I have been awfully quiet for the last few weeks. Mainly because I am travelling. Back in India after more than a year and I know I am having a good time because I don't have the time to record it on social media ????
One of the main highlights of this trip has been a two day family gathering at Wayanad with over 60 people from my mom's family. My mother belongs to a large, boisterous and vibrant family, which has people from all possible backgrounds. Just in this gathering we had doctors, engineers, scientists, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and of course yours truly.
Wayanad, a popular hill station on Kerala was the perfect venue for this event. The weather was mostly pleasant with the afternoons a little sweaty. Well that's Kerala for you. The event organizers- my aunts (who btw are my grandaunts too) and their families- had to coordinate with these 60+ people, accommodating them in 5 venues , arranging all the meals, and planning the games and sports for the two days.
The first event was an enlightening introduction where the grandchildren, great grandchildren, and in laws of Asiyamma- the family's matriarch-introduced themselves. Her progeny is now spread from North to South Kerala and a good portion of them reside outside India too.
Post introduction were more games and quizzes followed by delicious food. If you know me, you know how much of a foodie I am. And if you get to know my family you will know why I am that way. Something in our gene propels us to make a beeline for food wherever we see it.
Our events were punctuated by congregational prayers, taking time out to remember the One who blessed us with family in the first place. In the evening we moved to a beautiful resort where we had more games for adults and kids. The most fun was one where we had to speak continuously for a minute about our spouse/parents without any pauses or umms and aahs. Have you tried it? It's damn hard!
A generous family sponsored matching T-shirts for us which we were to wear for an early morning hike the next day. I wasn't expecting many people to turn up at 6.30 am but come morning every single participant, from my 7 year old cousin to my 76 year old mammimma were there rocking the red t shirts. An unknowing person might have thought some political rally was happening had they seen the procession of red through the lush green tea gardens of Wayanad.
I was truly moved by the spirit of the family then. The vigor with which the old kept up with the young, laughing and teasing each other as they huffed up the hills.
Post trek we made way to the resort again where more games awaited us. Have you heard of tambola? Look it up! We played a version of it where instead of numbers we had the names of our family members. It was absolute fun to see the faces of our family members from the south of Kerala as they tried to figure out names that sound like grunts and war cries. Beenjua, ummanjua, aachibee, aisibee, kutticha...these are actual names! Autocorrect goes to town with them.
At the end of the event the participants were gifted a personalized 'kudumbam' mug designed by our doodler-in- house, my cousin Red Riding Hijabi
Check out the quirky cup in the photos!
Those two days in the hills, Surrounded by loved ones, sharing with them what's been going on with my life, keeping up with what's going on in theirs, catching up with the years lost and mapping the changing faces as our babies morph into stubbled youngsters at the threshold of adulthood, feeling the heart sink a little as we see the handwork of age on the minds and bodies of some of our most agile family members, cracking up at the childhood pranks our parents, uncles, and aunts played on each other, listening to the same stories the hundreth time and still finding it as funny as the first time...I couldn't help but reflect on the huge blessings that are family and bonds of love. They are a mercy from God, a shield from the harshness of the world outside, and constant reminder of what's truly important in life.
Hold your family close, they might annoy the hell out of you, but they are your family and you need them as much as they need you.
My Kerala trip is coming to an end and I will be trading, yet again, the lush green for the dreary sand dunes, the familiar for the strange. My heart feels super heavy at yet another parting from my loved ones. And as always, I leave behind a little of me with them, because I know I will come back eventually.
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