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Showing posts from 2007

The Leela, Kovalam, Trivandrum

Rediscovering Kovalam (PhotographsbyAvranIttyipe)

The Leela undoubtedly has the best view in Kovalam. Perched prettily on a cliff it has restaurants (for that view with the bite) littered along the steep path down to the beach.SkyBarontheway to the beach
The Sky Bar on the slope is breaaaaaaath taking . The hidden infinity pool tucked into the side of the cliff and The Tides restaurant bang on the beach are the big attractions. Forget the food. It is the view sweet that’s going to make you loosen your purse strings mighty quick.
If you ask me the buffet is nothing to write home about. I will begin with the dessert coz it is the most memorable of the whole meal. There is a wide range but I loved the plain vanilla ice cream and the fruit crumble.The main course: For the sake of eating I kind of twirled my fork through the plate, investigating and dwelling for a considerable time on a surprise- the apple pickle, the safe Russian salad and a delectable rice. Rs 700 plus taxes per head for …

Kochi's Housing Sector

Youhave a choice here: the Highs or theLows.

A Strike To Behold

Police readytostrikeagainstthe striking public. A Political party had organised a strike to protest against the persistent price rise of commodities in Kerala.

Syrian Christian Food: Nazarani Tharavad, Pala

Nazarani Tharavad, Pala

It is in the geography of drenched greens and coconut palms where the persistent peal of the thundering rains wakes up every dormant seed and jerks it into a tangled mass of leafscape. We are in the Nazarani Tharavad in Pala, a rubber town in central Travancore. The St.Thomas Church, Pala
The Nazaranis(Syrian Christians) have been around a long time in Kerala. Popular theory suggests Christianity was well established here, at least three centuries before it wore the official robes of a religion in Europe.
The rulers of ancient Malabar gave the Christian community the grant of privileges perhaps for their social and economical eminence and the traces of those privileges have survived to this very day. Some of the privileges granted to them were curious, like the light by day (Yes, the light by day had to be granted and was an exclusive privilege!), the use of the umbrella, the spreading cloth to walk upon, doubling up the end of the banana leaf which serve as a pla…

Buffet Weekends at Casino Hotel, Cochin

(Photographs by Avran Ittyipe)

I abhor a buffet. Usually. The endless spread of food and decorations are deviously designed to deceive the eye more than satisfy our gastronomic fantasies. And the process of selecting can be tedious too. Every dish is nibbled at and then without a single thought the entire plate load of food is left to be cleared away, so I can then resume trying the remaining array of dishes. And it is on the third round that I realize there is only one dish that is worth eating or it is better to simply stick with curd rice and pickles. Well, in other words the badly tossed up dishes that pass for most buffets can be tiresomely boring. Forget the wedding arrangements. It is predictably worse when the plate is so godam heavy, the queues long, the seating arrangements are just anywhere you please and your worries about saving your beautiful sari from curry stains are endless; needless to say all this makes the buffet even more unappetizing.
So one Saturday night, when t…

In Search Of A Village

(Photographs By Minu Ittyipe)
For quite a while, an unknown malady has raged through my bones and clogged my throat. Any doctor worth his stet would have dismissed it as the evils of excessive work, but that was not the case with me coz for a long time now I have not wholly committed myself to the masochistic pleasures of wearing myself thin. And yet the fever raged on. After much medication I arrived at a diagnosis: it was the habitat, the caged atmosphere that drove me to the stage of rancid comatose. I had to get out of the urban confines and find a bit of breath air. Fresh air. Fast.So I set out in search of a village, where I can spot a cow instead of the snorting vehicles or I could get to hear a hen announcing that she has laid a nice warm egg. When was the last time you heard a delighted clucking of the hen? Perhaps, you’ve never heard that one before. It’s the kind of music you will not hear in the city. And that is an urban fact. In the urbanscape, I find that I forget to lis…

Book Review: An Autobiography Of A Sex Worker by Nalini Jameela

I am 51 years old. And I would like to continue to be a sex worker.” This is how the candid and defiant opening statement in Nalini Jameela’s autobiography in Malayalam, Oru Lymgika-thozhilaliyude Atmakadha, goes. It at once throws a challenge at society’s double standards — harsh on prostitutes and soft on the clients. Nalini Jameela, who is the coordinator of the Kerala Sex Workers’ Forum, reveals her sordid story with no trace of compunction.
Nalini was a 24-year-old widow when she entered the profession to feed her two children. At that time she did not think about the repercussions of her act. She writes, “I was earning Rs 4.50 at a tile factory near Trissur. My mother-in-law served me with an ultimatum to either give her five rupees a day to look after my children or leave the house. I recounted my woes to a friend, who introduced me to Rosechechi. Rosechechi promised me Rs 50 if I spent time with a man. The first thought that came to my mind was that my children would be looked…

Book Review: Unsung By Anita Pratap & Mahesh Bhat

Text by Anita Pratap & Photographs by Mahesh Bhat
Changla artificial glacier: The highest watershed project in the world. It feeds several villages down stream in Ladakh. (Photograph By Mahesh Bhat)
In the raucous market place (read the globalized world), glam exteriority has encroached upon our consciousness and conquered every available space- be it the media, our sartorial sense, our attitudes, purchasing habits, culture etc.. . As a consequence the traditional Gandhian values, which were not sexy enough in the first place, have slowly been obliterated from our perception of what holds good. Who frankly has the time for concepts like selfless giving shorn of fame and media attention? It is so passé. So the book “Unsung” by journalist Anita Pratap and photographer Mahesh Bhat comes as a big surprise. The duo has chosen to capture the lives not of famous actors or cricketers but of ordinary people from different parts of the country. These unknown, “unsung” people have selfl…

BooK Review: Diary Of A Bad Year By J.M.Coetzee

Book Review: Diary of a Bad Year by J. M. Coetzee
Knowing no other, one assumes it is in the natural order of things to read a book from the top of the page and then slowly scroll down to the bottom (it should be stressed here the language in reference is English). But given a chance it would be interesting to upturn that dull route and begin at the bottom or even bang in the middle of a page, read a paragraph then ascend to the top, read another para and then plunge to the bottom. And interestingly J.M.Coetzee’s new novel “Diary of a Bad Year” affords us that change – to take a detour from the only path we have perseveringly trodden since the advent of the novel or since the beginning of the written word. Each page is divided into three distinct sections in “Diary of a Bad Year”. The top portion occupies the opinions of a decrepit writer named JC, the ostensible purpose of the book. The protagonist JC is one among six writers from different countries commissioned by a publisher in Ge…

Walking Through Jew Town, Cochin

A perfect place to rummage and chaffer for fragments of history- truncated tales that one calls antiques, is the quaint old JewTown at Mattancherry. The overwhelming melancholy of a town abandoned by its own people-the Jews, makes a walk through it is as fascinating as discovering bits and pieces of history to pack and carry back home. The long warehouses abutting each other spill out into narrow alleys and on the other side the tranquil backwaters merge with the roar of the Arabian Sea.

No one knows the exact date when the Jews first came to Cranganore, Kerala but somewhere in the fourteenth century they began fleeing Cranganore and wandered into Cochin. And JewTown was built on the site granted to them by the Rajah of Cochin in 1567. After living in this town for almost four hundred years, trading prosperously and even waging wars with the Portuguese, in the 1950s the Jewry began to migrate to Israel and by the 1980s they were only a handful left in this town.
History's Junkyard

The Lost World

(Photograph By Rajeev Prasad)
Hey! Hey! What's happenin here? Can't a guy have a room with a view anymore?!!!

The Spectacle Of Silence: For Culture Tourists

(Photograph by Rajeev Prasad)

There is no telling when a bandh or a hartal will be bestowed on the Kerala populace.
The tourists in Kochi forced to take a detour from their planned itinerary try to comprehend this unusual but popular culture of the place.
Where else can one witness the frequent spectacle of silent cities? Only in Kerala!
Asianet Business desk reports that Kerala makes a loss of 650 crores on a single bandh day.

The Idukki Dam In Kerala : Upto The Brim

(Picture By Rajeev Prasad. Click on it to enlarge.)
The Idukki dam rising to dangerous levels. A beautiful but potentially catastrophic scenery.

Book Review : The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

Book Review: The Reluctant Fundamentalist By Mohsin Hamid.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist it is not about the hyphenated identity crisis where the emigrant longs for his roots- plenty books have dealt with that in plenty tired ways. Here the voice of the narrator - a tense monologue -reveals the dilemma of the Self as the Other sees him. Post 9/11, a Pakistani in America is viewed with suspicion and fear. The “fragile identity” of the narrator slowly merges with the image the Other has of the Self. The slow change of the protagonist from a self assured executive to the image of the “fundamentalist stereotype” manufactured by Americans is angst ridden and tense. Satre’s theory of Existentialism points to this effect: “The Other has not only revealed to me what I was; he has established me in a type of being which can support new qualifications. This being was not in me potentially before the appearance of the Other, for it could not have found any place in the For-itself….. ”The protagon…

The Age Of Chatter Boxes

From Bakelite telephones to sleek BlackBerry the journey has been a flippant twenty years.
World has changed much, back then when the telephones were in dial mode, you can call that the Mumage- we talked less, surreptitiously and guiltily. Along the years Indians rapidly learnt to shed their guilt of enjoying themselves and did so with abandon. “Teacher we don’t need no self control” became the consumerist creed. Remember the time when “Talking” was considered a national waste- almost a crime during the dark years of the Emergency.

                                            Remember this picture: We two have two

 The hegemonic dictates “Talk Less Work More” and “We Two Have Two” were pasted on the sides of buses, on the derriere of lorries, on signs all over the country. It had filled the Indian mind with a foreboding sense of hushed fear. And then a couple of decades later came the riot of excessiveness of the cell phone era with their luring “Talk More On Free Time” and “Free Talk” re…

India Vs Australia in Kochi

All in the game: Rooting for a losing India
(photograph by Rajeev Prasad)

Cricket in Kochi: Rain, Rain Go Away

(Photograph by Rajeev Prasad)
The Kochi weather cannot wash away the memory of the T20 win.
Even as the rain gods threaten to play spoil sport, fans are high and hoping for another exciting game in Kochi. Kochi has always been favourable to the Indian team.
Four of five games played here have gone to the Indian side.

Cricket And The Ravana Syndrome

(Photograph by Rajeev Prasad)
The Ravana Syndrome seizes the fans: they wear many faces.
The icons they love to love can soon become
icons they love to hate. One bad game is enough.
Waiting for the ODI in Kochi on the 2nd. Will these guys bash their beloved players or love them?

Book Review: The Solitude Of Emperors By David Davidar

Book review
When an ordinary, familiar locality suddenly twists into a theatre of horror- a riot- it is beyond human reasoning. There is no single problem that precipitates the absurd goriness. The causes are complex and multi dimensional- economic, political, historical, religious, demographic etc...And we find it a welcome relief to leave such analyses to judicial enquiries so we can get on with our normal lives.
David Davidar’s new political novel “The Solitude of Emperors” deftly delves into the psyche of rioters and tries to find answers to this complex problem.

"Historians and economists tell us that nations are ripe for ethnic and sectarian war when
a combination of things happen at once- the blurring of ethnic boundaries which arouses the ire of the puritans, the absence of enlightened government, but most of all the advent of sweeping economic change. It is at times like these that we are at our most vulnerable, and therefor liable to fall under the spell of false demagogue…