Kerala is celebrating her birthday on November 1st amidst cultural festivities and celebrations that will span over 50 days to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the formation of the state. Kerala was formed in 1956 when the Indian states were set up based on linguistic similarities. Thus, Malabar which was under Madras province was annexed to Kerala while Canara became part of Karnataka.
The district-level Keralapiravi celebrations were marked by various functions. In Aluva, to mark the day, 50 prominent personalities from different walks of life lighted the lamps and a cultural procession that comprised of Five thousand women dressed in traditional Kerala attire was taken out from the Aluva Palace. Floats and traditional art forms were also staged. For the next fifty days, films from different places in the district will be screened on a mobile platform.
Several developmental schemes were launched and literary and cultural figures were felicitated. Some of the developmental schemes on the anvil include the commencement of work on the road and rail links to Vallarpadam.
Competitions also have been arranged for Government employees, students and the public in connection with the Kerala Day celebrations. An exhibition, which showcases 50 years of Kerala’s development, would be yet another attraction . One of the demands that will pursued with great zest during the Kerala day celebrations all over the state and in other parts of India and abroad would be to confer the the status of classical language to Malalyalam.
On November 1st, as Kerala shares her birthday with the neighbouring States of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka , for an ordinary Malayalee, Kerala day has long ceased to hold any special meaning except to deck themselves in traditional attire and to show up at their work place in the cream and gold finery of Kerala handloom! But this year, even this lone spectacle that reminds us of Kerala day is also missing on the roads as rain plays spoil sport.
Going by the trend, Kochi is all set to be the most-sought-after destination for cruise ships sailing to India, well ahead of Mumbai and Goa. A total of 38 cruise liners will be coming to Kochi during the five months starting from November 2010 to April 2011, carrying around 21,000 deep pocketed passengers.
The vessel operated by the German Cruise Line Aida Cruises, was the first in the list to select the Cochin Port as its turnaround port. The Cunard’s prestigious ship and one of the most expensive cruise ships in the world Queen Mary 2, which holds the status of the world’s largest cruise ship ever built till 2006, will be berthing in Cochin backwaters on March 30, 2011. Last year, more than 35 cruise liners had visited the city.
By playing host to as many as 43 cruise ships between April 2007 and March 2008, the Cochin Port had set a new record in handling the largest number of such ships in a year in the country, pushing back Mumbai and Goa.
With many yacht operators eying Kochi as their port of call, this port city is all set to be an exotic hub for luxury liners in the days ahead. These multi-million dollar luxury yachts, and boats are being used not only by holiday makers but also by corporate houses for their business meets and recreational activities these days. The changing trends in yachting and the well equipped marina has played an important role in making Kochi a favored destination for luxury liners. In the days to come Kochiites can ogle at some of the most luxurious and spectacular luxury cruise liners from around the world dropping anchor in the tranquil backwaters of this beautiful city.
When the world’s largest cruise ship ‘Allure of The Seas’ embarks on its maiden voyage on October 29, Kerala will have a special reason to cheer about. Kuriakkose from Kochi will form part of its impressive crew as the ship starts its cruise from Finland. Hailing from Aluva, he had joined the Royal Caribbean International, the company which owns the ship a few years back.
It is from its sister ship ‘Oasis of The Seas’, of the same company, that ‘Allure of The Seas’ is taking over the title of ‘the largest cruise ship in the world, which makes it all the more special for him.
The 64-metre-wide ship has 16 decks and 2,700 state rooms in the ship and can carry a maximum of 6,296 passengers and 2,394 crew members. It also includes 21 swimming pools, 24 restaurants, a floating park with 12,000 plants and a 1300-seat 3D movie theatre , which is one of the main attractions aboard the ship. Passengers can also surf on two wave-riding machines in the water park, ride the carousel and eat hot dogs along the Coney Island-themed boardwalk, beat a retreat to the adults-only deck, hit the tiles at the nightclub or have some fun at the ice rink. The ship will run Caribbean cruises from her home of Port Everglades in Florida and in these sojourns, Kuriakose will be spreading the warmth of Kerala hospitality, thousands of nautical miles away from his home land!
The election to the local bodies- panchayaths, municipalities and corporations- begins today in Kerala, with seven districts- Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kasargode and Kannur – going to the polls today.
The second phase of the local bodies election will be held for the Alappuzha, Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam, Trissur, Malappuram and Palakkad districts on Monday, the 25th.
70,915 candidates are in the fray for 21,612 seats in the three tier elections. The first phase of elections, which has already started today morning, is for 9,238 seats. With 50% reservation for women having been implemented in these elections, women are contesting in large numbers everywhere.
Paivelige, a Tulu speaking grama panchayat, located to the east of Kasargod on the Kerala-Karnataka border offers an interesting profile of a Kerala village where nobody speaks Malayalam! Technically speaking, Paivelige is a Kerala grama panchayat, though it is not a Malayali village. All the signboards are in Kannada and not many inhabitants speak Malayalam.
People of different castes coexist peacefully in this picturesque village, where farming is the main stay. The Muslims of Paivelige speak the dialect Beary, a mixture of Malayalam, Kannada and Tulu. There are Tulu speaking Bunts (Nairs) and Billavas(Ezhava\Thiyyas) and the Marathi speaking Naiks here. There are also Tulu speaking Sivalli Brahmins, who still follow the Malayalam calendar and celebrate Kerala festivals like Onam, and Vishu to complete the stunning cultural diversity of this small village.
The sheer variety of culture and languages have made this village a cut above the rest of the panchayaths in Kerala. As the countdown for the local body elections have already begun, the villagers will be once gain choosing their representative on personal merits rather than political lineages unlike the other Kerala villages which breathe, eat and sleep politics. The best part is that this village has no political divide and political clashes, which makes it stand out in Kerala!
With the local body elections in Kerala only a few days away, the electioneering has reached its crescendo with the candidates in the fray leaving nothing to chance. Apart from making the best use of colorful graffiti , interesting parodies and street corner meetings,the candidates are hitting upon many novel ideas like gate crashing to meet and greet the voters in person to lure the electorate in the last lap of the electioneering! Though these are intended to outsmart their political rivals , many a time, such mindless acts create a few hiccups among the voters.
In a village in Aleppey, an independent candidate took things into his own hands when an elderly voter died in his ward. Apart from spending from his own pocket to meet the expenses of refreshments and arranging the seating arrangements, he even took pain to buy a coffin as a mark of respect to the departed soul. However he was embarrassed when he was told that the family has made all the arrangements for the funeral! Strange indeed are the ways and means of politicians who can turn even a grim incident like death into their favour!
In another incident in North Kerala, a lady candidate and her gang of enthusiastic party members gate crashed into a house where a betrothal ceremony was going on. As the simple function was getting underway, the overzealous candidate whizzed past the groom and a small group of around 10-15 family members , straight into the kitchen! When she found that the customary election promises and wide grins were proving ineffective in influencing the family , the candidate decided to give a personal touch to her approach. Apart from showering praises on the culinary skills of the ladies of the house, she even took time off to taste the curries and the special dishes that were being prepared to cater to the groom’s party. If all these were not enough the hosts were left red faced when the candidate and her sprightly gang announced that they are planning to have their lunch with them. Shocked and unprepared, the hosts could do nothing to keep off these pesky politicians who wasted no time in savouring the food that were meant for the groom’s party.
Caught unawares, the bride’s family had to indulge in an emergency damage control exercise to make sure that there is enough food to be served for the groom and his family members. As the candidate and her gang left the house after a sumptuous meal and a hearty ear to ear grin that the politicians are so very skillful, the hapless family members were running around to make sure that the groom’s party is served food in time and to leave a good impression among them!
Gone are the days when almost every Kerala household had cats to add up to the fun factor of their homes. Mostly kept to keep the rodent population of village homes and the granaries of the massive Kerala home steads under check, cats have outlived their utility in modern homes, I often fear going by the current trend in pet keeping.
There is no space for these furry bundles of joy in modern homes and apartments furnished with plush linen and furnishings. Not many are keen to keep cats as pets as they fear that their hair and dander might cause breathing problems for humans and also spoil the carpets and furnishings. But considering the fact that there are many popular dog breeds like Pomeranian that shed more hair than these minuscule cats, this fact seems to be a bit exaggerated.
Cats are inquisitive, always on the move and playful and the best part is that cats do not have any mood swings unlike other pets and they can very well take care of their needs even if their master is busy with his daily chores. They do not have any food specifications either and can thrive on any food that they get. Interestingly these intelligent creatures can read the minds of its owners. Cats wont pester you and try to grab your attention if you are not in a mood for it and the moment you are back to your relaxed self, you can see these cute pets running towards you for a stroke or a pat at its back. These are excellent lap warmers and will keep your company throughout your late night TV shows and will love to accompany you while you are tending your garden or washing your car! These can be trained easily and are fast learners and are ever ready to please you. Believe it or not, I have a cat that can knock the door with the knocker and can fasten and unlock the latch!
Though there are still many takers for the exotic Arabian cats and Siamese breeds, the ordinary cats are indeed facing a bleak future. Ordinary cats are not welcome any more in city homes, which have endorsed pedigree dog breeds as their pets. However there could be atleast a handful of feline fans out there who still cannot get enough of the feline pranks and cute gimmicks. One of the greatest entertainers in animal kingdom, cats would sweep you over your feet in no time. Just give it a home and let the feline magic work on you!
I was hoping to catch some Malayalee men and women do their best as Kerala has consistently sent women athletes for events. The stadium was packed except for a few stands kept reserved for probably the players and families. And those are the stands that come up empty on TV screen as they are right behind the medal-distribution podium.
Security was tight, only small purses allowed, no cameras, no bottles of perfumes, lotions, drinks , no food allowed in- not even water. All coins had to be put in a box for the Cancer patients. Next you get frisked and you had to show your ticket high to enter, and in the queue people come and ask you if you have extra tickets while you hold your much coveted ticket in fear! For a moment felt like Charlie with his golden ticket in the Roald Dahl book, I must admit.
On the field, it was action all around, on one side were the women Pole-vaulters and on the other the Javelin men. Two giant screens gave you the close-up look at all of them. The triple jumpers were practicing on the side and the overhead camera going to and fro. The thrown javelins were brought back by remote cars which kept all the kids in the crowd riveted with hopes of having a go at them.
Then the track events began – the 4×100 men and women’s event. Team India won the bronze, the women especially lost out the silver by a whisker. PT Usha was announced for the medal distribution and the crowd went into raptures clapping for her. She seemed serious when she handed the bronze medals, she touched the cheek of each athlete with what looked like a rap. We were discussing that she may have been unhappy with bronze and were giving the girls a tiny slap each.
For Javelin, there were 4 Indian men and the crowd egged them on with chants and Kashinath Naik won bronze, again! Our triple jumper, Ranjit Maheshwari, was a crowd engager he asked the crowd to clap and we did each time, and he was in the running for silver throughout but finally had to settle for bronze, but with a new National Record!
The crowd was soon restless, all wanting to hear the National Anthem at least once and then the Women’s 4×400 began. It’s like the whole crowd wished together at the same time – and there it was, the Gold!!! The girls Sini Jose (Keralite), Ashwini Akkunji, Manjeet Kaur, and Mandeep Kaur were amazing they ran like there was no tomorrow. And the result… euphoria, screaming, jumping, all round exultation – Amazing experience!
For the National Anthem we were all singing as one and the Jaya hai Jaya hai Jaye hai bit was sung loudly with hands throwing victory punches in the air.
The only drawback was that we wanted to see Milkha Singh (who was seen congratulating the girls on the screen) or PT Usha give away the medals but instead, we had to suffer Suresh Kalmadi who did the honours. A lot of us were seen ranting but then the girls and their smiles and the joy took over.
India also beat England to enter hockey finals – Truly, a great sporting day for India and a long wait has ended since Milkha Singh won the 440 yards gold in 1958, so long ago! I certainly lucked out witnessing one of the best days for Kerala and for India in the CWG 2010.
Rise, brothers, rise; the wakening skies pray to the morning light,
The wind lies asleep in the arms of the dawn like a child that has cried all night.
Come, let us gather our nets from the shore and set our catamarans free,
To capture the leaping wealth of the tide, for we are the kings of the sea!
- Sarojini Naidu, The Coromandel Fishers
Travelling along the National Highway (NH 47) to Ernakulam in the morning, I usually happen to come across fisher-folk going about their day-to-day activities. Starting from Neendakara in Kollam to Purakkad and Cherthala in Alappuzha district, I come across lots of fishermen and women who are busy, setting off to the high seas, transporting fish from one place to another, collecting ice from ice plants (ice-manufacturing units) for preservation, selling fish et al.
Here we go, with a compilation of photographs that I took today morning, on my way to our Karmakerala office from my home town Varkala, a journey that usually takes me about four hours. I had come across some other things too, like fishermen on the way taking a break and having tea and chatting at a wayside tea-shop, fresh fish being sold at roadside markets etc. But since I had to be at office on time, I couldn’t get them all. Here’s what I got, ‘the day’s catch’ for me!!!
It could be the ease of remembering the date or the ‘luck’ believed to be associated with this rare numerical alignment, whatever be the reason, October 10th, 2010 (10.10.10) has managed to leave its mark in the hall of fame of interesting days! For many, it was more than just a special coming together of the fancy number of 10. The psychology behind number 10 seems to give people the feel-good factor. In astrology 10 has a unique place and is often associated with work place and home.
While numerologists has predicted good days ahead due to the rare alignment of numbers , astrologers prefer to differ in their predictions. They foresee threats from neighboring countries due to the effect of mal-affected mercury. The newspaper headlines described babies born on this day as particularly lucky to have a fancy DOB; a baby born in West Midlands, UK even clocked a perfect time of 10 hours 10 minutes and 10 seconds! A lot of couples all over the world chose this date to take their marital vows while many expectant mothers opted for a C- section to make sure that their babies never lose out on the charm of this rare combo of numbers!
10-10-10 created quite a buzz in Kerala as well. Many organisations made the best use of the popularity of the date by creating global events like the Global Work Party, World Homeless Day and the 10-10-10 Initiative to create awareness on various issues like global warming. 10-10-10 threats of malware and virus attacks created a few anxious moments in the virtual world too!
At the end of it all, it goes without saying that though a lot of hype had been built up over this day, we all can sigh a relief that it passed off with no major untoward incidents. Though malayalees are literate and well informed, it is interesting to note that they do believe in all these superstitions even today:)