Friday, August 27, 2010

A 6 yard yarn

Onam didn’t mean anything to me until a few years back, when I relocated to Cochin in Kerala. The first job I did in Cochin was a flyer for Cochin Duty Free Onam (Booze) Promotions (For Cochin International Airport Limited]. And a Voice Over Recording for the Public Addressal System for the same promo event at the Airport.

I wrote about the times of prosperity during the reign of King Mahabali (an asura king) and how he was banished from his Kingdom by the jealous Gods in the disguise of Vamana (a dwarf) and that he was allowed to visit his Kingdom every year (during Onam)…the usual stuff, but of course with the RGB punch.

I’ve been working with the company I work for currently for dog years (what seems like eternity!). And every Onam we have celebrations at Office. We come to office dressed in traditional attire - Women in Kerala saree and Men in Mundu, there are some spoilsports of course, who come in regular wear. However, that's the blue-moon day I choose to wear a saree, as I'm otherwise literally born-and-brought-up-in-jeans (borrowed that phrase from The Holy Lama - Patented).

The boys come in early to design the Pookalam - flower carpet. The girls are usually busy decking themselves, so they come right in time to pose for the cameras. That includes me, because draping-a-saree takes longer than slipping-into-jeans! And also the time spent taking pictures at home, because it's the rare occasion I wear a saree (an event in itself!), so family, maid, neighbours and myself...all of us are excited. Even my baby has this questioning "Why do you have that thing wrapped around" look on her face. She tried to lift up the saree, wondering if I was wearing jeans underneath! So much for 6 yards, but the yarn continues...

Morning hours are dedicated to work. Lunch time and we have the Onasadhya (Onam Feast with a variety of dishes served on a plantain leaf, and payasam for dessert). Again the boys do the serving (a privilege we've bestowed upon them) and the girls giggle with glee and gobble away to glory!

I had to return to my desk because a client was online for a job brief. By four-ish, entertainment and games began. Tradition has it that newcomers have to introduce themselves and the others can take a potshot at them, to get to know them better (read 'bully them'). Endless rounds later (new-comers outnumbered old-timers such as myself!) with new talents discovered, we formed four groups and started playing dumb-charades (with malayalam movie titles) and I stay dumb most often because I wouldn't know most Malayalam Movie titles, except for playing cheer-leader and taking wild guesses. As the game hots-up with dumb-struck and dumb-found performances by the actors and the guess-ers, we fight against rules, set our own rules, yell and generally make merry (saving ourselves from what would almost land in fist-fights!). By the end of the game, Team No.3 (my team) had more members and more points than the other teams (hee, hee!). The next game was about to begin, but I had to wrap-up as I had to visit my in-laws who weren't keeping too well. Bid adieus, picked up the saree and jumped into the car.

Chock-o-block traffic. Driving bumper-to-bumper, it took me a good 1.5 hours to traverse a distance of 15 kilometres. A severe headache and backache followed. I was ready to drop-dead! M-i-L gave me some tea and balm (visitor turns patient!). Hubby gave me a good massage. All said and done, it was time to wrap up the day.

Onam thus celebrated. 6 yards off, denim back on...until next year maybe.


The Holy Lama said...

Bloggers, RGB looks wonderful in a saree and carries it well. You'll never guess that she is born and brought up in jeans kind:)

wise donkey said...

:) in a way i think sari is also convenient like jeans unless you want to maintain it for a photo . and depends on the material.

but ur kid peering for a jean under sari, too funny:)
no sari pic?

Insignia said...

All in all, you had an eventful Onam :-)

I would want to believe Holy Lama. :-)

Bikram said...

I shall take the HOLY LAMA's word for it he hehe
glad you had all that fun and enjoyed .. I mush confess to one thing I generally dont wear traditinal clothes but at weddign and all i do make an effort ..

How are your in-laws doing ...

Nona said...

:) Nice! I spotted a lot of traditional "6-yards" in Kerala this time! It has been ages since I spend thiruvonam in Kochi!

Rajlakshmi said...

let us all see how u look in saree :D put a photo please :)
I love pookalam during Onam ... it looks so beautiful ...

walk2write said...

Dressing up, like anything else out of the ordinary, can be a real pain, but the telling of it soothes somehow. It sounds like you have a fun group of people to work with.

Kavi said...

Ah ! The story of our lives ! corporate india, festivals, traffic snarls...and ofcourse..dumb charades !!


A New Beginning said...

Happy you had loads of fun:) Wish could see the saree clad RGB :(

Unknown said...

hey hope onam was good for ya...i also wear sari's only for only casuals!

i loved the pookolam pic up there!

RGB said...

@ The Holy Lama,
Thanks for the compliment. And thanks to you, now everybody thinks that I actually look good in a saree, hee, hee!

@ wise donkey,
Saree is good for parties that last just 1 or 2 hours, where you're not expected to move around much, just sit tight and pose for the cameras. At least, that's how I see it:) Baby must have found me strange in a saree! Pic might call Holy Lama's bluff ;D

@ Insignia,
Yup, Onam went well. And hope to God Holy Lama was honest ;P

@ Bikramjit,
Yeah...sure had a good time. Traditional attire can certainly add the glamour effect, especially if worn by people otherwise dressed casual! My parents-in-law are doing fine now, thank you :)

@ Nona,'s a lovely sight...pretty girls draped in saree, all decked up!

@ Rajlakshmi,
Putting up the picture will spoil the suspense, so not yet. Yeah...Pookalam is such a lovely thing...intricate patterns with different coloured flowers.

@ walk2write,
Right. But dressing up once-a-while does feel good. People at office are real serious (more like nerds) while at work, but on occasions such as this they chill-out and let loose!

@ Kavi,
Looks like you've been part of similar celebrations & experiences :)

@ A New Beginning,
Yes, I did enjoy myself. And maybe someday, you will get to see me in a saree :P

@ Madhu,
Onam went well. One of the casual me, eh? That was the pookalam at our office this year.

Destiny's child... said...

So that's how Onam was at the office this year...sounds familiar with a couple of new faces and a couple of similar ones missing :)

Write about your trip soon. I think we all must meet up sometime.

Latha Nair said...

You ought to have posted ur
pic definitely!

Looks like Onam was fun :)
Sari indeed is an elegant attire, with the advantage of blotting out the unsightly flab-
but then you need to master wearing it! Its a pain for sure!

RGB said...

@Destiny's Child,
Yeah...missed you guys. Hope to write about my trip soon.

@Latha Nair,
Onam sure was fun. Yeah, the one outfit that can let you flaunt your figure/conveniently hide those tiers!

Rama Ananth said...

Festivals are good time to show off our talents if we have any, like cooking up something that is good, wearing saree, decking oneself up, and trying out our hand in Rangoli.
I am glad you had a great day despite, the traffic taking its toll on you.
Have a great week ahead. Just back from a long trip, trying to catch up.

sujata sengupta said...

I am sure you looked swell in the 6 yards! And isnt the white of the kerala saree just amazing!

Deepa said...

Looks like you had a good time? As for me, in the immortal words of my nephew - "I'm always hungry". So my nose leads me to the food :) I manage to stuff my face with all the yum food. This year I couldnt find a hearted Mallu who would share the food. :))

Kavita Saharia said...

If Holy Lama says that you look wonderful in saree -i believe her !a cup of tea from mil and a back massage later...your Onam was good!

Your little angel looks adorable as a butterfly fairy(the previous post).She has a lovely smile.Congratulations on her winning the prize.

RGB said...

@ rama,
Yeah...and that's why we look forward to these festivals! Looking forward to read about your trip :)

@ sujata,
Kerala saree is beautiful. Makes just about anyone look gorgeous:D

@ Deepa,
I'm not much of a foodie! I love the payasam though, the best part of sadhya. Too bad you missed the feast this time :(

@ kavita,
Yup, Onam was good. (Prev. post) Doesn't she! Don't know the results of the event yet. But I believe she's already a winner though, coz she did her part well :)

Haddock said...

Agree about that saree thing, especially with those who wear it once a year.
But I like the enthu with which all office goers get together to celebrate Onam

RGB said...

Welcome. Yeah, enthusiastic bcoz it's one of the few occasions we get to take a break from our otherwise routine jobs! Hope to see you around more often:)

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello Greetings:)

I am very happy to read you had wonderful Onam celebrations in the office. It is also interesting to note that ladies palmed off the hard work to men colleagues.Of course, they would have been thrilled to decorate the office and serving all of you.I can imagine the fun and laughter and every one trying to show off their lovely onam sarees and gain the admiring glances of men colleagues.

Yes, Onam is a time of celebration and there is alway great fun in office celebration.

I agree many ladies prefer jeans to sarees because it is easy to wear and convenient to move around and do work.Saree have become ornamental and worn with great difficulty on special occasions.These are the modern times and I can see lot of changes in all aspects of living.

I am happy to read that you took some time off to have a grand celebration but at the same time I was sorry to note that you had to suffer head ache and back pain by the end of the day.

Traffic jams are terrible in the city of Kochi and it is a pity that the government embroiled in their own squabbles have no time to look into the pathetic condition of the roads especially during monsoon. People in Kochi are very patient and forbearing and will put up with this kind of driving torture very patiently and suffer in silence. I can foresee that nothing is going to improve in the near future.

I enjoyed reading this interesting post.

Best wishes to you and your family:)

Tomz said...


For the first time in your blog..

You have an excellent blog..though I saw the same template for many blogs..

Truly Onam brings so many memories to our hearts..

We also had celebrations at office, but this time I left for home one day earlier..

So missed the celebrations..

However, even if I take part in the celebrations, I will be one of the spoilsports as you mentioned..ha ha ha

RGB said...

@ Joseph Pulikotil,
Glad you enjoyed the post. Celebrations in office are fun...that's when you get to see the upper-lip-stiff-guys lighten up!

The traffic in Cochin only seems to be getting worse by the day. In the middle of the traffic my only wish is to own a hovercraft!

@ Tomz,
Welcome to my blog and glad you like it. Too bad you couldn't be part of the celebrations, or was it deliberate! Hope to see you around more often :)

Ellen said...

Now now, Rgb, you have to oblige the request (mine included) for a picture of you in your saree. I think it's such a feminine graceful attire. Saw it in some friends' pictures in facebook... lovely! :-)

RGB said...

@ Ellen,
Someday, I will. It is indeed a graceful attire. And I've reserved them for such occasions :)

Anonymous said...

Belated Happy Onam 2010 or advance Happy Onam 2011! Lovely Pookalam btw. I have always wondered how these ladies and girls in ads look so beautiful while they make the pookalam so early in the morning. I am sure now none of them help make it! :) We had a fabulous onam in Thrissur this year. I think I should blog about it too! :)

budh.aaah said...

It is nice to know about other cultures, my BIL is a malayali and now I know what the onam feast is called when I do go this time to gorge on it. I was gifted the tradtional kerela sari by them, but have to yet wear it.

RGB said...

@ Jyothi,
Welcome to my blog. Oops, looks like the cat is out of the bag! Guess the damage is already done, so wth!

Women dressed in traditional attire, sitting around the pookalam, is what adds beauty to it's worth it, huh?! Would love to read abt your Onam experience as go on, shoot.

Thanks for visiting my blog. You should try the kerala saree sometime. Anybody wearing it is bound to look gorgeous! And though I'm not much of a sadhya freak, the payasam (dessert) is a must-have. Hope to see you around more often :)

R. Ramesh said...

hey thanks ya..yr blog is good..waiting to c yr next update here..and onam is always gr8 in the gulf..had a wonderful sadhya at a buddy's house..cheers

sm said...

nice pic
happy onam

RGB said...

@ R.Ramesh,
Tks for stopping by. It's been a while, must get down to writing sometime soon!

@ sm,
Thanks very much:)

Rama Ananth said...

Hey , Thanks a lot for your visit.
Tell me the family picture that I have put there is it too long or too big. Somebody suggested that I could resize it, although I have put the resized one.
Can I have your email id?

R. Ramesh said...

thanks ya:)

AS said...


very nice blog

and wonderful rangoli it is :)
ur little daughter looks sweet in butterfly dress :)

RGB said...

I think the header is fine as it is, unless you want to make it a strip which means losing a little of the picture on top & bottom. But I'd say, leave it as it is :)

You're welcome :)

@ AS,
Glad you like my blog. Tks for your comments and hope to see you around more often :)

KParthasarathi said...

A delayed visit I concede but the spirit of Onam is still there.You write so fluently it seemed I was part of the gathering.Thank you so much.
Thanks for your comments.Give me your email ID so I cld thank you

Ellen said...

Oh my, what interesting culture and tradition/s India has! Your story got me breathless with all that excitement and activity Lols! Hoping to someday come to experience such feasts and holidays first hand. Thanks for sharing the fun. :-)

RGB said...

Better late than never:) Glad you enjoyed the post. You already have my email id :D

Yeah, India has a rich and diverse culture, worth exploring. You must plan a trip to Kerala sometime and we'll be happy to play host :)