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.
Athirathram, touted as the oldest ritual in the world is being held in a tiny village, Panjal, in Thrissur District of Kerala after a gap of over three and half decades. The ritual that got underway on April 4 will conclude on the 15th. Held near the Panjal Lakshmi Narayana temple, it is being organized by Varthathe Trust based in Ottapalam, which has taken the initiative in reviving the ritual that emerged around the 10th century BC and was practiced until the 6th century BC. In post-Vedic times, there were various revivals of the practice, under the Gupta and Chola empire and by the 11th century, the ritual was kept alive by the Namboodiris of Kerala.
Athirathram is held for universal harmony , peace and spiritual enlightenment. This sacred ritual that dates back to 4000 years is a massive ritual that brings together some of the most eminent vedic scholars of the country. Puthillathu Ramanujan Somayajippadu is the ‘Yajamanan’ and Dhanyapathanadi as ‘Yajamanapatni’ for this year’s Athirathram. Panjal was chosen as the sacred venue for Athirathram considering the geographic and vaasthu principles as the main bird shaped altar of the first shianachithi, positioned to absorb the sun’s energy and constructed in line with the measurements prescribed in the ancient texts.
Yajurveda’ and ‘Samaveda’ practices that precede the Athirathram’ were held at the Panjal Thotttathil Mana and Kavupra Maarath Mana and the ritual began after obtaining the customary consent from Shukapuram temple. The rituals will begin every day with the vedic chantings and homas and in the last four days, the rituals will be held non stop throughout day and night. This sacred ritual has attracted over 2 lakh visitors so far who throng this small village to be part of this divine ritual and to imbibe the positive energy.
Many eminent persons like the US based Indologist Frits Staal are attending the ritual and the effects of this ritual on the climatic conditions are also being monitored . Athirathram is being done the same way as it was practiced over the centuries at an estimated cost Rs one crore. We at Kerala can indeed be proud to be part of this spiritual ritual, which is the manifestation of the rich vedic knowledge that was passed down the generations and kept alive for many centuries!
With the festive mood still in the air and the countdown for the New Year revelry already on, the party animals will be looking for fresh avenues for fun and festivities. In Kerala, people splurge on clothes, food, wine and tours to celebrate any event. However this year, there could be a radical shift in the fashion statements of atleast some youngsters who shop for very low waist jeans. Though it is the trending style these days, you could be booked for indecent exposure if you wear these attires. Youngsters in Chavakkad in Thrissur district learned this lesson the hard way when they were booked by local cops citing “indecent exposure “.
Emulating their favorite heroes of the tinsel world, many boys wear ultra low jeans and short shirts thereby inadvertently exposing their inner wear as they board the bus or hold the over head railing in a bus. Police swung into action when women and school authorities started expressing their concerns about this issue. Most of them were left off with a warning and in very serious violations, a fine was imposed on them as a deterrent to prevent them from repeating it again.
This trend is rampant among youngsters along the coastal areas of Chavakkad, touted as the gulf pockets of Kerala. Though these boys are generally not very educated they passionately follow the dress styles of their favorite heroes on screen and often flaunt enough cash to make their dream apparels real . So, in case you are planning to hit the carnival or the theaters in these stylish low waist jeans this season, it is better to change the idea lest you could be spending your New Year behind the bars!
What drew my attention was an e-mail forward I got about a paper advertisement for coconut tree climbers for an Agri farm in Thrissur. The advertisement offered experienced coconut tree climbers a salary of RS: 7875 per month. This advertisement is said to be the first of its kind in the history of Kerala. It shows nothing else but the pitiful situation Kerala faces today in labour. People have started giving advertisements for labourers – same jobs that were considered menial.
Kerala has turned out into a state, where people are getting more self conscious by abandoning menial jobs for status-oriented ones outside. Keralites now more like to say they are engineers, doctors, Nurses, and doing the jobs that would give them some pride in telling others. The new generation don’t like to follow the footsteps of their parents or in other words, they don’t like doing the jobs their parents followed traditionally. The coconut tree climbers are the ones who are fast facing extinction on the job scene. Since the job requires some risk and is paid very less, the people who were traditional coconut tree climbers seemed to have withdrawn from the scene. In the same way many other jobs which are paid less and gives no pride as is perceived, are facing considerably less workforce.
The people in Kerala have changed a lot and so are their habits and lifestyles. People are lazy or find it too hard to do even the household work that were once never an issue. The household works like cooking, cleaning, washing and looking after kids all have turned to be a cumbersome tasks for the most today, in-spite of the assistance of all those home appliances. The Keralites who today gives advertisements for rubber tapping, baby sitting, housemaids and home nurses, in future may give ads for cutting and shaving or even to pick a leaf from the courtyard.
As Malayalies, each one of us may wonder at this situation. If we could change Kerala this much, we can also change ourselves to a hard-working generation by at least doing labour for our own households. What do you say?
This world would have been a dreary and lifeless space without the early morning chirping of birds and the pleasant cuckoo calls. These birds of all possible hues and shades greatly add up to the milieu of the world we live. If you are an ardent bird watcher, here is an interesting piece of information.
In order to create awareness about the various species of birds and to encourage budding bird watchers, KeralaBirder in association with HSBC and Yuhina Eco Media is organising the HSBC Bird Race. Yuhina Eco Media is an organisation based in Mumbai with special interests in natural history and environmental activities.
KeralaBirder,an online mailing community of bird-watchers, is organising the Bird Race in Kerala on November 9 in connection with the birth anniversary of the famous ornithologist, Dr. Salim Ali, better known as the “Birdman of India”. This race is the only one of its kind that is conducted in multiple locations on the same day. The race will be held in different locations like Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Thrissur and Kozhikode simultaneously.
It is a day long programme, which is expected to attract both seasoned and novice birdwatchers to spend the day identifying and recording bird species. The day will conclude with a interactive session over dinner where the participants share their experiences. No matter whether bird watching is your profession, a way of life or a well cherished hobby , this event is just the right place to be in to express your love for these winged beauties. Events such as this assume graeter significance these days when most of the bird species are facing extinction due to poaching and habitat loss. Take a pledge to protect the environment and its exceptional flora and fauna for a better and beautiful future .
Thrissur: The cultural capital of Thrissur is all set become 100% e -literate soon, with the akshaya project gaining momentum through the various centres operating all across the state. People from all walks of life and social strata are included in its fold. The second phase of the project would include MS office package and Intel learn programme for school students.
In the year 2007, Annamanada Grama Panchayat became the first e-literate panchayat and Kunnamkulam the first e-literate municipality. Another feather was added to the Cap of Thrissur when Chettichal was named the first e-literate village devoid of any alcoholics in the whole of Asia. The e-literacy drive is targeted to cover almost all sections of the society from policemen to jail inmates, fishermen and head load workers.
Tribals living in remote hamlets such as Anappantham, Kadikadavu and Erappanpara among others will be covered in this literacy drive. The best part is that people have endorsed this programme by ensuring mass participation to help this district bag the coveted title of the first e-literate district in Kerala.
This people friendly programme has cut across all barriers including physical impairments and handicaps, to make it one of the most popular drives in the history of Thrissur. A 102 year old woman, Ponnara became the oldest e-literate person while enthusiastic students like Vinod, who cannot speak nor hear has become e-literate through sign language, with the assistance of his wife.
It shows the sheer determination of the participants and the mass appeal of this programme which has percolated right into the grass root levels of the society. Akshaya e centres have been started in tea estates and deep interiors to cater to tea estate workers of Malakappara in Athirappilly panchayat and tribal families living there.
Akshaya project is fast grabbing international attention as well. Recently a 25-member strong Srilankan delegation visited the Akshaya centre here to know more about this project. Kerala is all set to become a 100% e-literate State- another milestone for this progressive State.
Kochi, April 17
The biggest temple festival of Kerala ‘Thrissur Pooram’ started off with a bang yesterday. The city was brimming with festivity and huge numbers of spectators congregated to witness this traditional fest. It all began with the procession from various temples which has its own traditional importance.
The main attraction in the procession was the brigade of caparisoned tuskers heading the procession from the front. The traditional ceremony like Madathil Varau and Kudamattom were much liked by the spectators. As the colourful umbrellas unfurled the spectators started waving and shouting with joy. This traditional ceremony of Kudamattom is one of the most attractive and essential part of Thrissur Pooram. Umbrellas of different shapes and sizes are unfurled in this ritual which is a great sight to watch.
Earlier the Panchavadyam and Ilanjithara Melam started at 11:30am which filled the atmosphere with the rhythm of chenda and clarinets. The pooram ground was filled to its maximum with huge number of spectators assembling from all over the country. Along with the locals many foreign tourists also have come to witness this grand festivity.
Like every year the main attraction of the festival remained with the highly decorated elephants, but after the directive of the high court this year these tuskers were made to stand on wet jute bags at the venues. It was also known that to make sure tight security arrangements at the venue about 2400 policemen were deployed keeping a check on the crowd.
The much hyped firework display began at 3am today with variety of sparkling and noisy fireworks, taking the crowd on their feet. This massive firework showcased a variety of colourful and dazzling display of fireworks lighting sky with sparkles. The pooram will wind up today afternoon with the traditional Pakal Pooram.
Apr, 3: Kerala with its diverse topography boasts tremendous scope for nature friendly tourism. Kerala flaunts several impressive landmarks including the Silent Valley, Munnar and Wayanad. As an initiative to promote eco-tourism in the state the Plantation Corporation of Kerala has put forth a new project named Nature Village to promote nature friendly tourism projects all over the state.
The enchanting eco-tourism spot that is located on the banks of Chalakudy River, nearThrissur, will definitely woo those adventure buffs. The Plantation Corporation expects the impressive Vadaamuri Lagoon that is created by the famous king Tipu Sultan as a defence against the enemies will be a centre of attraction. The water passage to this site is flanked by dense forest; it will offer an inimitable experience to both local and international tourists to an equal extent.
Owing to its location near the well known Athirapally water falls the visit to Vadaamuri Lagoon will offer the tourists a wonderful experience. The water falls is just 600 meters away from Vadaamuri lagoon. There are adequate numbers of ferry services available in the area to fulfil the requirement of the visitors. Earlier the District Tourism Promotion Council has allotted 55 lakhs for the beautification work of the Thumpoormuzhi dam and the surrounding areas; they also named it as Nature Village.
The second phase of the project includes constructing cottages and hanging bridges for the convenience of the tourists. The work has already begun as the state government is providing whole hearted support for the completion of this prestigious project. After completion this project will sure add a new gem in the cap of God’s own country.
Thrissur: Here is a model village that is free from the ravenous moneylenders who extend loans to hapless farmers on exorbitant interest rates. Better known as ‘Blade Banks’ in local parlance, these private banks bleed the villagers with abnormal interest loans and difficult terms, which drive many helpless victims into suicide.
The chairman of the South Indian Bank Mr. V A Joseph launched the pilot project of the bank at Meloor Village near here. It is going to be a trail blazer for many other villages, which are burdened with high interest loans.
The project is aimed in making the villagers self reliant. The Kerala Agricultural University has already inked a MOU with the bank for the integrated development of the village. It will help the villagers by offering technical guidance to set up units for ornamental fish rearing, diary, landscaping and medicinal plants. The village panchayat also plans to make available leased land for landless agricultural workers to set up units. The requisite marketing back up will be provided by the Organization for Women Empowerment and Rural Development, which will also help to beget the government subsidies on offer.
Thrissur: Of late, Kerala has been in the news for a spate of strange natural phenomena like colored rains and caving in of wells. Now it is the turn of ‘fish rain’, which is tickling the grey matter of the ordinary Keralites in the sleepy village of Kandanassery.
The local folks were shocked when small fishes started dropping down at the end of a sudden downpour a couple of days back.The strange incident was first noticed by two persons returning home late in the night when small wriggly creatures started falling on their body.
As they were quite sure that there won’t be many takers for this amazing story, they made sure to keep the proof ready to confront many a ‘doubting Thomas’. They picked up some of these slithering fishes and kept them in water filled jars and pails near the village library for everybody to scrutinize! Some fishes got mangled by speeding vehicles while many died.
What could be the scientific reason for this amazing phenomenon? While the ‘red rain’ was said to have caused due to the presence of red algae in clouds scientists opine that ‘fish rain’ is possible when tiny aquatic organisms get lifted to the atmosphere during the formation of convective clouds. these fishes can survive suspended in the clouds as long as the requisite moisture content is available in the clouds. These fishes might have fallen back with the first drops of summer rains.
According to Dr C K Rajan of the School of Marine Sciences of the Cochin University of Science and Technology, there are some fishes that can survive in clouds with very little moisture content. When it rained heavily these fishes might have slumped down to the earth. The fish that ‘rained’ was the same as typically found in ponds and canals in the area according to the villagers.