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!
Trichur District is all set to have a Aqua Tourism centre in the form of the Model Shrimp Farm and Training Centre in Poyya. A masterplan is being prepared that would include setting up of a fisheries museum and demo of fish culture and Pokkali farming( a crop pattern that alternates between rice and fish) in a vast area of 158 acres to add impetus to this innovative project .
The fish culture proposed in the master plan involves rearing of prawns, crabs, milkfish and pearlspot, which would be made into traditional culinary delights to lure the tourists. Benny Kuriakose, who was associated with the master plan drafting of the fabled Muziris Heritage Project, will be preparing the masterplan for this aqua tourism project as well. The farm, which is functioning under the Agency for Development for Aquaculture of Kerala can be easily clubbed with the Musiris Heritage in Kottapuram to attract more visitors . This would ensure additional revenue for the farm that would keep it away from the debt issues.
The fisheries museum that demonstrate the traditional fishing methods and gears of Kerala is expected to be a crowd puller. Those who are interested to get trained in these methods will also be given hands on training in these methods that are disappearing at an alarming pace from Kerala. Fishes, crabs and prawns that can thrive in both brackish and fresh water will be chosen for the farm cultivation. Leisure activities like pedal boating facilities are also being included in Poyya to make it a family tourist spot. In case you are planning a laid back weekend break far from the maddening pace of the urban life, Poyya would be a good choice. Aqua tourism is catching up the fancy of tourists just like farm tourism or village tourism. This interesting blog on Ezhattumugham Nutmeg Greens Farm tourism makes an interesting read on the immense potential in these segments.
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.
Are the bogus realtors in Kerala pushing up the land value beyond the reach of ordinary people?
Soon on the heels of Apple a day properties scam that siphoned off the hard earned money of the investors and offered nothing in return, a few other real estate companies have also joined this infamous league of builders. It goes without saying that considering the small size of Kerala and its land constrains, flats are the most feasible housing options to cater to the population of Kerala. However the flat boom has also let in many unscrupulous elements with no track record or good will into this industry .
Most of these fly by night operators who are only interested in amassing wealth do not care for the welfare of the investors. These massive land deals have pushed up the land prices of Kerala to unbelievable levels.The ground reality is that the ordinary mortals of this State find it difficult to buy even a small patch of land these days and dare not dream of a roof over their heads!
Let’s admit it- Kerala is a land of real estate companies and land deals. Every other person you meet on the road could be a realtor agent in some form or the other. From full time land deal brokering to part time activities, land deals pump money into many a kitty in Kerala. They could be an auto driver,a petty shop owner or a vegetable vendor, however they’ll slip into the role of a cheeky broker the moment he sniffs a prospective client in you and pockets a handsome brokerage in every deal irrespective of his role in the deal! Shady land deals and forest and water front encroachments happen at an alarming pace and with no fool proof monitoring system in place, Kerala is slipping into the tight grips of the land mafia.
These pictures say it all!! These patches of marshy land where one of the apartment complexes of apple a day property were to have come up would be better suited for stilt houses or a fish farm may be. It is high time that we pulled the plugs to stop this menace. Make sure that you check the credentials of the builders and their track record before leaving your hard earned money at their desks. Rather than the lure for money and profits , let credibility be the deciding factor while you pick up the builders because this is the only way you can put an end to this series of real estate scams rocking this tiny State , which is overburdened with more flats and apartments than it can possibly sustain!
Fisher women who sell processed dry fish will soon start getting messages in their mailbox about the latest stuff on sale. Devised to reduce the digital divide among the rural and the urban populace, this novel initiative of the Kerala State IT mission involved a 45 day free training of over 100 women from the fishermen community in Poovar, near the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram.
Though the organisers were skeptical whether this project will be a success, they were truly elated by the tremendous response from the fisher women. Over one hundred women between the ages of 18 and 30 participated in the first phase of this programme. More women have expressed their interest in undergoing the training, which will now be carried forward by the Poovar panchayat to be followed by the other panchayats across the state.
The programme involves basic hands-on training of the internet apart from basic English teaching, which was conducted in association with the Erikavila Vanita Sangham. Poovar has always been famous for its potential in tourism and fishing, and many women who attended the programme felt that if they could pick up some basic English, it will give them a distinct advantage. Though this programme was initiated for the benefit of fish mongers, the participants also included students and house wives who were keen to keep abreast with the latest technological advancements.
The programme conducted with faculty support from the Centre for Development of Imaging Technology (C-DIT) proved a great success and demonstrated that age or profession cant be a hindrance in pursuing learning. Of the 95 women who took the examination at the end of the course, 15 passed with distinction and 64 bagged first class.
Kerala has created yet another mile stone in promoting literacy by adopting those novel programme which took the fisher women into the exciting world of chips and circuits!
Kuttanadu is where you can catch glimpses of rural Kerala, with sprawling paddy fields, the criss-cross of waterways and ducks swimming all around, fresh water fish being caught and sold, people transporting things in boats etc.
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!
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!
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!!!
“Drinking is a disease in Kerala“, we all know it! One loses one’s kin, respect and money chasing alcohol. Everyone and everything encourages one to have a drink – including friends and even the Government!
With the latest tragic deaths of 25 people in Kerala’s Malappuram district, after consuming poisonous toddy, the state has marked it’s presence in the global level for drinking deaths. (Toddy is a traditional liquor made from either coconut or palm flowers) The reason for the liquor tragedy is said to have happened because it was mixed with chemicals and herbs to give an “extra” kick.
- Kerala in India has the highest number of drinkers and has the highest per capita consumption of over eight litres (1.76 gallons) per person a year.
- These figures overtake traditionally hard-drinking states like Punjab and Haryana.
- Also, in a strange twist of taste, rum and brandy are the preferred drink in Kerala in a country where whisky outsells every other liquor.
Despite all the liquor tragedies happening in Kerala, the people as well as the Government never learn. If one becomes an alocoholic, it is very difficult to lead a normal life. However, Kerala Government is also not ready to stop selling liquor in the state, because the State makes high revenue from this business.
- Shockingly, more than 40% of revenue for its annual budget comes from booze.
- The state-run monopoly, named Kerala State Beverages Corporation (KSBC) runs 337 liquor shops, open seven days a week.
- Each shop caters on average to an astonishing 80,000 clients.
- Similarly, there are over 5,000 toddy shops in the state.
The latest death incidents after consuming the natural wine made from coconut palms is contaminated adding chemicals like Methyl Alcohol and other herbs to give the toddy drinker an extra kick. It is usually the poor section of the state’s population fall prey to such tragic incidents.
- The main reason is that toddy is available at a lesser price compared to beer and other costly drinks, which is otherwise is not affordable to a daily-wage earner.
Alcohol consumption causes numerous social evil in Kerala.
- It kills lots of people exacting a heavy social cost.
- Rising numbers of divorces in Kerala are linked to alcohol abuse.
- The majority of road deaths are due to drink driving.
- Hospitals and rehab centres are packed with patients suffering from alcohol-related diseases.
The thriving black market in liquor trade sometimes transforms into liquor tragedies like this recent one.
A few solutions:
- Prohibition is not the answer but closing the various ways of bringing in illicit liquor into the state could actually work.
- The Government should make sure that the alcohol is distributed reducing high alcoholic contents to lighten the effect.
- Also laws should be made to restrict the amount one can consume a day.
It is high time we Malayalees do some serious re-thinking on our drinking habits. Not only for our own sakes, but also for the sake of our children!