, according to the stars that we were born under. So my Kunju, the FB, is Uthradam, Kunjunni, the SB is Revathi… and so on. Daddy’s is on Atham, THE Atham, that comes before Onam 🙂 This year it was truly special, for each year, only the kids and I get to spend it with them, my parents, but this year, my younger brother and his wife were also there, and it was lovely 🙂 🙂

And so started the countdown to Onam.

(Contd, after an aeon 🙂 ) Onam this year was hectic, because my mom wanted it at their home, and she was still recuperating from her knee surgery, to repair a torn ligament, and that had incapacitated her (read, made her walk more slowly, that is all! else she runs 🙂 ). She did the whole scene, food wise- the naaranga pickle (the vadukappuli variety), mulakaapachchadi (like the pulienji), kaalan, olan, elissery, not to mention the paayasam, and the chips, both the classic salted variety, and the sharakkara upperi (sweet, jaggery coated banana chunks 🙂 )

On the day before Thiruvonam, that is Onam day proper, is Uthraadam, or Onnu Onam (first Onam); this time we did a naadan, that is country style, dehati style pookkalam, the flower carpet with flowers from our very own garden… all those flowers that my mother takes regularly as offering to the temples she visits, and those she makes garlands out of, for her beloved deities. These were flowers like the Nandiarvattom and the Pazhivamalli, (the white flowers, that resemble the jasmine, and the Pavizhamalli has a lovely shade of orange in the middle),  the Kolambi flower ( kolambi means, pitcher like… pot like… 🙂 and this one is the bright yellow flower), the Shankhupushpam (the gorgeous blue flower), green leaves, and the omnipresent hibiscus and thulasi 🙂 I have included a few pictures of the flowers and the making of the pookkalam on Uthraadam day 🙂 First of all, the ground is sanctified with gobar, made out into a circular shape, with raised mound in the centre. It is here that the final flower, the hibiscus will be placed. We always start with a thulasi leaf, for benediction and benevolence and luck!! 🙂 The hands you can see in the picture are :our domestic help’s, her name is Shanta, and mine 🙂 And it is a series of concentric circles of contrasting shades derived from the petals of the flowers we gather 🙂

Here they are , the flowers, and the Pookkalam (the flower carpet 🙂 )

Shankhupushpam – the conch-flower (a literal translation that 🙂 )- a gorgeous shade of blue… for the pookkalam
The bright yellow “Kolambi” flower
The Pavizhamalli – a small white flower that resembles the jasmine 🙂

Alari poovu, another favourite home grown flower

The making of the pookkalam
This year’s naadan pookkalam … with home grown flowers only 🙂

On Onam day, it was the Thrikkakkarappan, or the symbolic representation of Lord Mahabali (made of clay, at home, the previous days ), that took the centrestage. Offerings  of “ada” (steamed coconut-jaggery-rice cakes in banana leaf) and bananas were made, and an umbrella adorned his place of honour 🙂 You can see the SB making the offering, in the puja. It rained and rained that day, but we were lucky to have been able to have the mud statues stay firm till the end 🙂

Making the offering of “ada” and bananas to Lord Mahabali, the Thrikkakkarappan 🙂
Thrikkakkarappan… an offering to Lord Mahabali, fruit and “ada”… 🙂

Of course, the sadhya followed, with much eating and fun! At the end of it all, mom all but collapsed, though happy that even this year her Onam was truly celebrated 🙂

The feast 🙂

The feast… taken from the SB’s mobile

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So that is the past unfinished business, neatly handled and done away with. I know it is really shoddy work, the writing, and the post itself, but I had resolved to tie up all my incomplete work, before the clock strikes 12 midnight on 31 Jan, 2009. Hopefully this will see the light of day by then!!!

Finally! Am now going to hit the publish button, before I get jittery about proof reading, layout, and all that stuff. If you got till here, I am your fan 🙂 Just let me know 🙂 🙂 I shall surely announce it to the world!

Thank you, each of you, for being here, and for your warmest support!

30 December, 2009