Monday, April 28, 2008

My Paramakudi - My Hometown

Got to know a lot of interesting things, my roots and also realized that the ASI should visit there soon. Have some interesting pictures as well. Will post as soon as I can wheedle sometime.
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I had a concert this weekend at Madurai with Anuradha Sreeram, Vijay Yesudas and Harish Raghavendra for Vasan Eye Care celebrating their 25th hospital. Finance Minister P Chidambaram was the chief guest. The concert was a super time cos more than the action on stage, these are the times when we share some time together. Harish and Vijay are super good mimics and have enough to say to keep your ROTFL for hours together. I had to be reminded not to laugh so much because sadly enough it affects the singing voice. After the concert we returned to the hotel and went to Meenakshi temple the next morning and headed straight to Paramakudi. It so happened that I dreamt of a Goddess more than a decade ago, she told me to come and visit her. The only thing she did not do is give me her address. Only said that she is near Madurai. Ever since we have been searching and looking at several places, several towns, several cities, with no clue so far. Someone told me about a Goddess some 20 kilometers from Madurai. We decided to hit Paramakudi first anyway and drove into our hometown - Thiruvarangam. Mom had an idea that it was a very small village spanning say one or two hundred acres but once we went in is when we realized that it spanned more than a 1000 acres. The village belonged to my family until the Zamindari act was passed. My granddad was extremely close to the then Ramnad Raja - our ties with the family continues to this day - mom told me stories on how the Raja family would not call my Granddad by name as a mark of respect. They either referred to them as 'saami' or gave them nicknames. My grand-dad was called Kurali Iyengar. There is some weird story of how while they were playing cricket thatha fell down like a kurali vidhai kaaran, hence the name Kurali Iyengar.
On the way to Thiruvarangam, asking for directions, we stopped at another village, I forget the name now, the Pujari in that temple asked who we were and once Mom told him, he said "then you must be the odamaikaaraas of the village" and gave us the directions. The people in Thiruvarangam remembered our family only too well.
Once in the village there was a swayambhu Kaali temple. The priest there seemed to know quite a bit.
There is a Ranganatha Swamy temple which had been razed to the ground by the Nawabs and the people there asked us to do something to bring the temple back. A lot of times they have dug in the area and have found something or the other. The locals say that everything from the idols to the Golden chariot remain buried there. The temple originally stood over a sprawling 18 acres and the locals pointed us to where it was and the area is a bushy karuvelankadu now. They also showed us where our house once was. There is an arasa maram as a mark of where our house was situated.
If there is one thing I hate about all the different rulers India has had, its how they had systematically razed so many of our beautiful structures to the ground. None of the architectural brilliance or the brains can be seen today. The imagination, the execution. I wonder how that wisdom did not get passed on, or was it the irreverent youth who failed to see the value, the wonder that was India?
When the locals told us "indha graamam ongaludhu dhaane" (This village was yours) that is when it started sinking in. Several times Paatti had spoken about the village. Talking of the life there and how it had been. I guess when a family loses 1000s of acres it definitely does pinch. My Thatha was in the army at that time (he was also part of the freedom struggle, produced a movie which never saw the light of day, started a paper and so many things I have heard), he gave up his post and rushed back to settle the dealings of our land in Thiruvarangam. The family had the property and cultivable lands in Thiruvarangam. The children of the family had their primary education in Ramanathapuram for which there was a house in the agraharam area, then one more establishment for higher studies in Chennai. The family had to eventually move to Madras with the Zamindari abolition bill. When the people of Thiruvarangam in spite of so much time having passed by , said "inda gramam ongalodaduthane", we felt as if someone punched us in the gut.
While it felt really good during our brief visit to the village, as we drove back to Madurai airport the heaviness in our heart could be described. Nothing like setting foot on your own soil. But if you do, nothing can ever describe the way it pulls you to it. I am now in the process of knowing the history of that place, my roots and God willing, Lord Ranganatha willing, its time to bring the temple back. Lots to be done.
And I miss Thatha more than anything else now. Wish I had heard all this from. And wish he was here.

P.S.: At the Hindu Cinema Plus party Mr Vikram kept calling me "Paramakudi" or "Paramakudikaari". I was pretty embarrassed. I requested him, rather begged him not to mention that in public. For one, there are two super people that I know, who belong to Paramakudi, at least as long as filmdom is concerned. Padmashri Kamal Hasan and Mr Vikram. I said I'd rather not stake my claim so early, would love to make a greater name and then bring speak about it more. That was when Mr Vikram told me to assert that I was Paramakudi. He took it upon himself to tell quite a few people that we were from the same hometown. I guess now that I have been there, it doesn't feel all that weird anymore.

28 comments:

Ranisha said...

Hi Chins

Eager to see ur childhood photos. BTW what is ASI?

A Chaingang Soldier said...

A lot of celebs are from Paramakudi and thats all i know about it. :)

Hmm.. Interesting that that is all Wikipedia knows about it too.. So, am all ears.. (or should i say, eyes?)

-ASWIN-

Raghav said...

aha nice but wat is ASI :S

Ananth said...

Is it going to be on the National Heritage list? If ASI hasn't noticed it, you can contact INTACH for it.

Chitra said...

ASI? Wow you are neighbours with Hassan fly & Vikram's.

Maybe we should call Paramakudi as Celebtown :-)

arksjd said...

Hi Chinmayi

Nice to know that you are from the place where Ulaga Nayagan Kamalahassan was born..

@raghav... ASI stands for Archeolgical survey of India..if I am not wrong..

Vijay Krishnan said...

ROFTL?
Praying that God should provide you enough strength to revamp the Temple. All the best!!
Cheers:)

Anonymous said...

looks like another person in the film world with a royal lineage :) But gud to know that u got to atleast visit ur roots. many of us dont even know that.

cheers,
kaushik

SARAS said...

I missed the chance of visiting the places

Vasanthan said...

by far this has been the most interesting post. i know it is very nice to know your roots.

i am going to India in a few days for a social visit, this could also give me a chance to know more about my roots. i hope it does not go as deep as yours. cos i have a time constraint.

Parthi said...

wow i loved this post! so many emotions and love for the soil u were born! nicely written!

kostenlose gewinnspiele said...

everybody should love their native village.i also like it.u have some great and nice sprite.

RP said...

yeah! some snaps would have added spice to the reading. not all of us get to travel & check these places.. next time, put some snaps! :-)

until then bidding adieu to paramakudikaari! ;-)

Rp

EsKay said...

People come and go. The place remains to tell their story. Human species are the cruelest of all to destroy their own traces during their own lifetime.

It is a great thing for you to discover your roots.Not many from urban background has the same privilage. Realising the achievements of our ancestors through this means will keep our feet firmly on the ground. I could observe that in your writing.

Perhaps the most genuine post you have ever done.

ILA said...

LOT MANY THINGS swirling in mind, that now i miss my village..

Chinmayi said...

To Muthuvel: got a mail ID?

Sumi said...

Hi Chinmayi,

Bless your heart dear! I am sure one day you will realise your dreams of building back your temple. BTB I spoke with you today in aaha Kaapi club and it was wonderful talking to you.Keep growing and all the more important we all should always strive to evolve as a better human being. Your writings in the blog show that you are a wonderful person. I am sure you will continue to reach glorious heights in your profession as well as in your personal life.

Sumi

Partha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MMC said...

One of the very best of all your posts!!!!
As I was going thru it, I too was taken to my own native place.......quite a touching post, this is!!!

May God bring you more fame!!!

raju4u said...

What about the Godess in your dream?
Were you able to spot the temple

Chinmayi said...

ranisha: archaelogical survey of india
ashwin: remains to be seen what more I can discover
Ananth: working on it
chitra : haha I guess so !
vijay: thanks vijay
kaushik :)
vasanthan: hmm well roots definitely go pretty deep buddy
thanks parthi
well vielen dank gewinnspiele
rp: will upload at the soonest
eskay: tell me about it!
ila :)
sumi: thanks sumi it was great talking to you
partha: thanks a ton!
mmc: thanks boss!
raju4u: I still have not been able to locate her.. she is taking me round the bend .. 12 years and hunting!

Sam said...

Saga paramakudikaari ku vanakkam. My mom is from the paramakudi too. Kamal, Vikram, Chinmayi... list of highly dedicated professionals. Sketchin out my path to get my name in that list. Not as a celebrity though. But as another professional (as in the word's correct sense).
Wish u good luck.

-Sampath

Anonymous said...

Hi Chinmayee,

Just typed my village name in google and directed to your blog!!I belong to your village. I am presntly in Norway with my family here. My grandfather(Dr.Santiago) and your grandfather are good friends...I heard about Raghavan who is also from your family was once as principal in Pachayappas. I remember some names Sundar, Sridhar ...
Anyhow it is nice to know your roots.
Regards
Joseph
selzhian@yahoo.com

Chinmayi Sripada said...

to Mr Adam: I hardly have anything to say to the likes of you. Well some have it, some dont!! As simple as that.

Chinmayi Sripada said...

to Mr Adam: As for your " is God really there" I am sure even if He is He'll never make Himself known to the likes of you.

Karthik said...

Hi Chinmayi,
Very nice post indeed. The paramakudikaari part was damn funny :D Btw..im your fan too! :)

Karthik

Santha said...

Hi this is Santharam Me too from paramakudi...... In future it's going to peek because (y)our(-kamal,vikram,and so on) hard work only...

MUTHURAJA said...

Hi chinmayi..

Ofcourse I found many "Paramakkudians" are hitting the heights of peaks in multiple domains of arts and media.. Im very proud to be an "Parakakkudian" :) As an engg consultant, Im interested in tmil poem writing and acting. one of my tmil poetry e-book got published one week before which is an Guinness record. The book was written by 400+ poets and I one among them :) cheers :)