Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Pandora Box

My room has a wall sized rack and a shelf where I used to store all my belongings while in school and college. These were kind of untouched ever since I moved to Bangalore. So last time when I was home for a longer duration, I decided to check the same. And what I found there was quite interesting. It was like diving into my past and unveil the life of that silly little girl who treasured anything and everything.. Would you also be interested in having a peek?

First, a box full of 'manjadikkuru' and 'kunnikkuru'(abrus seeds). As a small kid, these colorful little seeds really fascinated me and I just loved collecting them.. The main source for this collection was Guruvayoor temple. There is a big vessel where these seeds are kept and children are made to play with it. It is supposed to make the children naughty just like Srikrishna! I still don't understand why parents invite such headaches deliberately! Anyway coming to the point, these used to be very sticky (as it will be filled with sweats of so many people) and so one or two would always stick to your hands which would eventually fall off in the pradakshina vazhi. I used to collect those spilled ones (of course with lot of scoldings from mom for picking up things from ground :P ) to come home and fill my jar.My manjadi collection grew with every visit to the temple. Kunnikkuru came from one more source. Near my grand mom's house this plant was there and these seeds used to be scattered all over the place. We didn't know the location of this plant and so had to satisfy ourselves by collecting the fallen ones. It was fun to run around to collect them and also our petty fights in the process. We even used to play different games with that. These seeds are so cute that I never felt like throwing them away even though I outgrew the games long back..

Next a box of Valappottu (Broken bangles). As small girls, we used to play a game with the broken bangles. We would shuffle a bunch of them with different colors and spread it over the floor. You need to pair two similar ones, draw a line in between and strike without disturbing others. Whoever collects the maximum number was the winner. I never had the habit of wearing bangles and so was always the one who contributed the least feedstock for the game. Since you tend to collect anything rarely available, this also became a collection although I have no idea from where or how I collected them!

Then I have a colorful plastic phone in the shape of a house. The house is green in color, the red phone handles would be resting on the roof of the house, then the white dial is in the front. I saw it in a shop and asked for it thinking I can replace the dull black instrument at home with this one! But then it turned out to be a 'kudukka'(a piggy bank) with a small opening at the back. My parents took that as an opportunity to implant some saving habit in me (Wondering why it never stayed but) and explained to me how I should use it. Anyway although I was disappointed by the fact that we should still use the plain old phone for making calls, I was excited with the thought that this little phone when filled would give me money to buy anything that I want.. But though I counted the coins every day, my phone was never full and I used to be desperate. Those were not the days were kids got lots of pocket money (at least not the 6 year olds) and so it was real hard for me to fill the box. The deal was if I find any loose coins in the house , I can take it and fill my kudukka. But most of the times I used to go to dad and ask for some coins. The generous person he was, he used to give me all the small changes and BINGO my bank used to be full :)

I guess it was in my second or third standard that we had to write a composition about "My Hobbies". Instead of making the students write it themselves, we had a ready made composition that we had to mug up (possibly this is the way it happens in all convent schools). The composition was quite detailed and gave step by step information about how to take the stamp out from the envelope without damaging it, how to store it properly, how to expand your collection and so on. Anyway end of it I realized I have a hobby called stamp collection without a single stamp in possession!!! Think like all kids in that age, I was also experimental and decided to try it out from then on .. Any letter that came home went under my careful surgical procedure. Luckily those were the time of snail mails and so I didn't have any problems for my collection to grow. Slowly as I grew older I took it little more seriously and expanded the collection by exchanging with like minded friends as well. But this died a peaceful death once I left school.

I also have a small collection of coins. This was when my 'phone kudukka' started collecting different shaped coins rather than the small changes (Of course even these were donated by my dad). Does anyone remember the old 10 ps, 20 ps, 5 paise coins? I also had some 1 ps and 2 ps coins from my mom's time!! But this also became stagnant after some time as it was not so easy to get different coins unlike stamps. Earlier, I used to expand it(rather tried to) by adding some left over Marks, Liras or Francs after any trips. Now after the single Euro system the variety is again gone :(

I was always crazy about craft works - now and then. I never bothered to specialize, I was eager to learn all - stitching, knitting , embroidery , hand works,... (Yeh jack of all trades, master of none). When all other students used to dread the work experience class, I was always looking forward to it. We had a choice of 2-3 items out of which a student can choose one and complete it in the course of the year. But I always completed all the available choices. So one section of my rack is filled with Wall hangings, baskets , mufflers,hand embroidery works, curtains, etc etc. Also a bag full of raw craft materials like beads, pakkeesa, embroidery threads, cross stitch kit, plastic wires..

Somewhere I saw a beautiful aquarium inlaid with shells and decided one day I should also have one like that. Think that was the spark for my shell collection. My dad's ancestral house is near the coastal area and many of my relatives stay very near to the beach. So our trips to these houses were never complete without an excursion to the beach where I was busy exploring every inch in pursuit of unique and beautiful shells. Also once I started earning and traveling around, I bought many big ones as well. That way I have a decent collection of corals and shells (though I have no idea how I got those corals) big enough for a room sized aquarium. But the irony is I'm yet to have my first aquarium!!

Then a neatly filed newspaper cuttings which is a collection of news or pictures that interested me from time to time. Think I got this habit from my mom who is a readaholic and treasured even a small piece of paper. I keep fighting with her for keeping all the pile of books and papers but never realized I have also inherited the habit though to a much lesser degree. This collection also has a subsection - picture cuttings(mostly advertisements). These are the ones that impressed me and and felt that I should draw it someday. But for most of them that day never came !!! Then there are lots of story books which filled my time(not free time), school and college magazines of every year and even some of my lab records..

A box full of letters and greeting cards. Yes I treasure each n every letter that has come to me. Sometimes when I feel down I pick up those cards or letters from my friends and that invariably brings back the smile on my face. It's interesting to read these one sided letters once in a while and guess the replies I wrote or just re touch the memory that such n such incidents happened at such n such time.How I wish I wrote more often now..

I am crazy about soft toys and of late I have a good collection, most of them gifts. But my first teddy bear was when I was a teenager. I knew my parents would never allow me to buy one, but I wanted one so badly. So I was determined to get it and started saving my scholarship money and finally after 3 years I had enough savings to buy one. It is a brown teddy bear about 3 feet tall from the Chandamama collections and costed me Rs.750/- (A decade before this value was much much more than it's present value). But soon after I bought it,a sense of guilt gripped me. I did something that my parents won't like, I spend my money for something which is just not worth it. But I guess teenage is always about such fluctuations.

Then the small gifts that I got for my b'days during college days. Each one of them thoughtfully picked and reminds me of the friend who is far off. Though we may not have regular contacts now, it just connects me with them instantly.

Oh how can I forget my beloved photo albums. Any trips , any functions I used to be the one who would collect negatives from everyone and take copies from every single cam. I have lots and lots of them so much so that my mom keeps complaining that one day I might need to rent out a whole house just to keep all my albums. Luckily digital world saved me that expense ;)

Think that covered almost all corners of my rack. If anyone remembered the character Urvasi played in the Malayalam film 'Midhunam', you now know who inspired the script writer ;) And if you think my room is a big mess with all these junk, yes it is - an ordered mess :P


Anonymous said...

ordered mess, eh? :)
i too used to collect stamps, coins, feathers etc. must be all dusty now... haven't looked at them for ages...

hope and love said...

sweet post..

Anonymous said...

two things i noted :-)

1. u seem to have a variety of interests and hugely talented at atleast some of them.
2. it braught back a smile on my face remembering abt the 'manjadimaram' at my paternal house and the essays on stamp collection. luckily i had more freedom with essay writing :) and yeah ... albums, though my albums are dated a li'l late (after getting a job) it took me a lot of albums and trips to gk vale before i switched to digicam :-) and letters ...

hmm ... looks like a li'l urvashi (from mithunam) is there in everybody ... guy or gal ... nice post

CandidConfessions said...

How sweet! That must have made your day. I love looking into my cupboard too.. reminds me of that innocent unassuming age! And you like soft toys too? Me too! My bed is lined with one whole and huge family of them :)

Dhanya said...

@ Sini : Yeh ofcourse it's ordered tho with a layer of dust on it ;) N I'm not surprised with ur collection either.. We had anyway discovered that we r twins na :P

@ hope and love : Thanks a lot :)

@ Sandeep : Nothing to do with talent.. I just like exploring new things.. Amma keep scolding me saying it's 'aarambashooratham'.. I never stick on to something for long.. :D

@ Priyanka : Yeh it did make my day.. :) Yeh I love soft toys.. I can spend hours in the first floor of Sapphire ;)

Anonymous said...

who says u need to stick to it?

if u r explorative most things will become uninteresting after a while!

Santosh said...

A sweet, relaxed, smooth walk down the memory lane... bringing back the nostalgic moments...

You made me wish that I had a time machine... to go back there, to be there and indulge... since I am pretty sure that those days would never come back. And this is definitely the loss of the new generation.

I am in no mood to work today :(

Santosh said...

A sweet, relaxed, smooth walk down the memory lane... bringing back the nostalgic moments...

You made me wish that I had a time machine... to go back there, to be there and indulge... since I am pretty sure that those days would never come back. And this is definitely the loss of the new generation.

I am in no mood to work today :(

Balu said...

Nice write-up !

Dhanya said...

@ Sandeep : I would fully agree to you, but u can try selling this theory to my mom ;)

@ Santu : Hey It's true that those moments won't come back, but shouldn't we be happy that such things happened? Sorry that I spoiled ur mood.. :(

@ balu : Thank you and thanks a lot for coming by :)

Shiva GK said...

super blog yaar..hope it continues ahead for better scope:)))

keep blogging to get more updates!

Uma said...

Hey CM :)

Great read! Black & White times!

Didn't your parents ever tell you that we're not supposed to pick manjadikuru from Guruvayur? You have no idea of the number of times my heart's yearned to pick a few. My hyper-superstitious amma believed picking them (and seashells too for that matter) would invite ill-luck :( By the way, sifting through manjadikuru in that uruli at the temple works two-way (supposedly). It is believed to turn the placid into mischief-makers and vice-versa too! How convenient and adorable beliefs are sometimes, eh? :)

Some years back, I too had gone exploring old stuff at home[and found your autograph within the recesses too, but that's another story :)], but finally swept my cupboard clean of my first tooth, my first toothbrush etc. Just kidding. But spring cleaning, I really did.

That's it, for now chum. Keep writing! I'll keep reading for sure!

Dhanya said...

@ Shiva : Thanks a lot for dropping by. Hope you are doing good. Keep in touch..

@ Uma : Nope they never told me. N hey I didn't pick it from the uruli. that they never used to allow. It's the spilled ones outside that I picked :) Hey girlie u threw away my autograph too?? Don't you know u'll 've to repent it soon.. ;) n I do remember how you tried to impeach me :P

Jayashankar said...

Last weekend I was at Guruvayoor and remembered your post!

I have locked my Alamara at home fearing a theft:)

Almost everything in your Pandora box and more is there in mine or in my sister's account.

you know,everyday I read this just to go back home

Dhanya said...

@ eashwar : Thank you for the encouraging words. That really made my day :) And I'm happy to know that there are many more like-minded people of the same breed :)

മലമൂട്ടില്‍ മത്തായി said...

The post made me remember my own tiny coin collection from school days. Most of it were from my grandad, who died before I was born. But to my credit I did find the collection from amongst the mountain of things kept in a corner of that huge house.

All said I do have coins from countries like Brazil and Uruguay. All Thanks to grandad.

And about the work ex classes - I could not stand them. That was the only class from which I was actually thrown out.

Happy to read the postings.

Dhanya said...

@ noti morrison : Wow that's a precious heirloom you inherited.. Hope you expanded the collection as well..
and give your work experience projects to me anyday.. I'll make sure it's completed :P

And thanks a lot for dropping by :)

Uma said...

Arre, did I say I threw away my autograph book?! I just threw off some stuff that no longer held any meaning, refused to string back memories or laughs. I'll show you your autograph one of these days :) But you say that I impeached you? Really? My memory's miserably minimal... hehe. But hey, that must have been a coup of sorts! A refugee impeaching a resident ;-)

Now lemme go read your new entry.

Usha said...

oh my god! where will you keep all this and everything else you must still be collecting - I too went through phases of stamp collecting, coin collection and greeting cards - but one fine day just gave them all away. was tough but had to.
Nice read.

Anonymous said...

Can you help me on gettin some manjadi now... It was very common in my native but cant see even a single tree these days.. I need some urgently.. I dont have blogger id... my mail is is


Dhanya said...

@ uma : hmm I thought u threw away the autograph too.. so now u r saved ;) No u couldn't impeach me as I have a permanent post, but u tried hard :P See I have a good memory.. ;)

@ usha : Oh God how can you throw away all of them together? I too throw away things but not all together. As time progresses you outgrow some stuff and that is easy to clean up :P

@ arun : Even I don't know of any tree. Think I've outgrown it so much that I don't even notice it now a days..

Anonymous said...

Hi Dhanya,
lovely write up on the nostalgia box! Wanted to invite you to visit our blog

we've just made a Malayalam feature film called Manjadikuru which is about childhood in the late 70s/early 80s... and the blog is in connection with it.

we're on a similar trip to revive forgotten moments and spaces. Would be nice if you could put down ur thoughts on the blog too! Best wishes,
Anjali Menon.

Sreejith said...

Oh great!
I am finding some one like me!
but minor differences as listed below :
1) I never owned a money box in the shape of phone.. rather I never possessed any costly things in my younger days ! My 'kasukudukka' was made of clay, which the 'Kumbharans' sell in our place (Valluvanadu)
2)I never owned a teddy bear ..

Rest of the things,exactly the same .. I think I dont need to write another blog on my childhood collections..bcoz everything is here right in place in your blog .. including those 'paper cuttings' !

Any way thank you for taking me back to my old days buddy !
(I was as crazy as you were.. hehee!)

Anonymous said...

Wow this was lovely :-)). I keep all my letters too and have a humongous collection of soft toys which my Gran thinks is the reason why I refuse to marry :D (cause you know teddy bears are for kids and kids dont marry :D)

Dhanya said...

@ Anjali Menon : Thanks a lot. Your blog and really nice and I hope I get to watch the film soon :)

@ Sreejith : Thank you :) My money box was also not costly. It was just a plastic box in the shape of a phone. And teddy bear also I didn't own during childhood but during teen age. And nice to see more crazy people like me :)

@ cris : he he ditto instead of grand mom for me it's mom who is worried abt my marriage. She keeps scolding me saying I still haven't grown up and that people will think I'm a nut case coz I fancy all these stuff that kids like :P

Deliberately Thoughtless said...

Reminds me of my post.. Cluttering Whispers.. Go thru it when u get time.. We do think alike....
:) Keep writing

Ruth said...

Omg!!! I have one cupboard at home as well...greeting cards, beads, rocks and stones, fruit and other cute shaped erasers, bookmarks, chocolate boxes, gif wrapper, ribbons and other such bits and pieces....yeah...its like opening a door to your past😊