My Grandma’s place at Elathur, Calicut

My  memories aka manjadis are  mostly the  ones  from the days I  spend  along with my  cousins at  my  Grandma’s place  in  Elathur,  a  small  village  in  Calicut. Don’t  know why the below  ones  are  so  distinctly  alive  in my mind. Sharing  some of  them  with you …

-In my childhood days  my real fun days starts  when all the  cousins get together for  summer holidays at Ammamma’s house. The  mornings  start  by brushing your  teeth  with “Colgate tooth powder” (which I use to personally  love because it was sweet!) or  with Umikari (used to  love that too  because our mouths  would  look  like somebody just lit  a  fire inside and it and whole  mouth was filled  with black ashes) or  the  option was to pick up a  Guava leaf.  One of the things we  loved  doing was to  climb on  the  gate of  Ammmama’s  house  and we used to sway the  gate to  and  fro .The momentum  of  the  ride increased  with  every  sway till one  of  our  mom’s  used  to  yell  at  us  and  bring  us  down. I  think  we  used to imagine  that the  gate  was  a bus  and  all of  us  enjoying the  busride.

-Then there  was  this  little  gal  who  used to  sell homemade sip-ups  bonda  and  parippuvada. We  used to gather all  the  “chilllaraas”  we get  from every nook and  corner  of  the  house, gather the little  pocket  money we had and  if  we  fall  short  would  run to  our mothers to  lend  us 50  ps  to  buy  those. Icecreams  were  a  luxury  then  so  we  used  to  be content  with the sip-ups the little girl brought.

– One thing Ammamaa  loved  doing  was to give  us  Oil  baths. She  used  to   smear kuzhambu on  all of  us  kids till all of  us  looked  like  some  shiny  alien kids.  The oil  baths  were  never  complete  without  washing  our hair  in Thaali . So as soon as we were done with the oil smearing the  next action  was to  run  to  pluck  the leaves  and  flowers of  chembaruthi in order  to  make  the thaali . Used  to  take  turns to  grind the leaves  on  the  ammikkallu and  this  was a  good  way  to  spend  the  time needed  for  the  oil to  soak  deep into our  skins. Used  to  make so much, that we  had  so many  bottles  of  it  and the  leftovers were stored  in our  fridge for  later use. Of  course  we  were  generous  so all  the ladies  in the  family got a portion of our  hard earned  work!

-Now  coming to food!! Being  near  to  the  coast side we  used  to  get  the  best  fish  in  Elathur. Today  if  you  ask  me,  I  would  be  more  interested  in  eating the  fish  than  admiring  it  in its  lively  form! In those  days  the  fishermen  used  to  bring  home humungous crabs  in  buckets. When they open the lid  and let the crabs out,  they  moved  around in all directions.  Some  of  us  ran as  further as  we could   and  some  of  us  loved  to  tease  the crabs (of  course not  with our  hands, don’t  think  we  were  that  brave  then)  but  with  long  sticks.  I was so  amused to  see  the  crabs  running around  . Wonder  if  they knew  that  they  would  be  in the  curry chatty soon,  or  maybe they did  and  that’s  why they  were  running as  fast as they  could…

-Ammama’s house  had a  lot  of  backyard  space where there was this  lovely  jasmine plant that  gave us  flowers anytime of the  year. Every  evening  we  used to  pluck  the jasmine  buds  and  Ammamma or aunty  used to tie them with vaazhanaaru  and all the  gals used to  keep  them on our  hair. Soon after this  did  we sit  in the front kolaaayi to  sing our sandya naamams and after that  would  play the game Pulinguru (tamarind seeds).

-Another place we loved to  be  was  near the  mango tree which  was  right  above  the  small  outhouse .  Used to sneak out to the  terrace to pluck  mangoes  and  have  it  with  chilli powder  and  salt.

We  always  would  forget  to get the accompaniments and  one of  us use to  sneak  right  back  to  the kitchen to  get them (who usually is  the  last one  to reach the terrace) . The key, was to  get them from the kitchen without the  elders  noticing  because none of  them approved of  this!!  Reason 1 –  our  tummies  would  go  for  a toss  after  eating this,  and  reason 2  – they thought it was   dangerous  to  climb on the tree which  was pretty high… Thankfully none of  us  have  broken our  bones  in the  act!  Savoured  every bite of those raw mangoes. I  have water  in my mouth just  thinking about  it…

-Another  memory  I have is  from the night  we  heard  Ammamma’s  cow  giving out  a long  cry  and  all  of  us  ran  to  see what  went  wrong.  To  the  kids’  astonishment  we  see the  cow giving  birth  to  a  baby  calf… All  of  the us waited  near her  with  petromax lanterns for  hours and hours…  until  the little wobbly  one  came  out  of  the  womb. It  was  kind of a  ghastly sight! Next  few  days  all  of  us  kids  were  around  the  calf and  the mother cow  was  so  protective  about  its  little  one  and  wouldn’t  let  any of  us  near  it.

These are few of  my  Manjadis  that I  treasure  close  to  my  heart. (sigh)


Neema Naveen

Neema Naveen is based in Dubai, UAE and works in the HR sector.



  1. Sreekala says:

    Hi Neema

    It was so nostalgic, just the same lovely memories i too treasure in my mind. Good old days..
    Everything around us were so pure and fresh and un contaminated.. Life was simply wonderful..
    Thanks for sharing you memories


  2. Sajna says:

    Good to hear all these from you neema which took me back to my ammamma’s house..

    I dont know whether it is a coincident or all of us shared the same childhood memories..the part of cow crying and waiting till the baby comes out and to see the calf hopping around seems like we all were together..
    My amammas house is in
    Calicut as well.

    The only thing I need to add more to my child hood memories is to sneak into the paddy field without my grandfather’s knowledge and playing in the harvested hays which was fun.

    Thanks once again for sharing that nostalgic memories and taking me once more to that lovely good old days..


  3. Dimple says:

    Hi Neema,

    This was straight from the heart i guess, njoyed reading it:)

  4. Neema says:

    Thanks for the comments sreekala & Sajna!
    @Sajna : Were we in the same house when the calf came out?? Jus joking! 🙂 Childhood Days where the best!Life was much simpler and I guess more fun without the playstations & nintendos!!

  5. Neema says:

    Yup Straight from the heart 🙂 Thanks Dimple!

  6. Hai Neema,it made me roll back to my good old days,nice write up…

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