Friday, July 29, 2011

On a stone bench, under a shady tree......


On my way to Talakkad, I passed through T. Narsipura – a  village which is a charming throwback in time. It was around 11 in the morning,  but the folks of the village looked so relaxed, some women were chatting on the ‘Thinnai’( cement benches),  while some old men were seated under a  stone platform  under a tree and chatting . Unlike the urban souls rushing in the  bumper to bumper traffic holding their mobiles,  people  here  were walkin to their farm lands and some were busy with their silk cocoons (sericulture), while some school boys were chasing the worn tyres with a stick. The way these  unknown villagers smiled and waved at us was so heartwarming.

Any way, the talks  under the tree and thinnai  is the topic of my post.  It made me recall my visit to my perimma’s ( mom’s elder sister) house 25 years back for  my vacation at Pettaivaithalai near Trichy.  It had beautiful  quarters  of Cauvery sugars( now Parry’s) where the rear  door of the back yard opened to  the  Cauvery canal and palm groves. Just in front of my perimma’s house was a square bench pattern on which all the ladies would assemble unofficially around 7 and chat their problems away.  These ladies would also go on a yearly trip to Kutralam( southern most district of India)  to buy the yearly stock of spices –  a business and pleasure trip.

Much before the Doordarshan days, my mom and her friends too  after their household work would sit out  under the gooseberry tree and talk while they learnt to knit, sew and ‘Can’ foods like juices,pickles and jams.  They were like members of one big family.

We have one such cement platform under the tangerine tree  in the back yard of our Grandmom’s house too at Lalgudi.  Neighbours come and chat with our house hold members.

The conversations in  all the above meetings would  involve politics, movies, music, cuisine, latest trends, developments, job and alliances for their children, schooling etc...  and most important was they would  share their personal problems,  happiness, worries , sympathise and empathise with the other’s feelings without being judgemental.  Just listening and talking their problems was so cathartic and de-stressing, my mom, and perimma would say. As a child, I was  a witness  to this talks.

Even yesterday over telecon my atthai( father's sis) told  me about the beautiful time she had  with my dad, mom and  her other siblings at my uncle's place, while we their children were faraway. The retired lot talk and spend their time and  it is so healing to their soul to share their problems.

These personal  meetings/conversations are called by many names in many languages like ‘Katte matthu’(kannada), arrattai  ( tamil),  gappe(hindi) , gossip or euphemistically I call it ‘ Group Discussion’ or   ‘Hang out’.  When  there are no family priorities,  I too experience the above meetings in my  housing society  with my  friends in the evenings.

These talks create a bond of share, care, love and help among people.   At times of crisis, they also become a support system like an extended family. 

My friend, who   is  a  member of a  counseling  organization based in Seattle often holds  meetings to counsel people.  She said all they  do is take some personal time to  listen  to people’s problems and they don’t even  give advice.  Just talking their problems made them mentally lighter.

Now tell me,  Isn’t there some similarity to the  above talks and the organization.?

A simple village activity  has metamorphosized  into an organization and given birth to a new job avenue called counseling.

If most of us talked and shared our worries and listened to others, there would be no need of family counselors, marriage counselors  or student counselors.  Today, many  of us  that too urban souls, plan strategies to compete and survive, think logically,  make scientific breakthroughs  in the process we have become less emotional.

Infact,  Most of them bottle up their emotions and portray a rosy picture these days which only harms our health.  Emotional connect has  become a victim of changed  times.

Many of us   socialize virtually  on  FB, Geni , skype , orkut etc… but unfortunately since time is a premium, today many find it difficult to connect with  their own family personally, leave alone friends.

Here, I could not stop myself from envying  those  simple villagers having katte matthu( conversation on an elevated platform).

 I so much dream   too  lead a simple life like those villagers,  chatting away  in some idyllic village faaaaaaaaarway from  the neon drenched , carbon spouting city  among  like minded relatives and friends, in my Dream home.

My Dream home? How will that be?  That’s an other post………….

P.S: The above theory of talk and healing was elucidated in a Tamil drama. If interested read here.

 ( Above photo was clicked on my way back  from Somnathpur, Karnataka)


  1. This pic so makes me want to nap... imagining leaves rustling and the quiet around...hmmm..

  2. Thoughtful, evocative post.
    Like anything, there are pros and cons, and we can idealise one or the other.
    The close knit networking in a small village is great if one conforms to group values. On the plus side, there is a lot of real support.
    FB, the net offer a form of anonymity, a freedom to be wharever one wants. On the minus side, it misses the grit and glue of real human relationships.

  3. hmmmm remind me of my village days .. os much time to idle :)


  4. u r in my fantastic friends list..y do u need an invite to visit here..??!! answer answer answer..

  5. @ Uma -- Good imagination, sleep well :)

    @ kalpana -- absolutely, thank you:)

    @ Bikram --- I find a balance of physical work and leisure in villages :)

    @ Ramesh -- thanks :)

  6. We think we're SO good at communicating in the 21st century with all the virtual and social networking tools - but nothing beats the real thing! I bet no one in a 'thinnai' culture actually needs a shrink ...

    Have a great weekend!

  7. I know someone who doesn't believe in counseling, and I think it's because he's used to having "counseling" coming from other places. Great writing and photo. Thanks for enlightening us.

  8. a great massage you have here.....yes we have lost the "katte matthu" type of meaningful activities...

  9. Yes those were really the days. When we just popped into people's house with out having to tell them of our arrival like these days. We could just sit chat on a thinai or as in the north on a charpai and talk.We could go to anybody's house and they too cold come to our house without any hesitation.
    But times have changed, and under present circumstances it feels better this way, even with close friends and relatives.Since we have become used to this, that era may not suit us now.
    At least we have something about that era to look back, our children don't even have that, they would only have visions of parents running and hurrying about, and they themselves would only remember how they had to rush against time to fulfill various assignments in school and go to various coaching classes, hobby classes, and their life filled with tension.
    It is really sad.

  10. avvv...seriously...semma poramais looking at ur posts..and nice background to add to the post

  11. Good post, also the comparision of the dhinai pechu.. kathee mathu.. with the counseling is apt and xcelent, yes, this the same what we do in the social networking sites.

    Culture doesnt change much, but the medium does change, thats all. gr8.

  12. Though I havent really experienced a village life, I love the arratai on the thinnai we used to have as a kid at my Grandmas' place in Srirangam. It was a time when cousins and all chithis used to congregate for summer vacations and what fun we used to have. Your posts almost always brings back nostalgic memories of better,uncomplicated times!

  13. @ red nomad Oz - hey, welcome here and yes we think alike on this issue :)

    @Lola - thank you :)

    @irfanuddin - thank you :)

    @Rama - you are right about the present gen kids :) they hop from one class to another. no time to stand and stare.

    @Gils - :) good observation

    @ Ravi - is also about emotions. Do we feel the same emotions on networking sites? i doubt.

    @ Bhargavi -- exactly, that was my point...we are making our lives more complicated :)

  14. @Asha

    Do we feel the same emotions on networking sites?
    To some extent yes. Sometimes it depends on the person, not the content..

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