The Indian Holiday

go site Once in every 2 or 3 years , my Mum. my Dad and I would sail to India for our Indian Holiday on either The Rajula or The Straits of Madras, passenger ships ,or steamers as they were called, that chugged into Port Madras. The journey took all of 9 days, with one stop at Port Swettenham, now Port Klang, in Malaya and another at Nagapattinam in India. For all of those glorious 9 days, my Mum, my Dad and I spent every waking moment together, floating on the high seas, as a family with no extras and no interruptions.

go here I loved the Indian Holidays.

agence rencontre cuba We would arrive at Singapore’s Keppel Harbour, a few hours before the ship sailed. Our luggage, an odd mismatch of steel trunks, old suitcases and hastily stuffed bags would be dragged in by the porters and stashed in our cabins. My Dad, never had any clue about the luggage, that came aboard with us. My Mum did her packing surreptitiously and answered him in vague monosyllables, when asked. He would just shake his head in disbelief, at the amount of stuff that shared our cabin with us.

go site After a carefree 9 days at sea, with the wind in our hair and no land in sight, we would leave the ship, with our luggage and spend hours on the Madras wharf, haggling with the porters and the taxi drivers, in the pre-prepaid era of travel. By the end of the session, we would be limp puddles of sweat.

go to link Five Hundred ……they would demand
Nonsense…not one rupee more than two hundred ….would be my Dad’s retort.
This one has a sense of humour…….. they would smirk.
Five hundred
Two Hundred

source Eventually, one side, my parent’s side, would wilt in the heat and give in. The porter charge and taxi-fare would be fixed, our luggage would be loaded and we would squeeze in, to drive to one of the lodges around Egmore, as our train to Thirunelvelli was on a broad gauge line from Egmore station. There would be a fresh round of haggling at the lodge, where they would give us a ground floor room for a premium. Finally, the luggage would be out of the dusty corridor and behind closed doors. Exhausted, the three of us would collapse on the bed, under a fan that creaked and turned in slow motion, threatening to fall on us, if we dared to complain.

source link The next day, the action replay of the haggling and the hauling, would start by mid afternoon, when we set off for Egmore station. We would, by evening, be seated in a train going to Thirunelvelli, the railway station closest to my Dad’s village Senthiambalaem.

enter There were no bottles of potable water and we carried drinking water in earthen pots or kujas that cooled it, adding a distinctly, sweet, muddy flavour. My Dad, never wore a cassock during our travels. He would wear colourful Hawaiian half sleeve shirts, that gave him a carefree, Pathriar-is-on-holiday look.  He counted our luggage at regular intervals during the journey to see if we had been robbed along the way, or at any of the stations that we had stopped. My dad would record the inventory as  ……   x pieces of luggage ….. plus the Kuja = x+1….The x was a variable and could be anything from 12 to 22.

watch Whenever people got on with their luggage, there was utter confusion. The co-passengers would eye us as inconsiderate space hogs, who blocked the passage way and compartment.
Tsk Tsk Tsk ……they would grumble aloud.
Shaking their heads with disapproval, they would climb all over our luggage stumble and find their seats. My Mum would sit there completely unconcerned and behave as if she had nothing to do with my Dad or the luggage. My Dad would receive all the dirty looks from the other passengers and flash an apologetic smile from time to time. When passengers had to alight from the train they had to climb all over our luggage with their luggage held high above their heads.

It was an overnight journey, during which my Mum and I slept and my Dad stayed awake to watch the luggage. When we reached Thirunelvelli someone from my Dad’s village Senthiambalem would be waiting to receive us, negotiate the fares on our behalf and take us, our luggage and the intact kuja home.

After a few days at Senthiambalem with my Annammal Patti, we would leave to visit my mum’s family in Kerala. My Uncle Chandy, (my mum’s brother, Sibling 6) used to come to Senthiambalem to escort us to Kerala. I think, he came primarily to relieve my Dad of the luggage watch and spare him the stress of dealing with the wily porters and taxi drivers.

We would take the train going through the tunnels of the Western Ghats and my Uncle Chandy, would take over the hassles of the luggage, while we relaxed and watched the country side change from dry brown, to lush green, as we crossed the linear state boundary of Tamilnadu and Kerala. Chai, kapi. chai….. the vendors at the station platform would shout, as they ran up and down the platform. Across the stations their accents and attire changed. The lettering of the names of the stations in black paint on the upright yellow sign boards, changed. The checked coloured lungis, worn full length in Tamilnadu, changed to white mundus, folded at half mast, as the language changed from Tamil to Malayalam

We alighted at Kotarakara and climbed the hilly road to Kodukulanji, my Mum’s village. Most of the taxis, were creaky shells in comic states of disuse and repair. Some had no glass in the windows. When it rained, as it does most of the time in Kerala, we unfurled an umbrella and held it outside the window to dodge the rain. When we got down at my Uncle Chandy’s house in Kodukulanji, the whole family would be waiting for us. My Mum’s Siblings and their families, would have arrived the day before, to welcome us to a glorious reunion.

They’ve come!
They’ve come!

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