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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Grand KRG Family Reunion - The Preamble

Ananadavalli & K.R.Ganapathy Iyer - popularly and endearing referred to as Anna & Manni
We are all the privileged and fortuitous descendants of the fabulous couple pictured above. My grandfather the effervescent K.R.Ganapathy Iyer, hailed from Thottuva-Koovapady. He studied law and practiced as an advocate in Perumbavoor & Alwaye. He married my charming grandmother Anandavalli and theirs was a child marriage: the bridegroom was 12 and the bride all of 8 years of age.They settled down in Perumbavoor where they lived in a independent cottage in the midst of an acre and a half of land surrounded a multitude of trees. They had 6 children: Ramanathan (aka Konthai married Ramal), Rasamma (married Krishnamurthy), Hariharan (aka Rasu married Lalitha),Narayanan (aka Nana married Jaya ), Subramaniam (aka Manikutty married Thangam) & Krishnan (did not marry). Of these siblings and their spouses only two are still alive - Rasu aged 95 and Ramal aged 93. The rest have attained moksha. Rasu mama/chittappa lives in Ernakulam & Rama mami/periammai lives in Coimbatore.Both are frail in health, reasonably sharp of wit and moderately active for their age.

A KRG family reunion has been on the cards for around 18 months. The first time it was mooted in early2016 it did not take off due to absence of consensus on venues,dates,budgets & non availability of key family members. A large contingent of our family live overseas. The reunion discussion started afresh in 2017. This time the idea was mooted by cousin and veteran Malayalam cine artist Jayaram. On 13 April 2017 a special Whatsapp Group comprising most K.R.Ganapathy Iyer Family members was constituted with the specific purpose of planning and executing a grand family reunion. Chandrasekhar, Chennai also took active steps along with Jayaram to plan this reunion. Initial announcement was posted by Sekhar - The reunion was being proposed by Jayaram on 20/21 May alternatively on 27/28 May 2017. Initial responses favored 20/21 May. Immediate confirmations came from Ramu Shobha Guhan Minakshi & Team Bangalore headed by Jaya/Naran Athimbar and comprising Radhakrishnan,Prathima,Krithika & Priya. Dinu expressed doubts about his/Priya's participation.This was followed by confirmations from Sekhar,Anu,Megha,Uttara & Narayanaswamy Athimbar. Ranju said she couldn't make it. Next confirmation came from Shobha (Bangalore) followed by Sidharth. It was generally agreed that 100% attendance was not possible but we should aim at maximum participation. The reunion venue was kept a top secret.
Meanwhile Jayaram requested for travel details to be communicated to enable him to arrange pick up from airport/railway station etc.. The initial meeting point was to be @ Ernakulam (venue not disclosed) and members were required to arrive there on 20th morning. In the midst of these discussions confirmation on participation was received from Usha & Raja, Palakkad. Ramu athan also confirmed his attendance but Sharada Manni regretted her inability as she was recuperating from illness.
For a while discussions on reunion continued in both channels. Thereafter good sense prevailed and discussions were routed exclusively through the new channel.By now a great deal of enthusiasm & excitement had been generated. Initial confirmations stood at 21 members. Niru/Shekar,Nishe expressed inability to participate. Doubts were also expressed by Manju & Pathy on account of Aishwaryas university exams. Silence also from Sethu Sarayu & Shanthi/Kumar. No one really knew at this juncture about the participation of the family patriarch Rasu chittappa/mama. Even though he had once earlier many months ago expressed a desire to participate.
There was a suggestion from Radhakrishnan whether the venue could be changed Munnar. Other suggestions included extending the get together to two nights/three days.There were also questions of participation of Balan & Vasantha from Australia & Bhavana/Rohit from Boise, Ranju/Pathu @ Boston and Vivek/Jayasree from Houston & Vichu/Viji/Anirvin.
Meanwhile the venue for the get together continued to remain mystery. Since Jayaram was the key organizer we were all awaiting his announcement.Then came his voice message - he was participating in an Asianet awards ceremony on 19th May at Trivandrum & thereafter he would drive over night and reach Ernakulam by early morning of the 20th.He was also playing chenda as part of the fusion music in the awards ceremony. "Her Royal Highness" Shanthi, even though uncertain of her participation, was tossing various tongue in cheek ideas & suggestions.
Shekhar (Nirus husband) suggested a postponement to June/July as he felt May was peak season and accommodation anyplace would be scarce as well as costlier. (He was trying to throw a spanner into the works:). Manju too was keen on a postponement to enable her & Aiswaryas participation- May was exam time for Aish. Dinesh stated categorically that since he was shifting house from Delhi to Bangaluru hence will be unable to participate. Vinod/Priya kept a considered and poignant silence.
Aswathy staunchly rejected any suggestions of a postponement as she & Jayaram were unavailable. Likewise Jaya too firmly favoured the originally proposed dates. Finally the dates were frozen for May 20-21.
Meanwhile more confirmations started streaming in:  Sethu & Sarayu said yes. Usha & Parameswaran aka Raja from Palakkad reconfirmed . Chakki was unavailable due to prior commitments. Jayaram's son Kannan a rising young star in Malayalam films  confirmed he will join.
The venue continued to remain a mystery - it was getting curioser & curioser, more & more mysterious, suspense shrouding the location. Availabilty of Shanthi Kumar & Aiswarya too remained unfathomable.....Vinod & Priyas participation continued to remain ambigious as also that of Manju & Pathy. Niru Shekhar Nishe & Yash regretted their inability to join as they already had a pre arranged holiday booking for Kaziranga.
Anu Sekhar suddenly met with an unexpected predicament - she twisted her ankle while attempting a new yoga pose resulting in torn ligaments and a layoff of several weeks. Anu would sadly be unable to join.
Then a voice message announcement was issued by Jayaram. This was followed by periodical announcements and updates from Jayaram.
 All family members were to congregate at Hotel Sarovaram located in Vytilla, Ernakulam. Two rooms had been booked for family members to arrive,  relax & refresh.Breakfast would be served at Sarovaram. After break fast the group would board a luxury bus and proceed to Aleppey where a luxury cruise on board The Rainbow Cruises was arranged . There were myriad questions - where is Sarovaram, how to reach there, how far is it from airport, what time should we reach, when will we depart from Sarovaram, how long is the drive to Alleppey etc.
Meanwhile Jaya & Naran who were arriving early by air from Bangaluru were keen to visit Thottuva Dhanwantari & Pandackal before proceeding to Sarovaram. On Jayaram's advise they decided to postpone the temple visit on 20th morning and agreed to cover these on the return trip. Vinod finally broke his silence and announced that he and Priya were participating along with their kids and were also bringing along Dinu/Priyas kids. They would reach Bangaluru and drive down by car. This announcement brought additional cheer. A bunch of highly talented kids like Arjun Akshada Avilash & Avyuktha always add the extra energy and zip to any reunion.
A sense of euphoria and de ja vu was building up ! The stage was finally set. The reunion was actually happening. The only setback was Rasu Mama/Chittappa informed his inability to participate due to poor health. He felt he would be liability. There were several attempts to persuade him to change his mind - by me, by Jayaram & by Jaya. The senior most surviving member of the family would not be there.He was emphatically clear that  did not wish to be an encumbrance during the reunion celebrations. My mother Ramal however required no persuasion.She was eagerly, excitedly and enthusiastically looking forward to joining the reunion.

Participants started filing in their travel itineraries,arrival modes, flight/train timings plus posting pictures from airports & transit points.
Jayaram also announced a grand saddi on board the luxury cruise, with special mouth watering dishes - plus some awesome menu on the side for the non vegetarians (kari meen, poricha meen,chemmeen) and that the bar would be appropriately stocked for the benefit of the spiritually oriented.
During these various whatsapp exchanges the resort venue was unwittingly disclosed - The Lake View Resort in Alleppey. The final tally of confirmed participants: 32.
 While reunion related discussions were in progress there were also continuous exchanges of jokes, anniversary /birthday wishes,leg pulling and banter & plenty of pun both intended and unintended;series of quizzes,puzzles & tongue twisters to enliven the proceedings and provide necessary mood buildup. Here are some poignant happy & expectant pictures of family members some clicked during transit while others are file photos and a few plucked from Facebook pages..
Handsome dudes Jayaram & Kannan 

Kannan with his doting mom Aswathy

Vivacious & Vibrant Sethu
Soft & serene little sister Sarayu

Ramu Shobha & Guhan taking a highway break
Ramu Athan,Vinod & Priya at Coimbatore
Avyuktha & Akshada merrily slurping ice cream

Minakshi & Siddharth in a state of bliss

Usha & Raja - striking a candid pose. Though not a direct descendant Usha enjoys a special and unique relationship with KRG Family.Usha's father Ambi (s/o Viswanatha Iyer brother of Anna) married Usha's mother Chellamani (d/o Kunjammai sister of Anna)
Uttara & Megha were among the first to land in Ernakulam

The Chandrasekhar Family on flight from Chennai minus Anu

My mother Ramal along with her escort Lakshmi Mami - at YMCA International Ernakulam
Jaya Akka, Naran Athimbar & Ramu Athan waiting at Bangaluru Airport
Prathima & Radhakrishna strike a rapturous pose Below: 1.Vinod & Priya taking off by road from Bangaluru
2. Priya with Arjun & Avilash. 3.Arjun plucking mangoes at Malampuzha 4.Ramu & Shobha - a candid selfie
Prathima & singing sensation Priya eagerly waiting for the take off
Bharatha Natyam exponent Kritika with her pretty mom and gorgeous grandmom

Monday, July 31, 2017

Betrayal - A Short Story

Once upon a time there was a worm. The worm was weak and ailing and close to breathing its last. The worm approached a respectable dignified and fine looking Race Horse (RC)with a champion blood line & illustrious track record and who had won many races with distinction. The horse was very popular and had many friends. The worm wanted the horse to dump all its friends and associates and become an exclusive friend with it alone. The horse was reluctant and declined.  It knew the worm’s characteristics: short sighted, slimy and somersaulting. But the horse was compassionate and took pity and decided to add the worm to its friends list.
A year went by uneventfully. The worm reappeared after one year stating that with special transfusions it has transformed into a big cat. To prove its point the worm brought along a slew of hired cats.
These new cats were deployed to meet the RC and they convinced  it to be become an exclusive friend. The cats made an passionate plea and the RC fell into the trap. It agreed and removed all others from its friends list. Secretly though the RC maintained contact with all its old friends.
Though the horse was well aware that the worm was capable of somersaults it truly believed that the "cats were really cats". The horse started winning many races and won many trophies & good amount of prize money. The worm regained its health and also became prosperous. It also became greedy.
One day the worm suddenly decided that it had become an elephant and no longer required the friendship of the RC. After lying low for around a week the worm gathered courage sought an appointment and met the horse again and pronounced that “I declare that you are a worm from today. I dont need your friendship anymore"

What do you think the horse should do? What is the moral of the story?

(Adapted from a true story involving human beings)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Vedaranyam Salt Pans

On day 2 at Nagapattinam our plan was to drive past Vedaranyam to Point Calimere - a bird sanctuary as well as wild life sanctuary.Unfortunately no birds could be sighted.We were informed by locals that the birds had all flown of during early January owing to some cyclonic disturbance of their habitat. Disappointed we turned towards the Kodikkarai wild life sanctuary. We bought entry ticket for the car and were informed that we could drive 6 kms into the sanctuary, see wild animals en`route and finally reach the sea shore and see the remains of the historic Chola lighthouse, destroyed in the tsunami of 2004. .But after driving for about a kilometre we were forced to turn back as the road was badly damaged and I ran the risk of a tire puncture.
On our return journey we stopped briefly at Vedaranyam to click pictures of the salt pans.
The Vedaranyam March or Vedaranyam Satyagraha was organised to protest the salt tax imposed by theBritish Raj in in India. The march took place in April 1930 and was the second of its kind following the Dandi March organised by Mahatma Gandhi both in the framework of the Civil Disobedience Movement. The march was led by a group of 100 volunteers from the Indian National Congress under the leadership of C.Rajagopalachari often referred to as "Rajaji". It began at Tiruchirappalli and ended in Vedaranyam a small coastal town in Thanjavur district. Rajaji later went on to become the first Indian Governor General of Independent India.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Sikkal Murugan Temple, Nagapattinam

After Pichavaram Mangroves & Tranquebar we reached Nagapattinam around 3.30 noon and checked into the magnificent State Circuit House there as guests of the Nagapattinam Collector.We were the sole occupants that night and were given an exclusive air-conditioned suite. We visited Tirunallar & Sikkal in the evening. Tirunallar is one of the important Navagraha Sthalas and is located in Karaikal which is a territory of Pondicherry. Here are some beautiful pictures clicked during visit to Sikkal Murugan Temple Nagapattinam.
The Circuit House at Nagapattinam
The Temple Teertham or Holy Water Tank at Sikkal
Saw some adorable little lambs prancing around the temple campus at Sikkal

Friday, April 1, 2016


From Pichavaram Mangroves we visited Chdambaram township and worshipped at the famous Nataraja Temple. After spending close to 90 minutes there we had lunch at "Saradarams" and proceeded towards the quaint and ancient villae of Tranquebar  or Tharagampadi as it is know to locals. It was an ancient Danish settlement.
The allure of Tranquebar is a wonderful yet seamless cultural concoction that has been brewing over hundreds of years - a beautiful mix of languages, cultures, races and religions. Two centuries of Danish heritage has left important cultural and architectural imprints which can be seen in colonial houses, churches, cemeteries, and most particularly, the Dansborg military fort.
Tranquebar was gravely affected by the devastation caused by the Tsunami in 2004. Private organisations and the government came together for restoration, developmental and social revival, and today this demure town is in the spotlight again.
The renovated Danish Fort which was severely damaged during the Tsunami of 2004. The fort also houses a museum and the jail where criminals and offenders were kept captive.
Beautiful colonial building and scenic landscape by the sea
The Ter Centenary Memorial
Ziegenbalg's achievements

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Innovative Waste Segregation

Mechanized house to house garbage collection at G.V.Residency Coimbatore:
Palani, the association's garbage man, collects garbage in segregated buckets fom all the houses in G.V.Residency (around 250 plus houses) and same is deposited in a central location. The association deals with the garbage suitably - bio degradeable garbage is converted to compost, while plastics, paper, glass & e-waste are independently disposed off to recyclers.
Earlier Palani was pushing a hand cart. Now he has been provided with an e-vehicle (battery operated) for faster and easier collection.Palani is a happy man now.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Pichavaram Mangroves

After spending a restful night at Cuddalore we left next morning for Chidambaram.Around 10 Kms before Chidambaram we veered to the left and travelled towards the Bay of Benal and reached Pichavaram Mangroves around 11,00 am. The place was looking deserted barring us and a small group of foreign tourists. We decided to take a one hour boat ride to view the mangrove at close quarters, The ride was spell binding and enchanting and we were treated to some of the most spectacular landscape we have ever witnessed.As we traveled through the mangroves we felt a bit eerie as there was complete silence and it was a bit frightening. Mangroves act as storm barriers and protect the coast line from devastation.