Showing posts from 2012

Tolpava koothu

Among the many folk arts of Kerala, tOlpAvakoothu (leather puppet play / ancient shadow puppetry)is a ritualistic art form performed in specially made theatre (koothu madam) in front of temples. (see Tol paava koothu - The shadow puppet theatre of Kerala)
Under the aegis of Kerala Folklore Akademi and Soorya Festival, we were fortunate to attend one such show. Watch this space for more!

"India Is", Incredible, and Unforgettable, and Much More

Complete the following:
India is .............................
a: Incredible.
b: Unforgettable, it stays with you
c: Wherever you are
d: all of the above.

Right, here are a dozen pats on the back for choosing option 'd' as the answer. To me and to you, India is all this and much more; India is also a paradox. If you were to ask me, all I'd like to say is: these people knew what they were talking about when they wrote or spoke about India - see Quotes on India and In Praise of India However if you want something more than just several pats on the back, all you need to do is submit images for the India Is Global Photography Challenge

If your image conveys the essence of any of the above themes exceptionally well, your submission can get you -
"All-expense paid trips to India
Weekend Getaways all across India at Taj Hotels Digital Cameras Exposure in travel magazines such as Conde Nast Traveller India Special photography Workshop Passes Exclusive 'India Is'…

A Festival's Aftermath

Yesterday was the festival of lights. 
Perhaps the festival of noise, smoke, wasted paper and wasted energy too. Deepavali. 
Through my window, I heard enough the whole day. 
Through the same window, I hear the "music" of brooms cleaning up after yesterday's excesses. 
The sound of that music has just moved on, and yesterday's leftovers are out again, to create further leftovers. 
This in a city where there is no place to dispose of solid waste intelligently.
They bought. They came. They celebrated. They bought more, They celebrated further. They left, but didn't pack up.
Then they came. They swept. They did their bit. All I can do is spare a thought for her and her colleagues, and hope for better attitudes and understanding next Diwali.

God bless them...
There is a lot to be said for "Moderation in everything. Everything in moderation", isn't there?


With a TEDx edition happening in town, it was not difficult to get oneself a ticket (₹750 per session) to attend the event at the Trivandrum Technopark campus.

The newbie organizers did a great job though they must have faced several hiccups. One cannot but like the  convenient and attendee-friendly format (18 minutes per speaker) that TED events follow.

Have a look at the list of visionaries / thinkers / speakers:
Sabriye Tenberken of kanthari
Mathew Jose of Paperman
The one and only Sashi Kumar
T.P. Sreenivasan, a former Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations
Bina Paul of India Foundation for the Arts
G.Vijayaraghavan, a former CEO of Technopark.

The bonus at TEDxTrivandrum, on 10 November, 2012, was a video featuring Mallika Sarabhai's Nov 2009 TED talk  (see Mallika Sarabhai: Dance to change the world), and a brief rendition of instrumental music by a local amateur group.

Here's what the group of passionate TED enthusiasts have to say about their offering -
"In …

Did You Sense Gandhiji's Tears?


Inner Kora - Just a FYI

The Inner Kora of Mt Kailash parikrama involves trekking for about 28 km. Not all the K-M yAtris attempt this parikrama.
(This is simply a digital attempt, courtesy Google Earth)
Here's a description of the Inner Kora (Source Update: not available as of Jun 2014)

"Inner Kora - Ganesh Ling / Atma Ling ... the last day of our yatra we go back to Astapad. We will next visit the base of Mt Kailash and touch the Lords feet. We will also visit a place called Saptarishi caves inside Kailash and later complete a parikrama of Nandi parvat. This segment of the yatra is also referred to as Inner Kora. We have to do this trek only on foot.
This journey s extremely special. We get a changing darshan of the lord as we get closer and closer to him. Just the feeling that we are nearing the Lord generates a great energy in us.
The experience of this approach to Kailash is indescribable. At close quarters we once again admire the majesty and magnificence of Mt Kailash. At one stage we ca…

Kailash Mansarovar yAtra - Nepal Route

During the 14-day long trip from Kathmandu to Kailash and back, we (a group of 18 women, ranging in age from 21 to 60) crossed magnificent mountains, sacred lakes, deep gorges, virgin waterfalls and lush green canyons. We climbed to over 18500 ft height. This trek is one of the more difficult in Asia and physically challenging due to dry, cold Tibetan terrain and difficulties faced at high altitude. Many of us felt unwell often.

There were many uncertainties on the way – Our chinese guide didn’t reach border on time, sudden landslides or boulders on the roads, the tyres of the bus got mired on the banks of Brahmaputra. Neither horses nor porters were available during the days of the parikrama.

Accommodation and food are very basic, one is far away from (conventional notions of) civilization. At every step many wished to abandon the trip and return home, yet decide to keep going, determined to complete the trek solely because of team mates, accompanying Sherpas and the sight of other …

Kailash Mansarovar yAtra - more images

Source: SB, a co-yAtri from Bangalore Source: Su Re, another co-yAtri from Bangalore

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra: Some images

Source: my camera that packed up on Day 4! Source: Su Reddy, a co-yAtri from Bangalore

Off to Kailash!

For those of you interested in spending a few days among majestic mountains, look up KMY-2012 and Amarnath yatra opportunities.
This blogger did, and that's how the backpack is ready to go on the Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra from 27 June to 11 July.

All thanks to WOWSumitra.Looking forward to meeting a group of (hopefully) like-minded yatris.
Also looking forward to sharing moments from the 2-week trip with each reader...

"Two Visionaries"

Captioned 'Beyond Words', have a look at this rare picture of two greats from opposite ends of the world, taken 82 years ago.
"In this rare photograph from The Hindu’s archives, Helen Keller, the blind American author and labour rights activist, greets Rabindranath Tagore at a meeting in New York in 1930."

A Not-So-Golden Paradox

One is always surprised at the preoccupation with gold, the infatuation, craze and passion for the yellow metal in India, and elsewhere. The WGC (goldDOTorg. Ha Ha.) happily encourages any and all kinds of marketing gimmicks, including the kind about which Raji ranted in blessed-if-you-buy-jewellery-day.
Staying in Kerala, you simply cannot avoid lengthy TV commercials and full-page newspaper ads by gold 'supermarkets' (how vulgar that sounds!). Nor can you miss seeing driver-distracting, really loud hoardings and flex boards. Since women model the trinkets, it seems as though the model, the ad agency and the advertiser are happy to cover much more of the skin with metal than with cloth. You will end up wondering if metal looks best without other wear around hindering the view.
So there is demand. And there are sales. Implies that people have money to acquire that metal.
The number of gold loan sources is also up. Both banks and NBFC's. One implication is that gold loan i…

Internet Haves and Have-Nots

We now have (further!) official confirmation of the Digital Divide in India.
Hardly 6% of households in urban India households have an Internet connection.
This figure reads as 0.4% for rural India.
Does this indicate infrastructure falling short or inability to afford the minimum (by today's standards) technology? Or a dismal combination of both?
Any talk of inclusive growth is at best laughable. You and I have the luxury of exploring 4G, e-social networking, shopping and seeking entertainment online when other 93% of our city and country cousins are nowhere near this kind of digital empowerment.
Read Internet revolution bypasses rural India: Survey.
To the average Internet-empowered home, the connection has become somewhat of a necessity. But among all the gigabytes that we devour daily, let us spare a thought for others for whom the Net is still a distant dream or a last priority.
And also hope that the Government's policies for empowering citizens digitally works in logical propo…

Life after the Civil Services Exam?

Every year, we read stories about young, successful civil service aspirants with professional degrees and how they cracked their exams and interview. What happens to them later? Say a year down the line, after their training at the elite Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administrationand when they reach their coveted assignments and postings.  
Does their zeal last? On reading the success stories, it is easy to think of a future where the bureaucrat does his job well and sincerely, without fear or favour....
IAS 2012 Toppers Shena Aggarwal and Prince Dhawan want to work for society
IAS TOPPER Rukmani Riar : fired by desire to do social service

Sincere wishes to the soon-to-be national administrators. Will they redefine 'Babus' and 'Babudom' to better emulate Bapu and his ideals for the sake of the nation?

More from the Coconut Tree

The entire coconut tree and its constituents are usable during their lifetime and indeed in their afterlife.
Here are a few products originating from the coconut tree. (bark, as well as coconut shell). You'll get to see plenty at craft shows and handicraft outlets. These pictures were taken at the Shantigiri Fest 2012. One only wishes that they were even more ubiquitous, and replace plastic to any extent possible...
You should be able to make out rolling pins, all kinds of ladles, candle-stands, pen holders, fruit forks, chiratta puttu maker, incense stick holders, key rings...

Let's celebrate coir

At the Santhigiri Festival 2012, there is plenty of stuff to browse and spend a useful few hours. One pavilion showcases everything about coir, including the rugged machines needed to process the raw material, the wheels and looms that make and weave the stands into sturdy cordage, and the attractive end products from winter wear jackets to carpets, and from foldable umbrellas to rugged furniture, and geo-textiles (download brochure about coir geo-textiles)

If you are interested to find out more about coir, visit Coir Board Central Coir Research Institute Directorate of Coir Development

Eco-friendly Vs Enviro-friendly - Some forced re-definitions

P Sainath writes in the article The Iron Laws of the Earth Sciences - "He also became the Minister for Earth Sciences (which, as often pointed out, is seen in his home State as jargon for real estate expertise). Jealous detractors say it is his raising this sector to the level of a science that makes him priceless to the Congress."
Just as (Ministry of) Earth Sciences means more about ministering to the real estate expertise, one can come up with more re-definitions. Here's one - for those in the Indian (media) elite circles, 
eco-friendly = (neo-liberal) ECOnomy-favouring policies.
Further, the words 'climate change' probably refer more to vagaries in the economic weather of the country than the Inconvenient Truth that humankind faces!
For those who bat for the environment - let's talk about being enviro-friendly, shall we?

"After You Sir"

The Sainik School at Kazhakoottam, Trivandrum which happens to be the Alma Mater of so many of my friends, is observing the Golden Jubilee of its existence this academic year, and the grand finale is scheduled for 21 Jan 2012.

One of the SSKZM alumni has brought out a collection of school stories titled "After You Sir", with a noble intention that reads "All the royalty accrued from the sales of the book is donated to Sainik School to support economically disadvantaged students."

What's special about these stories? They are written or recounted by alumni
- who were once upon a time raw rural lads who left home at the tender age of 10.
- who faced the physical vastness of a rather unsophisticated residential school so different from carefree village bylanes.
- whose EQ is phenomenal, with their hearts - and minds - in the right place.
- who are ever ready to give their all to the Alma Mater.

Read plaudits about this love offering - for that's what the book…