Of black halwa and Wrestlemania 21…

by sidin in

The deafening silence was but an interval while I got a job, got my degree, vacated my dorm room, said farewell to IIMA and trudged back to my little village in Kerala. Damn its been an overwhelmingly pacy two years hasn't it? And ever since those heady days last summer when my blog counter went ballistic I've had a brilliant time writing, getting emails and yes even filling in a few surveys on the side :)

Now I have a few weeks of peace till I join AT Kearney in Mumbai on the 16th of May. Its been a terrible few months especially since my last post. Its been just one big whirlwind of work, emails, CVs, companies, recruitments, press conferences, impossible deadlines and some unbelievable results. It was a relief to be back home doing nothing, but only for a while. Now I am just dying to get a rock hammer of my own and find a nice little poster to tunnel behind. The languour is exhausting.

There was a certain poetry to the way the pope passed away around convocation time at the Insti. Poetry at a personal level I mean. I am not a weekend churchgoer by any means but the news of the Pope slowly, inevitably, letting go of life did tug at strings somewhere. I guess its the lousy feeling when one of those things you took for granted all your life is now no longer a default parameter. And trust me it does not take long to institutionalise some things in your mind. Two years and BANG!!! off goes IIMA and a lifestyle and another thousand things I took for granted. Sob.

Enough melodrama. Back to malluland and what better way to continue writing than with a nice little home-grown post. I haven't been home this long for well over 4 years. And everytime I go through this weird mini-culture shock when I'm done changing and getting a good night's sleep. The local temple had its Pooram a few days ago. Every temple celebrates a Pooram once a year with special prayers and processions, elephants, hawkers and fireworks. The size of the spectacle depending on the largesse of the devotee community. The local temple is not the richest, and neither is the local populace that nourishes it, but they still manage three elephants and a fantastic percussion performance at night. I walk across to the temple with my brother, nodding to everyone who I think I recognise and anyone my brother talks to.

I have on and off been at home for the Pooram over the last many years, but it has not changed at all. The shops remains the same, the hawkers come every year, and VAT or no VAT, the prices seem to have increased only by a shade. But this time there are a few handicams here and there and many cellphones with cameras. I buy the usual quarter kilo of black halwa and a packet of puffed rice. The rice will never get eaten and, like old furniture and luggage, will be preserved in the storeroom till we run out of space or the next year we get more puffed rice at the Pooram.

The black halwa is one of my favourite sweets back home. Treacly sweet and dripping with oil, packing it and labelling it "Permanent Artery Lining" would not be off-mark by too much. I have put on a little bit of weight since Christmas and everyone tells me to exercise when they see me. When the "lose weight, you are very young" talk gets on my nerves I tell them about my job. Try telling a "coconut harvesting contractor" about strategy and management consulting. They walk away with a look of feigned understanding while I jiggle away, belly and double chin and all.

Nothing at the Pooram costs more than twenty ruppes. You cannot spend more than hundred rupees at the festival unless you do something stupid like buy enough black halwa to cardiac arest one of the elephants, all three of whom we just missed by a few minutes. Elephants have a way of making their presence felt even when they're gone. Big, dirty green and around the size of footballs they lay around till late evening when the courtyard is cleaned for the procession. Ironically that has an elephant too. And he is not holding back any.

Back home I buy an internet pack. The cyber silence is worse than starvation and dehydration. I install a dialer and tons of other crap and then finally find out that the server has crashed and won't be up till the next evening. I tell them they are an ISP and don't people have serious business to do on the net? Their call centre give me the names of a couple of other ISPs whose services are working. They could do with some consulting, I grin to myself.

It takes me two days and three more internet packs to get the net to work properly, but it is worth it. The connection is fast and there are many emails to read. I also notice that the site has crossed 200000 hits. Clap clap.

Since then I have been to a couple of weddings, zipped through the latest Arkady Renko novel by Martin Cruz Smith and fought over 30 times with my kid cousin who will let nothing but wrestling to be played on the TV at home. I try to change the tempo by playing out Jurassic Park 3 on the VCD player. The kid, who jumps for joy at the sight of Iron Cage matches and human beings being dropped head first onto steel furniture by a person called the Undertaker, is terrified at the sight of CGI dinosaurs. I have to pacify him by giving him a pillow he then uses to do mock bodyslams with.

In a way the dissonance is comforting. While I have gone from manufacturing to a website to now a consulting firm in Mumbai, home here remains the same. People still don't see why I took IIMA over the one in Kozhikode "just a bus ride away", chose a company they can't even pronounce over a Tata company, and then when they see what salaries people get there is a moment of awkward silence. I always say it is good to know that there are things that will remain the same, even if I don't.

Now I go back to my latest book by Tim Parks about Verona and football and random combinations of both. Hmm... I feel a little light today. A slice of black halwa should take care of that. Ciao all... and as long as there is only wrestling on the TV I should be writing a lot more.