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Showing posts from March, 2012

The Little Eco-Soldier

Armed with nothing besides his green thumb 14-year-old K.S. Sanoj, an eco-soldier, wages a battle to save the mangroves in little known Cherukunnu, in Kannur, north Kerala. You can see him early morning or at even time, when the tide is low, tending to mangrove saplings that he has planted. When school is done, this ninth-class student is there on the banks of the Muttil river, that runs past his village, doing what he loves most. Sanoj has planted over 1000 mangrove seeds in the past three years.(Forty years ago Kerala had 700 square kilomteres of mangrove forests but now it has depleted to a woeful 17 square kms.) Yes, Sanoj has quite a task cut out for him but undaunted by the enormity of it he quietly marches on. A couple of months ago he was honoured with the 14thP.V. Thampy Memorial Endowment Award. However, his delight is still centered on what in the local patois is the “prandhan kandal” or the “mad mangrove”- a variety of mangrove plant that grows in wild abundance once it tak…

Muziris: The Lost Treasure

And she gave the king a hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheeba gave to king Solomon. (Bible: 1 Kings 10:10)
For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks. (1 Kings 10:22)A frisson runs down your spine as you read the first of the verses. The awe the author reserves for spices in these regnal chronicles reveals that it occupied the same elevated position as gold and precious stones in 10th century BC, if not higher. The second verse gets more exciting as it proceeds to establish the trade links between Solomon’s kingdom (the Euphrates river in the north to Egypt in the south) and the ancient port of Muziris on the Malabar coast. Though the English verse is not exact about the location, etymological evidence exists in the Hebrew religio…