Apart from the love for communism, the Chinese and Russian tourists seem to have many other reasons to make a trip to God’s own country! There has been a steep rise in the number of tourists from the distant lands of Russia and China to Kerala. The new statistics has given the Kerala Tourism Department enough reasons to explore ways and means to attract more tourists from these countries. However , the language barrier makes the biggest stumbling block for the tourists from these countries.
A major chunk of Russian tourists come from Moscow and St Petersburg and the biggest attraction for these tourists has been ayurveda, which is a unique attraction in Kerala itineraries. Nature trails and beaches too interest these tourists. Figures show that there has been an impressive 24 per cent increase in issuance of visas through the Indian Embassy in Russia during 2011.
Though the tourists are bowled over by the hospitality of the local populace , the pathetic road conditions, traffic snarls and waste management policies prevailing in the State has not gone down well with the tourists. Kerala has to get the priorities right in improving the infrastructure on a war footing to bring in more tourists from the untapped markets around the world.
The Tourism Department has initiated many plans including conducting road shows in these countries to spread the message of the tourism potential of Kerala and to lure more tourists from these countries. There are also plans to explore new markets in Malaysia, Australia and Middle East.
Kerala has become the home to the first ever PPP (public-private-partnership) telecom-based incubator start-up village in the country. This innovative venture was inaugurated by Kris Gopalakrishnan, co-founder, Infosys, who is also the mentor of the village. This village will have over 1000 start up companies over a period of 10years. Situated at Kinfra Park in Kalamassery, Ernakulam this project is likely to be an important milestone in the industrial map of the state in the days ahead.
Startup Village is a joint venture of the National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB) under the DST, GoI and the Technopark, in collaboration with MobME Wireless. The start up village will ensure state of the art facilities and a conducive atmosphere for the development of start up entrepreneurial ventures, which typically face a lot of hurdles and challenges in the initial stage before getting themselves established. The start up village will throw open various job openings in the telecom sector and will go a long way in heralding a fresh IT revolution in the State. The village will have 4G network, telecom labs, well furnished office spaces, innovation zones intellectual property services, video conference rooms and added advantages like three-year service tax holiday to fund building startups. Novel concepts like start up villages are well suited for states like Kerala, which has a large resource pool of well qualified professionals.
It was an afternoon of ‘Tsunami’ for us at Karma Kerala yesterday…
The time is 2.20 and we are working, most of us glued to our seats and computer screens. I have my headsets on and at the same time am part of a group chat on Skype, with our Scottish boss Mark Scott getting me to change a blog post. Suddenly I see some kind of a commotion and people looking down on to the road and some pointing to a fan. I don’t realize what’s happening; I guess it’s some film-star who has appeared in the studio opposite our office for a shoot or a photo-shoot that has caused the commotion. But then, why do they point at the fan that’s not working?
I take off my headphones… I hear something, can’t make out what it is. I prick my ears and listen… and hear it vaguely – “Earthquake!”
“Earthquake?! Where? When?”, I ask myself, since I was sitting in the very same office and didn’t feel anything. Thejal, Venu, Tijo, Tanweer and others move about; they point at the fan that’s swinging slightly. Aji surfs the net for updates. Praveen makes some quick calls to newspaper offices. Jisha says she can still feel the slight tremor. Shyama, who works from Delhi (Dilli), says over Skype that an earthquake of magnitude 8.7 has happened in Sumatra and that there is a Tsunami warning too…
“So the earth did tremble, after all”- I say to myself, and sit down on my seat after going around for a while.
By that time the word ‘Tsunami’ reaches our ears. My cousin who is on the train to Chennai from where he has to catch a flight to Port Blair the next morning calls me as he could not get connected to his father, my uncle, who is in Port Blair. I make a call to Port Blair, for the sake of my cousin. That gives me a clearer picture. My uncle says, “ We just felt a slight tremor, I was having my lunch then. There are Tsunami alerts in Southern Islands like Car Nicobar (I had spent my early years there), Kamorta, Katchal etc, but it’s just an alert”. (They have been used to having tremors of much more magnitude, ever since the 2004 quake and Tsunami, from which my mother, who was then working there, had a narrow escape).
Then on, it’s ‘Tsunami’ at out Karma Kerala office. People check the net for online television news and updates. Sreekumar gets calls from home; he is told that something had happened to a building at Palarivattom here and he’s worried. Jisha goes on saying she can feel slight tremors still. Praveen and Aji tell us people have run out of high-rise buildings and the IT companies at Infopark when the tremor happened. We are told the Mullaperiyar dam is safe and we needn’t worry on that count.
Over a cup of Coffee, the ‘very vocal’ Venu talks about quakes and Tsunamis. Aji once again checks the net and says people say the Tsunami has struck Indonesia. Shola says she wants to die wearing a Saree. Usha and Deepa remind her to wear a white one. Shola asks Aji when the Tsunami would hit Kochi. Aji says ‘Dunno!’. Shola retorts by saying she has to apply some makeup and lipstick to greet the Tsunami. Remya is worried that tremors are happening at Thiruvananthapuram too, her little son and parents are there. Rinoj gets calls from home, asking him to come home, at Thrissur. Ragesh calls his wife; he is now the proud father of a baby boy, whom he has named Rakshan. Amjath sits glued to his computer screen, working and in between cracking jokes.
Jisha says she is a Taurean and hence can feel the pulse of nature. Meanwhile there is a second tremor and some of us at Karma Kerala once again get the feel of it. Still I am excluded!!Caro (Carolane) moves about, inquiring things and making calls. Leneesha is a bit worried. Tanweer and Mary and Sara and Divya and Sooraj and Teena are all part of the talks on earthquakes and Tsunamis. Sreejesh, who had gone to the bank, comes back after a while saying he felt nothing as he was riding his scooter.
I ask Shyama to keep me updated, not because I am worried about the Tsunami reaching here, but because I have close relatives in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and I am concerned about them. Shyama is ‘worried’ about her Kochi apartment, which remains locked as she is in Delhi. I take the occasion to philosophize, on a lighter vein, on the group chat on Skype, saying that there’s absolutely no reason to be worried and that life is just like a ‘bubble of water’ and what’s destined to happen cannot be changed etc… It’s blah blah blah…
Rain clouds gather around and that adds to the worries and the tension that’s created.
Finally, Thejal, who manages the office and decides things here, says the ladies can go. Ladies start moving out; bidding adieu and saying, though light humouredly- “See you tomorrow, if the Tsunami doesn’t strike!”. Shyama reminds Remya over Skype- “Dress well to bed…not make-up…but running clothes”, Remya responds with a smiley and leaves with a ‘bye’, along with Jisha.
Sreekumar is busy planning work for the next day. We are in office till 5.30- 5.45 and talks are mostly about Tsunami and earthquake. We try to remain updated on what’s happening. Aji reminds me to write a post here on this Karma Kerala blog on the earthquake and the Tsunami alerts and related things.
Well, this was what happened at the Karma Kerala office yesterday; I feel this would suffice to give you an idea of the commotion that struck Kochi in particular and Kerala in general after the tremors that were felt in various parts of the state and the Tsunami alert that came into effect.