Next morning my mom made me Godumb Dosha (sort of crepe) with podi (literally translated, powder. It's made with lentils and other spices. Mixed with coconut oil, it makes a tasty and spicy sauce). We sat around and talked, and an uncle of mine who stays in Muscat, and my cousin Anoop Cheta showed up to say good-bye. We all drove together to the airport and there I was able to meet some more family friends - Jayan Uncle and Latha Aunty - I have known these people as long as I can remember. We sat around and talked about various things (mostly having to do with my experiences in Iraq) before I heard the call for my flight. My sister was on the verge of tears, and so were my mom and dad. I tried to keep a happy face because I didn't want to add to their sadness. But I really felt like crap. "Just 5 more months!", I said as I walked away and waved good-bye.
My flight back was uneventful. Nothing like the trip through hell the other one was. After about a day and a half, I found myself back in Baghdad. Coming back sucked, of course. But it also meant that I was halfway through my deployment. That gave me a renewed sense of purpose.
So that's pretty much it about my leave. I had an awesome time! Other than that, nothing much is going on here. The only big news is that I got promoted to Sergeant (E-5) finally! It was a very proud moment for me. Of course, it means more responsibility and watching everything that you do to make sure that you set the example. But it is well worth it. A little bit about Military tradition here. When you get your E-5, they call it "Earning your stripes", or "Earning your blood-stripes". Why the blood? Well, the rank pins are essentially just that - pins. To hold the rank in place on your uniform, you have this thing at the other end that clamps onto the part of the pin that pokes through the cloth. When they pin you, they take those things off, and then they SMASH their fists into you, essentially pinning the rank to your flesh. This may seem pointless, painful, silly, and crazy to you all, but it's just how it is. So I had the Commander do it, then I had the First Sergeant do it... then SSG Lopez smashed the rank in too. As I was going to dinner chow, I was ambushed by SSG Green, SSG Owens, SSG Maguire, and SSG Gomez. So I got the rank smashed in some more. By the end of it all, I had splotches of blood on my uniform. I know that some people probably think this is harsh, and that "hazing" is bad. But you know what, I enjoyed this. It was a Rite of Passage, and it actually made me feel proud, and made me feel closer to my unit. If you cannot understand, I am not going to bother to try and explain. It's just something about being a soldier. Well anyway, that about sums it all up. And of course, here are some pictures:
Amma, Keerthi, my maternal grandmother, and I
My sister and I
Keerthi, Dipu Cheta, Simi Chechi, and I
Keerthi and Simi Chechi
Vidya and Keerthi
The family in Muscat. Together after 7 years!
Chambekka, which I've enjoyed ever since I was little. This fruit has a texture that's midway between an apple and a watermelon. It tastes sweetish-sour, but that's the most basic description I can give. You have to taste it to find out! It's actually known as a "Wax Apple" (Syzygium samarangense).
The outside of the Chennathrikkovil temple in Chendamangalam. This is a Krishna temple said to be hundreds of years old. No one is sure when it was made. The architecture would make it seem to be 19th century, but according to local lore, the temple has been around much longer than that.
The Devi Ambalam (Temple). The architecture is typical of Kerala temples.
This is the synagogue I talked about. Notice the walls - they are made in the typical Kerala style.
The inside of the synagogue. The central structure is the bimah, from where the rabbi would lead the prayer
This is my ancestral home, the Paliam Tharavad. It is over 400 years old.
This is our crazy Samoyed in India. His name is Chikoo, which means "child" in Arabic. Actually he's a cool dog, just high-strung
This is the Lab puppy we got. Yup, she's called "Honey". So that makes two "Honeys" we have in our family now. She's a fiesty little one.
Sizing each other up
Pilgrims take a dip in the Bay of Bengal at Rameswaram
Rameswaram as seen from the bridge connecting it to the Indian mainland.
The pillars in the Rameswaram Temple.
SPC Paliath! Front and center!
Here I am, getting pinned. I am now, SGT Paliath
The commander, getting ready to smash my rank into my collar
SSG Lopez, getting ready to give me my bloodstripes.
19 thoughts on “The Worst Journey Ever. The Best Vacation Ever.”
Awesome post Viv. Awesome..
That was a nice vacation which you enjoyed. Your blog is quite interesting and informative. I appreciate your flair for writing as well.
Hey bro! lol jp my brother’s name is vivin too. that’s tight. he doesnt really like his name, tho.
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Was reading on the ancestry of the Nairs, when I got to see your website. How did you get all this material? Its wonderful. I am a Nair myself, have to check my Tharavad from my parents. Was born in North India so have very little idea of Nairs and their history. Parents are settled in Perumbavoor, so still do get to see Kerala once a year. Am based in Singapore now. Would be nice to keep in touch.
One thing i forgot to ask you. you made that article on nairs??? If so 2 points to note:
1.Nairs were never classified into kshatriyas, vaishyas and shudras.
2.Villakithala, velluthedathu and Chakkala nairs are not true nairs. No nair would knowingly prefer a marriage alliance with these castes.
Rest is in my posting in Discussion
No comments from yu about my posting in ‘Nairs’ in Discussion. Do you know anand Paliyath presently working as a scientist in NPOL
Sorry for the delay. Being in Iraq, my internet access is rather limited.
While it is true that I was the one who initially wrote the article, it has changed over time due to the fact that Wikipedia is a collaborative effort. A lot of people have made changes. Furthermore, I haven’t been monitoring the article lately, so I cannot tell you much about the new changes.
As far as your first point goes, I agree with you completely. The Kerala caste system was completely different from the rest of India. While the Nairs were the ruling class, the highly orthodox Namboothiris still considered them to be untouchable due to the fact that they considered anyone lower (according to them) than their caste, untouchable. In fact, even other Brahmins (Iyers, for example) were considered untouchable by the Namboothiris. In that sense, you are correct – the Nairs were never classified into Kshathriya, Vaishya, or Sudra. However, I was merely trying to show a comparative analysis.
As far as your second point, I am no authority on it, and therefore, cannot comment.
If it is the Anand Paliath I think you are talking about, then I haven’t met him in person, but we did talk online once. What is NPOL, by the way?
NPOL is National Physical Oceanographic Laboratory.
2.About my second point in my last mail, it is well known. You can ask anybody, anand for instance (No that he need be an expert. i just want to indicate that the idea is common place). You’ve been out of the country for long, I suppose. Then why are these castes (like Veluthedathu, Vellakithala, Chakkala Nairs etc.) not members of Nair Service Society (NSS), the premier organisation of the community?? On the other hand, they have their own associations like Villakkithala nair Samajam etc.NSS is in forefront in the criticism of the present reservation system of the government which it feels affects badly the members of the Nair community; these communities, meanwhile all belong to the Other Backward Category (OBC)enjoying the benefits of reservation system.
3.Parasurama may be a myth. But the very edifice of the caste structure and scriptures in every religion rests on mythological premises.So should you axe the Axe-Rama (Axe is Parasu in Sanskrit)? RAKS
Like I said, I do not know enough about that point to comment. I did not add that information. You may remove it if you wish, as long as you provide proper documentation and references to support the change.
I believe that the caste system originated as a system for the division of labour. The myths were most probably added later to give it religious legitimacy. No doubt, certain parties had vested interests. However, using a myth to explain the origin of the Nairs doesn’t really get us anywhere. You can add the information if you wish, but probably want to phrase in a way such that it is evident to the reader that the legend/myth of Nairs removing their poonollu to escape Parashurama is just that – a myth. It may or may not have happened. The real reason may be something else, and the myth may have been created over time to explain it. We do not know, and therefore you cannot state it as a “Theory of Origin”.
Please continue further discussion on my Talk Page at Wikipedia.
hai vivin we both have the same name . iam glad to; meet you please be in contact with me lets we rock and roll
check you e-mail!! I finally got some picture of you from our last trip to the pool. You almost killed me remember???? The worst driver ever!! Don;t take it hard, I still love you man.
I should be dropping by in BIAP shortly so I’ll definitely come visit you.
PS: did you get your movies back?
Happened to go through this post…..Have to say it was an absolute delight to read….Nice pics too….Looking forward to reading more in the future…..Keep up the good work….Cheers !!
WHATEVER DUDE! Ok, in all fairness, that was my first time driving from BIAP to the IZ and back! Hahaha! Hey, I got that picture of you in the gunner’s turret too. Yeah Ortiz has my movies – I just haven’t gotten them from him yet. Stay safe in Ramadi!
Glad you enjoyed the post – I try to update as often as I can. I’m working on one to put here within the next few days!
Hi again.I had posted a comment a few months back.I’m at university now-university of British Columbia in vancouver.Thankfully the experience is’nt too scary.I mean,the day before i got here,i was totally freaking out.The place is huge,but i’m settling down.I find your journal quite interesting.I was in India too in august before we moved to canada.
I’m doing Anthropology and lots of other courses here.According to my textbook,nairs are classified under Kshathriyas.I am a Nair and have often heard others classify it under shudhra. So,which is it?!! i have’nt located your article yet.
Anyway,your pictures and descriptions of kerala did make me feel a little home-sick.Kerala has to be one place that sucks you in with all it’s vigour and energy,and yet when you’re out,you’re so much more of yourself.Maybe it has to do with truly indentifying yourself and fitting in completely with the people. You should visit the Guruvayoor temple.Even with all the madness in the crowd,(some women can really push and squeeze through crowds!)it’s truly liberating to be so close to god.
juat saw you and raks talking about me.. i am anand. i work in npol. naval physical and oceanographic lab. juat wanted to say hai… happy holi and easter