Rain is synonymous with Kerala. As a Malayalee (person from Kerala), I naturally love the monsoon rains. The title itself drew me to the book. This is not just one book. It has many books within it. The book is a mixture of 34 fictional stories, poems, non-fiction, essays, POVs from writers in Kerala, or writers writing about Kerala. Also, all the stories are not about rain.
The book starts off with the first story which tells us about where the rain is born. This short non-fiction account is taken from the book ‘Chasing the Monsoon’ written by journalist and travel-writer Alexander Frater. He recounts how he witnessed the rain being born at the southern-most tip of Kerala. He is at the Kovalam beach with a bunch of weathermen, journalists and other enthusiasts. The south-western monsoon clouds make it’s first landing here and thus the rain is born. This place Kovalam is just about 50 km from my hometown Varkala. Thus we probably see the first monsoon rains in India and never even knew about it.
Next is a short fiction by Shashi Tharoor called ‘Charlis and I’. I loved the way the author has woven the progress of the different castes through the various policies in Kerala. But still, it is a simple, heartwarming story about a few boys. His language is impeccable. On a similar vein is the story ‘A village before time’ by V K Madhavan Kutty. Continue reading
21st February is International Mother Language Day and Pratham Books blog hosted a celebration of languages. A series of blog posts by people from different walks of life – sharing their thoughts on languages, memories and more. International Mother Language Day is an observance held annually on 21 February worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. Here is my contribution.
Malayalam is my mother tongue and I consider myself almost fluent in it. Unlike the generation today in Kerala, where Malayalam is mixed with English and called as Manglish, I can speak better. All thanks to the two and half months we stayed in Kerala during every summer vacation. I even taught myself to read Malayalam with some help from aunts and cousins. I was proud of my language skills till I got married almost 19 years ago to my husband from Central Kerala, Kottayam.
If you liked it and have similar experiences, share with me in the comments section, over a cup of kaapi, of course.
This serene picture of the famous Kerala backwaters is just a few meters away from my home. This is not a tourist or public place with resorts. It just exists surrounded by quaint villages like ours. The road from our village ends here at the edge of the backwaters. Continue reading
I belong to one of the most beautiful states in India, Kerala, which is a hot tourist destination, even nicknamed as ‘God’s own country’. But, being from the place itself, we are used to the abundance of nature and color around us, and take them for granted. So, when my children visit Kerala, they would be completely bored with being in the same place. They couldn’t understand what all the hoopla was about Kerala. So, we, my parents and me, decided to give them a taste of Kerala and decided to go on a one day trip to a nearby place in Thiruvananthpuram.
Googling the same on internet, came up with a couple of popular places like the Padmanabhapuram Temple, Museums, Zoo.. all popular. But we had already visited them and it was crowded with tourists during the summer vacation. But it is still worth a visit. Anyways, we zeroed in on Neyyar Dam and a sanctuary near by. Next we called up for a vehicle and the driver recommended the place ‘Ponmudi’. Now my family had heard about it but never been there. Checking the same on internet, gave some beautiful images.
And so on a Saturday morning around 7.30am we left home. It was an odd group. Two senior citizens – my parents, two juniors – my sons and then middle-aged myself. The driver was in his early twenties. We carried water bottles, juice packets, fruits and some biscuits.
Post two hours, we halted at a place called ‘Meenmutty falls’. Frankly, its not on the internet, atleast not the one near Ponmudi. The place is maintained by the Forest Department. We had to take entry tickets costing Rs. 20 per adult and Rs. 10 per child below 12 years. And if we are carrying plastic bottles, it has to be declared and paid a deposit of Rs. 50 per bottle. They put a sticker on the bottle. Once we are back and show the sticker bottle, the deposit is returned. It’s a very effective way to prevent littering. As soon as we entered, we could see the stream which has the water flowing from the waterfall. The stream is full of neat boulders, the sides are left as completely wild. We can see the crystal clear water flowing into the stream. w
Kerala, known as God’s Own Country for its beautiful natural beauty, has some quirky characteristics exhibited by its people. They are commonly known as ‘Mallus’ which is another short form for ‘Malayalis’ as the Keralites call themselves. This is a series of posts of encounters with the local people on a normal day.
In this first part, I would like to highlight the way the shopkeepers in Kerala treat their customers/clients. Frankly, the Mallus in retail business, are a bit on the backward foot compared to their counterparts in other places like Mumbai, Gujarat, Rajasthan, etc. The Mallus believe the ‘Customer is last, labourer is first’. Kerala is highly influenced by communism which has resulted in higher wages and stricter labour laws compared to other states. This happened in a departmental store in Kottayam.