Thursday, September 28, 2017

Family Reunion Part 2- Breakfast @ Sarovaram

The final few days preceding the Reunion were most vibrant and entertaining. There were fast and furious exchanges on the whats app channel. Expectations were sky high.`Some one realised that Jayashree's name had been omitted; her name was hastily added. Kannan posted the brilliant and melodious Poomaram video clip which was well appreciated and applauded. Sekhar wanted everyone to post arrival & departure programs to facilitate pick up/drops. There were intermittent voice messages from Jayaram providing status updates on program. Question of expense sharing was raised and query posed to Jayaram who cleverly avoided any discussions. Ramu,Naran,Jaya,Radhu,Prathima,Krithika,Priya,Sethu & Sarayu were flying in to Angamali airport and would hire a cab and reach 8.30 am. Vinod,Priya,Shobha,Akshada,Arjun,Avilash & Avyuktha were driving down from Bangalore with stop overs at Malampuzha & Trichur and informed they would arrive Sarovaram by 9.00 am. En-route they would visit our family patriarch Rasu Mama/chittappa and take his blessings.
 Ramu,Shobha, mother Ramal & Guhan would reach Ernakulam on 19th night & reach Sarovaram on 20th morning around 8.30 am. Usha & Raja were driving from Palakkad.Jayaram & Aswathy were attending Asianets awards function on 19th night night and would drive to Ernakulam early morning on 20th and arrive groggy eyed at Sarovaram ot greet the family. Jayaram informed that two rooms had been booked at Sarovaram for early birds to check in luggage & freshen up and have their morning cuppa. There were queries about whether some of the cars could be left behind at Sarovaram parking while our group was away at Alleppey.
Minakshi informed that her & Siddhus train tickets were still wait listed & awaiting confirmation. As a contingency measure they would attempt Tatkal booking on 18th. Jayashree regretted her inability to attend owing to unavoidable circumstances..
There were discussions about organizing amusements and games  at the reunion and would some one kindly take charge. There was plenty of talent pool in our family hence ample potential for wholesome entertainment. Suggestions included singing, dancing, skits,games like antakshari & dumb charades. There were talks about bringing recorded music & costumes,chess boards & a game of Taboo (whatever that is-not to be confused with actress Tabu). Vinod & Radhakrishnan unequivocally consented to take full responsibility for all spiritual activities.
Niru responded that at exactly on identical dates she would be in Kaziranga chasing one horned Rhinos or vica versa - whichever the case it may be. Ramu started a frenzy of quizzes to keep the whatsapp channel buzzing with intensity. It all started with the Rhino quiz - "If 3 Rhinos could dig 3 holes in 3 days, how many holes can 300 Rhinos dig in 300 days". Answers for this quiz varied from 98 to 298 to 300 to 30,000.
This was followed by a riddle on sea monsters. Minakshi was on cloud 9 as her answer of 30000 was spot on.
There was a clarification by Shanthi - she was attending a classmate's daughter wedding at Kottayam on 20th at 11.00 am.She was trying to figure out how to reach the venue and join the reunion revelry.
Somewhere in the midst of all these discussions Yash had broken his mobile phone and currently was not in the group.
There still no clarity on where the family was spending the night in Alleppey. Jayaram continued to keep this a closely guarded mystery. The fun and banter continued endlessly. Energy levels were high and enthusiasm levels were peaking.Minakshi finally confirmed her Tatkal Ticketing - in a train reaching Ernakulam at 3.00 am. Sidhu was travelling by bus .
Another quiz about elephants,monkeys, rabbits & parrots all walking towards the beach -wide variance in answers.There were other quizzes on chiming clocks and aero-planes taking off from runways.
Very appropriately some one thought it fit to post Anna & Manni's picture as a profile photo for the whatsapp group. Shanthi remarked about the astonishingly striking resemblance between Anna and Kunjammai.
Sekhar, Narayanaswamy, Megha & Uttara landed in Ernakulam on 19th morning and reported they visited Chottanikara Bhagawathy temple and sought blessing of the powerful deity..
A disappointed Dinu reported the following "I wish I could (attend).Stuck in Hubli with work, house in a mess,luggage in transit at unknown location.Only thing certain is that I will be celebrating WA with wife" ( WA=whatsapp or wedding anniversary or wanton abandonment?
There were reports of Vinod & party reaching Malampuzhai, Sekhar & family going for a boat ride in Cochin and Ramu,Shobha,Guhan, Rama Periammai/Mami reaching Ernakulam and checking into YMCA Palarivattom. Usha & Raja would leave Palakkad by 5.00 pm and reach Ernakulam on 19th night.There were some amazing pics of the Aluva puzhai & exciting boat rides on the Vembanad lake.
All highways,waterways, runways & tracks were leading to Sarovaram, Ernakulam.

20 June 2017: News Clippings - Minakshi following suggestions alighted at Ernakulam Town at 3.00 and proceeded to the a/c waiting room awaiting pickup.
Team Namma Bangaluru takes off fron Devanahalli Airport.Scheduled to arrive at Angamali around 7.00 am.
Anu Sekhar with heavily bandaged ankle recouping at Chennai reading the what sapp messages with a heavy heart
Ranju sends her best wishes for the reunion.
Nirupama also posts pictures from Delhi airport as they are about to take off for their Kaziranga adventure.
Siddhu's bus crossed Trichur at 7.00 am and he will find his way to Sarovaram.
Rama mami/periammai sends her greeting to the family from her room in YMCA Palarivattom.
Family members started trooping in to Sarovaram reception area in batches - between 7.30 am & 9.30 am virtually all had arrived. There was continuous loud chatter all around.Squeals,shrieks & incessant peals of laughter filled the air.One witnessed a profusion of hugs hand shakes and greetings. The excitement and euphoria was palpable. It was all finally happening and emotions were running high. The family appeared frozen & immobilized in a sea of emotion at the Sarovaram reception.
By another astounding coincidence we bumped into Shobha ( Malayatoors daughter - poor thing was confined to a wheel chair being afflicted from a rare disease) and her husband Nagaraj. I was meeting them for the first time.They happened to be staying in Sarovaram and were in the process of checking out.
 The group had to be convinced and cajoled and virtually nudged out of the reception area moved into the first floor dining room at Sarovaram for traditional vegetarian breakfast of idlis, vadas,dosas, uthappams & pooris. My mother Ramal and her escort Lakshmi Mami were served breakfast on the ground floor. In the midst of this gregarious congregation and confabulations Jayaram & Aswathy made an electric appearance - both looking glamorously sensational in strikingly elegant ensembles. The Awards function had been a late night affair and they had driven directly to Ernakulam.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Grand KRG Family Reunion - The Preamble

Ananadavalli & K.R.Ganapathy Iyer - popularly and endearingly referred to as Anna & Manni
We are all the privileged and fortuitous descendants of the fabulous couple pictured above. My grandfather the effervescent K.R.Ganapathy Iyer, hailed from Thottuva-Koovapady. He studied law and practiced as an advocate in Perumbavoor & Alwaye. He married my charming grandmother Anandavalli and theirs was a child marriage: the bridegroom was 14 and the bride all of 8 years of age.They settled down in Perumbavoor where they lived in a independent cottage in the midst of an acre and a half of land surrounded by a multitude of trees. They had 6 children: Ramanathan (aka Konthai married Ramal), Rasamma (married Krishnamurthy), Hariharan (aka Rasu married Lalitha),Narayanan (aka Nana married Jaya ), Subramaniam (aka Manikutty married Thangam) & Krishnan (did not marry). Of these siblings and their spouses only two are still alive - Rasu aged 95 and Ramal aged 93. The rest have attained moksha. Rasu mama/chittappa lives in Ernakulam & Rama mami/periammai lives in Coimbatore.Both are frail in health, reasonably sharp of wit and moderately active for their age.
a I  first wish to wind back to 25 July 2015.Jaya Akka visited Coimbatore to attend a wedding.She spent stayed overnight at "Sharadalayam" and we had a wonderful time.My mother Ramal had also just landed from Chennai. It was then that Jaya mooted the idea of a whatsapp family group and suggested that I (Ramu) should take the initiative. The suggestion was acted upon seriously and with incredible speed. The KRGFamily group was born and christened on 27 July 2015. The rest is history.
File photo 25 July 2015 - The seed of a Family Whatsapp Group was sown
A KRG family reunion has been on the cards for around 20 months. The first time it was mooted in late 2015 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 elation 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. Though not a direct descendant Usha enjoys a special and unique relationship with KRG Family.Usha's father Ambi (s/o Viswanatha Iyer brother of Anna) married Usha's mother Chellamani (d/o Kunjammai sister of Anna)
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


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