Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Met a lady, a by- stander of a patient at the hospital. The patient is a young girl who has delivered a pre-term baby. The baby is now in the incubator, on life support. Tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny… so tiny you could hold her in the palm of your hands… but clinging on to life tenaciously... The family waits outside the NICU unit, a large family obviously, as the vigil is a long one and I don’t seem to see the same face very often. But one person is there every day, the center of the little group, holding forth, sending people on errands, talking to the doctors as they complete their rounds, asking about the condition of the little one… Intrigued, I ask her who she is... she’s the great grand mother of the little one. I stare at her absolutely perplexed for she can’t be much more than 50 years old. I do the math. She must have got married at 17, and so must her daughter and granddaughter. I visit the mother in her hospital room; she’s small and slight in build and looks anaemic. Confused by all the attention she is getting. I am not surprised that the baby is preterm. The mother looks like she is hardly out of school herself.

I go to see the baby at least twice a day, I really don’t know why, maybe just to see if she is still breathing. She will be fine; it’s usually the girls who are the survivors.

I’d love to meet the great grand mother in another 18 years time.

Pazhashi Raja/Kerala Cafe

Watched two movies in the theatres in 5 days, which is really rare for me. I tend to stick to DVDs, so am a little out of date with the latest ones. A step behind in a dance, as it were. But Pazhassiraja (director Hariharan) and Kerala Café (director Ranjith) were really a refreshing change from the run- of- the- mill male- chauvinistic dhisoom -dhishoom movies one has been seeing here lately.

Pazhassiraja did not do justice to the huge budget production wise. The costumes, particularly those of the British, were very bad, taken from some drama troupe. They really should have been better. Mamooty did a fairly good job, not his best effort though. It was Sharath Kumar, as Pazhassiraja’s right hand man Kungan Nair, who walked away with accolades right under Mamooty’s nose. The rest of the cast was adequate, that’s all. In spite of all these short comings, what really made you enjoy the movie was the historical fact that this small prince from a small principality in Kerala was the first person other than Tippu Sultan to stand up against the might of the British army. As he says, what right does someone who has come to trade in pepper and spices have to rule over us and make the laws that govern us? Really makes for chest thumping stuff for a Mallu. History books don’t talk about Pazhassiraja much. He fought the British from the forests of Wayanad using guerilla tactics, hitting them where it hurt and then disappearing into the forests with his trusted tribal kurichi warriors. Finally, his lieutenants arrested and hanged for treason, he put up one last defiant fight against the British and is overwhelmed. If I remember right, the Malayalam history books said he committed suicide rather than be arrested by the British, but the movie ends with Pazhassi Raja fighting the British armies single handedly and dying a valiant death. Those interested might want to check this link:

Kerala Café was a different kind of experience all together. 10 ten-minute short movies made by 10 different directors, cast and music directors, all the stories coming together at Kerala Café, a railway tea room in an un named town in Kerala. Each story is different, none of the ten have a common thread running thru them, yet they come together so beautifully, you have to give credit to Renjith whose idea this was, for keeping the reins tight and dovetailing them so well in the end. Though each individual story was good, those that really stood out were “Bridge” by Anwar Rasheed and “Makal” by Revathy. Gut wrenching stories both of them. “Happy Journey” by Anjali Menon also was noteworthy with Jagathy Sreekumar doing a great job as a co passenger in a bus.

I made the mistake of watching the movies in Kochi. Forget the fact that the theaters are run down and dilapidated. One can’t really blame them, because all the new releases have been in Ernakulam so by the time they get across the bridge to Kochi, there’s hardly an audience available. Last month though, we had two new releases here - Pazhassiraja in Kokers and Kerala Café in Sui. As part of my pledge to encourage local businesses, I watched the movies here. Big mistake. The crowd was rowdy and in disciplined, smoking inside the theatre and making loud comments which took away some of the enjoyment of the movies.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cochin Bazaar - Early in the morning

Have started morning walks with my friend Vimala. Actually we started walking a year ago but stopped during the rainy season which lasts here for about 3-4 months. The route we take is through the old Cochin Bazaar - it is quiet, clean and not so crowded that early in the morning. Also as it is alongside the channel you gets wafts of cool breeze from the gaps between the houses.

Cochin Bazaar was at one time a bustling, vibrant place where goods were received and dispatched by "Vallams" (country boats) so most of the buildings on the channel side have their own small private piers. This was in the days before road and rail transport became convienient and popular. Once that happened and the Ernakulam bye-pass was built, Cochin lost its importance as a Bazaar and the businesses moved to Ernakulam. Now some of the buildings house handicraft shops and cafes to attract the few tourists who might wander there from the more popular Fort Kochi.

Early morning, as we walk along we get the smell of spices - chilly, pepper, cardamom and once garlic!!! As the sky brightens, we hear the call for prayers from the many mosques in the area. The Koonan Cross has early morning visitors on Fridays who light lamps and make supplications. The Koonan Cross is at the Church of Our Lady of Life where in 1653 a group of Saint Thomas Christians took an oath never to bow down before the Portugese. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Pakalomattam/Koonan_Cross_Oath

As we walk along we get the smell of the sea and unfortunately also of the canal which is not quite so salubrious. We have to manoeuvre past trucks waiting to be unloaded or to pick up their merchandise. The cabins have multicoloured little lamps and we often get to walk a little way to the tune of the latest Rehman or Illayaraja number (in tamil!).

By the time we return, the first of the school children are on the way to the bus stop. House wives, clad in that quintessentially malayalee outfit ' the nighty' return from the milk booths carrying packets of milk. We are regulars now, and can expect a smile or a greeting from our fellow walkers.

The resolution is to walk every day, but already we have had hiccups. No matter... the determination should see us through!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

She shifted the child from her left hip to the right. Torn and dirty sari tied about her thin frame, hair brown with dirt and unwashed, adorned with flowers that had long ago lost any colour or fragrance they might have had. The child was crying, a nonstop low keening sound that meant that it was unwell and hungry. It had probably cried all night and now had no strength to carry on. Beggars are an unusual sight in the Kerala landscape, the few who are here are imports from the neighboring states. I stopped to see what she wanted. She was begging for a few rupees to take the child to the hospital, or so she said. Having read stories about children being stolen by beggar gangs to help in pulling at heart strings, I was quite cynical about her. "Come to the hospital with me and I'll get you some medicines" "No, amma , give me money." When I refused to do that, and insisted that she come to the hospital , she asked me "Doctoraa?" "No, but I can get you some medicines"

By now she was curious. "Where, amma?" I gave her the location, but I feel ashamed to say I wasn't about to get her into the car and take her there.

Needless to say, she didn't come. It was a little distance away and she was probably tired out. The whole day guilt gnawed at me, I wondered what happened to the two of them. Wondered how the child was. Wondered whether the woman had got any money and whether she had used it for medicines and food. Maybe I should have just given the money anyway and not insisted that she come to the hospital.

Wrapped in our cocoon of acquisitions, we don't realise how difficult it is for some to get even the very basic of things like food, shelter , clothing and medication. We are ready to help with material things, but when it comes to inconvieniencing ourselves, we hesitate. And the saddest part is, I dont know that if it happens again, whether I will act any differently.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hmmm........ been a long time.. Have been wondering whether to continue with this blog or not....but I decided that since I started it, I better stick with it..

A lot has happened in the last one year. Both kids have moved out, its just Rajendran Kuttenmama and me here at home now. How do we spend the evening??

1. Kuttenmama listens to religious texts on his rigged up system as he lies on his bed.. I swear he is more techno savy than Rajendran and me.
2. Rajendran puts on a channel on the downstairs TV , watches for some time. goes upstairs. puts on same channel on upstairs TV. has bath with volume so high that I can mute the Downstairs TV and still hear the dialogues. Is most upset when he comes down and sees that I have changed channels.
3. I surf the net, check mail, speak to kids , get dinner.

What exciting lives we lead!!!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tagged -by kichu

Five Things I’d Love To Do Before I Die

(In no particular order)

1) go on a hike thru the valley of flowers

2) go on a ferris wheel

3) understand music

4) learn a foreign language

5) learn to swim

Five Things I Will Not Do Even If It Kills Me

1) Dye my hair pink

2) wear a bikini

3) watch krishi darshan

4) touch a snake/have anything to do with a snake (that might kill me, anyway)

5) cant think of one more.. am I that adventureous??

Five Things I Do When I’m Away From The Public

1) Sing

2) Sleep

3) Read

4) Watch movies

5) Fantasize

Five Fave Sentences/Quotes

I've reached Thoppumpady - Kichu

I'm in the bus - Kichu

Amma, I've lost my Credit card/cell phone/wallet/ put anything you want here

- Meera

I've only had 5 cigarettes today - Rajendran

Madamji, lift/generator/car/suction/pump/ pokku anne - Sanu

Five Things I’ll Make You Wish You Didnt Do, If You Did

Make me wear a swimsuit

Tag me

Five People To Tag

I dont know if 5 people read this blog

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Its raining heavily here.. has been for the past 6 months, I think. Rain is good I know, but I am getting a little tired of damp clothes.

Mukesh Ambani is the richest man in the world - at least he was yesterday.. today he is probably at no.2 spot. I dont know... someone do the math. Is it fair that he has so much and there are people who find it difficult to have 2, not even 3, square meals? Or find the money for essential treatment? Or give their children a basic education?

Where is the justice in the world?