Showing posts from June, 2008

The temple beats and the Pallavur trinity

I spent most of my childhood vacations near the temples of Pallavur, the bigger one being the Thrippallavurappan temple, with Lord Siva as the main deity and I have been lucky to see & listen to the great Pallavur trinity comprising the brothers, Appu, Kunjukuttan & Manian. I introduced them in my previous blog Talking Drums. Many of my compatriots wanted me to include & introduce some of their works to readers. Let me try.
The Pallavur temple - There is a legend that the 20' (~1.5 times the height of an elephant) high granite wall around the temple was raised in a night by Siva’s Bhootaganams. As the sun rose, an old lady saw them building the wall and suddenly the Bhootaganams left, thus leaving a small portion of the wall still unfinished. Also, there is a story of Tippu Sultan attacking the temple where he used an elephant to take out the Pratishta, but in vain. Even now, it is said that you can see the Pratishta slightly tilted as a result of the push by the eleph…

Oh! How I need my MPG

I still remember our driver of yester years in India, with much fondness. He used a number of methods to help conserve fuel or for that matter to get more bang for the ‘small’ buck in those days where a car was a luxury and gas cost Rs 10-15 per liter in India. As a child I remember him saying “Ah! Now we have a slope, I will coast after switching off the car and save us some money”. Or he would turn the air screw of the carburetor to make the oil air mixture as lean as possible, so that mileage was increased. And he would always park the car on a slope so that it could be started by dropping it into gear while rolling and without using the starting motor (How that helped, I am not sure).In those days with few cars on the road, pick up was not an issue & there were no traffic lights in most Kerala cities. Later when I started riding my bike, I would also play with the carburetor screw to get that extra 5 kilometers from every liter, finally mastering the technique. Then came Japan…

Gandhiji’s Ingersoll watch

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's one worldly possession was an Ingersoll ‘Turnip’ pocket watch, which he wore tied on a string (somewhere along, he must have lost the chain, if it had one) around his waist, hidden between the folds of his dhoti. As he bent down or stopped, the watch would spring free to dangle to reflect the setting suns rays. This one sight has been recorded by many journalists and biographers. But would somebody be interested in knowing more about that watch?

Well, the watch enthusiast in me took note and here below are details that Gandhiji’s followers and researchers would be interested in. Let me start with a fact, today’s popular but cost effective (I will not use the word ‘cheap’) Timex, one that was made famous by contemporary wearers like Bill Clinton & George Bush (I myself have about 10 Timex watches) started with the Ingersoll range from the Waterbury clock company of USA.

For Gandhiji himself, the watch was important. In some ways it dictated every asp…

A Tumultuous Week

Some weeks ago, I had commented on a couple of blogs that I was looking forward to a trip to India and that I had envied the trips others had planned. Little did I know that within hours, I would be in India to spend a fast paced and torrid week….It was an international call the wee hours of a morning that started it all.

Soon I was sitting on the SAL flight to Taiwan from LAX. The Singapore girls looked as fascinating as they did while in college, when I had collected many a hundred SAL adverts from Time & Newsweek. The flight was uneventful; I was quickly done with the Erich Segal Book ‘Prizes’ between bouts of fitful sleep. The plane was full, there were a few India families and the food was great. I managed to get authentic Indian (AVML) food from this airline, one voted many times as the world’s best. It was then that I found out that there were so many other varieties that could be ordered like Oriental Veg, strict Veg, non strict Veg, vegan, vegan western, Ovo Lacto, Hindu, …

When Fingers Talk

During the days of the radio, we used to have a perfectly boring period when a program called Kambola Nilavaram (Market situation) was aired. They droned out the prices per quintal of spices, and all kinds of commodities. Then I heard from my Badagara friends about how these prices were set or fixed in the first place and how huge transactions were carried out on the streets using fingers under a towel. I was amazed, but having nothing much to do with these things, promptly forgot the whole thing…till I started the Zheng He (Cheng Ho – my Chinese friend tells me Ho is pronounced as hu or hm) research.

It is stated in Chinese texts that the system was taught to the Malabari traders by the Chinese, some say by Cheng Ho or Zheng He in particular. As he and his trading entourage had no clue about Arabic or Malayalam, they figured out a new method. But I am sure now that the system existed before Cheng ho. So effective was it that since 1407, the system has remained unchanged!! Even today g…