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Thursday, 16 November 2006
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Family Reunion in Kerala
A family reunion that had been planned for the best part of two years finally did take place on schedule at Kovalam and Kaloopara from December 28, 2006 into New Years Day. The Kovalam segment of the reunion was primarily held at George and Leela's house.


Attending the reunion were all of the children of AG Joseph's marriage to Sarah Joseph and their respective spouses and some of their off-spring. This included George & Leela (from England), Rana & Mini (from the US), Fifi & Jose (from New Zealand) and Peter & Shiny (from the US) - so as we pretty much had people from around the globe and represents a testament to the committment of the various individual to make the effort to be present.

Image Also in attendance, were Rana's children Saira & Amit - Neeta was not able to attend because of work obligations. The former was accompanied by her husband, Richard and son DJ - all of whom reside in the US. We had Fifi's children Vivek and Vijay and Peter's children Sarah, Susannah and Emmy. Joining the group for part of the time were Mary's daughter Reena and her husband, Suresh with their two children Chikku and Akku

So overall we had some pretty good representation though we were sorry that Ashwati and her family and Renu could not attend primarily because of examination conflicts which prevented the children from attending and the absence of Mary's children, Alice and Roy and their respective families were also felt. George's children, Rory and Holly and their respective families - all based in England - were not able to attend.

With the exception of George & Leela who stayed at their house in Kovalam, the rest of us stayed at the Hotel Seaweed - a place of last resort since everything had been pretty much filled up since it was the height of the tourist season. The hotel while well situated did not represent the ultimate in comfort to say the least but it provided Richard, on his first visit to India, a taste of what marginal hotels offer in Kerala. But what was lacking in comfort was certainly made up for in camaraderie and since we essentially went to the hotel only to sleep, the lack of conveniences were not too much of an imposition.

We spent the first three full days in Kovalam - a time that was dominated by reminiscing about old times, giving the children some introduction to the history of the family and just having a good time.

Image Of course, eating some delicious Kerala "nadan" dishes was high on the agenda. Ambi who does the cooking for George and Leela, prepared some spectacular dishes - all very much typical Kerala cuisine. We had one grand lunch served on banana leaves while most participants were seated on the floor and a couple of the less flexible family members like George and Rana situated themselves so that it did not necessitate sitting on the floor!

Image One of the great benefits of the reunion was that many of the children who had either never met before or had not seen each other in years had an opportunity to get acquainted.

Image George and Leela got into the spirit of the proceedings when they joined everyone on the beach wearing attire very different from their usual wardrobe. We were all suitably impressed by this despite the occasional comment about George's selection of beachwear clothing!

Peter was the one who fully participated in the beach activities among the siblings - to no one's surprise and to the acclamation of the younger ones in the family.

Image Peter organized a boating trip in one of the nearby backwaters which gave everyone both a chance to enjoy the scenic views and also an opportunity for gaiety with family members providing renditions of Harry Belafonte's "Dey O"!

Image Although the boating trip was arranged rather belatedly, it ended up being a nice change of pace and an enjoyable way to see some of the backwaters of Kerala. It gave us the added incentive to perhaps take a house-boat trip in the future which would give one a better and more comfortable opportunity to experience this facet of Kerala.

Since the timing of the reunion enabled us to spend New Years Eve together, we decided to organize dinner at one of the restaurants on Kovalam beach. Most of the family members chose to participate in this outing. George and Leela did not attend since they were fatigue - doubtless a sign of their advanced age. Instead they decided that they would see the New Year comfortably at home. George had acquired a bottle of beer that he guarded quite possessively for the occasion as Peter and Rana discovered when they asked George if they could consume the beer during the afternoon. The beer ultimately was never consumed since both George and Leela fell asleep before the New Year arrived!!

Image Image Fifi, Jose and Vivek decided the time was best utilized in prayer and so did not join the group but Vijay was there with the rest of the celebrants representing the contingent from New Zealand. Also joining the group were two of Shiny's nephews. There were the usual festivities at the restaurant, with lots of food and plenty of imbibing by some within the the group. At midnight there was a fireworks display and the patrons at the restaurant sang what might be referred to as a version of "Auld Lang Syne". Most of all we enjoyed the opportunity of being together as a
family to see in the New Year. After all, who knows
when this is likely to happen again.

Image Image On New Years Day we all proceeded to Kaloopara Palli where a memorial service was held for our parents. In attendance were approximately 200 people including numerous relatives as well as friends and acquaintances of the family. Peter, who was best acquainted with the attendees, served in the role of a master of ceremonies of sorts and introduced the various members of the family who had come to Kovalam for the reunion. One of the interesting incidents during Peter's introduction occurred when he acknowledged the assistance of certain male relatives in organizing the memorial service and in the process was heckled by a couple of our more aggressive female relatives who wanted to know why those of the feminine gender were being ignored - an incident that left Peter somewhat at a loss for words! A sumptuous breakfast was served to all the attendees and thereafter family members together with some close relatives visited the family ancestral home where some prayers were said prior to everyone parting company and proceeding with their respective itineraries while in India.

All in all, the reunion served its purpose in getting us together, introducing family members who had never met each other and generally having a good time. Time will tell when another reunion can take place since the logistics of organizing such an event presents increasing challenges as family members develop added obligations at work and home.

Image Image Image

The breakfast reception served after the memorial service

These links provide more pictures of the reunion and the reception.

Other Links
Kerala Christians
Kalloopara Palli
Barrister George Joseph
Kerala Recipes
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