APPRECIATE THE PETTY JOYS OF LIFE

Passing IAS examination, getting a prize for your lottery tickets etc. are rare events for the lucky among us.
But we can enjoy petty joys like a beautiful Sun set, the Crescent Moon, a train meandering through the rice fields, an elephant jogging along the road, a chance meeting with a long lost friend, the innocent smile of a baby, a walk in a good garden or park, the panoramic view from a hill top- the list is long!
Sometimes, the boredom of a long train journey is relieved by a fellow traveler, as happened during my journey from Bombay to Kota.
In the morning after the night journey, the guy sitting in the front seat, began placing a number of rock pieces in his seat Naturally I was curious to know about these stones and it gave me an opportunity to talk to him.
He was well read and a dramatist. He described a participatory drama, prevalent at that time in Gujarat, in which, audience too are asked their views.
The scene was Mareech being chased by Ram. The spotted deer refuses to die; when the Director chides him, he stands up and shouts:”Why should I die? I have come to take revenge for Ram’s treatment of Shurpankha.”
The Director turns towards the audience:”What do you say?”
I was sorry to leave his company at my destination.
Mobile phones were unknown at that time. So we never had any contact afterwards.

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ELEPHANT AND THE JACK FRUIT -<script type='text/javascript' src=

Both are very familiar and have some oddities
The elephant is the only animal with the scrotum inside its body. If the genital organ is not excited, you cannot say whether the African elephant is male or female! The Asian male can be distinguished by its tusks; the African female too has tusks.
The trunk is extremely unique. It can store a huge quantity of data about the smell of other animals etc. When you approach it, it stretches its trunk to smell you. It never forgets the smell. For the animal, t is your finger print. The trunk is used dexterously, as we do our hands, and can carry gallons of water, for pouring over its body, into its mouth. My father has told us about an elephant, that can write alphabet in Malayalam
These are only some oddities.
As children, we used to wonder how elephants mate, as the penis elongates downwards, reaching almost to the ground. When the cow elephant is standing, how can it be inserted?
When sexually excited, the penis bends upwards like a U- tube and forces itself into the female organ. Normally vulva is near the tail; in the case of the elephant, it is between the legs
Now, of course, all can see it in TV channels.
JACK FRUIT
The jack fruit is also very, very strange!
First of all, it is a collection of a large quantity of individual fruits. Each fruit has a big seed covered with yellow petals which we fry or cook as a delicious dish, simply by boiling in water! In the season, in Namboodiri homes you get it every day (not now). When ripe, it is very sweet. The seed too is cooked. I like it very much, if boiled for a long time, until it becomes a pulp and then liberally sprinkled with coconut oil and allowed to remain over the stove for a long time. Bing deficient in starch, this dish is ggod for diabetic patients!
All the individual fruits, in what we call the jack fruit, is well covered with a thick, prickly skin, given to cows as food. A jack fruit can weigh up to twenty kilograms.
Another notable thing is that, unlike in other trees, jack fruit forms in the trunk! There is a saying in Malayalam, ‘if it wants, the fruit may come even from its root’.
In tender, flowery stage, the whole thing can be cooked, and eaten as ‘thoran’.(a dry dish)
A question comes to my mind: when the flowers are well covered by the skin, how are they pollinated?

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Equality is a beautiful dream. All men are not of the same make, like a manufactured product. Some have initiative, urge to explore opportunities, leadership qualities, will to conquer etc. which mark them as different from the rest of the population, as an elephant and an ant. From Plato to the communists, socialism has remained a dream, impractical and unworkable.

So far as women are concerned, the very idea of equality with men is ludicrous.. Their body structure itself is different. Men and women have to perform complementary functions. Equality smacks of competition. Is there any point in women joining the Army?

Can men become sex workers?

The institution of marriage is beset with the competitive spirit between husband and wife. Live-in is much better, as the partners are free and so will easily adjust to the ideas of each other.

As women are empowered by education and employment, they refuse to obey implicitly whatever is told by their husbands or in-laws. The result is divorce; Bombay is said to be the divorce capital of India.

On the other hand, women excel in teaching and administrative fields.

Let men handle those areas, where they can do it better, like riggers and mechanics.

I feel that the vociferous women’s groups are doing more harm than any good for the smooth functioning of the man-woman relationship

Reservation of seats in legislative bodies, for ensuring equality, will result in merit being the casualty. In most panchayats, women are just show pieces. Actual work is done by people in the background.

ELEPHANT NAMED ALKA GAVE BIRTH TO TWINS=’text/javascript’ src=

Pigs, goats, etc. have more than one baby in the same birth. Many women have twins.
However, elephants are not known to do it One reason may be that the baby has to have a large quantity of milk for its elephantine growth.
So when Alka of the Orang National Park in Assam gave birth to two female babies on 16-12-2010, it created history. The mahaut (keeper of the elephant) kept vigil throughout the night, as tigers can eat the new born calves.

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If some one is watching, I cannot do it. Most people do not bother; they can stand in a row and piss.
Once a party of close friends (my former colleagues) were walking along the road. One of them wanted to piss. He wondered aloud: where can I do it? Immediately his friend cupped his hands and offered. The fellow opened his pants’ zip and emptied a whole tumbler-ful.
Think of it; why does the penis swell when about to piss?
It is really a sight to watch elephants do it. Normally their organ is fully withdrawn inside the body. Nothing is visible outside. When the urge to piss is felt, it slowly comes out of hiding and shows its head, much like the head of a tortoise. Every second it grows and elongates until the the tip almost touches the ground. It is proportionately thick and we call it the fifth leg! It bends slightly backwards and is worth photographing!
Then the animal discharges a bucketful of smelly urine.
During pooram festival, all the fifteen animals do it at the same time.

SAHYADRI OR WESTERN GHATS

Western Ghats lies along the west coast of India, like a vertebral column. It is a mountain, like Andes of South America. Chile is similar to Keralam, the coastal strip separated from the rest of the continent

A notable difference is the pass named Palakkad churam  (pass) of Keralam. It is 22 miles wide, allowing easy passage from the east.

Most mountain passes are rugged depressions in the mountain, dangerous and beautiful.But Palakkad churam is almost plane.

The Western Ghats are locally known as Sahyadri. I wish it is renamed so. It is still to be explored. The topmost point at Ootakamand  is very high. There is a rail line (narrow guage, still in use)  to this town which was the summer destination of Europeans; I have seen only in films. It is worth traveling but most tourists are not aware of it.

This part of the mountain is known as Anamala (mountain of elephants).

GODS AND GODDESSES ARE ENJOYING DAILY BATH IN THE OPEN PONDS

I am now observing the pattern of ten aarattu (dip in ponds and rivers) of various Devis and Gods, during the pooram festival season.

In order to understand it, you should know their routine life.

Every morning, the poojary bathes the idol in water and then in milk. This is known as abhishek. In Tamilnadu, abhishek in various other media like a mixture of honey, plantain, etc. are also common. Shiva is fond of abhishek with tender coconut water. He is always hot and abhishek is the best way to please Him.

After the morning bath, they are fed. This is pooja. In Keralam, red rice (unpolished) is common. Milk pudding, appam, ada etc. are also offered. The pooja is done at noon and  in the evening also.

When free, gods give darshan (audience) to the devotees.

During ten days of festival season, the deity is taken out by the poojary, and paraded outside the temple on the back of the elephant, in surrounding villages. Any family can offer a large measure of paddy, filled in a para (a measuring vessel made of wood, cylindrical in shape, which was in use during feudal days), in the court yard or on the road itself, purified by smearing cow dung and in front of the lighted oil lamp. This is a good source of income and is now carried in a small truck or cart.

Normally the image is fixed to a semicircular wooden plank, decorated with brass pieces, plated with gold and the poojary has to hold it during the sojourn, sometimes for hours together (even six to ten hours, as the deity cannot be placed anywhere except in a temple). He can drink water, but how does he piss? I put this question to a tantry who said they have to hold it all the while.

At some point during the journey, the villagers arrange pooram. During pooram, the elephant carrying the deity, will be in the centre, with equal number of elephants on either side, so that the total number will remain odd. There will be drum beating for about three hours and fire works in the end.

After that, the deity will be bathed by the poojary in the open, either in a pond or in a river, when all devotees, irrespective of caste, are allowed to dip in the water, at the same time as the poojary dips himself, along with the deity. For this purpose, a small one is used, as the original image is permanently installed in the sanctum of the temple. This mass bathing is called aarattu.

When a pooja is done outside the temple, it is called irakipooja. Only a few families are allowed to do this. During irakipooja, the poojary can refresh himself.

Ammathiruvady (Mahalakshmi of Oorakam ) has only one irakipooja, at my ancestral home, the day before Arattupuzha pooram, this time on 28-3-1o