At that time they had started a factory manufacturing Chlorine in an adjacent town called Athur. The factory allowed school students to come and view their machines and see how they operated.
Many schools in and around that area took turns to visit the factory.
Our school decided one day to take about 30 kids studying in standard five to visit the factory. The best part about the whole trip was that our headmaster’s wife was a native of Athur. Our headmaster’s parents in law lived there in a big ancestral house.
The headmaster arranged for us to assemble in his wife’s house first, before visiting the factory.
The children accompanied by a few teachers and the school headmaster, were to go to Athur by the ‘town bus.’
It was a bright sunny day when we left our village and landed in our headmaster’s wife’s maternal home.
It was a cultural shock for us.
We were from an all Muslims village and we had never visited a traditional Brahmin house before. Everything and everyone in that house filled us with wonder – the ladies in their sarees tied in the madisar style, the men in their traditional clothes and caste marks on their forehead.
The headmaster’s wife’s whole family, including grandparents, aunts uncles and various cousins had assembled at that house. Or come to think of it, it could have been a joint family and maybe all of them did live there together.
Anyway, what was most thrilling about the trip was that they had prepared a sumptuous lunch for us. A fantastic vegetarian fare, the likes of which we had never tasted before awaited us.
We all sat in a row on the floor. They put a banana leaf before each one of us and served us everything in proper order : rice, sambar, rasam, curd, potato fry , pickles and papad.
It was a first of sorts for us kids in many ways – eating from a leaf and eating a full-fledged lunch at 11 am in the morning, talking to the old people in the house who talked in a different kind of Tamil.
In fact everything was so novel , that it has left an indelible impression in my mind.
I remember that we visited the factory afterwards and were taken around. It did not interest us girls, though the boys went gaga over everything.
Even now when I think back on my school days, the visit to my head master’s wife’s ancestral house was more enjoyable than any other trip I have been on.
As told to talkalittledo by : Mariam Beevi, Choolavaikal.
Written by : Gulsum Basheer.