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Showing posts from July, 2008

Cabral’s hostages

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Idakkela Menon and Prangoda Menon were two hostages that Portuguese commander Pedro Alvarez Cabral took back with him to Lisbon after a fight with the Zamorin’s troops on 16th Jan 1501, or so I read in the Cochin state Manual.

Whatever happened to them? The quest for an answer proved to be a very interesting research and took all my experience from reading Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes in finally arriving at a plausible explanation.

As the story goes, Idakkela Menon returned to Cochin and was employed as a chief interpreter, obviously learning the Portuguese language during the voyage and the short stay at Lisbon. But Parangoda Menon vanished from the records. Some books mention that these two were originally employed by the then Cochin Raja Unni Goda Varma. (‘Ships of Discovery and Exploration’ by Lincoln P. Paine P.8 and ‘The Career and legend of Vasco Da Gama’ Sanjay Subramaniam P.181)

I wondered - This seems unlikely as Menon’s were honorary positions given by the Zamorin and usually…

The Malayali and the pachyderm

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The elephant army of King Puru was the reason for Alexander’s retreat from India many centuries ago. You can imagine that for the uninitiated, this massive animal or many of them can give daymares and nightmares. While the trainers knew that the animal was not really meant for war, it did scare the bjesus out of the Greeks and Macedonians. Many wars were fought after Alexander’s retreat to amass elephants for armies, but that story can keep for another day, I guess.
Well, for the people of Kerala, the pachyderm is a gentle friend, one who graces the many festivals, processions, weddings, meetings and what not, when he is not lugging logs for its owners keep. As you start a drive on the North to South NH 47 highway in Kerala, you should not be surprised if you come across one of these ancient animals, hide fading with age, tusks yellowing but proudly poised, serenely ambling along the road side, with its bare bodied mahout atop it, a coconut palm leaf clutched in its trunk & tusks, …

India the marvelous

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I can conclude now that it was fate and Rudyard Kipling which brought Samuel L Clemens, AKA Mark Twain to India, and as I am bound to explain my comment, I shall do so with gusto….

Let us first look at ‘fate’ aspect - Twain even though famous through his books, went virtually bankrupt by 1895 and was deeply depressed due to the death of his daughter Suzy. In order to climb out of the morass, he decided to take on a world tour; reading and lecturing with the promise to his creditors that he would pay them back every cent he owed. This tour was to cover Australia, New Zealand, India, Ceylon and South Africa and end in Britain.

The second was due to Twain meeting Kipling some years earlier. Kipling was a big fan of Twain and when he visited USA in 1889 ensured that they met and talked amongst other issues, mutual problems with publishers. The fascinating interview is recorded here for those interested, needless to conclude that Kipling considered himself much the richer after meeting this …

Bollywood on Fox

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Joshua Allen 19 year old from Texas & Katie Taira Shean 20 year old from Orange California participating in ‘so you think you can dance’ reality show on FOX. They were asked to dance a Bollywood number. And did they pull it off? We truly enjoyed this number, have a look...

For their second dance Joshua and Katee dance a Bollywood number, choreographed by Nakul Dev Mahajan to "Dhoom Taana" from the 'Om Shanit Om' soundtrack. This was aired on July 9th 2008. For this number the costumes are blue, black, gold and silver traditional costumes. They takes us to a far away land alongside the captivating choreography. The choreography is a delightful surprise.

Simultaneous knee spins for Katee and Joshua as they move in a circle across the stage is both unexpected and thrilling - the kind of choreography Bollywood is known for.

Nigel "Who would have ever dreamt that we would be seeing Indian cultural dance on this program? It's fantastic to see. It so good. Thank y…

Zheng He (Cheng Ho) in Calicut

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A towering seven footer Mongol Hui Muslim, who entered the Ming King’s (Yongle emperor Zhu Di – the third Ming king) service, Zheng He, is immortal for his astounding navigational quests. When the Ming army captured the Yunan province, the 11 year old Ma Sanpao was one of the many castrated and put into the palace servant team. For his service in helping the new emperor win the throne (helping with the coup where the palace was burned) after three years of vicious warfare, Zheng He was promoted in 1404 to the position of Director of Eunuch Affairs and given the surname Zheng (Zhu Di renamed Ma Ho as Cheng Ho because the eunuch's horse was killed in battle outside of a place called Zhenglunba – Cheng Ho became Zheng He to The West)

Between 1405 and 1433, the Ming government sponsored a series of seven naval expeditions. Emperor Zhu Di designed them to establish a Chinese presence and impress the foreign people in the Indian Ocean basin. Much is written about his seven voyages and hi…