Happy New Year and Season’s Greetings from KR and Indira Rao!
It has been an eventful year with pleasurable time spent with several of you that I and Indira met during our visit to India; however as the year was waning, the loss of our near and dear Tram annulled the good times we had during the year we left behind.
At Hyderabad meeting and hosiptality luncheons with Vasantha, Chaitanya, Swetha with their baby daughter, Laxmi, Murali, Chin Chin, Sriram, Satya Prasad, Jayaram and his wife was a welcome back to this Southern Portal of India, Hyderabad. The Hyderbad airport was indeed a comfortable relief, distinct from the memories we have of the Indian airports.
At Vizag after a comfortable 1st AC overnight train journey from Hyderabad to Vishakhapatnam, our visiting Partha Annayya and Lakshmi Vadina was to pay our saluations to the oldest living family of the Kocherlakota clan of Nidadavol that we owe our ancestry. At this place other relatives we had pleasure of meeting include Raja and his family, Dr. ISP and Papai, Shalini and Chakravarthy.
At Delhi we perhaps spent a resplendent and stunning Diwali festival at Hari and Jyoti’s place at Noida. The glitter of the dazzling lights could be seen in the eyes of Neil and Rekha who joined us at Hari’s place with Uma and Sunder. Here Sunder’s cousin Vasu also joined us for breakfast at Hari’s ***** Noida flat. Perhaps, this was the best ‘festival of lights’ we had during the past several decades. Stunning shopping that Jyoti took us for purchase of illuminations, fire crackers and sweets will be with us for a long time.
At Vijayawada, after a relaxing 1st AC overnight train journey by Rajdhani Express from Nizammuddin, Delhi we viewed the spectacular and remarkable retirement party of Dewaki in the company of Sekhar and Vasantha. It was striking to see in the several hundreds of faculty, students and Alumni of the Montessorie College for Women there was a bus driver in whose bus Devaki commuted from Guntur, every day for 35 years!
At Guntur, the memories were rich with our visits to this place during the past four decades or more. Visiting Shymala Nagar and 4th line 14th X-road brings back a treasure of happy sunny days we had when we visited these environs. Dinner with Devaki and Shekhar’s family with Neil, Rekha, Uma and Sunder was entertaining. It was enlightening to see sister taking immense pains to set the dining table for the several courses of the luncheon she arranged with bavagaru for the grand kids who seemed to enjoy the southern hospitality.
At Tadepalligudem, it was reliving the past when we visited Narayana Nilayum, even though it was brought to a much better use since our last visit as a School by Vissu. Neil and Rekha using the swing set on the grounds, school kids felicitating Sunder, Uma as well as Neil and Rekha with greetings was a spectacle to watch! In the company of Subbarao Babayya and Pinni, Suryanaryana and Pinni, Vissu and his family Sunder, Uma, Neil and Rekha seemed to have enjoyed the affections showered on them, in addition to the sumptuous food and gifts. The high point of this year’s 1st visit to Gudem was Uma, Sunder, Neil and Rekha accompanying us see Annayya, who was impressed by his grand kids visiting him. As usual we arranged an ‘anna danam’ on the last day of our 2nd trip to Gudem, for all of the inmates of the Ashram where Annayya lives.
At Pentapadu, it was all too different! The greenery, rich paddy fileds, pollution free environs, down to earth village set up caught the attention of Neil and Rekha. A distinct contrast to the 4-wheel drives of the automation age were the pair of powerful glistening white bulls that were used for carting all of us for a 2-kilomter ride along the paddy fields. A preteenager scaling straight up (without safety belts) up a 40 feet Coconut tree to fetch fresh green coconuts was a sight that sparkled Neils admiration, let alone using straws to help liberally drink coconut water. Visit to Jayaram/Abbai/Vissu’s village school with 200+ kids was entertainment galore! Delicious classical Andhra Luncheon prepared by Sitharamudu and Vardhani Athayas at Abbai’s 200 year old (updated) house was relished by Sunder, Uma, Neil and Rekha, in addition to all of us. Icing on the cake during this Pentapadu visit was the Vissu’s Lambetta scooter ride that Sunder, Uma, Neil and Rekha had in the pollution free Indian village. On a return trip to T’Gudem we met Laxmi and Prasad and at Pentapadu we met Kamala.
At Nellore, we really got the feeling the trip was well WORTH it! In addition, to the immense hospitality shown by Rama and Prakash, the homely spick and span set up of a flat in an Indian Town was in evidence. Narrations of the Indian School child’s experiences were appreciated, as we listened to ‘a day at school’ that teenager Kirthika had in store for us. The cute restauarant luncheon sandwitched in between Kirthika’s luncheon break was reliving our past when had to wrestle with Uma’s and Ishu’s Saturday schedules. Nellore rail station, inspite of a lack of railway porters had a lenghty under pass ramp across several rail tracks that reminded of only one such facilty in an Italian Rail Station. Thanks to Dr. Prakash, inpsite of his surgical appointments and a video conference with Hyderbad Surgeons, he helped us get in to the crowded AC Chair car cramped with scantily clad Iayyappan pilgrims.
At Chennai, although we were grateful that we could have few memorable hours with Tram during our three visits to his place, we never believed we would never be able to see him again. We made special efforts to get for him a silken ‘puncha and a kanduva’ from a Shop famous for such items near the Madura Meenakshi temple. We are certain that Tram who led a singularly vedic and pious, dedicated, focussed life, never speaking ill of any one while bearing all his aliments with stoicism will be in the hands of god in HIS HEAVENLY ABODE. We were very appreciative of Nirmala making a luncheon and giving us clothes inspite of every thing she had to shoulder. A brief meeting with Indira Pinni, the oldest person from Achanta clan, receiveing her blessings is a reward in itself.
Once again A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES! – KR & Indira Rao (Jan 1, 2009)