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Showing posts from July, 2007

The House of Scrooge: Malabar House, Fort Cochin

Food Review
I must stress here, it was a solitary prawn tempura that sat there looking forlorn in my white soup bowl. It was then smothered with chilled tomato juice. The famed Gazpacho? Hardly. What was in front of me was defined by nothing but the blandness of tomato juice and more tomato juice. The mélange of garnishes held off. It occurred to me as I tried to savour the bowl of disappointment that the tomato juice should have been more appropriately used for a Bloody Mary and done with that. There is something about soups that sets the tone of a meal. Most often it gently stirs the inner warmth, just a little to the level of comfort and adds the dash of expectation. That goes for both hot and cold soups. The Gazpacho in Malabar House, Fort Cochin robbed one of any expectations and comforts. So I gobbled the lonely prawn and then drank the tomato juice a little too dutifully.Then came the spinach and mushroom lasagne. Quantity matters to me and even if I do not have the acumen for a…

Kerala Murals: The Dancing Narrative

Detail of the mural in the Pathy home in Coimbatore
Kerala Murals, once exclusive to the royal and sacred walls, instantly command your awe and reverence. The mesmerized beholder is then impelled into the realm of silence- transfixed by the play of Gods and Goddesses on the earthly walls.It is perhaps to create a genuflecting atmosphere that temples, palaces and churches in Kerala decorated their walls with intricate chumarchitrangal (murals) that told stories from the Mahabaratha, Ramayana, Puranas and the Bible. One of the most fascinating works of mural art is on the walls of the MattancherryPalace at Kochi which was probably executed in the late sixteenth century. It’s the Ramayana epic that seamlessly unfolds in the palliyara (royal bed chamber) on the upper half of the walls while the border is covered with simple textile designs that mural artists call veeralli pattu.Murals in the Mattancherry PalaceHowever this highly stylized art went out of fashion for most part of the twenti…

Kerala Floods Over: Strikes, Potholes, Garbage…

Water, Water everywhere....(Photographs by Rajeev Prasad)
The habit of potholes popping up all over Kochi’s tar roads is a permanent feature of our heavenly landscape. And so the habit of strikes. They are now embedded ineluctably in the Mallu genes and the off springs holler “Inquilab” as soon as the umbilical chord is cut. (The protest at the doctor’s rough handling.) Today one habit protests another. The Bus federation of Kochi has called for a strike against the potholes of Kochi. Bad for the tyres and so all buses are off the roads. Mercy Mayor of Kochi has reiterated that the garbage situation will facilitate the onset of plague. Garbage is piled sky high. Vector indices are high. And what does she do? Waits patiently for the disease to strike.To add to such habitual pain. The rains have inundated the land.We could blame it all on the devil. And Kerala has a new label for tourism brochures:One hell of a place.

The Chettinad Fantasy

(This photo by Gireesh G.V)

The place where reality and illusion clandestinely meet
(Click on it to enlarge. Photographs by Minu Ittyipe)

In the middle of a parched nowhere, I traverse the collective fantasy of the Nattukottai Chettiars- mazes of monumental mansions in village after village. Even as I wander through this fantastic dreamscape I find I am still tethered to reality, you could say to the sweating banality of everyday life. I am soon convinced that it is the point of convergence, the place where reality and illusion clandestinely meet.
We have travelled far in pursuit of gastronomical pleasures, relishing the sensations of one cuisine before moving to the ephemeral joys of the next. We left behind the coolness of Coorg and Bangalore, flew over two dry river beds, long and sad, to reach Kanadukathan about eighty kilometers from Tiruchirapalli.

The Raja's Palace in Kanadukathan

Inside of the Palace

And the illusion of a sophisticated township in the barren villa…

Urban Disease

(Pix by Rajeev Prasad)
Whither shall we dump? Is the Problem. Kochi's dilemma and headache is its waste. The temporary dumping ground right in the middle of the city at Padiyathukulam created a hue and cry from the residents and students who took to the road. Of course they do everything to disinfect with an anti microbial deodorant! (see picture)
It ceases to be funny- this high mountain of waste has to be now moved to another spot.
For the next two days the waste will occupy the city's prime land- Marine Drive.
Why cant the Mayor ban plastics and ask the numerous high-rise buildings to manage their own wastes?

Trucks laden with city waste wait for the administration and the courts to decide where to dump the goods. Ah Marine Drive finally!
The statue seems to grimace at the sight.

This Thing Runs On Biofuel

The wheel comes a full circle. (Picture by Rajeev Prasad)

Kerala is the Pits!!!!

(Click on picture to enlarge. Pix By Rajeev Prasad)
SOMEBody help us...........
Does anybody out there have a clue about Waste Management???????
The Mayor and Co of Kochi have made the marshlands a convenient dumping ground.
The Environment be damned! We are upto our necks with waste and court rulings.
(Frankly I did not want to put this picture on the blog. It's not a pretty sight. Most newspapers are now ruled by the same dictum: Style sells. Garbage doesn't.)