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A Case For Native Kerala Mangoes

To write on mangoes this summer is to bite the cliché and let the juice run over my laptop. However clichéd another piece on mangoes sounds, the fruit continues to seduce and compels you to write anyway. Every year, an old essay in my college textbook pops up in my mind and urges me to eat the fruit in the prescribed manner: it tells you to rub the fruit gently and then knock off the end and suck at it till the pulp runs down your gullet in a steady flow. More importantly, the brave should take the whole mango into their mouth, the essay recommends, and chew the meat and skin and then eject the stone out or some other blah. The only mango that I dare attempt to put whole in my mouth is perhaps the uppumanga (small mango in brine) or even smaller kannimanga (the eye-shaped, baby mangoes plucked when their seeds are still tender). Last weekend, a rose-ringed parakeet in my mother’s backyard, filled with the fruit both standing and fallen, showed me yet another way to eat mangoes. My mot…
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Everyone wants to go to Dubai

A line from the classic Malayalam film Ee Naadu captures all too well the mood of Kerala in the 1980s “Everyone wants to go to Dubai! They think we are Sheiks there.” Though the Gulf Malayalee toils in the sweltering desert sun all the yearlong; for a brief while, on furlough he lives it up quite like a little Sheik. The period also saw the price of goods was not governed by market forces but by the whims of the Gulf Malayalee. The dizzying growth of the manmade paradises in the desert kingdoms has the ineluctable stain of sweat and gore of the Indian migrants. And back home, Kerala’s economy, landscape and cinema was shaped by the Gulf migration. The enchantment with the Middle East which began in the late 70s peaked in the 90s and journeyed down the decades. Malayalam cinema, too, took the migratory route capturing the images of struggling migrant life with all its complexities.
Ee Naadu(1982)
Set in the political milieu of the 80s, Salim (Mammooty) works in the Gulf and comes home onc…

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London-based artist Hew Locke was in for a bit of shocker when he reached the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014 site, Fort Kochi in Kerala. His installation, Sea Power, was apparently crafted from his imagination of what the historical kingdom of Cochin would have been. Indeed, he had yoked his imagination to that of a 17th century German printmaker. The printmaker had in turn conceived the kingdom of Cochin based on the tales of another. “My work is imagination based on the imagination of an image that was perhaps real. It was double fiction and I thought the prints were elaborate romantic imagery...but I discovered when I arrived in Cochin that this double fiction has elements of reality. People still wear lungis and walk around bare-chested,” says an amazed Locke. Hew Locke’s beaded frieze of mythological and historical figures that gently sway in the wind is a response to the biennial theme, ‘Whorled Exploration’, and suggests blips in the seminal mov­ements of history.Whorled Explorat…

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The Gulf’s lunar hold on Kerala has been long and defining but Kochi’s race to become a “second Dubai” is sending the Malayali, ever chary despite his wanderlust, into a tizzy. The gold souks were always there but the cityscape is suddenly all-new: the once-quaint little coastal city is chock-a-block with hypermalls, fancy cars and designer boutiques. Its main artery, the MG Road, is crammed with ever more jewellery shops—as if gold can be panned right out of the Arabian Sea. And the parallel highway is hemmed in, even visually, by gigantic car showrooms, five-star hotels, fancy hospitals and what have you. These two lifelines culminate in that ultimate orgy of retailism, the Lulu Mall, touted as the “biggest” and fanciest mall in India.

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