Monday, October 18, 2010

Tamil Nadu, India - Day 2

I woke up early that morning & found my girls all still asleep next to me. Traveling with 4 children, I need to be extra organised. What more when I am that type of mother who is particular with what the children put on. Hence you can imagine how I was the day before we traveled. At least an hour was spent to select the clothing to wear. Packing as always was done by HB. So, there was I on our second day at uncle's, arranging the 4 attires to be worn by my girls. It's quite a tricky job because with 3 luggage bags, I kind of forgot which was where ;-)

By the time I was done, the girls were awake or more likely awaken by auntie... She came in to check on us. With her deep Indian accent, she tried her best to converse in English which was very foreign to her tongue. "You, comfortable?". It was of course followed with head movements :-) Oh! How I miss her!

Getting a shower was another challenge. There were 6 of us. Hence none in the family dared to wait for their turn to use the attached bathroom in the room we slept in! Normally, I'd bathe Nadeen with Balqis first & later her sisters wouls shower or HB would assist with them while I showered. Next would be either Yasmin or Wardah & lastly HB. Doesn't that sound like forever to wait until all of us are done ? ;-)

As I was getting ready, I heard my MIL calling out for me. Since we tried our skill in making Vadey the day before, she was wondering whether I wanted to have a look at their way of making Paratha or Roti Canai to us.

This is one of auntie's helpers, kneading the dough to make Paratha

Ready to be cooked

Yasmin with her Paratha

After breakfast we got ourselves ready for the reunion in Papanasam. The journey was merely an hour drive but we would only retire back late at night. Knowing it would be a long day, I had packed ample extra clothing with towels for my girls. Definitely the most important thing in the list was a camera!

In front of Uncle's house

Uncle's beautiful house

Balqis & Nadeen with our ride

Ready for the journey

Ato in India but I'm more familiar with Tut Tut

A very old temple in Thanjavur.

I've been told that many Hindu worshipers all around the world come here including from Malaysia. That explains why AK flies to a nearer airport to Thanjavur, Tiruchirappali International Airport. Merely an hour drive! We definitely opt for this airport the next time we pay Uncle a visit BUT... I doubt HB would opt for AK though ;-)

This used to be a palace but unfortunately they converted it to government offices

I've seen a lot of motorcyclists in Tamil Nadu but didn't even see one with a helmet! Well, there were just a handful of them in Chennai....

Even though how reckless they can be on the roads, accidents seldom happen. That was according to the locals which in fact I believe since we didn't witness any. Could the non-stop honking style of driving help us Malaysians to pull down the accident rates?

A Petrol Kiosk

I saw a number of this advertisement but have no clue of what it was about...

But this one I could comprehend ;-)

If I'm not mistaken we took the 12 o'clock

A bullock cart

I'm sure these were for sale, he couldn't possibly bought all that!

Paddy field

A normal scenery by the river bank

I got so excited upon seeing these cars when we were at the airport :-)

A man at a laundry shop

This was shot when we were in the van. I so wanted to get hold of those... but be patient & wait for my post on Chennai ;-)

A local school

A mosque

Such an exquisite tree

We were almost there at our destination for the long awaited reunion

Here you are ... Auntie Aysha's & Uncle Hamid's place in Papanasam

It was this house that witnessed a unification of one big family. For those who might have missed my post on how it all started you may read here. After months of waiting, my FIL was finally reunited with his half sisters. Frankly, I was kind of nervous. For him that is... All this while he has always been telling me his stories & I never fail to listen tentatively. Hence, I sort of understand on how he might have felt. Imagine seeing your flesh & blood whom you never knew you had. Not only 1 or 2 but 4 (including Uncle Guthoose).

The moment our van driver pulled the hand brake, I was almost sure that it was going to be a beginning to something beautiful. At a glimpse I saw only a couple of men at the verandah but as I was minding the girls, the crowd outside tripled or not more. The warmth shining away from their faces vanished away my anxiety.

My FIL hugging his sister, Auntie Mumtaz.

Just look at the embrace he received from his BIL, Uncle Ibrahim!

With all 3 of his new found BILs, frm left Uncle Anwar, Uncle Ibrahim & Uncle Hamid

HB with his dad, BIL & uncles in laws

We were invited inside the house. What awaited us were the daughters & daughters in laws with their children. All came out from the kitchen & the rooms to meet us. True that language was a barrier but it sure didn't stop us from getting to know each other.

HB with his sister & a few of their cousins

Here, Uncle Guthoose was translating from English to Tamil & vice versa

My FIL with his new found siblings

He dropped a few tears... I saw. It touched me. I've seen those tears before. It was in Klang when he was telling me about his childhood & the hardship. The moment he started recalling of his mother, tears came rolling down his cheeks. He has been the man of the family at a very young age. Responsibilities were endless. Though how smart & brilliant he is, poverty defeated his dream to further his studies. Without a degree he couldn't give his mother luxury. That was the reason for those tears that day.

Not in Papanasam though. It was not those tears of sadness. He was overwhelmed with joy I could tell. I still remember him boldly telling one of his sisters, "I'm your brother, Idris..." with pride.

Auntie Aysha

Auntie Mumtaz

Auntie Rabiah

Now here's my Yasmin with Uncle & her twin! That's cousin Yasmin (Auntie Rabiah's daughter). They share the same name & I do believe they have a few similarities in features as well. Don't you think?

Their first language was Tamil. The very few Tamil words that I know are Ane, Thamby, Macha. How possibly could I communicate with them! Good that amongst them were a few who were well versed in English. Uncle was one & Sajitha, his daughter. Hence these two did not even have the chance to go to the toilet! We needed them with us in the living area. Hahaha! And yes, another translator was Uncle Hamid (Auntie Aysha's husband). He used to work in Malaysia & his Malay was marvelous!

Here is Sajitha Maryam, our translator

From these photos it looked that we had too much of things to say but the truth, it wouldn't be possible without both Uncle & Sajitha.

Whilst we were busy catching up the young ones got themselves busy. Thanks to Yasmin for babysitting little Nadeen the explorer.

I was freshening up upstairs when I saw everyone was looking at a couple of photos. Knowing me... I just hate to be left out, hence, I rushed myself downstairs. HB presented me with this photo which made me had a shock of my life!

What I had in my hand was a man who resembled the love of my life. I knew at once it was the photo of Arwah Atuk.

Arwah Atuk Abdul Rahman

Two brothers sharing stories of their old man

Not long after that Uncle ushered us to our ride. Anyhow what attracted my attention outside was this...

Our lunch ;-) A cook was employed for this task.

At first I was not sure of our destination but the minute our driver put the bus to a halt & I saw a glimpse of a mosque, I knew that we were visiting Arwah Atuk's grave. Again my thought went to my FIL. Try putting yourselves in his shoes... It had been more than 3 decades after his father's passing & it was only then he had the opportunity to pay his grave a visit.

When I found him, he was surprisingly calm. Greeted the Imam of the mosque & together we herded to the cemetery which was situated just behind the mosque.

Approaching the cemetery

The Imam led the recitation of Yassin

It was quite difficult for us to get to the exact grave as there were no visible tombs. From far Uncle pointed that Arwah Atuk's grave was next to the wall on the left.

Our attempt to get closer failed as we were scared that we might step on other old graves. This was the closest we got.

Nadeen was too young to understand but she didn't hesitate to follow what others were doing.

As we were leaving I saw the stiffness on my FIL's shoulders. His loyal hankie was again in his hand to wipe those watery eyes.

Making our move to the van with the mosque in the background

Nadeen with her Tata (grandpa in Tamil)

Our next stop was an old house or should I say a mansion. It was this house that Arwah Atuk used to live with his parents & it was also this house that led to a sad story which I choose to keep it confidential.

We moved on. On the way we came across these school girls. Look at their school uniform. What attracted my attention was their identical hairdo which was part of the uniform :-)

The van slowed down upon reaching a house. The house that Uncle grew up in. Smaller but it was cozy enough for the family.

The house and its interior.

Us in front of the memorable house.

We headed back to Auntie Aysha's place after that. What awaited us was this scrumptious thing... Lunch!!

Mutton Briyani with fried chicken

Check out the amount of rice in that tray! I opted to share with Nadeen but our small stomachs failed to finish it up. It was way too much for us but... I helped myself for extra mutton though;-)

Did I tell you that on that day itself my FIL received more than 5 calls from overseas? Yes, his nephews working abroad gave him a call to say hello. They not only talked to him but passed the phones around to the others as well. Even to me, a relative by marriage. How sweet was that? I began to fall in love more with this new family :-)

My FIL in one of his many phone calls he received that day.

After lunch we chilled out outside on the verandah. We were getting more comfortable with each other. Language was not an excuse to get more acquainted after all.

I was enjoying everyone's company when Auntie Mumtaz came out with a tray full of betel & its condiments. I watched too much of TLC & was scared that I would be forced to eating something I hate as not to hurt the hosts' feelings. Hence, I hurriedly excused myself inside ;-)

Auntie Mumtaz apparently did not make us chew those Betel... :-)

Since we were already in Papanasam & both Auntie Mumtaz & Auntie Rabiah lived very nearby to each other, we decided to go to their houses as well. First stop was Auntie Rabiah's

Uncle Anwar is Auntie Rabiah's husband

Made ourselves at home ;-)

We even toured the kitchen... & found these grinders.

Antique grinder for chillies.

Modern grinder for flour & dhal.

Instead, my girls were invited to the bedroom or did you invite yourselves, girls?...

But the roof top, I know they definitely invited themselves! They were so fascinated with the flat rooftops.

In front of Auntie Rabiah's & Uncle Anwar's (far right) house

Next we went by foot to Auntie Mumtaz's.

These 2 have become good friends.

I simply loved their cozy house. Very cooling!

Which explained Nadeen's nap ;-)

Again, I found my other girls with their cousins in the room!

I honestly thought after the 2 visits, we would return to Auntie Aysha's. Instead, we were brought to this new house. Beautiful, especially the scenery from its flat rooftop. It belonged to cousin Zahirah Bannu (Aunty Mumtaz's daughter).

This was her with her son, Shoib. Her husband was in Doha (I think...). I had already gotten mixed up with who is who & this who is where business doubled the confusion! ;-)

Her house was not fully completed yet but her welcome was more than complete.

This lady really amazed me. She was with us during lunch. In fact it was her serving the rice & making sure we did not run out of water or even chicken. I saw her leaving by bus when we had a chat at the verandah. I was wondering of her hastiness. Little did I know that she was to play host to us later in the evening.

We were served with plenty of Indian delicacies. The sandwiches in the middle were a hit though ;-)

In front of her house...

It was already dark. I was very sure it was the final house. Hence I led my legs to the van. Was already seated when Wardah called upon me. Obviously there was one more visit to the house opposite of Zahirah's. I obeyed despite of my weariness :-)

However, the moment we stepped inside the house, the girls got excited. Including their mom really... There, in the middle of the living room was this big swing! Waiting for us to ride on...

With the many of us taking turns swinging, I tell you it sure had passed the QC ;-)

As I was entertaining the children & myself (hehehe...), Sajitha called out for me. She led us to a room with this pretty girl inside. I was told that she was not allowed to go outside to meet the others. I was rather perplexed upon hearing such statement. According to Sajitha, a girl after getting her menses until the day she weds, is not allowed to go outside of the house accept for educational purposes. Which means the girl can only go out to school & after school off she comes home.

That's me interrogating Sajitha for more information outside the room. In yellow was the grandma & next to Sajitha was the girl's mom

I then found out that Sajitha herself was restricted at home before her marriage. And that was not all... The first time she saw her husband was only on their wedding day itself! It was a match make & everyone in the family still obliges to arranged marriages. That was news to me... and it was definitely news to her when informed that HB & I married out of love :-)

OK after bidding farewell, we climbed up the bus. It was really tiring but we still couldn't call it a day. Once back at Aunty Aysha's I straight away got busy bathing Balqis & Nadeen. I was about to instruct their elder sisters to do so when Sajitha asked us to go downstairs. Since I haven't prayed, I allowed Yasmin & Wardah to go downstairs first. What awaited me in a room next to the living area was a celebration...

It looked to me like Malam Berinai ;-) My SIL mentioned of her intention to apply the henna when we had our afternoon chat earlier. Who would have thought that they took the trouble just to make us happy.

Yasmin chose to apply it to her feet instead of her hands. Henna is not allowed at school

Wardah too. That was Fajila, practising her skill whilst her mom, Shameem looked on.

With all the noise we made, baby Ameera (Sajitha's daughter) slept undisturbed on her granny's (Uncle's wife, Auntie Parveen's) lap.

Sajitha did mine

Good job!

Balqis's turn. That was Zahirah doing it for her. After playing host at her place she got into the same van & followed to Auntie Aysha's with us.

My Nadeen wouldn't want to be left out definitely. Sajitha volunteered to do it for Nadeen. Of course she used such opportunity to cuddle her ;-) (Nadeen was not so fond of her Auntie then... )

She requested to have both hands drawn. How demanding!

Thank you Auntie. Muuahhh!

We had a late dinner due to the henna session. After dinner we took a family photo together.

All of us reunited!

On the way home I dozed off. Felt that the journey back to Thanjavur was rather too short. By the time we finished freshening up it was almost midnight. Still we (my SIL, Sajitha & I) insisted to carry on with our plans ;-)

Remember I mentioned that my SIL requested to try the henna painting? Well, I sort of requested for something else... I once asked Auntie Parveen about Saree. It amazed me how she could wear it at ease & at the same time breezed through doing house chores. Since it was our final night in Thanjavur, we decided to be little girls again & modeled on a couple of Sajitha's sarees.

It was indeed fun! Everyone was sounded asleep & there we were parading in our sarees like Bollywood superstars. Hahahh! But it was awkward that I had to do it in silence! ;-) Yes, photos were shot but I prefer to keep it private :-)

*to be continued


a&a's mom said...

Ja, it was just lovely reading your Indian story! Even Abilash was facinated & asking a lot of questions. Cant wait to take the boys for the 1st time in Nov to see their roots

jabishah said...

Yeah... I enjoyed writing them ;-) It was indeed a wonderful trip. I look forward for you to share yours ;-)