In the winter of 1998, a friend and I embarked on a trip along the West Coast of India beginning at Honnavar (Karnataka) and ending at Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) 10 days later. It was a hop on, hop off trip, one of the best trips I have ever undertaken, and a trip that I remember for various reasons.
While in Thiruvananthapuram, we took a spur of the moment decision to spend the night at one of the hotels on Kovalam Beach. That turned into quite an experience—being the only Indians staying back, being the subject of countless stares and comments, and dealing with plate-sized spiders in our room. After a sleepless night (you didn’t really expect us to sleep with the spiders around, did you?), we stumbled out of our room at daybreak—all red-eyed and cranky—to see a glorious sunrise.
Sometime back, I came across a fantastic blog titled The Indian Memory Project and instantly fell in love with the blog’s aim—to “trace the history of India, its people, professions, development, traditions, cultures, settlements and cities through pictures found in personal family albums and archives”. So, recently, when I came across some old family photographs, I thought, why not create my own family’s memory project and share them with you on this blog. So read on…
But first a little geographical background of my family to set the context—we are originally from Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu, a southern Indian state. My father’s side of the family is from Tharuvai, and my mother’s side of the family is from Narasinganallur—both villages in Tirunelveli district.
This family memory project begins with the story of my great-grandfather (my father’s paternal grandfather), T. Ganapati Sastri (1860–1926), a renowned Sanskrit scholar. Ganapati Sastri had very humble beginnings in Tharuvai—a place he left for Trivandrum (now Thiruvananthapuram) in his 16th year for economic reasons.