Showing posts from March, 2010

A Frozen Journey

Continuing on about Madras, a place where I lived for a while, a place which hid so many mysteries and tales of a time long gone, I am now walking along the Marina beach and pause to stop at a structure called Vivekanadar Illam or so they call it these days. People reading this would mutter, ‘there he goes again, talking about some musty old geezers who made history, who talked about correct ways of living and all that’. Far from it, my friends, for this will take you along an astounding journey. Yes, I agree I will traverse into Bengal and mention the luminary Vivekanada, but only in passing.

I used to visit a small factory close to the Marina beach to get some training on some electronic equipment in the 80’s, and used to hear the name of a stop bellowed by the bus conductor every day – he used to say ‘Ice house’…and I assumed, yup – that must be some ice factory. Well, was it an ice factory? What lies behind it? Let us find out…But for that I have to take you first to the Hooghly R…

Chennai days – Part 2

The family jewels had shrunk to the size of grapes with the onset of fear and I was shaking at the knees. Well, a typically argumentative Malayali would ask, which type of grapes? The minuscule Salem Drakhsi or the bigger seedless Angoran type, with mirth on his face and I would be tempted to take at swipe at that smirking mug, but well, this was all really in t mind, as they say, especially those who make comments sitting relaxed in their arm chairs. Then again, this fear must have come about from Krishna Iyer’s comment – ‘be careful or they will cut it off’. As you can see, I was young and had a life ahead, and the family jewels were important. Nevertheless….I had taken the plunge.

People who had read the first part of this note would recall my plans of stepping into the hallowed environs of the Amir Mahal. The desire was exacerbated by our school ‘shikhshana’ of not balking at anything. ‘Go for it’ was the motto and so here I was. I had stood in front of the gates for a few minutes,…

The Charition Mime and Udyavara

The heading would be mysterious to most people save a few from the Manipal or Udupi region of Karnataka, or those favoring Kannada & Tulu literary discussions. Most others may have heard a passing snippet referring to this in the middle of an uninteresting conversation, and so I thought it a good effort to cover this subject, for it is remarkable in many ways.

I have written often about trade from the Malabar coasts to various regions and countries all around from time immemorial, starting in the ancient times with the Greeks, then the Romans, then the Arabs, Eastwards with the Chinese and so many others. One must note here that there were also many trading ports in the South East and Eastern coastline, but we will for the moment restrict ourselves to the West. Spice & commodity trading at that time was not in reality restricted to the ports on the Kerala coastline, but many small and large ports all the way from Surat in the North of the Coast line to Kanya Kumari in the sout…