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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Sivaramapuram

On the highway from Kumbakonam to Mayiladuthurai (Mayavaram), near Kadiramangalam, lies a quaint little village on the banks of the Cauvery. It has been my grandmother's dream that I visit this place, her native village, at least once in her lifetime. Last year, after years of talking and dreaming about it, I did just that.

Our driver almost missed Sivaramapuram. He had never heard of it and he had been driving in those parts for quite some time. We managed to find it and our car couldn't get into the one-street village. We went on foot. It wasn't a big deal because the entire village consists of just one street.. :) The entrance to the village was dotted with a Siva temple.We were accosted by an old maami in madisaar clearly excited at the prospect of some new comers! I left my parents to banter with the madisaar maami and walked down the length of the street to the Cauvery.

It was an intensely personal journey for me filled with memories of my grandmother and her childhood tales. Narrated over afternoon siestas or lazy evenings in the thinnai of her house, her stories were always colorful and entertaining. To me, she and her village stories belonged to a magical, idyllic world that I could never personally experience! She is a good storyteller, that one..:)

Most of the houses in Sivaramapuram are dilapidated.I heard the madisaar maami say that most of the owners are in the US with their sons/daughters. Ha! The reach of the US even in these old parts. I reached the Rama temple at the end of the street on the banks of the Cauvery. It was always as my grandmother had told me! The padithurai where she and her siblings bathed every day was now dilapidated. I was a bit disappointed. People don't use rivers when there are bathrooms, I told myself. A couple of ancient banyan trees were hanging over the river, their branches lazily touching the Cauvery. My grandmother had told me that her boisterous brothers would swing from Banyan trees and jump with a splash into the river while the women were going about their chores. Could these trees be the one from her stories?!

We visited the erstwhile house of my grandmother. It had now become a Raghavendra Madam. The person next door was a distant-relative of my grandmother and she was maintaining the madam. She showed us inside the madam and gave us a tour. This place was once a 4-kattu house..This was where my grandmother grew up..I was lost in imagination until the maami invited us home to coffee. And what a coffee it was! The cow in the backyard had just been freshly milked. The smell of fresh boiling milk and decoction in the filter was simply intoxicating. I have to say that coffee was from Heaven! No Starbucks can beat that taste ever.

Some of these old places in the Tanjore district still maintain their old lifestyle. They are self-sufficient. Almost every house has a cow that feeds the family. Some of these families still manage agricultural lands and live off that produce like my grandmother's family once used to. They know where their food comes from and how it was grown. They know that their milk doesn't have anti-biotics, pesticides and artificial growth hormones. It is not that they do not know the joys of city life. A lot of them have well to-do sons/daughters in Chennai or abroad. But they choose to live there..

Today, there is talk of world famine and food shortage and everyone is encouraged to go "local". In the US, there's talk of encouraging people to have their own farms. That's how India used to be! That's the lifestyle we so vigorously rejected a few decades back! Now, its back in fashion but I am not sure that the knowledge still exists...Life's a Circle.

As Sivaramapuram faded away into the distance, I found myself thinking, "What have we done..God, what have we done?"

15 comments:

Jira said...

'Sivaramapuram'-sounds like the name of a fictional village from a folk tale...
But I get the picture:) A Shiva and Ram temple in the same street?! Interesting...

Stirs memories of the time I visited my dad's native village, seeing the old houses and meeting the people, my dad's childhood buddies....

In those days the entire street must have been like one big family! They were there for each other, the warmth, compassion and friendship...No wonder our grandparents keep talking about those days!

subhashssm said...

nice one
to be very frank every one of us wants to lead a technical more sophisticated life and we are never content.when i visited my native place which is ambasamudram some 10 yrs ago the same thing happened.who knows one day there will be no villages in india.there we had thamarabarani at the back and a street thats it-kizambur now i dont know and our life style has changed sorry we have changed it and now no one will go there and live.

expertdabbler said...

You should read E F Schumacher's 'Small is beautiful'

I don't know how viable it is in today's world. Nevertheless a very important book

P B said...

pinnita subha. Super read.

dinesh said...

am reading your blog (or any blog) after a longggg time. Very nice read indeed. Your description gives me pictures of a primitive, uncomplicated yet fulfilling life that we all so want to be a part of. Keadikkuma indha sugangal namakku ?

The Doodler said...

jira,
yeah, I agree! :)

@subhashssm

Nothing is final..:) If the living in cities gets bad enough, people might yet go back..who knows.

Pk,

cool book reco! I am still ploughing through your earlier suggestions..

pb, danks..

dinesh, welcome back to the blog world..:)

NePo said...

I have been a readonly visitor for quite sometime now.. good read.. and I have always dreamt of doing something in my father's native village... :)

VINOTH said...

Excellent!!
I could understand. Since 'N' no. of people living in the same village where they born. Since, I'm in the same situation.

Zeppelin said...

romba naal kezhichu enakku puriyara maadhiri oru blog post.. :D

fantastic post subha! really loved reading it!

siiigghh... nostalgia.

Anonymous said...

The life of the people in the society during Vedic times was a very thought out form of living. In those days itself, Rishis had designed the life of an average person to be in line with the flow of the whole nature, rather than abuse mother nature, like the way modern science had set out the course now.

No matter what advances the vedic day people achieved in understanding, they never had violated the universal laws that the mother nature goes by. The current problems in the world, related to Food, climate changes etc are the abusive ways that the modern scientists are practicing in persuit of better life, by ignoring (or out of ignorance) the universal laws.

Basically, the intentions of the modern scientists for most part, are driven by greed, selfishness rather than trying to serve humanity and hence this course.

In vedic times, every one used to live according to the universal laws and by aligning ones own life according to the mother natures laws, but modern scietists had disturbed this alignment and had encouraged abuse of the mother nature and its resources at will, whcih is what is the cause of the problem.

Mahesh said...

well written! could almost feel the walk and smell the coffee! :-)

guru said...

Sivaramapuram!!!!! Well writtened about,My Mother also Born & brought up at he same place,raghavendra Madam is belongs to My Maternal Uncle,lakshmana Swamiji.the maami who gave coffee is my Aunty,We are there every year for my Uncle's death ceremonies.

Sonia said...

Wooow - that is the place I spent almost every summer vacation growing up. My late grandpa's house is the first house in the lane. I guess our driver Veeraswami was one of the few who knew how to get a car in...:).....I was just googling and was really surprised - the lovely groves (kollais) with coconut, mango, jackfruit, neem, citrus and other trees, the thinnais, the elaneer - which I hated then, the cow shed and the hay stacks....wooow - lovely to read that somebody else knows about the place....

KUMAR said...

Nice to read. It brings back my memories of my few visits to sivaramapuram during my summer vacations during my school days. This is my mothers place. Our grandfather's house is the second house from Rama temple, who was a retired school teacher. The padithurai is recently repaired.

Murali said...

This was the village my grandfather stayed. Even today have memories of the place which we used to visit for summer vacations. Our house was may be 2nd from the radar kovil. Lovely lovely place remember the raghavendra madam. Also opposite to our house was that of santhanam. My grandfather's neighbour. He was the only person to have ambassador car at that time.what a lovely garden we had.thanks for bringing the memories