KMC 1973 Medicos and families
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North American Reunion at Utica, New York: August 1-3, 2008

Utica Reunion - 2008: Personal Reflections
Day 2: Saturday, August 2, 2008

by Jacob

Disclaimer: These are just my personal views and observations. It obviously is slanted, biased and subject to all DNA defects. So, please bear with me. It is not intended to hurt anyone or criticize anyone. Liberty for friendly teasing and editorial freedom is taken. Well, you know the rest.

Saturday, August 2, 2008 (contd.)

Here are some of the memorable moments/highlights from Saturday:

5. A grand boat ride - the paradoxical sea sickness of Jaya
A bus ride from Palai to Kottayam?

While planning the boat ride, Mathukutty and Leena faced several tough choices. A small boat just enough to accommodate everyone in the group would have been too scary for Jane. (It turned out that Jane is scared of water as well as going up or down a hill. Since she lives at the top of a big hill in New Hartford, someone has to drive her from and to her home as it involves going up or down a hill. Now, Jain did drive alone to Mathukutty's house on Sunday that surprised both Mathukutty and Leena as they knew that Jane cannot drive up or down. Well, Jane said, she closed her eyes and drove down. She could hear cars screeching and braking sounds all around her, but she only opened her eyes when she was at the bottom of the hill. She is not sure if some other cars had been forced into nearby ditches since her eyes were tightly closed. If they did, it is their problem, not Jain's. Good logic!)

Now Jaya had a different problem. Jaya can travel fine in race boats, especially those that go at very high speeds pulling water skiers. But she gets water-sick if she goes in a canoe or other gently moving vessels that float in the water. (Apparently, when she enters a boat, Jaya will imagine the bus ride from Palai to Kottayam. A speedboat very well match that experience fro Jaya.) We thought about rocking Jaya back and forth to simulate a speed boat. But after hearing how Jane overcame her handicap, Jaya decided to close her eyes and imagine that she was on a rikshaw. This worked fine.

Anyway, Mathukutty and Leena decided to have the boat ride in a big boat so at least Jane and some others can keep their eyes open.

The boat ride was one of the highlights of this year's reunion.

6. Samson and his gadgets.
Using technology to provide a "jazz." Jane, the Miracle Singer?

Ever since Samson saw Jane singing in that KMC function (remember the time, when Jaya who was scheduled to sing could not sing because she was sick and so they asked Jane to "stand-in" for her. Jane just stood on the stage and moved her lips around and everyone, including Samson, thought she was singing and the mike was not working.), Samson had been trying to simulate that experience. The question was how. The technology came to his aid.

Samson discovered Karaoke. (Here is the dictionary definition: Karaoke is a form of entertainment in which people sing popular songs as soloists against a prerecorded backing.) This was the answer to Samson's prayers. He found that Jane can now "sing" songs with the aid of his Karaoke machine and can sound like Latha Mangeshkar, P. Leela, P. Susheela, Jaya, or even Yesudas! WOW!! Jain had been singing to his heart's content and Samson is still amazed at how Jane can sound like all those people.

Footnote: Samson, Jain and the Dogs

We all know the deep emotional attachment of Samson to his dogs ever since the first reunion in Hudson. Now here is the rest of the story.

Samson always wanted a dog; but Jane was strongly against it. Samson had been burning his brain trying to figure out a way out of this. So, he went and got two dogs and went and hid them behind the sofa in the basement before Jane came so she won't see them. I think Jane's mother was visiting them at that time; she observed Samson's secret activities and spilled the secret to Jane. I am not saying anything about Jane's reaction or what she did because it may be confidential information under HIPAA rules. Somehow the dogs realized that Jane is not too crazy about them. They also knew Samson is their master.

Later, when Jane was feeling particularly romantic to Samson, the dogs misinterpreted it as Jane attacking their master, so both dogs vehemently attacked Jane to protect their master. Jane suffered several scratches and other injuries before Samson could control them and put them away. This may be one of the reasons why the dogs are now in a fenced area in the yard and not inside the house.

7. Up close with "little" Annie - when you cannot recall the right words or name, call "makri."
New ways to communicate?

The team quiz competition is always fun as everyone is rooting for their team. Last year, we separated the husbands and wives into separate teams and there were some consequences. Some people were taunting their spouses and I was afraid that some domestic problems may arise as a result. So, this year, at least the captains and their wives were in the same team. Actually, the only family that was split was Jaya and Ike; others were all in the same team.

Anyway, the competition got heated. At one point, Jolly's team was charging ahead with correct answers to 3 or 4 questions in a row. This didn't go well with Annie, who was determined to find out the reason for the sudden change of fortunes of the opposite team. She found that Nibin (son of Jane and Samson - who is fresh out of college) was giving Jane all the correct answers and Jane was relaying them as her own.

Annie was furious. She stood up; pointed at Nibin. Her face was all red with anger. In her anger she could not recall the name of Nibin. No problem. Annie, pointing her hand at Nibin like Moses did when he was dividing the dead sea said, "See that "makri" is providing all the answers."

No reaction from Jane; just the trademark smile. Fortunately, Samson took this in good stride. He started calling himself "appen makri" and calling Jane "amma makri."

Unfortunately for their team, that was the end of the good times. The team lost in a landslide thanks to Annie and the loss of "makri."

PS: Savio, who was the team captain maintained his composure throughout this episode. He just had his trademark smile on his face. Coming to think about it, it is not just Jane who has that trademark smile.

8. Living in the land originally titled by George Washington and business acumen of Mathukutty.
Morning bathroom run?

All of us know by now that Mathukutty and Leena built their home in a track of land originally titled to George Washington. Apparently George Washington sold the deed for $1.

So, we were quite conscious of the historic significance of our stay in their mansion. Now here is the rest of the story.

As you enter the driveway, the first things that greets you is what is known as "Mathukutty's Garden." It has 3 levels with a water flowing from the jug of a statue at the top. It has red bricks and red lava rocks to provide the mulch and the contrast. Within them are planted begonias that provide red flowers. Mathukutty told us that the begonias usually have larger flowers; but this year they haven't done as well. But it looked stunning.

What was more stunning was what we saw on Saturday morning. As soon as Meena woke everyone up, we saw Mathukutty walking towards the front with a jug full of water. (In North India and even in some parts of Kerala, this usually mean the person is going to bathroom. We were wondering what is Mathukutty doing with that jug full of water.) Leena explained that he has gone to start the water fountain. The jug of water is to compensate for the loss of water from evaporation on the previous day. Everyday, the first task of Mathukutty is to turn on the fountain.

Now, you may be asking, "Doesn't Leena has nay green thumb?" Absolutely. Leena told us about her $40 tomato. Before you start imagining a giant tomato, here is the story. Last year they planted a kitchen garden. Spent about $40 for the gardener, materials, etc. They received one tomato from the garden. They went to New York City for the weekend (Leena's shopping expedition). When they returned, they found that someone took the whole plants from there. (They suspect the gardener, but has no proof.) So, by GAAP rules (George will know this - it is called Generally Accepted Accounting Practices in the US) all the burden (fixed costs) is now allocated to that one tomato. So, now you know why that poor tomato had to bear the full load of $40! (George will say that strictly speaking the cost of taxes, property cost etc. should be allocated for the piece of land and then charged to that poor tomato. Leena was not about to do such a cruel and unusual punishment.)

Yes, Leena has several perennials planted all around the yard. We saw some Phlox and Gallardias (aka Arizona Sunshine), hibiscus etc. She also has a smoke tree in the front that flowers all through the summer. (Leena explained that it didn't flower this year because they pruned it last year.)

Mathukutty's business acumen? Well, I was going to write all about it; but this is getting too long. Let me just say that the whole development where they live is developed by Mathukutty and Leena. I got some insight into the business acumen of Mathukutty. You will be happy to learn that Mathukutty can beat even our dreaded Marwari's when it comes to business skills (but it is tempered by what is inside - a very nice and compassionate person.) I will share it some other time.

9. The Great escape - banana eating contest and singing.
How to make the bananas disappear.

I had planned a great banana eating contest between Mony and Mathukutty, the two victims of torture by their spouses who refuse to allow them to eat bananas. I thought this is a great way for them to eat some bananas without having to worry about their spouses.

The first thing that greeted us when we entered Leena's kitchen was a bunch of green bananas that probably will take about a week to ripen. I figured that Leena did this to show that she does have bananas at home, but at the same time can get rid of them after we all leave.

Leena's plan was sabotaged by Jolly. Jolly walked in with a case of "poovan pazham" and another case of "perakka." Leena was in a great dilemma. How to get rid of the bananas before Mathukutty is tempted. (Lead us not into temptation.)

Suddenly, a light flashed in Leena's head. She took half of the bananas to Samson and Jane's house when we went there on Friday. OK, half of the mission accomplished.

At Samson's house, we made the final plans for the great banana eating contest. Mathukutty and Money were asked to sit on two ends of the table. Each were given 5 bananas. The mission was to find out who will finish the allocated bananas first. He will be the winner and will be given 6 more bananas as the prize.

Both Mony and Mathukutty looked happy and ready. Then Mathukutty looked at Leena. Suddenly, a big transformation occurred in him. (I was facing away from Leena; so I don't know what was said.) Mathukutty said, "Let's eat this after the dinner or tomorrow." and got up and left the table. Money, in the mean time eat 3 of those bananas. (Meena was already dosing off.) He ate the other two on Saturday (he showed me.). Mathukutty hasn't eaten a single one yet.

Now Leena has all those "poovan pazham" and her original green bananas. Here is when I realized the full brilliance of Leena. I noticed that the "green" bananas disappeared by around noon on Saturday. I asked Shila, where did those bananas go? She said Leena gave them to the maid so the maid can take them home. Isn't that ingenious?

10. How to really prepare for the quizzes?
How Savio prepared for all eventualities by watching all the National Geographic, public TV programs and Jeopardy on TV - not to mention Discovery channel, History Channel, and all others.

Talking about secret communications between husband and wife, I noticed a communication wonder between Annie and Savio. Annie thought she knew the answer to one question that was asked; but she could not recall it. So, she rolled her eyes and head and said something to Savio. What she said had nothing to do with the answer - some word like Makri. (I was standing next to them at that time.) Savio came up with the correct answer from that "clue"!

We also found out that Savio had been preparing for the quiz since last reunion by watching PBS, Discover, History and Nature Channels, National Geographic specials etc. These did pay off. Their team won to the amazement of everyone up there. Meena was sleeping throughout the quiz program, but woke up just in time to find that her team has won.

Sunday's activity follows.

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