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.
How we spent a rather lazy evening and some money at Fort Kochi…
It was a rather dull and dreary evening last week. Sharaz and Sooraj our php programmers at Karmakerala, Vinish our designer and I made a quick plan, to go to Fort Kochi.
Sharaz has his roots there; he had spent his childhood there and has had his schooling there. So we thought we’d spend a lazy evening there, by the backwaters or at the beach.
It was a half an hour ride to Fort Kochi, on our bikes. We had no plan, no agenda for the trip.
All through the way I kept bugging Sharaz to stop to have a cup of tea, from some Thattukada, for these wayside eateries always caught my fancy. The tea that they’d brew, given in glasses than in use-and-throw plastic cups, always appealed to me. But my plans to have a cup of tea didn’t materialize.
On the way, at least at a couple of places, we were asked to stop by ‘vigilant’ cops, who wanted us to breathe into their breath analysers, to make sure we are not drunk.
At last, we reached there. It was almost dark.
As soon as we alighted and parked our motorcycles, my thought, as usual was about having a cup of tea. God seemed to have answered my wish; there comes a guy selling tea from his cycle. I inquired if it was the tea-bag one, which I usually won’t like. He nodded in the affirmative; but there was no other go. We looked all around, no tea-shop. We decided to be his customers. But for the first time, I liked the taste of tea made with tea-bags. In fact, such tea supplied on the trains had made me a sworn enemy of tea-bags.
I did say it aloud that the tea was good. As we finished drinking tea, the vendor showed us a bag tied to the back of his cycle and asked us to put the cups there so that it’s not strewn around. Sharaz and Vinish were impressed with the civic-sense that the guy displayed.
“Hope people do this everywhere”
… exclaimed Sooraj. We moved ahead. There were some attempts to take some photographs, but things didn’t go well. Sharaz meanwhile explained that there are shops from where we could buy fish, which they would cook for us on the spot. I suggested trying it out if it was OK with others. Everyone seemed to agree. Vinish, who had given up eating meat and fish since a few years, didn’t have an opinion, though he enjoyed it all.
We went to the nearby shop. There were fishes of all sizes and with names that were rather unfamiliar to Sooraj (who hails from Kasargode) and me (I hail from Thiruvananthapuram district). Sharaz was for us the ‘expert’. We made a choice after ascertaining the prices.
It was a fish that weighted around 1.2 kilogrammes.
A young chap, representing a wayside restaurant, had already approached us, saying that they’d get it prepared for us. We asked him the rates; he said Rs.120 per Kg for getting it fried. So the fish we bought cost us Rs. 210 and another 120 would have to be shelled out for getting it cooked. The young chap assured us that it will take 15 to 20 minutes. We moved ahead, following the young fellow. He led us, to a wayside restaurant. We had plans to buy some rice or chapathis and some vegetarian dish for Vinish. Sharaz told us that it could be a bit more expensive.
The wayside eatery, which was situated among some such other eateries, seemed good for spending an evening. We handed over the fish and got seated.
And then began the wait, which seemed to go on and on. The guy who had led us to the shop has vanished, the others who were there- to serve, to cook etc. – seemed to be bent on making us wait. All that we had to depend on to pass time was our conversation, which of course was always one of our favourite pastimes and the menu-cards, which simply shocked us beyond all imagination. Vegetable dishes, available at costs varying from 25 rupees to 50 or 60 have their prices starting at Rs.200. A plate of beef-fry, which would cost around 50 rupees at a hotel in Ernakulam, would cost us Rs. 300. We could see no justification, except that the tourists who visit Fort Kochi would have no other go but to buy food at this price.
We were concerned that there were no local bodies or government agencies to make sure these hotel people don’t fleece local day trippers like us.
We too were rendered hapless and helpless. Kochi’s own mosquitoes were buzzing, the enthusiasm to talk was yielding to hunger and our desire to have some ‘fresh’ fish and food and it was getting a bit late too. After an hour’s wait, we were told that we’d get it in five minutes. The fish came; we had ordered two plates of rice and some chapathis. Vinish was against the idea of spending Rs. 200 for a vegetable dish which we usually have at Rs. 40 or 50. We knew he was right.
So, it was ‘Get, set go!’. The wait seemed fruitful, the fish was tasty. We had our fill, relishing the taste of the fish along with the rice. Though there were delays in between in serving the food, the bill was delivered, in true ‘Kerala style’, with no delay at all. We shelled out the money and walked out of the eatery.
The walk back to where we had parked our motorbikes was rather pleasant. The streets gave us the feel that we were somewhere far away from Kerala. Sharaz wanted us to take a snap of his against a big, colonial styled bungalow saying, he’d publish the photograph with the caption…
“When I’m sad, I go to Europe”
We took the snaps. Then there was a Benz parked nearby and Vinish wanted to be photographed with it.
And then, it was the ride back. Sharaz showed us his ancestral house, invited us to pay a visit to his grandma. But we were late and put that off for some other day. Then he showed us the school where he, his father and grandfather had studied. We made fun of him, saying,
“So, this is a school that’s historically important”.
He smiled his usual friendly smile and then we set off, on our trip back.
Though the prices were a bit too high and something had to be done from the side of the authorities, we felt, we decided that we have to visit the place once again, without much delay and maybe with more of our friends.
As I am typing out this piece, we do have plans to pay a visit to Fort Kochi again, today or tomorrow…Hope it works out…
Welcome to a court with a difference. Though the procedures and proceedings and even the holidays of this court resembles those in a conventional court, the judge, the accused and the appellants are all kids and that is what makes it exceptional. This children’s court is functioning in Sneha Bhavan, the home for the destitute children in Palluruthy, in Cochin, managed by the Salesians of Don Bosco in association with the Corporation of Cochin. Here the children are given a chance to grow and integrate themselves into society by preventing them from being helpless and exploited.
This innovative law enforcement mechanism make them law abiding citizens from a very early age according to Fr. Sunny, the director of the institution. There is also a CID and police too( kid’s versions of course:) attached to the court. The kids of the institution don the roles of the magistrate, the bench clerk and advocates for both the accused and the petitioner. When the ‘judge’, K K Siju donning a black gown took his seat, pin drop silence descended on to the hall and everybody waited anxiously to hear the verdict. The case was that of a missing bath towel, which the judge promptly handed over to the CID to crack!
Some of the common complaints include leaving the dining table shabby after lunch or leaving the dinner plates unwashed, which are considered grave mistakes that could invite the maximum penalty of negative 5 points and the accused slapped with this punishment will always have a chance to place a mercy petition before the director. There are no harsh punishments unlike in the normal courts and this is what makes the children’s court really exceptional. The normal punishments include keeping the erring kids off the games for 1 hour or restraining the kids from watching TV. The kids can always seek pardon from the other boy and very often their quarrels are short lived and simple.
Bagging positive points for the good deeds come with lots of goodies and privileges. Kids who could manage to earn 75 points or more will be entitled for a joy ride in the AC Volvo buses to the airport and watching a movie in the plush multiplex of a popular mall. No wonder, kids vie to bag as many positive points as they could to enjoy the best weekend outing options on the offer and to encourage the other boys to emulate the good deeds. There is no criminal tendency in the kids of Snehabhavan and they coexist peacefully and happily; thanks to the vigilant kid’s court that has been functioning for years now!
Kerala is today celebrating ‘Chingam 1′, the beginning of the New Year as per its traditions. A great significance to the farmers, it is actually referred to as Aandu Pirappu and represents activeness, prosperity and harvest after the rains.
Chingam, a season for sports, festivities and ritual celebrations, is believed to have originated on this particular day when Lord Vishnu took the avatar of Vaamana and came to the state of King Mahabali and sent him to the nether world.
Onam the harvest festival of Kerala is celebrated in the month of Chingam which corresponds to the month of August or September. One can find people wearing the traditional attires to schools and offices and also the start of the floral design competition to commemorate the Chingam celebrations leading to the state festival of Kerala – Onam.
Hindus welcome the month of Chingam by going to the temples followed by feasting and celebrations. The first month in the traditional Malayalam calendar- Chinga Masam or Chingam Month is busy with fairs, marriages, feasts and especially shopping for the people.
In Cochin, The Atthachamayam Festival is conducted every year on Atham asterism of the Malayalam month Chingam in remembrance of the renowned victory of the Raja of Kochi. It adds a lot of colour to this city and people are drawn to the culture of this beautiful place during this period.
Nobody knew Indu Thambi few days ago. But now she is getting all the attention, guess what! She is the Miss Kerala 2010 held in Kochi. All the girls who took part in the pageant wanted to make it big in life, so the talking and demeanor on stage was not like any other Malayali girls and it was different.
On stage the girls were all blabbering about their dreams and aspirations, some wanna work for the poor and the downtrodden and the society at large à la Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai. The typical Malayali girls even seems to have practiced how to speak more convincingly when they talked about reaching the Stars, Moon and if possible a visit to the Sun for a change.
Thankfully the criteria wasn’t like you have to be born in Kerala, either one of the parents should have been born in some nook and corner of God’s own Country, so obviously the mother tongue was not a issue. But as a true Malayali most of the girls confessed in chaste Malayalam that they are pucca Malayali even though they are born and brought up outside Kerala. So, obviously when the love for mother tongue was discussed most girls may have wanted to run for cover.
Nevertheless getting back to Miss Kerala, 5 contestants made it to the final. But, before the final countdown all kind of entertainment was in place. The Bollywood rap singer Abbey Fizardo was belting out all kind of metal songs, but the poor Malayali audience even though looked and dressed like Gen-X refused to get up and sway to his music.
It’s time for the final tamasha, to choose one Malayalee damsel as the beauty of the state. Others don’t feel disheartened there are other awards too like; the best Miss Beautiful Hair, Smile, Skin, Photogenic face, Eyes, Teeth, Legs and last but not the least ‘Miss Voice’ (phew).
Finally Miss Kerala was announced and the crown goes to none other than God’s own daughter Miss Indu Thambi. The runners up as usual were waiting to steal the final show and giggled followed by hugging the winner. My god! Malayalee true spirit! It was a close contest I heard Indu Thambi impressed the jury by promptly answering the seven ingredients of the Kerala sadya. But if you take into account the Malayalee love for food it was an easy question.
Anyway the winner is announced and the show is over, most of the Malayalees had no clue and wanted to return to bed. Congrats to Indu Thambi to have won the pageant lets look forward to see you doing all the good work for the society like our previous beauties. Don’t want to sound ironic…and frankly the event represented the shifting face of the Malayali woman in terms of fashion and beauty, but as the new Miss Kerala pageant closed, I can’t help thinking – “Is Kerala missing somewhere?”
What if the product you wish to get has an enticing offer? The month of August brings in the greatest festival of Kerala- Onam, with it comes many offers. Its during the time of Onam, kerala witnesses the shopping fever and so do everybody wants to go for a shopping spree.
It is seen that during this season, people swarm the markets and get goods for discount which may otherwise cost a bargain. Get to know some of the offers and go enjoying- the earlier the better!
- BSNL Kerala Mobile services announces launch of customized Special Pre-paid package, ‘STUDENT SUVIDHA’ for students during the Onam season.
- Kerala Khadi development board is organizing an exhibition cum sale of cottage and textile industry products with special offers, discounts and lucky draws at the Khadi development office in Calicut.
- Special trains from Indian Railway, specially emphasized on those malayalis who are working in various parts of India to reach Kerala during the Onam season.
- Airtel, the service provider will start its lucky draws welcoming the Onam market for those customers who are utilizing the Onam recharges. Gold coins will be awaiting the winner.
- Sony India has announced a wide range of consumer promotion offer for its products, such as combo offers, free installation and DVDS.
Bastion Bungalow, which at present serves as the official seat of the Sub-Collector will soon house the Renaissance Museum. Bastion bungalow built in 1667 flaunts an Indo-Dutch architecture. True to its name, this structure is situated on the site of Stromsburg Bastion of the Dutch fort. The Spherical shaped Bungalow with its tiled roof and sprawling verandas and wooden annexes was declared as a protected site by the State Archeological Department years back. The bungalow has always been a popular shooting location for regional movies as well.
The ‘Renaissance Museum’, which will be the first of its kind will be set up at the recently renovated Bastion Bungalow at Fort Kochi will showcase the renaissance movement. It will have a rich collection of social, cultural and political movements that took place from the early 1800 to the mid 1980s.
The museum will have a collection of paintings, artifacts, drawings, scriptures and an audio-video library that will be part of the museum. The museum will have a great historical significance as it sheds light to the dark era of untouchability and the reformation movement of Renaissance that helped to put an end to it.
The museum will depict the lives and work of some of the greatest social reformers like Sree Narayana Guru, Dr.Palpu and Mannathu Padmanabhan among others. This museum in Fort Kochi will add to the heritage significance of Fort Kochi. Though this museum will be focusing on the Kerala Renaissance movement at present, later on Indian and European Renaissance elements will be included in this museum. The new generation can draw a lot of useful information on the life styles and culture of the Renaissance days and get connected with the past.
Kochi, the metro city is coming up with relatively new entrants and could pocket a number of international travellers and domestic travellers towards this tropical destination. With Kerala‘s biggest cosmopolitan area offering such unprecedented shopping and recreation competition, let me give you a few slices of Cochin pie for those readers who would like to know more about its happenings.
- Love to hangout with friends, shop and enjoy an Ice cream? Coffee Cube, an awesome place in convent Jn., gives an opportunity to enjoy a free Ice cream/Drink coupon to all those who shop for more than Rs 250 at the following places (Archies, Mix n Match, Alphonsa, Gals, Legs, Much More). At Coffee Cube, you can enjoy the splendid ambiance and the choices are many and will make you drool with confusion where to begin and what! Offer valid only till end of September.
- One of the best movies that hit Cochin screens in recent times -Inception makes a mark with the viewers. Anybody who hasn’t watched it, please take a ticket from Little Shenoy’s- timings: 6:15 and 9:00 pm or Cinemax at 3:30 and 8:15. This contemporary sci-fi action film manages to engross you with its complexities and will have you at the edge of your seat.
- A new bus service started by K.S.R.T.C, ‘Thiru Kochi’ bringing hope to travellers – you can now avoid the nuisance from the many Private buses with no clear markings for ladies seats. ‘Thiru Kochi’ is exactly what is needed for Kochi – may set a new standard for the many private buses at Kochi, hopefully.
- This is something many of you would not like! Don’t scratch your heads; you need to do it to make Cochin a better place. ‘Chlorophyll’, a new project is set to save the environment from the current pathetic situation and regain the pristine green habitat of ours.
Here they say-
“Volunteer for Green!! Volunteer for Future!!”
Chlorophyll requires active and passionate souls to work for environment. Kindly share your interest by mailing to email@example.com
It might not be everybody’s idea of fun! But if any of you would like to take a break from the usual stress and need to enjoy a social party fun, here comes an opportunity- a DJ Hunt 2010 at Ava Lounge Cochin. Doesn’t it sound interesting? If you have the skills, then its going to be easy.
A chance to participate and win lots of prizes including accessories, DJ gear, and a free training from Kerala’s own DJ god, DJ Savyo for a month for free. Held at Ava lounge, Dream Hotel Cochin on August 8th from 2pm onwards, do get caught in the mayhem and magic of this event with a professional DJ tagged to your shirt at the end of the party.
Isn’t it surprising to know that Cochin has come a long way from being the local Indian Jewish community to a center of Indian spice trade and the most important commercial and industrial centre of Kerala.
A heartthrob of many youngsters, this place is known to be the ‘metro’ for fine goods, clubs and parties. The cosmopolitan city is fascinating in many ways with its glitz shopping malls, modern life and a colorful mix of eclectic cultures including Chinese and Jewish influences.
Famously known as ‘The Queen of the Arabian Sea’, it also houses one of the finest harbors in the world. The 400 year old synagogue is one of the oldest and most beautiful synagogues in Southern India with its architecture shaped by the various Jewish building traditions.
A wonderful destination to be visited, enjoyed and explored, Fort Cochin attracts tourists with its colorful, vibrant culture and unmatched hospitality of its local people.
Each part of Kerala has their own unique cuisine and as anywhere else in the world, the Kerala cuisine is influenced by the traditions, culture and the changing lifestyles of its people. Attracting the tourists with its culinary specialties, Kerala offers one of the tastiest foods on earth. However if you need to really appreciate Kerala cuisines, then you need to have a taste for chillies- hot and spicy.
A typical Kerala breakfast can be anything from Puttu( steamed rice with coconut scrapings, due to abundance of coconuts) and bananas or peas, Appam, Idlis and Dosas. Lucnh and dinner is mainly rice with either veg: Thoran( chopped vegetables and grated coconut), Avial( a mix of all vegetables), Pachadi(different types: papaya, pineapple or lady’s finger) or rice with meat: usually chicken or beef.
Talking about Kerala cuisines, i encountered a different experience when i was on my way to Bolgatty Palace. After a long day with my cousins who had met for a family get together, we thought of taking a stroll outside and enjoy a quiet evening. On our way to Boat jetty, Kochi, back of Marine Drive, we came across a small push cart that had a vendor selling one of the most tastiest “sarbath” i had ever had!
I was so smitten by the taste, that i wanted to know more details about the shop, how he made and what was his luck factor. Meeting with Shaji ekka(the owner), he had lots to say about his small business. This small way side outlet had come a long 21 years with the bees that surrounded the shop as his lady luck. Besides selling, he was a very friendly person and informed us that once the ice that topped the juice was over, he packs up for the day. Needless to say, my cousins said that it was one of the most crowded places and best known in Kochi when it comes to a chilling “sarbath”.