Monday, October 14, 2013

Navagraha Ottam - கண்ணதாசன் பேரைச் சொல்லி

Navagraha Ottam - Part # 4 -  கண்ணதாசன் பேரைச் சொல்லி

Running through the rural roads of Tamil Nadu is refreshingly different.  The people are warm, welcoming and shy at the same time.  From young to old, all were curious to know why we were running, but wouldn't ask us directly.  They would pose the question generally in the air expecting us to respond.  We did in most of the cases.  This post is about the rural road scene and the various folks we met including a boy named Kannadasan.

We met countless kids like the ones pictured above on all four days of our run.  They would be generally curious and would want to engage in a conversation with us but would shy away.  Balaji wouldn't let them off that hook that easily.  He would get them engaged in a conversation and generally leave them feeling good.  That's Balaji for you.  He is equally at ease with young, old, black, white, brown and everyone in between except dogs.
These young adults charged our batteries when the needle was pointing to nil and legs were refusing move forward.  Unlike others we met enroute, these guys accosted us and engaged in an engaging conversation.  Like others, they were curious on what we were doing, where we were going etc.. Then, it was our turn to 'question' them and their answers acted as instant recharge for my drained batteries.  While I was a making a 'big' deal about my run, these guys were regularly walking several kms every week to the nearby temple for voluntary cleaning work.  They had already walked 7kms in the same hot sun we were enduring and had another 3+km to go.  After that, they will do several hours of cleaning work and walk back home.  Here was I trying to survive an ordeal they do regularly without any air.
Balaji and I were losing it on the first day.  The Sun was blazing and Alangudi was nowhere in site.  We were looking for any opportunity to throw in the towel and that's when this guy's house appeared.   He has a 'tea stall' which looked starved for customers.  He warmly received us, gave us cold water and let us do 'Viparti Karani' without a fuss.  All the more, did not charge us a penny.  This brief stop and the hospitality, stopped us from 'throwing the towel' and helped chug along.
These kids were celebrating Gandhi Jayanthi in their own way in the middle of nowhere.  They were warm and welcoming.  Interestingly, the the name of the kid on the right is Stalin!!!!
Marketing to the rural masses.  This Auto with a 60 second loop kept urging folks to buy stuff at Seematti in Kumbakonam.  We were not their target customers but the Auto kept following us for a while with its annoyingly loud advertisement.  By the time we lost that Auto, I had come to know the silly commercial byheart.

Now to the Kannadasan story..
Balaji and I were chugging along somewhere near Kumbakonam on the second day and encountered three kids.  They were curious and full of energy.  As usual, Balaji stuck a conversation with them and the kids were more than willing to reciprocate.  After the initial pleasantries,  Balaji asked them..

பாலாஜி  - தம்பி , உன் பெயரென்ன்ன?
தம்பி  - கண்ணதாசன் 
பாலாஜி  - ஓரு கண்ணதாசன் பாட்டு பாடுடா 
தம்பி  - உடனே பாடிய பாட்டு "கண்ணதாசன் காரைக்குடி பேரைச் சொல்லி ஊதிக்குடி" 

Balaji an I were expecting the boy to sing a Kannadasan penned song and were stunned to hear the kid sing this song.  Such the influence of cable TV and movies.  Now, we know where Vivek gets his lines.. like.. Who wrote Thirukkural? 'Salamon Papaiah'.

On a serious note, liquor consumption seems to the fastest growing retail business in Tamil Nadu.  On desolate rural roads, one can spot the TASMAC miles away by the collection of motorcycles, bicycles and traffic snarl.  From Police Inspector on duty to farm daily labor to kids, alcohol is riding high.  Selling liquor may be a profitable business for TN Govt., but is wrecking the social fabric and nobody seems to care.

Detailed booklet on the Navagraha Ottam here
Navagraha Ottam album here
Navagraha Ottam Post # 1   #2  #3