Most of my growing up was accomplished in Kandassankadavu. Both my parents were born there. My early years were spent in Mangalore.
Kandassankadavu is situated in Thrissur District , Kerala (with Latitude = 10.4724339 and Longitude = 76.0996686)
It was a peaceful village on the eastern bank of Connolly Canal, the waterway connecting the rivers and backwaters from Kozhikode to Kochi. There was no bridge connecting the east bank to the west bank. On the other side was Vazhanapally. In those days, when I was in younger grades, Kandassankadavu was the terminal of the bus route, so it had some minor importance.
Kandassankadavu was an important market. It was where neighboring villagers shopped for fish and meat. Tuesday Chanda (market) was well renowned. It was the property of the Catholic parish and was situated opposite to the church. Both were donated by the Vadakkethala families who migrated from Enammavu to establish the new parish. That is my family.
Our elementary school was the parochial school situated in the Church compound. During recesses, we visited the church and spent few minutes in the presence of the Eucharist. In those days of meagre traffic, we walked to school and back in congenial camaraderie with our classmates and schoolmates. In those years, the main roads were not paved. Stubbed toes were a daily occurrence for me. Paved roads came much later. Most of the homes on the roadside towards downtown belonged to Catholics. Kandassankadavu had people from only two religions: Catholicism and Hinduism. Among the Hindus, the Eezhava community predominated. People of Islamic faith lived on the west of the Canal. Basically, the school population was divided equally between Catholics and Hindus.
In those days, Kandassankadavu had a mild and comfortable temperature. The standing waters in the paddy fields cooled the air. The neatness of the Canal helped. The Arabian Sea was at a five miles distance. Away from the road, coconut trees were planted profusely. Their fronds provided shade from a higher elevation. Mango trees spread their branches in many courtyards. Often the narrow trunks of papaya could be visible. The elephant ear leaves of the taro were a common sight in the land surrounding homesteads. Often one can hear the splash of someone diving into a neighboring pond. Ponds interspersed in many places. There were no fences dividing individual land ownership. Many kinds of bushes bordered the ponds. My cousins were experts at recognizing edible berries. The cat’s eye berry was immensely popular.
We had more than one school. The parochial school for elementary grades, the co-ed h government school for all grades and the convent school for girls from 5 to 10 grades (Sacred Heart of Mary’s Convent Girls High School). Later Some of my cousins attended Madampaththu school in their neighborhood. It was a Hindu private school for lower grades.
In many instances, the adjoining parcels of land were divided among brothers and cousins grew up close to each other. There were enough cousins to make teams when playing games. We lived by the main road, but our cousins lived away from the road. So we depended upon our closest neighbors and their cousins who lived close by. The government school owned a big field further across from our house. On many occasions, we gathered there and played soccer. My closest friend was my neighbor and so we were allowed to go with her to play with her cousins. At that age, boys and girls could play together. Somehow, the boys were better at soccer. Sadly, many of those playmates have already left this world.
Our closest neighbors were the Sisters of Carmelite Congregation. Even after school time, we could walk in and visit them. The Headmistress was very welcoming. She gave me many books to read. Some Sisters did the gardening and we were corralled into helping with the watering. Others did various crafts. I learned how to make flowrrs with crepe and tissue papers. I played ball badminton with them and later played in St. Mary’s and Vimala teams as well as in the Kerala team. We hoisted the Kerala University Championship Trophy and were Runners Up in the Nationals in India.
There were visitors all the time. If there is a birth or dearth, one aspect them. Sometimes people visit on a whim. They were snacks and some beverage. One has to be prepared for visitors.
The parish had all kinds of events. Major parish feasts were very colorful with processions with silk umbrellas and fireworks. Often, dramas were presented on the outdoor stage in the Church ground. During the Christmas Season, there were competitions for Arts Clubs.
Hindu festivals were very welcoming with their processions with the local drum groups. Often the golden representation of the deity of the festival was carried on the elephant. For a large, it was surprising how graceful an elephant walk was. They had very cleanly structured temples whose yards were spread the cleanest white sand that I have ever seen.
There was a movie theater in Kandassankadavu, Kandass Talkies. It was pretty primitive. It was a spacious building roofed by corrugated metal sheets. It had many wide entrances with midnight blue cloth curtains. The seating had a hierarchical order with ticket prices going up as they moved towards the back: Thara (Floor covered in sand), Bench (wooden), Chair (wooden folding chair) and Reserved Chair (Armed chair on a raised floor at the very back). The first two groups were separated by gender, women sitting only in the side wings. There were two shows on week days: 6:30 pm and 9:30pm, both preceded by earsplitting songs from old movies in Malayalam, Tamil or Hindi. On Sundays, there were matinees at 4:30pm. The movies were advertised by a group of three boys, one with a drum, second with a placard and the third handing out notices printed on cheap pink paper. Alas! Nowadays there is no theater in Kandassankadavu.
Going back in time is not always enthralling. The bucolic beauty and simplicity of Kandassankadavu is gone. The traffic, especially after the bridge across the Canal was built. Kandassankadavu is not a terminal any more. The church went through many renovations and has reached an acceptable form. The High school has two more levels added. The convent school was demolished and a new four-story building was built. The parochial school is owned by the convent. The change in climate has become almost unbearable. The paddy fields are gone, the ponds were filled to build houses, and the streams have become roads. The heavy traffic has become life-threatening. No improvement has done to the infrastructure.
Technology has advanced. But, nature and humanity are being chiseled away.