01 March, 2012

Growing up in nature's playground

A few nights ago, we were just finishing dinner when all of a sudden my world went colourless. We were engulfed in complete darkness as the power had just walked out on us. Now, power-cuts are like strangers to us ever since we moved to what while growing up was ‘the other side of the world.’ Until then, it was the days without the power-cuts were that were strange to us.

My pitch black surrounding, the faint glow of candle light and a walk to the balcony to see what the outside world looked like, brought back a barrage of memories. I was transported back to the holidays I spent in Kerala, where daily half hour load-shedding was a part of everyday life. Every week this power cut would move to the next half hour slot till it hit 9 or 9:30 pm and then it would start all over again from 7 in the evening. I was taken back to the many evenings when amma, ettan (older brother) and I spent ‘power-cut time’ sitting outside our ancestral home and having our daily chit chats. The house was surrounded by plantations on three sides and paddy fields on the other. So nightfall meant crickets coming out and announcing the end of the day, birds noisily rushing back to their nests and probably shouting out good nights, and blood thirsty mosquitoes buzzing around our ears. The mosquitoes in the cities go about their evening chores quite quietly, don’t they? These were of a different kind. They were bigger too.

Then there were the fireflies. What a beautiful sight it was to see these little creatures fly around the branches of certain trees and light them up, making them look like Christmas trees, whatever the season might be. Might I add that those pretty insects seemed biased to some trees? That was quite obvious to me.

Now let me tell you about something I had been oblivious of for a very long time. On most days we would hear the hooting of an owl that had gotten comfortable in one of the trees near there. Where exactly the nocturnal bird sat, nobody knew and that added an air of mystery. The hoots came from somewhere close by yet it was never close enough to give away the wise bird’s hiding place. One evening achan (dad) made me listen very closely to the hoots and I heard a far away owl respond to the owl that had become our neighbour. Honestly -- there would be one hoot and then from afar -- two faint hoots. That was some communication!

I also remember hearing foxes' cries. They were so eerie; they sounded like distress calls in the quiet of the night but I got used to it. We don't hear them anymore. I wonder what happened to those foxes.

There's another side of life at the plantation -- the creatures that horrified me. There would be days when our pet dogs barked like they had seen something from outer space, and almost always it was a snake slipping into the grassy area that bordered the front yard. Sometimes these reptiles would play uninvited guest and creep through the rafters of the outer rooms of the house. Many a time, during my strolls, I’d see one working its way around a tree trunk or slithering across the path just a few feet ahead of me. Those were the days I found it difficult to fall asleep.

Yet another living thing that liked calling upon us was the mighty elephant. Now is that difficult to believe? I’m not making that up. Around our place, most estates seem to have jack-fruit trees in the midst of the coffee shrubs. In summer, these fruits lure the pachyderms out of the jungle and into the plantations. It is anybody's guess that there would be some damage if one came by but thankfully no human being has met his fate with one, as far as my knowledge goes. Word goes round if somebody sees one or spots signs that an elephant has come a-visiting. On those days every one who cares for dear life makes sure to get home before dark because its after sunset that these huge creatures feel free to walk about; after all they are in human territory.

If it’s coffee season, we saw monkeys have a gala time chewing on coffee berries. I could tell you stories of boars and rabbits that roam the area, of storks in the paddy fields, of the fish in the river that flows nearby.  I’ve even been lucky with the occasional peacock sightings. I’m not kidding. I could go on but stop I must. And take you back to power-cuts, from where I digressed. Wayanad is a plantation district in north Kerala. Due to its abundance of trees and heavy rainfall in the monsoons, strong winds that accompany the rains often bring down trees and a lot of the time, they fall on electricity lines. And when this takes place it usually happens in more places than one and so it just means you have to manage without power for a day or two. That’s nothing out of the ordinary there. People survive.


[100% real. 100% true. Written for The Kissan 100% Real Blogger Contest]

38 comments:

  1. half an hour? on an average we have 6 hours of power cuts here everyday :D.

    that was an awesome post, loved it, although mosquitoes can really spoil the fun. i have my relatives in villages and i spent so much time there during childhood. and those villages have absolutely nothing other than crickets, fireflies and snakes but it was all fun just like ur post :D

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    1. Hey Deb,
      Finally blogger let you comment, eh?

      The half hour power cuts were the regular load-shedding power cut; like the minimum time.

      I could never get used to the snakes. I'm still terrified of them.

      Thank you for being so regular here. :)

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  2. Ohh, load-shedding!!! Was hoping to enjoy it at least once between mid Dec and mid Jan but for some reason power was more stable than I can ever remember.

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    1. Really? Isn't that kind of sad? I loved those half hours . That was the time I could sit and do nothing and not feel guilty about it.

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  3. nice post...all the best for the contest

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  4. Green post :D
    good luck for the contest and FOXES crying ? .. you are DAMN LUCKY... i love those environments :D
    Kerala is such a beautiful state :D

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    1. Deepak,
      Those foxes have disappeared into thin air :(.

      Hey, Thanks. Wish you the same. Your entry's cool, too.

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  5. Nambiar,

    I just finished reading your post and I can still feel it in my nerves. So beautifully crafted and a little spine tingling. Especially the fox part. I never heard yet a fox crying. Dont even know how it sounds. Thats one heck of an experience i should say.

    All the very best for your contest :D
    Cheers!

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    1. Thank you so much, Saikat. The foxes sounded very eerie, believe me :)By the time I got used to the cries, the foxes disappeared.
      Thank you.

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  6. Beautiful words that bring alive old memories .. made me wish that I had grown up in a Kerala plantation to have memories of snakes, owls and elephants ..

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    1. Thank you for coming by. I enjoy your photo blog too...love your signature style - the descriptions in 3 languages.

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  7. Your words have life :) You draw quite a picture with them. One more thing I find intriguing is that you use 'achan' 'ettan' etc in your post. Even I do that when I write some posts from my life and 'father' and 'mother' are not intimate enough to convey the love with which we regard them.
    Loved every line of it :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Devan. I'm so happy to know that you loved every line of it.

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  8. There are so many villages in India where they are yet to see the first touch of power supply, but still they survive in their own ways.You have narrated your experience in an amazing style which holds the reader on, I actually went back to my childhood days of vacationing at my grandfather's house in a village without power.Thanks for taking me to this flight back to yesteryears

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    1. Exactly. They survive, right? We're the ones who are so spoilt. :) I used to enjoy the half hour load shedding but not the day-long power cuts.

      Thank you for your kind words. I'm so glad I was able to kindle your childhood memories.
      You're welcome. :)

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  9. Great narration of your experience...boars and rabbits :D ...wow...I wanna see them too...Good luck for the contest

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    1. :) Thank you Solitary Writer. Good luck to you too.

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  10. Chech...

    All the best!

    You win it or not, it is written so so so well! Cheers...

    I love load shedding (in spite of the fans not working) cos it is forced socializing for the family. Ladies get out of the kitchen, children turn away from the TV or from their books, grand parents too join the party!

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    1. Hey,
      Long time. I've been missing you, your visits and your posts. Looks like little S is doing his job of keeping mommy busy.

      Thank you so much, Shal. If it won your heart, it's a little victory already :). I'm actually happy that this topic took me down memory lane. I'd almost forgotten about the 'forced socializing,' as you rightly put it.

      The power cut we had last week was a very very rare one and I actually enjoyed it. I even did my bedtime reading in candlelight. Pure joy!

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    2. yeah... i too miss blogging. little master has started crawling and is all over the place. u know it better than me - about time management with a toddler!

      when is ur next india visit? lets surely catch up!

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    3. Oh, tell me about it :)

      In a few months, we'll catch up this time; that's for sure. You'll hear from me soon

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  11. Loved it. Brings back a lot of sweet memories.

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  12. Those were the days with so little comfort when compared to present day, but we enjoyed most. With the comfort of generator and inverter, now the people find it very annoying with once in a while power cuts.

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    1. Rajesh this is one place that still goes without power for several days together. Inverters are no match; we could use them only for the scheduled half hour load-shedding. :)

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  13. Very narrative style of writing.Felt like I was travelling with you to those memories. Also felt like visualising an old malayalam movie with those scenes :-)

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    1. Thank you so very much, SUM (can I call u that?)for the lovely comment. It makes me so happy to know that I was able to transport you to that world.

      And, Welcome to Odds and Ends. :)

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  14. lovely post...Miss my old days where I used to be in nature's lap..!!

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    1. Thank you Rohit. I understand ... that is something to be missed.
      Welcome to this space. :)

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  15. wonderful post.. brought back so many memories of olden times... ah, who am I kidding ? Its still the same over here :D

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    1. :D Thank you so much, Roshan. Kannur eh?

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  16. Those giant mosquitoes still exist and so do the fireflies. And monkeys are addicted to coffee as well?

    Wayanad is spectacularly beautiful, lucky you to have spent your childhood there :)

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    1. It's the fox that's seem to have disappeared. These 'Wayanadan' monkeys get their caffeine fix from the berries :D

      Thank you for visiting this post. :)

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  17. Wow very nice. It feels like almost being in the middle of plantation with all the buzzing bugs, foxes and owls. Btw snakes are lovely creatures once you get to know them, they are shy and usually avoid humans and not all of them are venomous :-)

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    1. The foxes seem to have disappeared into the thin air. We don't hear them anymore.
      Yeah Sandeep, you're right, they're pretty shy creatures. I've been seeing snakes since I've been little, by now, I should be used to seeing them. I can't get over the fear, tho' :)

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