Its not for nothing that they call economics the dismal science – with the credit crunch it seems anything economic seems dismal as anything. Not for India today who announce an annual growth rate of 7.9% above what they had forecast. ”As upside surprises go, this was a big one,” said the HSBC economist Robert Prior-Wandesforde.
Some of this came from good things – an increase in agricultural output was good to hear but the output increase in services owed much to a 12% pay hike for civil servants and army officers which is not such a good thing as the Indian government services remain chronically inefficient and bureaucratic.
We Keralites cannot complain as we trudge our way towards a new state government next year which is likely to be Congress dominated and will sweep away, we hope, the seriously nepotistic practices of the present shower.
India is taking off – maybe soon Dubai nationals will be coming to Kerala for jobs rather than the other way around. Now that would be good news seeing overweight Gulfites breaking their backs on Indian road repairs.
Reading up on the Old Lighthouse Bristow Hotel I was curious about Robert Bristow and his house which is today refurbished into a boutique hotel. To put in simple terms, Sir Bristow was the architect of the Cochin Port and he said this on the BBC in 1935 ~
I live on a large Island made from the bottom of the sea. It is called Willingdon Island, after the present Viceroy of India. From the upper floor of my house, I look down on the finest harbour in the East.
Robert Bristow and his wife lived in Kochi for 21 years and are credited for the great changes in Cochin society. Lady Gertrude was instrumental in forming the Lotus Club – the first non-English only club of Kerala. The story goes that Lady Gertrude was denied entry into the elite Cochin Club where the aristocrats hobnobbed and the rest, as they is history. She presided over the Lotus Club for over 10 years and today decades later it is considered an elite club on its own.
The Cochin Port-building feat was carefully recorded by Robert Bristow in his book the Cochin Saga. But for his engineering prowess, today’s Kochi, Willingdon Island and the Naval Base would never have happened.
The 13th Kochi International Book Festival, organised by the Antharashtra Pusthakotsava Samithi, Kochi, has begun.
The Book Festival, which has been inaugurated on the 27th of November by Sanskrit poet and Jnanpith recipient Satya Vrat Shastri, will continue till December 6. Other than the exhibition of an enormously big number of books by more than 250 publishing companies, the Festival will also comprise of symposiums, seminars et al.
The Kochi International Book Festival, which began in the year 1997 and which has in due course won a reputation for itself, is considered as one of the best of book fairs in the country itself. Book-lovers from across the length and breadth of India are known to visit the fair, which is held at the Ernakulathappan Grounds, Kochi.
Here is one sight that you are unlikely to miss when you pass by the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) Complex in Kochi.
My curiosity about this rather intriguing sculpture was piqued recently as I found to my chagrin that the man responsible for it is none other that the legendary Kanayi Kunhiraman, while all this while I was under the impression that the work belonged to another equally revered sculptor –
M V Devan.
Misconception removed, I set about researching this work a bit more.
Here is what I discovered:
The sculpture is titled ‘Mukkola Perumal’ and has been executed in concrete. It was inaugurated in 1973.
Though the sculpture has become something of a landmark in the intervening years, there is no indicator of the identity of the sculptor who conceived it. Neither is the name of the work mentioned anywhere in its vicinity (at least as far as I could make out, from a distance).
As for Kanayi himself, his artistic journey has been dogged by controversies – the most noted instance being that of the ‘Yakshi’ sculpture at Malampuzha, Palakkad. Driven by the belief that imposing sculptures in public spaces are a great way to acquaint the common man with art, Kanayi has forged ahead and today, many a prime public spot exults in one or the other of his ‘monumental’ works.
So surely it wouldn’t be asking for too much of the folks at GCDA to grant give Kanayi the recognition that he and his work deserve, at least by way of a plaque?
Visited the Ave Nightclub at Dream Hotel Cochin and discovered that trance music may work in Miami, but it does not work in Cochin for the many slightly predatory young men hanging out around the bar and watching the slightly odd antique film about Wimbledon playing on the screen. The only dancer was considered too drunk by the staff to be allowed to dance, even though his stoned movements were a joy to watch.
What they need to do is employ staff who look like they are really enjoying themselves and are bopping a little and play cool Bollywood trance music then maybe the place will jive.
Listening to the state government talk about the Kochi Smart City project, you would think it was the most amazing and original idea on the planet and coming close to fruition.
The truth is somewhat different. Name any major or minor metro throughout India and they seem to be hatching a smart/tech city and promising to make themselves the new Hyderabad or Bangalore. Original it is not. You do wonder where the companies and clients for these smart cities will come from.
Even more problematic for Kochi Smart City is the project’s reliance on their co-partner for funding – Dubai. Everybody is in denial about the problems of funding (including Dubai) but Dubai’s semi default on their bond payments reveal the abyss the state’s finances are staring into. Dubai still proclaims their commitment to the project but even Kerala’s aging first minister seems to have twigged about their financial state and this from a man who seems oblivious to the astonishing graft and corruption that permeate every layer of Kerala’s governance at present.
So will Kochi Smart City go ahead? Locals in Kochi are pretty disparaging and cynical, but then they have seen that even a bridge takes a decade to build. The problem for Kochi Smart City is that it grows more and more irrelevant the longer it takes to build.
For Dubai companies, the old days of ‘grand projets’ all over the world with other people’s money seem over.
In Ernakulam, what most companies would like now is an infrastructure that works and internet access that is reliable and fast so we can compete with the already build smart cities. Will Achanandurian champion that? Probably not! Back to sleep old man!
There was a time when the cock crowed aloud at Udaya, evidently happy that Malayalam Cinema was free from the clutches of the all-powerful Madras studios.
It was Kunchacko who started Udaya Studios at Alappuzha and dared to free Malayalam Cinema from the clutches of the Madras studios. Yes, Malayalam Cinema had drifted gradually from Modern Studios Salem and Pakshiraja Coimbatore to the studio floors in and around Kodambakkam in Madras (now Chennai) and the Marwari financiers in Madras too had a decisive and rather vicious role to play in the making of Malayalam Cinema. But then, Kunchacko took a big step and Malayalam cinema soon went ‘native’ as movies began to be filmed here, in Alappuzha.
Udaya Studios, which had as its logo a cock crowing atop a revolving globe, ushered in a new era in Malayalam Cinema. Merryland at Thiruvananthapuram followed suit and then Malayalam film-wallahs started shuttling mostly between Alappuzha and Thiruvananthauram.
The main gate of the Udaya Studio, situated beside the NH 47 near Alappuzha had the globe and the cock atop and once drew the attention of every passer-by.
But then, in the course of time, Malayalam cinema and cinema itself came out of the studios and things changed for Udaya and Merryland. Time ticked on, Kunchacko passed away. His mantle was taken over by his son, Boban Kunchacko.
However, Udaya, which produced many a blockbuster, went out of movie production. The bright lights dimmed and the once busy studio floors became dilapidated. The famous cock too vanished, one fine day.
Today, there is a buzz in the industry that the studio may be revived by Kunchacko Boban, Boban Kunchacko’s son and a successful actor. He, it seems, has plans to produce films under the Udaya banner, which he is proud to say, is his legacy.
So will the Udaya cock crow again? Only time can tell.
How many of you have ever given a thought about those millions of poverty ridden people who do have nothing to lose but still weave golden dreams. Well, if you are quizzing what their golden dreams are, then its just to live another day with adequate food and shelter.
Living with such a dream is a family who came to Kerala two years back with a hope to sustain their livelihood. There assets were few pairs of clothes, an old suitcase which never shuts and a harmonium. This family is lead by Devendra (42), Kamala (32) and daughter Sapna (13).
Though they don’t hail from Kerala nor do they have any ties with ‘God’s Own Country’ still they say, they like this place which embraced them with open arms. Now the big question comes; did they get that channel or path to sustain their life here! Music paved their way earning them their bread, but they don’t do any street shows nor they go door to door.
On the contrary this family performs in trains plying in Kerala. Their day starts early and winds up late. You can spot them in Passenger trains, Express and even Super fast trains, selling their skills for mere coins. They do have to face many abuses of those Railway Officals (T.T) who make things worse for them.
On being asked how much do they earn a day, “some time two hundred to three hundred a day while at times have to contain with fifty to hundred bucks” said Devendra. He also added that he has to bear the dis-interest of many of the passengers who do shrugs off them. But he also thanked many of those passenger who do behave nicely and even applaud their skill.
Singing on those hit Bollywood numbers and other languages in order to some how get enough money to earn their food remains the only goal for the family. No time to think for any other thing, the 13 year old girl wish to study and go to school one day.
There are many such hopeful families who comes to this state in a hope to make a living for them and their family. It may be the labourer working in any of the construction sites near to your place or any street vendor selling toys. In the rat race, many of us don’t even realise or notice such faces do exist around us.
Aren’t we all slowly becoming victims of our self-centred existence?
Today, school children (at least those who depend on Kerala’s private bus service to reach school and back home) will be late. So will quite a few office workers. So what’s new, one might ask, tongue-in-cheek.
To be frank, there is, and (it seems to me) will be, nothing new. The private bus owners have declared a ‘token’ strike, putting thousands of commuters to distress.
As the buses stay off the roads, people are resorting to forced ‘Long Marches,’ irrespective of their political affiliations (red or otherwise!). Meanwhile, another segment of the ‘Working class’ the autorickshaw drivers are making hay.
A 10-minute ride from North Overbridge to Ernakulam South makes me poorer by Rs. 30. Quizzed about the fairness (or lack of it) of it all, my middle-aged driver is all support for the striking busmen.
And he has his reasons: the ’rich’ students who have money to splurge on everything except bus tickets, an unsympathetic transport minister who sees no reason to hike the fares to match the recent fuel hike; so on and so forth.
The man is so passionate about the whole issue that I restrain myself (with great difficulty) from asking him a moot question: Dear sir, what about us public, who are at the mercy of you and your ilk?
Meanwhile, he departs, with the cheering information that should the talks with authorities fail today, we can all expect an ‘indefinite’ strike by the busmen.
And going by his enthusiasm, I am left with a nagging doubt: will the autorickshaw drivers join the busmen, just for the fun of it all?
Knowledge has no age barriers. This amazing story of a 109 year old woman, Rosakutty from Kochi, once again reiterates this fact. Well engrossed in her day to day activities in her simple abode at the picturesque island of Kothad, she was contented and happy but was always open to new possibilities. Rosakutty was not more than a loving grand mother for over 20 grandchildren and 40 great grand children and the matriarch of her large family till three years ago.
The life and priorities of Rosakutty changed in the year 2006 when the Government of Kerala’s Akshaya e-literacy programme hit her village also. She didn’t think twice before joining the computer training course and became the oldest computer literate in the country by successfully completing this computer training course. Rosakutty drew the media glare in both national and international circuits that made her a celebrity figure.
Till the age of 107, Rosakutty was healthy enough to take care of her routine matters but she was confined to bed for the past two years due to age related illnesses. Though she breathed her last, her dedication, determination and the urge to learn will be remembered for ever.