Though most of the residents and the tourists who throng Fort Kochi, pass by this street which is located close to many tourist attractions like art galleries, most of them seem to be unaware of the historic connection associated with the Burgher street. There are only two streets in Fort Kochi which still bear Dutch names, Burgher Street and Petercelli Street as the other streets have been renamed by the British who came later.
The word Burgher in Dutch means ‘clerk’ in reference to the Portuguese descendants of clerks here who had built the street. Though there are no Burghers on the street anymore, it remains a mute testimony of a 300 year old Dutch legacy. It is ironical that this erstwhile Dutch street has a number of Portuguese descendants but no Dutch residents.
The legacy says that in the 15th Century when the Portuguese first came to Kerala, they built a fort in the area and the city around it was called Fort Kochi. But soon the Dutch came in and they destroyed the fort and many other Portuguese buildings and brought in the Protestant reign which made them unpopular among the local populace, which ultimately forced them to leave the area for the Portuguese.
Even today, the Burgher Street has some ancient buildings that showcases specks of Dutch architecture including high ceilings, thick walls and a small courtyard. However it is alarming to note that many modern constructions have come up in the heritage zone, violating the norms, which makes the conservation of these vestiges an uphill task. Like the many pieces of forgotten history, the Burgher Street too has lost its historical significance somewhere; nonetheless let us hope that these vital links of history are not lost forever.
Chinese nets often touted as the landmarks of Kochi since time immemorial are now getting a face lift, which will enhance its utility in the changing times. These innovative fishing nets are thought to have brought in by a Chinese explorer, Zheng He in the mid-fifteenth century. Chinese nets known as cheenavala in local parlance are fixed along the shores with the nets dropped down into the water at night, which will be manually pulled up at day break to collect the fish trapped inside. A few of these land-based fishing structures have been motorised where the net will be pulled by motors instead of the traditional method of being pulled by 4 to 6 men.
There are over 25 Chinese nets dotting the shores of Fort Kochi and Vypeen. Two of these have been mechanised so far. The traditional operation of these Chinese nets, which have a 20-metre span is labour intensive and as it is very hard these days to find labourers to pull it, some of the owners decided to motorise it. Although the maintenance cost is higher, they are hopeful of getting good results in the long run.
However, there are different schools of thought on this issue as some feel that mechanising these ancient structures is not a good idea. While men pull these nets up, they can adjust the pulling power according to the wave’s strength whereas in the motorised version it is not possible. If the wave and the motor pull the supporting poles of the net in opposite directions, it could snap the nets causing financial loss says the fishermen.Only time will tell whether it is a feasible option or not; but for the time being these innovative Chinese fishing net owners who had hit upon this novel venture is upbeat as they can keep the nets operational without having to worry about the availability of labourers. Also check out the blog Maddy’s Ramblings,which tells you more on the Chinese nets in Kochi.
The excitement of the treasure discovery of Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple fails to die down as new inputs and startling information continue to trickle in even after many days since its discovery.
The discovery of the wealth in the secret vaults of Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple has already made it one of the world’s top five treasure troves in the league of Tutankhamun’s tomb, Egypt, The Dead Sea Scrolls, Israel, Bactrian Gold, Afghanistan,The Domus Aurea, Italy and Treasure of Nimrud, Iraq. With the recently concluded devaprasnam clearly stating the displeasure of the Lord in opening the remaining vault, a veil of secrecy is likely to shroud the riches of this temple, which will keep the actual value of the treasures a well guarded secret.
After eluding the treasure hunters, explorers and archaeologists for thousands of years, the treasures found stashed in hidden vaults after they were opened after a court directive, surprised the temple authorities and the faithful alike. The discovery has set off a spate of arguments and counter arguments on the manner of its safe keeping and utilization. However, the fact remains that the discovery of the temple treasures has hit media headlines all over the world, triggering a renewed interest in Kerala and its rich culture and legacy. Read more on this Wall street journal article right here.
Sholto’s post made me think… Are we in Kerala really supporting Anna Hazare and his movement? Well, I am confused…
Is it really the popular kind of support that is generated elsewhere in India that we see happening in Kerala too?
Cynic that I am I feel it’s not so. Here it all seems to be party-centric, planned and implemented by various political outfits, politically motivated students organisations, trade unions etc. Average Malayalees, who have trained themselves to be indifferent to such ‘goings on’ and have got used to dismissing vices like corruption, injustice, dowry, casteism, female infanticide and foeticide etc. with a mere shrug of the shoulder and at times even finding words to justify such things as ‘practically good’, seem not much bothered about what Anna Hazare is fighting for and what the Lok Pal bill means in principle. They are too concerned about the practicalities of life that they don’t have the time to stop and think of principles. Principles, who cares?!- that’s the attitude. Be hypocritical, you’ll be respected in Kerala, be genuine, you’ll be ostracised. I remember how a couple of people were asking me, when Anna Hazare began his first hunger strike and people were going to light candles here in Kochi to support him, whether I was also going to join in. I said a firm ‘no’ because I still don’t believe in the genuineness of these candle-lighters from Kerala. The very same people, I have seen, engage in things illegal and corrupt in their personal lives. (Well, they got justification for that; it’s all ‘small things’. They forget it has to begin with ‘small things’!). Well, I can’t name people and make a list of things and explain how they are violating the very same things that they pledge not to violate by lighting candles in support of Anna Hazare. I will earn more enemies in the process, I already have many!!
So, are we genuine in supporting Anna Hazare? The students who kept away from colleges, do they respect people like Mahatma Gandhi or Anna Hazare and try to understand them and their ways even to a small extent? The guys who are likely to observe a hartal or two (well, they lost a chance now as the Delhi cops have yielded and Anna Hazare is all set to go fasting), do they understand that hartal is another variant of ‘Satyagraha’, which was used by one Great Man( ‘Great’ is now a word that we use to praise undeserving people and to even write about the doings of marketing companies and hence is shorn of all its ‘greatness’), whom we call Mahatma (a word that we don’t understand the meaning of nowadays), to promote things for a society and not for any political party. People who discuss the pros and cons of Anna Hazare’s fight and the Lok Pal bill and then sit back to ‘watch and enjoy’; do they understand that if people like Mahatma Gandhi and Anna Hazare had done the same, nothing would have happened.
Well, it now seems to me that perhaps Sholto hinted at this when he used the phrase ‘typical Kerala style’ (“Kerala citizens have been demonstrating in support of Hazare in typical Kerala style…”)…
Yes Sholto, we are indeed supporting Anna Hazare, in true and typical Kerala style. Let’s hope public property is not destroyed and buses not burnt; that would be too much of support, I guess!!
If we trace popular fury with the perceived corruption of the present Indian federal government, we might say it started with the Commonwealth Games. It did not really start then as there was a popular sense that corruption and graft were growing endemic among the powerful and monied, but it was the embarrassment and incompetence of the games organisation that drew international attention to India and its quavering infrastructure and the nepotism of its political classes and provided incontrovertible evidence to middle class India that something was seriously wrong in Delhi, Since that moment there have been a trail of cases that have displayed the invidious nexus of power and money that is stultifying development and success.
The arrest of Anna Hazare yesterday by the police recalls Indira Gandhi’s similar arrest of opponents in the 1970s and whilst the government claims it is to forestall any inconvenience from demonstrations in the capital poor Ambika Soni for being wheeled out as the representative of the government), for most Indians it is evidence of the arrogance of the present Congress government, mired as it is in allegations of corruption. It does not help the government cause that Hazare is described as “Gandhian” which stirs powerful feelings among Indian citizens.
Kerala citizens have been demonstrating in support of Hazare in typical Kerala style: student non-attendance at college classes and surely there will be a hartal or two. Keralites are painfully aware of how corruption and various black money schemes exist with the Apple a Day property scam that was written about previously on the blog.
Let’s admit it. Fishes like mackerel, sardines and anchovy are high in nutritional content and even have certain medicinal values, even if you like it or not. However, the mere mention of these fishes will make many of us curl up our noses because of their pungent smell!
The Omega3 fatty acids found in sardines protect the heart; it also helps fight depression and works as a deterrent to Alzheimer’s and arthritis,” says Geetha Lakshmi of the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Kochi (CIFT). Unfortunately not many people are happy to include these in their menu due to their pungent smell. In order to popularize these nutritional fishes, CIFT has come up with many innovative products like chocolate fish cookies. A menu comprising chocolate chip cookies, momos, lollipops, sweet dumplings and fish burgers might sound too fanciful to be true. But you will soon see all these delectable items on the menu cards in the city hotels thanks to the CIFT initiatives. Hopefully it will remove the stigma attached to sardines and mackerel often considered as down market products that do not complement the modern lifestyle. The fishermen too will be benefited by this as it will increase the demand for these fishes.
The interesting part is that these fish products will not have the characteristic smell or the taste of mackerel or sardines, but these would taste more like chicken. CIFT succeeded in masking the awful smell of these fishes by adding a tinge of shrimp essence, which made it more tasty and flavorsome that will suit the palates of the consumers. The food products, being branded as Seafresh, Fishmaid, Fertyfish and Drish, are being manufactured by fisher women trained by CIFT.
The soft launch of these products has been done in the coastal belts and soon they will be introduced in the cities before moving into supermarkets and malls and even to the Gulf countries once CIFT finalizes the marketing plans there. So next time when you bite into a crispy fish snack, you wont be even able to make out that it was indeed made of sardine, something that you had kept out of your plates all your life:)! Hopefully these cheap and nutritious native fishes of Kerala will get a wider acceptance and recognition that eluded them all these years with this novel initiative.
Punnamada lake, the venue of the fabled Nehru Trophy boat race has been a beehive of activities for the last few days as snake boats, each rowed by over 100 oarsmen in quick unison started their practice sessions, ahead of the grand competition on Aug 13. The last few days marked a surge in the number of tourists arriving at the Punnamada lake to witness this unique water sport.
The snake boat race is something exceptional to Kerala and the length of a snake boat varies from 120 feet to 140 feet and will have about 120 oarsmen, who will display a marvelous spectacle of rowing in unison well complemented by high pitched songs and resonant drum beats to add up to the mood. 16 snake boats and around 40 small boats will be participating this year in the 59th edition of the race, which is being sponsored by a single sponsor for over 2.50 Crore, which incidentally is the highest ever. Another highlight of this year’s event is that one of the snake boats of United Boat Club, Kainakary has roped in a group of 51 soldiers from the Madras Engineering Group in its team of oarsmen.
The boat race, which dates back to 1952 was held as an impromptu race in honour of the then Indian prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru who visited the state. Nehru, who was thrilled by the performance of the oarsmen had suggested to make it an annual event. On returning to Delhi, Nehru donated a silver trophy, a replica of a snake boat placed on a wooden abacus with an inscription and his signature, which is awarded to the winners in the snake boat race.
Preparations are in full swing and Alappuzha is getting braced up for the event, which is one of the most popular events in Kerala itinerary among tourists, including foreigners. So, make sure to be there to be part of this excepting spectacle, which is not seen anywhere else in India. It is interesting to note that it was featured in the online creative venture of the New Zealand community, the big idea, which shows its universal appeal and popularity.
The much hyped ‘car for the masses’ Nano, which hit the market with an unbeatable sticker price of just 1 lakh has failed to leave its mark among the masses as yet. However, Tata Nano has found a new set of patrons in Kerala in the form of lottery agents in Kollam district. It is interesting to note that the lottery agents in the district have already rolled out a fleet of Nano cars over the last few months. The small size of Nano gives it a top edge in maneuvering through the narrow and busy streets of the Kollam city, which enables the agents to do brisk business by being at the right place at the right time.
Apart from its good mileage and affordable price tag, the fancy appearance of Nano has endeared it among the lottery dealers. The cute looks also attract curious onlookers apart from the fortune bill fans. Some lottery agents have as many as three cars in their fleet and are only happy to add more in future. Nano is taking up the place of the old favorite, Ambassador, which is being sidelined due to its low fuel efficiency. Even if the soaring petrol prices are taken into account, buying a Nano works cheaper than hiring a shop in the city, where rented commercial spaces cost a fortune and are hard to find.
The lottery sales have plummeted to an all time low following restrictions on other state lotteries and number of draws of Kerala lottery. This has prompted the agents to look for cheaper options in selling lotteries and Nano has truly served this purpose. At present there are over 18 Nanos plying in the city of Kollam alone and as more lottery agents are planning to add Nanos to their fleet to ensure better market penetration and faster access to the niche zones, the future of Nano appears bright at least in this segment.
A monsoon carnival was organised in the Wayanad district in Kerala during the first two weeks of July to promote monsoon tourism and to soak up the mood of the rains. Aptly named “Splash”, this carnival which took place at the Chandragiri Auditorium in Kalpetta included an array of interesting indoor and outdoor events like cultural performances, singing, music, dance, magic, rafting, rock climbing, trekking, crab catching and archery. The gourmets too had a field day as there was a well stocked food court too at the venue. Stalls selling local handicrafts and spices had a steady stream of visitors.
While many tourism related activities took an off season rest, splash created a buzz in this hill district, which attracted over 200 tour operators including overseas operators who participated in this business-to-business meet. Various interesting sporting events and local games were also included in this year’s event to attract maximum participants.
One of the major attractions this year had been the fun activity of mud football. Some of the other rural games on offer included ‘kambukayattam’ (climbing the slippery tree), ‘vadamvali’ (tug of war), and also life skills like paddy transplantation. The water sports lovers too had a great time as there were many exciting activities like rafting, rain run, fishing, angling and rain trail, which brought out the charm of the monsoons at its best. I found this blog post by Sanjay-Sivadas really catchy as it has encompassed the beauty of Wayanad and the romance of the rains through some lively snap shots and descriptions.