March 24, 2005

On my way to Cumbum…

Every year, my mother, my li’l sister and I took off to Cumbum for a 3 week holiday. As I was just in my early schooling years and my sister was a toddler, holiday assignments and such mind-wrecking stuff were not introduced, the three of us left for the journey ahead with mental calm, usually accompanied by my father or my maternal grandfather or Mani mama.
To reach Cumbum, one should go by train till Madurai, Dindugal or Theni and then catch a bus. We generally went to Madurai or sometimes preferred to take one of the direct buses being offered by private companies- KPN, Parveen, etc to Cumbum- enjoying plush seats and an occasional video coach.
Night trains are something I’ve always loved. My ever-fearing family, always make it a point to go to the railway station a good hour and a half before the train actually chugs its way into the station! And I, on my behalf, always make it a point to repeatedly ask when the train would arrive- sometimes, for the sole purpose of irritating them and sometimes as a vent to my restless soul and at others just to make an excuse to go take a peek at the Higginbothams stall.
Once the train arrives, I run to catch the window seat. I make sure that I catch the one that’ll enable a ‘backwards moving’ travel as I simply LOVE them! Then till it becomes so dark that there is nothing to be seen outside but a black expanse, I keep looking out. Then, I climb onto my middle berth (I don’t like lower berths as they offer no scope for my ‘mountaineering’ skills. Upper berths, I loathe due to the presence of only a thin gauze to separate one bay from another! It FREAKS me out!)
I try to dream a while. Many awesome story plots have bloomed out of such train journeys. Sometimes crazy philosophical stuff shoots out. Sample this, which was born out of the depths of my mind two years back…I sorta REALLY like it!
“Boarding a night train,
To destinations varied,
Our sleep- enclosed in the same serpentine form.
Our journeys cross one-another,
Do also, our dreams?”
When destination Madurai is reached, we board a bus to Cumbum- 3 hours more of travel. For the past 8 or so years my aunt- my mother’s sister- has been living in Madurai, so after a day or two’s stay, we leave for my birthland!
What ecstacy fills a soul during the trip, oh butwords JUST can’t say! You ACTUALLY need to undertake the journey. Vast stretches of unpolluted greenery with distant mist-covered mountains for a back-drop. It’s a picture- postcard beauty! Who said the best painter was man? It definitely is not! From God’s pallete, has arised the best of beauty for man to untiringly, feast his eyes on! The rich fields growing healthy crops which slowly shashay to the winds- ah… its elation to see it. And if you actually happen to see a white throated bird in flight along with this picture- voila…you just captured perfection! That God is a master of creation can not only be seen, but also experienced when you pass by a contented farmer resting a while under the shade of a wide-boughed tree hiding his face from the late-evening sun’s golden orange rays. Ever since I read L.M.Montgomery’s Anne books, I’ve also caught the fever of naming trees and mountain ranges. Thus have born- The headless Hermit, ‘I touch the sky’, The invincible one, The silent sorcerer, and innumerable others!
The evening’s slanting rays somehow kiss my face as it peeps out of the bus window! Prayers are born out of such touches between man and god. Man just looks up, smiles unto himself, makes a prayer and looks on again- but after something called tranquility slowly slids into his heart! Man had just seen God!

Many have been the times that I’ve experienced, what I term ‘Ultimate Bliss’ during such travels to Cumbum.The long, slender coconut trees set against a rioutously coloured twilit sky, the ‘clipped-nail’ moon shining(…or was it smiling?), the distant mountains imposingly shielding some distant hamlet and the first star blushing silver upon the world after stealthily slipping away from God’s hand! Ah…there’s beauty spread on a platter… just let your eyes open to simple joys!

Previously, every time we reach Cumbum, it used to rain. Though it was the summer rains just pouring down, my mom and I always felt that it was our land welcoming us with a rain song!
And then our 5 or 10 minute auto journey to my maternal parents home begins. All the while I’ll try to catch the innumerable movies that the town’s theatres- Sakthibala-Devabala, Yuvaraja, Amaravathi, Thambis and Crescent(now closed) are playing! The Tickets are priced from as low as Rs.3 till the maximum of Rs.10(this continues even now, much to my elation!)
Then the first step out of the auto to follow it up with one wild run towards my grandparents yelling, “Cumbum thatha,Magalam patti…eppadi irukkel?”(that’s how I call them- not out of disrespect but out of practice!)Then a wish to my dear sulking Mani mama. Dear because he is someone who should have been my elder brother but instead, due to some strange working of god’s mind, was born as my mama. Sulking, because from the second we arrive, the genius cook in my grandmother starts to prepare delicacies ONLY as per the requests of my sister and I. For a good 3 weeks my mama’s foodie wishes seem to reach no ears!
Thus begins my stay every time. Just that the last few years the stay has shortened to a week or less and Mani mama welcomes me no more as he’s been working in Bangalore, Chennai, Madurai and now Coimbatore! But Cumbum, still thrills my soul and how it does, I’ll follow it up in the next blog…


Harish said...

Damn!! you write well!

Montgomery unna ivalo influence panneerukaangala? :)

Unknown said...

hi there

from a born in cumbum, living in a faraway land, and having spent my childhood summer hols in Cumbum-those were the days when young ones were weaned and packed off to cram their heads in far-off boarding schools in Madras, Ooty, Bangalore, Kodaikanal and other not so exciting towns. I must say that I like both your prose and your poetry. Cumbum was the seat of my my golden childhood with my siblings and with cousins and friends to the dozen. There was nt a single game that we did not try out in the golden cumbum of yorn... those bullock cart rides, what fun! Those were the days. When u write of travel from chennai to cumbum how often i ve done it from boarding school straight to my ammas welcome embrace in cumbum.U bring back to my mind those vivid images of my infant days. thank you.

Sugeeth said...

You have seriously given me goosebumps reading that article. I am from Cumbum too and almost felt the descriptions part of my own travel stories, minus the train part. I always travel by bus. Its a nice article anyway.

Anonymous said...

wow, ur blog is so similar to what memories i hv. it happens to be my mom's native place too and frankly ,u hv literally taken the words frm my mind and put it down...

loved and lived every word of it. rite frm the train ride to madurai to the scenic ride to cumbum to granma's fab cooking and lovely memories...all of them .
makes me wanna turn the clock back..
FMI, there is also an community on orkut for cumbum..r u there too??

Sandhya Ramachandran said...

thank so much, all of you! :)

ofcourse I'm there in the community! :)

asu said...

hey be nice to c u there on orkut.. coz am not muhc of a blogger.. let me know at

Anonymous said...

Our native is Cumbum in Prakasam district of AndhraPradesh. There is a irrigation tank built in 16th century. It is surrounded by hills. Our elders used to tell that there is other town named "Cumbum" in Tamilnadu also. Both towns may rescemble .. I feel.
Our town has trains to Bangalore, Howrah, Vascodagama, Bhubaneswar, Bangalore etc.

Anonymous said...

hi all

I am raghavan.v. Did my schooling in cumbum Sri MPM high school, from 1985-1990.Wish to energise my life with good old nostalgic memories. Anybody?

Unknown said...

My name is Venkat. I love my native place Cumbum in Andhra Pradesh, Praksam district. The main attraction of Cumbum is Cumbum Tank surrounded by hills and there are seven hills in the tank also. the railway line passing along tank bund looks very beautiful. we can spend hours together on the tank bund. The tank bund was built in Srikrishnadevaraya Dynasty, nearly 450 years ago. we have trains to Howrah, Bangalore, Vasco and Hyderabad.

Greenary around the tank and surrounding of Cumbum town looks very good.

One should enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Sunset in Cumbum Tank/Lake is a beautiful scenary .. every body who enjoys feel good. This is in Praksam disrtict of Andhra Pradesh.

Unknown said...

Damn Super!!!!!!!!

My native too is cumbum - theni district.I use to make trips every month.Since my graduation is in madurai i use to travel once in 2 weeks...

Really nice to read an article about my native.thanks yaar....

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