Showing posts from August, 2015

Manorama Thampuratti – The Princess Poetess

An erudite Sanskrit scholar from Calicut
Peeking out from the murky depths of the history of Malabar during the Mysore invasions is an interesting person, and a Sanskrit scholar with the title Manorama. I was always intrigued by this quick witted lady who proved to be quite a character even in exile and one who competed in the mostly male dominated Sanskrit literary sphere of Kerala during those times. She did not write any treatises or books when she left us at the age of 65, but her character and wit in an age of despondency, enthralled many a learned person, from the king to the common man, leaving an endearing memory of a scholar poetess. A number of her students followed in her wake and went on to become great scholars. That was Manorama Thampuratti, the only female scholar in that male-dominated galaxy, and somebody who set the beat for the next Sanskrit scholar from the Zamorin’s family, Vidwan Ettan Thampuran.
Those abreast with Sanskrit development may recall that there were …

Chicory and the South Indian

As RK Narayan once said, I never tire writing about coffee. This is perhaps my fourth article on the subject, but this time it is about an adulterant added to coffee, called chicory (Chichorium Intybus). From that original purpose, it has morphed into an ingredient integral to South Indian coffee and has the potential to trigger many a deep debate over its merits and demerits, much to the amusement of the western onlooker who still believe that pure coffee is the right coffee (never mind the fact that the supposedly pure coffee from major brands has many more additives and chemicals than you would choose to believe). Alas! Chicory never gets its due and is always treated as a step brother, so I guess it is time to try and change the status quo.
I still remember, as a child, I was the one usually sent to buy coffee from the local grinder. My mother would instruct me to say ‘Robusta or Peaberry with 20% chicory’ and my father would pull me aside as I stepped out, and ask me to change …