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The Winter Winds from the West — Chapter 01

The tail saved me.

When I came out of the JFK airport on 16th. morning, the weather was harsh but the warmth of the hugs by the tiny tots, Ananya and Nikhil, my grand children and son Sharath and Meghana,my DIL, who received me at the exit gate a few minutes earlier,sustained me for sometime. Enjoying the laddu which I placed in her mouth and dazzling with my birth day presentation of a black and white stone- studded necklace ,Meghu splashed an affectionate command to her hubby to take us to Sri.Mahavallabha Ganapathy temple, a 30 minutes drive from JFK airport, situated in Flushing , New York. My fourth visit to America,which might become my second home now on, thus commenced on an auspicious note.

Like many other temples I had visited earlier in US, this temple too is maintained absolutely clean and the idols are artistically decorated and poojas sincerely performed. A big Vinayaka idol, glittering with gold ornaments and multicolouor garments blesses you from the center stage and attracted by his golden tusks,one broken, I sang:

“Okka panti pottivada— -,Neekkune

vandhanmu cheseadahanura” .

Equally attractive are the other idols – the Shiva lingam,Vallidevasen a sametha Subrahmania Swamy, Venkiteswara Parvathy,Mahalakshm iand other devathas and Navagrahaas. This temple which was started in a small frame house over some 30 years ago, has now a wedding hall, auditorium, Ganesha patasala, canteen & staff quarters and above all a long corridor leading to the main temple, with granite statues on both sides, elegantly placed.The temple offers a wide range of services like Abhishekam, Annaprasanam, Ganapathi Homam, Namakaranam, Satyanarayana Pooja, Upanayanam, Vehicle Pooja, Weddings and so on. After enjoying the excellant south Inidan snacks from the temple canteen, we drove back to JFK airport and I flew to Tampa, to live with my daughter in Ocala, Florida,where the weather is more favourable.

Unlike New York, where the weather was harsh, the tolerably cool wind in Florida reminded me the ‘maram koctunnamanju’ climate in Kerala during peak winter some thirty, forty years ago.

The climate has always been Florida’s most important natural resources, which is reflected in its official nickname, the “Sunshine State, with pleasant warm winters with periodic invasion of cold air and humid summers .Many from other states migrate to this place for holiday and retirement.

There was instant moon rise on my grand daughter Divyaa’s face the moment she saw me and Raaghuv,elder to her hardly by an year, rushed inside to pick up an instant artificial tail for me and commanded to jump along with him form the sofa. Looking pathetically at my arthritic knee joints and at his little anxious face alternately, I recalled a few lines from my own poem which I composed for my grandson Nikhil’s first birthday in August 2008..

“Thatha falls when Nikhil pulls

Nikhil laughs when thatha falls

And thatha calls for nikhils’s hand

They roll and roll and laugh and laugh.

Fall is fun, for the little one;

And he bounces like a rubber ball;

Fall is fall for the older one.

He moans and naps and worries all”

That gave me the courage and ultimately when I took the plunge I did not fall flat or moan.

Because there was a long tail hanging from my back.!

Love and regards,


Ocala, Florida

Dec.19, 2009

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