Showing posts from December, 2008

Singing roads

Recently our esteemed blogger Raji posted a note on the musical happenings abounding in Chennai. Wistfully thinking of partaking in all those and desirous of seeing the spring event 'Thyagarajostava' some day, I recalled a newspaper report some months ago about singing roads. Yes, you did not read wrong, singing roads. Now imagine you living by the roadside and a car speeds through and you hear refrains of say ‘enthoru mahaanu bhavulu’…how would that sound? Well that is roughly what this is all about. Specially constructed roads that emit musical tones as cars speed through.
The first of the musical roads in California was installed by Honda in Lancaster.When Honda cars went over it, it would hum the ‘William Tell’ or Lone Ranger Overture. The idea was to have it as a marketing campaign. I do not know if it was done for a limited time or if the locals have gone crazy with the tune after some months of hearing it. Japan who started the concept has a few melody roads and South Ko…

The legend of Vavar

One of the first things that strike you as you start to understand religion, especially in Kerala, and when you start out as a Kanni Ayappan on that glorious trek to Sabarimala (now that is an experience by itself, do the whole thing including the trek from Pampa via Erumayur) is the strange anomaly, you first visit a mosque to seek good wishes from a departed Muslim soul called Vavar. You are told by the senior swami in the troupe (the guy who has planted one or more coconut trees at Sabarimala) that Vavar Swami, a great friend of Ayappan is entombed at that location. Later on as you grow older, you marvel at the occasion where there is no religious enmity and where all religions are allowed to participate in this pilgrimage, and they continue to do so, in the millions every year, men, children and older women alike. The myth like the Cheraman Perumal myth lingers on.

As it is done, you start the Peta Thullal session near the mosque and move on to the other activities…but that is not …

Abraham, Ashu and the Genizah

What a strange name for a story, would be the first thought in a reader’s mind. A Malayali seeing this would balk, because he can imagine the complex undertaking straightway. I thought for a long time if I should make this a dry & factual article and decided against it, after all, others have done that already to this story, so I decided to focus more on the individuals in the story. Well, this story, my friends, will take you back to the Malabar between 1130 and 1150 and into the lives of an unlikely couple, Abraham Yiju and Ashu Nair.

Most people would not like to dwell too much on the environment and conditions around life in those days, but prosperous life and honest trade did exist at that time. It was a time before the Portuguese onslaught, a time of the powerful Zamorins, a time when many traders and expatriates from Europe lived on the shores of the Malabar. Syrian Jews lived in Cochin, Arabic Jews were all around, like our man Yiju, and the Bombay ports had Iraqi Jews and…

The magical tongue

The human tongue is fascinating to say the least. Without it you cannot taste, you cannot talk or sing, you cannot feel the temperature of what you are ingesting and you cannot do inane things like touching your nose, picking teeth or checking if they are there, affixing stamps and closing envelopes, whistling for fun or calling attention….Ever wondered why people lick a wound? All animals do so, humans also do it. Some years back, I read something about it, but promptly forgot, even though I would automatically lick a finger that got cut or burnt. It could very well be an evolutionary aspect and have a scientific base…but that is my hypothesis of course

Peter Aldhous of New Scientist explains in his article - Our mouths are full of potentially dangerous fungi and bacteria. Yet even when we bite our tongues, the wounds rarely become infected. Now American researchers have explained why our mouths are so resistant to infection. Whenever a mammal's tongue is damaged, they say, the wo…

George Orwell & India

For Orwell book fans, this small blog is not about his great writings, but about the person himself and his relationship with India.

How many of you know that Eric Arthur Blair a.k.a. George Orwell - that brilliant writer who wrote moody books like Animal farm and 1984 was born in India and always had a fond corner in his mind for India? He was born in 1903 at Motihari (a place now in Bihar and famous for the giant Buddha statue – and the place where Gandhi first practiced Satyagraha!) in Bengal. But alas, today, Motihari has a dubious distinction; it is the kidnapping capital of Bihar where people are abducted even for 20 flashlight batteries!!

Well as the story goes, Orwell’s father who was heading the Opium department (the buyer for the Brit government) insisted on farmers planting Opium in the fields during certain seasons. The farmers hated it as it spoilt the soil and invited MK Gandhi, fresh from South Africa to champion their cause…and that was the origin of Satyagraha and the O…

Mumbai - The aftermath

Too much written, too little said, too much chatter, too little matter. Two faces from the crowd, two faces from the many saviors of the day.

The man in the line of fire, Look at the him and his smile, the humility writ on his face, he is the one who gets little recognition, the one who is under all the pressure, the one whose life is on the line..

And the Policeman in Khaki, One of the underequipped, underpaid, and one of the ridiculed lot - See his expression – a parent's understanding, with an undercurrent of grim anger and sadness .

In the aftermath - With the people they live for..

No other photographs can say it better…Mumbai, we cry with you...

Thanks to the unknown photographers who posted these photos….