Kerala, popularly known as ‘God’s own country often bemuse and intrigues people with its antics in the form of hartal and lightening strikes that literally go hand in hand with the name of this tiny southern state. Though hartal has always been a handy mode of protest to raise their voice against unfair practices and to address their grievances, Keralites often bend and mould this tool to suit their whims and fancies.
Here is an interesting story of a sleepy Kerala village, Moongani near Kottayam that decided to call for a hartal in protest against the decision of the authorities to close down a bar, which curiously was shut down a few weeks ago following protests by local people against it.! It is paradoxical that it was another section of the villagers including taxi drivers that gave a call for a dawn to dusk hartal to get the decision of the authorities revoked. The taxi drivers and shop keepers in the village alleged that there has been a sharp drop in customers ever since the bar was closed down and their hartal call was to highlight their plight. A strong posse of police force was deployed to prevent any untoward incidents.
Meanwhile the sober section amongst the villagers is getting ready to start a fresh spell of agitation under the banner of the anti alcohol movement to get the bar closed down yet again. so, let us wait for some more hartal updates from this village in the coming days!
Kerala Travel Mart, the biennial event that highlights the tourism potential and attractions of Kerala at its best is scheduled to be held from 27th to 30th September, 2012 at Le Meridien Convention Centre, Cochin. The seventh edition of KTM is expected to be a high profile event that brings together some of the stalwarts of the hospitality industry. The basic objective of this event will be to promote Kerala as an emerging Asian tourist destination and an icon of Indian tourism.
KTM deserves special mention in that it is the only tourism event in India where both business fraternity and the entrepreneurs participate in such a massive scale. Apart from the buyers and sellers who are actively involved in an exciting range of tourism related products and services in the State of of Kerala, KTM will also bring together, media, non profit organizations and government agencies among others to chalk out strategies and plans to make Kerala one of the most favored Asian tourist destinations in the days ahead. Apart from productive business meets and seminars there will be press meets and exciting cultural nights to add up to the milieu of the event.
The event is being organised by Kerala Travel Mart Society in partnership with the Kerala Govt. KTM society comprises of 599 members from various fields like ayurveda centres, resorts, backwater tour operators, wedding package providers, farmstays, homestays and hotels among others. This year, KTM will be featuring 108 tables, 296 modules and 12 houseboat parking bays and it is expected that over 1500 buyers from 50 countries around the world and other Indian States will be attending the event. KTM, which was started in the year 2000 has become the middle name of tourism and hospitality industry of Kerala. The last six events have been a huge success and KTM has set a perfect platform for both the sellers and buyers to negotiate business deals and to get involved in tapping the tourism potential of Kerala.
KTM 2012 will see the active participation of a host of key players in the tourism industry where they will share ideas and arrive at innovative deals that will all take Kerala one step ahead in the world tourism map.
Let us all hope that Kerala Travel mart 2012 would come up with many innovative strategies and ideas to make the Kerala holidays truly exceptional and well organized.
The sleepy island of Valiaparamb in Kasargod district in North Kerala would have got cut off from the mainland but for the determination and grit of a handful of women. When the boatmen of the island decided to strike work citing the reason of fuel shortage to operate the boats, the women took up the challenge by taking the oars of the boat that they launched. The 24 km long Valiaparamb island is accessible only by ferry services along the Kovvai lake, which connects two other islands.
Though the water transport authorities are operating two boats, these are insufficient to cater to the travel needs of the islanders. When this issue was taken up for discussion at the Kudumbashree, a few illustrious women stepped into the scene and decided to throw in their oars into the waters literally. Instead of depending on someone to provide boat services, three enterprising women in their sixties decided to rent a boat and launch their own service which is available from 7.30 am to 6.30 pm every day. These women take scores of men , women and children across the waters to the other shores, everyday. A team of 15 workers from the self help group of Kudumbasree is now operating the service, which has become the life line of the islanders who have to travel to the mainland to eke out a living.
Football is not just a sport but a way of life or a passionate religion for many in the state of Kerala. Football fever that grips the state during various national and international football events is something beyond the scope of expressions. Now the soccer loving malayaless have something more to cherish about this game as the first indoor soccer futsal academy in the country will be opened in Kodungallur.
Though this miniature version of football, which is commonly played on smaller indoor pitches is popular in many countries around the world, it is something new in India. Many international football players play Futsal to fine hone their footballing techniques and it has been a popular game in western countries for over 20 years.
To promote this interesting game, the Union Sports Ministry is planning to start the first ‘futsal’ pitch and the country’s first dedicated coaching centre on the Kunji Kuttan Thampuran College campus in Kodungallur at a cost of around 1 Crore. This latest facility is expected to be operational from next year. A synthetic turf that is 42 metres long and 18-22 metres wide with special shock absorbing capability is being set up as part of the project. The indoor futsal pitch will also have all the other facilities like floodlight, changing rooms, cage netting to separate pitches and refreshment counters will.
Futsal is the only form of indoor soccer certified by the FIFA. Both the teams will have five members each including the goal keeper and the game will be played on a court that is similar to the size of a basketball court with a smaller, heavier low-bounce ball. The game will have two halves of 20 minutes each with touchline boundaries and without walls. The goal post is also smaller than that used in normal football.
Futsal is more interesting than its counterpart as the players get to be in contact with the ball more when compared to football. Once Futsal gets popular in Kerala, it is likely to become the latest craze in Kerala. With open fields fast disappearing , Kerala might need something innovative like indoor soccer pitches where the youth can indulge in the most popular game of Kerala. Let us wait and watch whether this miniature game will steal the thunder from under the nose of its bigger cousin in the days ahead.
The district administration has made registration compulsory for all the houseboats in Alappuzha and the house boat owners have been given a time of one week for submitting the necessary documents in this regard. The Ports Department will be conducting routine inspections and the houseboats without the necessary certificates will be seized by the police and criminal cases slapped against these house boat owners.Three police patrol teams have been set up at various locations like Muhamma, Punnamada and Pallathuruthy in Vembanad Lake to conduct routine inspections inside the houseboats during cruise.
Though there are over 800 boats plying in Alappuzha backwaters only around 490 boats have registration certificates at present. In the wake of accidents involving houseboats, steps have also been initiated to revoke the license of the houseboat and the crew and to blacklist them if they are found to consume liquor on board during duty time. The Ports Department is also planning to set up a sewage treatment plant for the houseboats to prevent water pollution.
Houseboats are the biggest attractions in any Kerala holiday itinerary and by ensuring a safe and enjoyable cruise, back water tourism in Kerala will indeed get a major boost. These safety measures will indeed make Alappuzha and Kumarakom backwaters which form the nerve centres of backwater tourism more popular than never before among the tourists.