“Place of birth>” asked the peon as he filled the form. I murmured my place of birth. Yes I had to murmur because I was ready for the quizzical expression which immediately followed after I mentioned my place of birth . I squirmed and wondered whenever I would get out of this ordeal and promised myself a special gift when eventually I didnt have to feel uncomfortable saying my place of birth.
I remember my place of birth very well. WE used to go there every summer. “Addiye!” the voice used to holler down the hall and my grandmother used to come running down with a towel in her hand . She would then realise that she had been summoned for a pettty cause by my grandpa – something like where is the matchbox or something. With a push, my Grandpa used to give the instrument one shove and it used to start getting lighted. The Petromax as it was called was the only source of light in this beautiful place where I have spent my entire summer holidays. There was no television, no telephone and no lights. There were no taps and water was taken from a well. There was no stove and there were huge mud burners and I still remember how we used to enjoy blowing air through a metal tube to make the flames below the mud burner burn faster and higher. Hot water was available outside from a huge black pot which was kept on firewood which kept the water simmering.
Rukmini and Maaran alongwith Sivaraman used to be our Man Fridays. Gettting something for the house was a huge process. A jeep had to come and the drive up to the main gate used to give a total view of the entire ambiene around us in this beautiful heaven which was my Grandpa’s house. The jeep wound its way through the narrow paths and steep lanes which dotted the entire region here.
We used to have our morning walks to the “Thodu” or a stream nearby and used to have bath at the Pozhuthan pozha – a unique water body of steady flowing water. With the coffee plantations offering the best sight and the beauttiful surroundings providing us the warmth and comfort, lunch time was a family get together of sorts and it tasted the best on those lovely plantain leaves. Huge jackfruits were cut by Maaran and we used to take out the fruits from the cut jackfruits and tuck ourselves in. Tthen of course the lovely huge heaps of greeen bananas which hung from hooks in the ceilings. WE were free to eat as much as we wanted.
Life was a breeze and holidays were fun. I was born in this beautiful heaven here and I still remember everyone wincing at least once when they asked me where I was born. They used to say” Hey! where is that place ? I have never heard of it before>”
Cut to the present. Suddenly there is this friend who tells me he is going to a special place in Kerala in India for his honeymoon. I ask him where and he tells me a name which sent a hundred nerves tingling down my spine. I once again ask him if I had heard right. Yes ! He said it the second time ……….WAYANAD…..
WAYANAD? I asked. He said yes it is the most sought after place today!!!
All those years when I tried to get recognised with my place of birth none responded. Today that very same place WAYANAD is a great tourist resort. Can you believe that? What people are paying for through their nose and going, we already have experienced as kids. WE have been there done that. Wayanad is the place where I was born as it is the place where my Grandpa used to live and it is a happening locale today. What else could one ask for getting noticed??
So now I am giving this special gift to myself now that the world over finally recognized my place of birth = the gift of the gab!