Can you hear the sighs of contentment and general sense of laziness pervading here at Karthi? Yep, the big break of the year is here. No more school lunches to pack everyday, no more nagging about homework, no more hurried bathroom breaks required when the school bus is almost at the doorstep... yep, not for another two and a quarter months!!!
We celebrated the first weekend of our freedom with a mini-outing to a place that was not very likely to hold our young kids' interest. But we were pleasantly surprised when the kiddos enjoyed the trip. This is where we went...
Nope, sorry, not my ancestral home! This is the front view of the Koyikkal Palace in Nedumangadu which now houses a Numismatic Study Centre and a Folklore Museum. The palace itself is a humble dwelling - a grandiose double-storeyed naalukettu. It was abandoned and in ruins when the Archaeological Survey of India adopted it and made it a repository of those ephemeral fragments of our culture that are fast disappearing.
The numismatic display has coins worth a lot and the knowledgable docent really drew us enough to ask questions which she fielded with equanimity. For instance, there were these tiny little coins which looked like cousins of manjadikkuru. I wondered aloud how ever in the world did they manage to count those coins. In reply our docent showed us this:
They just poured the coins into grids like these, gave it a shake, swiped off the excess and counted by the board! Great, innit???
But more fascinating than the money was the folklore museum which actually looks more like a collection of old, forgotten things from our old homes' attics. But as we went through exhibits, we realized that our kids have never seen these things in their lives and didn't know what they were used for. Even we hadn't seen some of them in use.
Do you know what these are?
These are known as Ammaanakkaay, literally "juggling balls" and were vessels for a primitive form of preventive medicine. When seasonal epidemics ravaged the land, people would throng temples for succour. The local velichappadu would fill these balls with medicinal herb powders and juggle them in the crowd, thus dispersing the medicine among the people. Wow, physic, psychic and entertainment all rolled into one!
And how many of you have seen one of these in an abandoned corner of your parents' homes?
This was what busy moms of yore resorted to when they didn't have the time to hold their kids' hands to steady their first steps. Yep, the original baby walker!
Apart from those lovely, worn items of domestic use, there were also some gruesome things like this!
This is what wrongdoers were punished with in those days. The whip's lash ended in the tail from a sting ray. The wound inflicted by this grisly thing would fester around each anniversary of the punishment, making it unforgettable as long as the recipient lived.
Besides such mundane things are instruments of torture or baby care, there were also exhibits of folk art forms too..
Cat's cradle aka kayar pinnal
Can you name the three Thullal forms??? C'mon, be a good sport, don't Google it..!
There are numerous other exhibits - too many to show here. Another group of these are these lovely pieces that were thrown out when a local temple was "renovated" - the ASI scavenged the pieces and scrubbed off centuries worth of grime and garish paint to reveal these:
No doubt, those were REAL artists and artisans who designed and executed these as opposed to some nouveau artists who don't even know how to draw a decent perspective and still call themselves artists by producing high-faluting "interpretations" of their work! Yep, I mean several artists that I saw at the recent Biennale!!!
I have to say this: the docent of this museum, I totally forgot to ask the worthy lady's name, was the one who made the exhibits come alive for us. She was very knowledgeable and courteous - not just another government servant doing this for the salary. We showered her with our gratitude when we came out of the museum and words were all she would take from us. I hope we can we meet her some other time. We lingered around the palace grounds for sometime, even under the glaring Meenom sun, the palace and its grounds were verdant, cool and an ideal summer getaway spot.
The Elanji gave us plenty of shade and fragrance...
A single Elanji blossom
And our resident joker kept us in stitches....
Yeah, he thinks he's doing the Ottam thullal, of course!
Do take the kids for the trip and enjoy a lovely couple of hours in a cool palace visiting with the past. Directions to the Koyikkal palace? You were already Googling for the thullal forms, just Google this too, huh!!!!