|Ananadavalli & K.R.Ganapathy Iyer - popularly and endearing referred to as Anna & Manni|
A KRG family reunion has been on the cards for around 18 months. The first time it was mooted in early2016 it did not take off due to absence of consensus on venues,dates,budgets & non availability of key family members. A large contingent of our family live overseas. The reunion discussion started afresh in 2017. This time the idea was mooted by cousin and veteran Malayalam cine artist Jayaram. On 13 April 2017 a special Whatsapp Group comprising most K.R.Ganapathy Iyer Family members was constituted with the specific purpose of planning and executing a grand family reunion. Chandrasekhar, Chennai also took active steps along with Jayaram to plan this reunion. Initial announcement was posted by Sekhar - The reunion was being proposed by Jayaram on 20/21 May alternatively on 27/28 May 2017. Initial responses favored 20/21 May. Immediate confirmations came from Ramu Shobha Guhan Minakshi & Team Bangalore headed by Jaya/Naran Athimbar and comprising Radhakrishnan,Prathima,Krithika & Priya. Dinu expressed doubts about his/Priya's participation.This was followed by confirmations from Sekhar,Anu,Megha,Uttara & Narayanaswamy Athimbar. Ranju said she couldn't make it. Next confirmation came from Shobha (Bangalore) followed by Sidharth. It was generally agreed that 100% attendance was not possible but we should aim at maximum participation. The reunion venue was kept a top secret.
Meanwhile Jayaram requested for travel details to be communicated to enable him to arrange pick up from airport/railway station etc.. The initial meeting point was to be @ Ernakulam (venue not disclosed) and members were required to arrive there on 20th morning. In the midst of these discussions confirmation on participation was received from Usha & Raja, Palakkad. Ramu athan also confirmed his attendance but Sharada Manni regretted her inability as she was recuperating from illness.
For a while discussions on reunion continued in both channels. Thereafter good sense prevailed and discussions were routed exclusively through the new channel.By now a great deal of enthusiasm & excitement had been generated. Initial confirmations stood at 21 members. Niru/Shekar,Nishe expressed inability to participate. Doubts were also expressed by Manju & Pathy on account of Aishwaryas university exams. Silence also from Sethu Sarayu & Shanthi/Kumar. No one really knew at this juncture about the participation of the family patriarch Rasu chittappa/mama. Even though he had once earlier many months ago expressed a desire to participate.
There was a suggestion from Radhakrishnan whether the venue could be changed Munnar. Other suggestions included extending the get together to two nights/three days.There were also questions of participation of Balan & Vasantha from Australia & Bhavana/Rohit from Boise, Ranju/Pathu @ Boston and Vivek/Jayasree from Houston & Vichu/Viji/Anirvin.
Meanwhile the venue for the get together continued to remain mystery. Since Jayaram was the key organizer we were all awaiting his announcement.Then came his voice message - he was participating in an Asianet awards ceremony on 19th May at Trivandrum & thereafter he would drive over night and reach Ernakulam by early morning of the 20th.He was also playing chenda as part of the fusion music in the awards ceremony. "Her Royal Highness" Shanthi, even though uncertain of her participation, was tossing various tongue in cheek ideas & suggestions.
Shekhar (Nirus husband) suggested a postponement to June/July as he felt May was peak season and accommodation anyplace would be scarce as well as costlier. (He was trying to throw a spanner into the works:). Manju too was keen on a postponement to enable her & Aiswaryas participation- May was exam time for Aish. Dinesh stated categorically that since he was shifting house from Delhi to Bangaluru hence will be unable to participate. Vinod/Priya kept a considered and poignant silence.Aswathy staunchly rejected any suggestions of a postponement as she & Jayaram were unavailable. Likewise Jaya too firmly favoured the originally proposed dates. Finally the dates were frozen for May 20-21.
Meanwhile more confirmations started streaming in: Sethu & Sarayu said yes. Usha & Parameswaran aka Raja from Palakkad reconfirmed . Chakki was unavailable due to prior commitments. Jayaram's son Kannan a rising young star in Malayalam films confirmed he will join.
The venue continued to remain a mystery - it was getting curioser & curioser, more & more mysterious, suspense shrouding the location. Availabilty of Shanthi Kumar & Aiswarya too remained unfathomable.....Vinod & Priyas participation continued to remain ambigious as also that of Manju & Pathy. Niru Shekhar Nishe & Yash regretted their inability to join as they already had a pre arranged holiday booking for Kaziranga.
Anu Sekhar suddenly met with an unexpected predicament - she twisted her ankle while attempting a new yoga pose resulting in torn ligaments and a layoff of several weeks. Anu would sadly be unable to join.
Then a voice message announcement was issued by Jayaram. This was followed by periodical announcements and updates from Jayaram.
All family members were to congregate at Hotel Sarovaram located in Vytilla, Ernakulam. Two rooms had been booked for family members to arrive, relax & refresh.Breakfast would be served at Sarovaram. After break fast the group would board a luxury bus and proceed to Aleppey where a luxury cruise on board The Rainbow Cruises was arranged . There were myriad questions - where is Sarovaram, how to reach there, how far is it from airport, what time should we reach, when will we depart from Sarovaram, how long is the drive to Alleppey etc.
Meanwhile Jaya & Naran who were arriving early by air from Bangaluru were keen to visit Thottuva Dhanwantari & Pandackal before proceeding to Sarovaram. On Jayaram's advise they decided to postpone the temple visit on 20th morning and agreed to cover these on the return trip. Vinod finally broke his silence and announced that he and Priya were participating along with their kids and were also bringing along Dinu/Priyas kids. They would reach Bangaluru and drive down by car. This announcement brought additional cheer. A bunch of highly talented kids like Arjun Akshada Avilash & Avyuktha always add the extra energy and zip to any reunion.
A sense of euphoria and de ja vu was building up ! The stage was finally set. The reunion was actually happening. The only setback was Rasu Mama/Chittappa informed his inability to participate due to poor health. He felt he would be liability. There were several attempts to persuade him to change his mind - by me, by Jayaram & by Jaya. The senior most surviving member of the family would not be there.He was emphatically clear that did not wish to be an encumbrance during the reunion celebrations. My mother Ramal however required no persuasion.She was eagerly, excitedly and enthusiastically looking forward to joining the reunion.
Participants started filing in their travel itineraries,arrival modes, flight/train timings plus posting pictures from airports & transit points.
Jayaram also announced a grand saddi on board the luxury cruise, with special mouth watering dishes - plus some awesome menu on the side for the non vegetarians (kari meen, poricha meen,chemmeen) and that the bar would be appropriately stocked for the benefit of the spiritually oriented.
During these various whatsapp exchanges the resort venue was unwittingly disclosed - The Lake View Resort in Alleppey. The final tally of confirmed participants: 32.
While reunion related discussions were in progress there were also continuous exchanges of jokes, anniversary /birthday wishes,leg pulling and banter & plenty of pun both intended and unintended;series of quizzes,puzzles & tongue twisters to enliven the proceedings and provide necessary mood buildup. Here are some poignant happy & expectant pictures of family members some clicked during transit while others are file photos and a few plucked from Facebook pages..
|Handsome dudes Jayaram & Kannan|
|Kannan with his doting mom Aswathy|
|Vivacious & Vibrant Sethu|
|Soft & serene little sister Sarayu|
|Ramu Shobha & Guhan taking a highway break|
|Ramu Athan,Vinod & Priya at Coimbatore|
|Avyuktha & Akshada merrily slurping ice cream|
|Minakshi & Siddharth in a state of bliss|
|Usha & Raja - striking a candid pose|
|Uttara & Megha were among the first to land in Ernakulam|
|The Chandrasekhar Family on flight from Chennai minus Anu|
|My mother Ramal along with her escort Lakshmi Mami - at YMCA International Ernakulam|
|Jaya Akka, Naran Athimbar & Ramu Athan waiting at Bangaluru Airport|
|Prathima & Radhakrishna strike a rapturous pose Below: 1.Vinod & Priya taking off by road from Bangaluru|
2. Priya with Arjun & Avilash. 3.Arjun plucking mangoes at Malampuzha 4.Ramu & Shobha - a candid selfie
|Prathima & singing sensation Priya eagerly waiting for the take off|
|Bharatha Natyam exponent Kritika with her pretty mom and gorgeous grandmom|