Cochin, January 31
Adding another chapter to the vast spice resource of Kerala, scientists have discovered a rare wild pepper plants with pungent fruit and lemon-scented leaves. This unique variety of pepper was discovered from the Agasthyamala regions in the Western Ghats by the team of scientists from the Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute.
It was told that this rare pepper variety resembles same as normal pepper plant, but the lemony smell and pungency makes it unique. This kind of plant is very rare and also limited in number, and needs to be conserved. Scientist K.B Rameshkumar and P.J Mathews who discovered this new pepper variety also informed one of the essential features of this wild vine which holds a high level of oil content in them which the normal pepper plants doesn’t posses.
To make sure the plant has really some unique qualities from normal pepper plant these scientists performed test of the first generation seedlings and even the second generation seedling which both showed the lemony character in them. During the study of almost 64 morphological characters of the plant, none of the characters were found in the other pepper species which clearly highlighted the uniqueness of this plant. These finding are presented in the ongoing 20th Kerala science congress as reported by the New Indian Express daily.
The new variety of pepper with that lemon effect has added a new variant in the vast list of spices Kerala treasures in its heavenly abode.
Kannur: Kerala has always been famous of royal palaces, opulent family stead homes and traditional ‘tharavadu’, which radiate the traditional vasthu architecture and ethnic building plans. Typically the homes were built with wooden ceilings and walls, which ensure natural cooling even during summers. Tiled or thatched roof were just right for the sultry summers and rainy season which adds up to over 4 months in Kerala, every year.
The interiors will be decked with many traditional utensils and antique objects for prayer and day to day use. Sadly, the situation has changed a lot and with the onslaught of changing times many of these antiques objects were disposed off for a fortune or shoved into dark, dingy attics in contemporary homes. Most modern homes do not have enough space to accommodate these heavy objects made of brass and silver and this could be the main reason that rang its death knell.
Here is a home ‘Quintessence’, which flaunts all these priceless objects. The drawing room is done up in a stunning medley of modernity and antiquity. Located in the high end cantonment area of Payyamblam near here, it looks like a heritage museum at the first glance. Passed down four or five generations, most of these objects are steeped in history. These were once integral part of the joint family system, which lost its significance with the advent of nuclear families. Mostly sourced from their ancestral home, these articles are tell tales of the by gone glory opines .C. Chandralekha, owner of ‘Quintessence.
Some of the objects displayed are a large, round shallow utensil of an ‘uruli,’ in bronze used for cooking grains and a ‘valuruli,’ a version of brass frying pan with a long handle. The fabled china jar made of china clay kept at the corner of the room easily arrests your attention. It is used for storing mango pickles in the erstwhile Kerala ‘tharavads’. You cannot miss out the magnificent measuring pot for grains of ‘para’, and kindi’ (water container with a sprouting nozzle). In addition there is a winding gramophone that belts out some haunting melodies from the yore! The betal box and Vettila chellam’ (betal box) and an old hanging ‘nilavilakku, takes you on a nostalgic stroll down memory lane.
These antiques which were once part of Kerala culture has to be preserved for posterity as these shed light on our rich culture and history more than any encyclopedia.
The three day event ‘Hoteltechshow & Baketechshow 08, held at Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium from 30th January to 1 February 2008 will showcase one of the biggest collections of hospitality and bakery equipments technology and services. The exhibition well complemented by seminars is attracting huge gatherings.
It is organized by Samanuaya Communications, a famous media company located at Hyderabad in close association with the local bodies such as Kerala Hotel & Restaurant Association and Bakers Association of Kerala. The show is aimed at bringing world class efficiency and quality into the hospitality segment in Kerala. Over 50 leading players in this field are exhibiting some of the avant garde gadgets and equipments, which would bring further impetus to this booming industry.
Open forums on hospitality management, innovative technologies and energy saving gadgets form part of the tradeshow. It focuses on various latest practices and innovations in maintaining quality, hygiene, waste management and water conservation among others. The main aim of this show is to bridge the gap between the hoteliers and equipment suppliers in a bid to popularize these gadgets.
Hospitality industry in Kerala is a booming industry, driven by the ever growing tourism sector and sustained by a thriving consumer market and it has been on a steady track for the last so many years. Hospitality industry is in fact one of the few segments that has sustained tempo and pace.
Major hospitality and tourism players as well as the state government have high reaching goals in the anvil to promote the tourism industry. Kerala is hoping to attract one lakh medical tourists by 2010. Kerala is expected to clock 11.6 % annual growth in tourism industry in the coming decade as per the figures put forwarded by the World Travel and Tourism Council. It is the highest growth rate for any tourist destination in the whole world. A spectacular feat indeed by any yardstick!
Kerala played host to 4.29 lakhs foreign tourists in 2006 making a revenue of Rs. 10,000 Crores from tourism in the same year. The number of domestic tourists for the corresponding period stood at 63 lakhs.
The spectacular increase in the number of hotels has enhanced the options for the tourists as never before. In addition it has also resulted in a healthy competition to provide the best possible services at the lowest prices ever. It is raining offers and cool bargains in God’s own country as each player vie to get the biggest pie of the customer base by flaunting their brand image and impeccable services.
Another fad among hoteliers has been to bag international standards and certifications to attract well heeled informed tourists from abroad. Government is also leaving nothing to chance and has stipulated various norms and certification procedures to keep a tag on the quality and efficacy of services offered by Kerala hotels.
Kerala Hotel & Restaurant Association is going all out to promote the latest techniques which bring the various cutting edge technologies right into their doorstep, opined K.Kuriakose, president of KHRA. Kerala is bang on target in transforming the bakery industry in Kerala on par with world-class standards.
The hotel owners are grabbing the latest energy efficiency gadgets and waste management technologies not just to cut the operational costs but also to attract the quality conscious tourists who never compromise on cleanliness and services. Ensuring more value for the money of their customers, Kerala has carved a niche in the global hospitality segment.
Kochi, January 29
The buzzing city of Kochi is moving at a great pace, this city has been living 24×7 with a commercial tag. This race has made this city to get as zippy as Mumbai to some extent. And when it comes to traffic well both the cities stand to the same ground for many reasons. Well amidst all the advancements there are few things which need a voice. So if you are a Kochite and travel by the local auto-rickshaws or you send your children to school in private cabs. Then beware, as there are many such vehicles running or your city roads using unscientific LPG.
In recent past many such instance were reported in various other cities too in which use of such unscientific LPG in vehicles and public transport has caused many accidents taking its toll on innocent people. All these accidents occurred with dislocation of the LPG kit fitted in the vehicle. With the jump in petrol and diesel prices the use of LPG has gained great pace and even in that, unauthorised use of LPG is much in number.
In the streets of Kochi daily we can spot many such public and private transport vehicles running using such unscientific LPG. These vehicles are used for many purposes, risking the life of people. So if you spot any of such vehicles rush past you in your city roads, do report the matter to the police and try to come forward to stop this illegal use of fuel for the sake of society.
Tirur: February 2 would be a red letter day in the festive calendar of Kerala as it marks the five day celebration of Thunchan festival to be held at Thunchanparambu at Tirur in Malapuram District. An impressive array of cultural meets and programs are scheduled to make this year’s festival a big hit.
Literary competitions for college students and a meet of South Indian poets are some of the events in the agenda. The festivities this year would also be coinciding with the Vaikom Mohammed Basheer centenary celebrations.
The festival is being jointly held under the auspices of the Thunchan Memorial Trust, the Kendra Sahitya Akademi and the South Zone Cultural Centre, Thanjavoor. Another major attraction of this festival is the national forum on the topics Reality and narration’ and a South Indian poets’.
Ronald Asher, the famous literary figure who translated Vaikom Mohammed Basheer’s novels into English, will inaugurate the five-day festivities on Saturday. Many dignitaries from the fields of art and literature are expected to grace the occasion. Author M. T Vasudevan Nair, Malayalam Poet Akkitham, Orator-critic Sukumar Azhikode and Writer C.R. Parameswaran among others would steal the show. Many noted writers and cultural icons from Assemese, Hindi, Kannada and Telugu will present papers at a session on ‘Narrating the nation.’
Some of the other cultural programmes that complement the evening would include Bharatanatyam performances, colorful processions, documentary shows and book releases. A musical fiesta by Mapilapattu artiste V.M. Kutty and party will also be one of the star attractions. Competitions in poetry and quiz will be held exclusively for college students at Thunchanparambu. The winners of various competitions will receive prices from M. T. Vasudevan Nair. Thunchan festival is expected to notch up the tourist inflow to this sleepy hamlet of Tirur as well.
Cochin, January 28
‘Kudumbasree’ is the source of power for the new generation women of Kerala these days. This women empowerment organization was established by the government to strengthen the women power and to show them the right path to grow their self-confidence and significantly improve their way of living to be independent. With such an initiative now it is leant that more than 90 percent of women in Kerala have gained their self-confidence after being associated with Kudumbasree.
These women also informed that there standard of living and social status also has improved a lot after their active participation in Kudumbasree. They are now more aware of their rights, and the right way to lead a healthy life. It also gave the women from lower society or caste the courage to stand up with others and lead a confident life.
It guided these women to enhance their financial status by the ways to increase their savings and plan accordingly. Kudumbasree also made women to improve their reading habits, discussion skills and also to develop their decision making quality. Along with that it imparted education to those women who were illiterate. In short the women have show the right path for a better tomorrow by this social organization. At presents thousands of women are been associated with Kudumbasree, giving a new perspective to their life with a bright vision.
Kochi: Welcome to Thani Illam, a home stay with a difference. Located at Thottuva, near Perumbavoor, here tourists have to stick to the customary traits and rituals followed by the hosts, Mr. T. S. Parameswaran, and his wife S. Saradammal, both retired State Government employees. Eco-friendly to the core, this award winning home stay was the winner of the Kerala Government’s most innovative project in the year 2002. It also forms part of the ambitious Gruhastali project of the Department of Tourism for the preservation and popularization of heritage buildings.
Guests are not served non-vegetarian food or alcohol and smoking is not allowed at Thani Illam. Some of the rooms of this breathtaking home stay include rooms that were transferred from ancestral homes of the yore, which dates back to 500 years or more. This room constructed on top of the garage as a separate unit was transplanted from the couple’s grand parent’s ancestral house at Kottayam. It was reassembled without losing the original charm and this fully wooden room is named the Kulappura,” says Parameswaram.
Thani Illam was originally the ancestral home of the legendary novelist and film director, Mr. Malayattoor Ramakrishnan. The present owners purchased it in 1994 and refurbished without spoiling its original charm and traditional flavor. The rooms have wooden ceiling and cement floor which makes it cool and comfortable even during sweltering summer days. Some rooms have terracotta tiles and enchanting high wooden ceilings which makes them breezy. However, bathrooms have all the modern fittings and amenities for the convenience of the foreign tourist and to comply with international tourism norms.
The traditional gate or the ‘Padippura’ with tiled roof welcomes the guests to this elegant home where time stands still. The couple has set apart two rooms for tourists. This home has been the venue for most of the creations of the eminent poet including the famous book ‘Verukal’.
The English guests are served traditional Kerala delicacies like hot boiled bananas and other vegetarian dishes- a rare experience for many. Apart from all these, Keralite dresses are also provided to the guests to go in line with the rustic theme of this nondescript village. The wardrobe is a modified ‘pathayam’, which was originally used to store grains. Tourists can also pick up the nuances of Kerala cooking if they have a penchant for it. If you are looking for a tranquil vacation, no other place can beat the charisma of Thani Illam set amidst stunning nature spectacles and lush greenery. Many foreigners throng this enchanting home to relax and unwind beating a retreat from the maddening pace of the city life.
Children below 12 are offered free stay and meals and if all these were not enough, for the guests who stay for more than a week, the Sunday fare comes totally free! Guests are only happy to go with the rules of this elegant home stay. No rooms are air conditioned as the wooden ceiling ensures natural cooling at all times.
The guests get to experience a stunning slice of Indian culture by way of classical dance, ayurvedic treatment or yoga sessions from local folks. And going by the feedbacks of the tourists, this trend is here to stay as most of the guests look for pure ethnic fare rather than the cookie cutter, commercial packages that are available all over the world.
Kottayam, January 25
Well do you have ever tried to run backward, no then please don’t it may be risky for any novice. But one lad of Kerala has decided to do so to enter his name in the Guinness Book of World Record. This athlete is on his way to get the name of this state for his feat registered in the record books. His brave attempt covers a distance of over 50 km from Kottayam to Alappuzha.
P.V.Shaji, 38 is an athlete has been in to this field since his school days, he has been associated with athletic since his school life and has won several prizes. But this time this determined youth is all set for a record performance to run backward. It was informed that his brave attempt has been started on last October and will cover up the final leg on the auspicious occasion of Republic Day on Jan 26. His friends and family members are eagerly waiting for him to finish his brilliant act and get his name to be featured in the Guinness Book.
Best of Luck Shaji!
Kozhikode: Khalasis have been the traditional boat builders based in Malabar region for over 5000 years. They form an important link in the rich maritime history of Kerala, which dates back to the colonial period or beyond. The Portuguese traded spices through sea routes in these massive, hand -made country boats called dhows, locally known as ‘uru’. Beypore forms the hub of dhow making and these exceptional boats have attracted international acclaim and attention since time immemorial. The rich tradition has stood the test of time and has continued well into the 21st century.
Beypore town is dotted with umpteen shops that sell model of ships and huge iron anchors lying on either side of the road, which are tell tale signs of this flourishing industry. There are many tall thatched sheds dotting the banks of the River Chaliyar, which feeds the Malabar region before reaching the Arabian Sea. It is in these sheds that these magnificent masterpieces take shape. Ever since Vasco da Gama landed in 1498 in Kappad beach, the Malabar Coast registered its name in the maritime map.
Eight kilometers from Kozhikode (Calicut), Beypore could pass off as just another suburb at first glance; however at a closer look, the rich history of this town would start to unfurl. According to Captain Iwata, founder member of the Association of Sumerian ships in Japan, Sumerian ships might have been built in Beypore. There are evidences to prove that Beypore had direct trade links with Mesopotamia and was a prominent link on the maritime silk route.
Soon, Captain Iwata set out to prove this rich maritime history that existed between Mesopotamia and other countries. He came to Beypore to construct a ship that could retrace the fabled silk route. The design was based on the ancient designs, registered in a cuneiform Sumerian tablet that was stored at the Louvre museum. The 3000-tonner ship made fully in wood was a technical feat indeed. The massive wooden planks were held in place by coir ropes and wooden nails. Special glue made from the traditional formula of fruit and tree resins was used to reinforce the structure. The anchor was carved out of granite. The ship was named Ki-en-gi, which in Sumerian means ‘the land of the master of reeds’. Though this news hogged the limelight all over the world, it was just another ship that rolled out of the keels for the khalasis and Beypore.
The master craftsmen of khalasis use certain Sanskrit shlokas as their guide to ship building; nothing has been documented on paper for posterity. Even today, the formula of dhow making remains a closely guarded secret that is handed over from generations to generation. Today, only four master craftsmen are left behind, with Bavamoopan leading the pack. Khalasis can salvage anything with just the traditional pulleys and ropes. The mettle of this traditional art was proved once again during a train accident when a few bogies of Island express plunged into the Ashtamudi Lake near Quilon. Neither modern machinery nor techniques could pull up the coaches from the waterbed and it was this amazing crew under the stewardship of Bavamoopan pulled out the compartments using just their traditional skills employing pulleys and ropes, much to the disbelief of the onlookers. Hats off to the matchless khalasis who have made every keralite proud!
Cochin, January 24
In a move to curb the growing number of crime and terror threats, a new initiative was taken yesterday with the establishment of Southern India’s first dog training centre in Thrissur. Here these dogs will get all the skills and techniques to catch the thieves and also to detect various explosives. This initiative will help a lot to Kerala police to perform their duty in a far better manner.
These dogs are high pedigree dogs and they will go through a rigorous nine months training. To get these dogs the right kind of training each dog would have a handler and an assistant. It was learnt that there is huge demand for more dogs and this training centre will help a lot to fill in that requirement.
The dogs will be trained for many purposes, some will be trained to investigate crimes, some as tracker dogs and some will be trained as sniffer dogs. This new dog centre has come up as a new boon for the Kerala police force, as previously the dog training centre was only in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. But this new establishment in Thrissur, Kerala will be great help for Southern police.