Less or More, More or less

I was fascinated by what Ben Greenfield told recently said in a podcast with Tom. He said, ” Every day I am trying to be less of a boy and more of a man“. He was mentioning the childhood wonder, childhood curiosity and the weird ways in which children view the world. These are the things that were, to a point, serving him as an adult. He goes on to talk about how he has retained some elements of childhood or so to say, ” Boyhood”. I was very fascinated with this notion and I was looking at things I have done and doing with those frames of reference. That thing you do as a boy.

My wife and her cousin had already made up a plan to celebrate Onam together this time. Their idea was since it is coming on a weekend and it’s been two years since we have not celebrated Onam together. So there it is Onam 2021 happening on Aug 21. After all, we had had enough screen time with folks and we decided to meet in person and have some live interactions. Ben’s views were great on this point. He said, ” We do thrive on deeply connected humour in human interactivity to the extent where we have touch receptors called Pacinian corpuscles. These respond hormonally to dopamine release, serotonin release and feel-good neurochemical response.”

I hatched a plan to disrupt the plan which my wife had made with her cousin. They were on the phone for 30 minutes and they had made a plan for a potluck with the dishes demarcated and a shopping list ready for me and her cousin sister’s hubby. I decided to try my luck. I checked with him if he is ok with an alternate plan. The alternate plan is to go and get a ready-made sadya and I will do minimum shopping. My idea is “minimum preparation maximum celebration”. While I was closing this idea and getting his agreement my wife made all kinds of faces. It was a fist thumping “boyhood” moment for me. My intention was to take away tension from the kitchen on Thiruonam day.

My best memories of Onam from my teenage days were when I got a chance to be with my folks in my hometown Trivandrum. We used to be nicely dressed up and we got to hear the latest Onam songs by Yesudas or Chitra and there would be mega releases of Mohan Lal and Mamooty movies vying for attention. I was a Mammooty fan turned Mohan Lal loyalist and these days I do follow all those movies by contemporary actors. At home, my mother would pluck flowers from the garden and deck them nicely in the puja room. The incessant smell of agarbathi will be all around the house and we would have a grand feast with grandparents and close relatives. During the day we also give food or some things to the poor and the needy who’ve come on that day. We would then see a movie together in the afternoon and then we would go out to play in the evening with friends and return late only to realize that oh no, we have to wait for another 1 year to celebrate life with Music, food and some masti with friends. It used to be a 10 day holiday for us in school and there used to be celebrations in different places. I remember one such program where we went to hear the live music of Jayachandran.

Onam does not bring good memories in our lives and this time our daughters were looking forward to the Onam celebration. I was up late on the day before Onam. As my daughters were leaving the room that night we told them you guys should wake up early and do the floral decoration as there were tonnes of flowers inside the refrigerator. I was out the whole day and didn’t understand upfront the conversation which was happening between the folks. I asked my wife how did she get those flowers inside the refrigerator in the first place? She said, ” It was procured online through getflowers.com!”

My daughters got up at 4.45 AM ( never thought they will get up so early) and had made this floral decoration. To create the morning ambience of Onam I did the playlist of Onam songs. Thanks to the youtube algorithm it made the job much easier. It was time for photoshoots in the traditional dress. In fact, we walked in the morning and evening around the apartment and friends who saw us in that attire could instantly recognise the joy on our faces and wished us happy Onam.

Finally, it was time for feasting after a long fast. I had eaten less in the morning and as the sadya arrived in boxes thanks to ordering online sadya. There were 6 boxes for 7 of us. I unboxed in a never seen before pace and I am not sure whether I followed the below order in terms of arranging everything. I saw my wife and her cousin diligently arranging in that order. A day before I took one of my friends to have sadya and it was an interesting experience to see how he ate the food in the banana leaves. The best part was the way they put the banana leaves. My uncle would have given a lesson and mentioned the philosophy of banana leaves. My wife during the sadya with her cousin sister mentioned how you have to keep mixing the liquid with the solid and that is the art of eating in a plantain leaf. Once everyone started to eat, I took out the pan, poured coconut oil and made those large oily Pappads. The only person who prepared something in the kitchen was only me. Everyone enjoyed the sadya and I was glad that my “boyish” intervention worked.

Naturally, after this heavy feast, it was siesta time. I resisted and made it as a cat nap for 15 minutes till I got myself back on my feet after a cup of Americano coffee. We had some tea time snacks coupled with some general discussion on all the current topics in the world which we kept to a bare minimum.

Aug 21, 2021, will go down as a celebration where we relived my boyhood. We had all the feel-good chemicals flowing on that day and it was a great vibe. Actual touch cannot match a virtual hug. Be that as it may, I have therefore decided to create moments I would where I would like to be ” more of a boy and less of a man “.

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