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Showing posts from July, 2009

Champaka Raman Pillai – The forgotten freedom fighter

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Some years ago, I had introduced him in a blog ‘Emden and Pillai’. Then I alluded to him in the blog about ACN Nambiar. I think it will do justice to provide details on this gentleman from Trivandrum (I have heard many a Tamilian clamor – he is not a Malayali, he is Tamilian) , for he was at the forefront in the fight for Indian Independence, even before Gandhiji, NSC Bose and many other luminaries stepped in and wrote their names in the records of history. I don’t think many in Trivandrum or Kerala will recall this character, Oh! Forget it; most of India would not know the man behind the usage ‘Jai Hind’ that we hear uttered every now and then…

But I still wonder, how would Hitler or Goebells or Himmler have addressed him? Herr Schampak, or Herr Pillai? Pillai as it turns out was a mysterious figure, flitting in and out of different accounts and locations, without being in any of them to the end. Here below I plan to record his known life, and portray a brave soul and an interesting m…

Kuriyedathu Thathriyude SmartaVicharam

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(Tatri’s trial of Chastity)

There are two Malayalam books written on this historical subject, one being the book with the above name by Alankode Leelakrishnan and the other titled Kuriyedathu Thathri by VT Nandakumar. Then there is the book written by Mathampu Kunjukuttan (Brashtu) and its translation by Vasanthi Sankaranarayanan (Outcaste) based on the same theme. There is also the famous story Goddess of revenge (Pratikara Devata) by Lalithambika Antherjanam about this Tathrikutty. Some aspects have been serialized in the Mathrubhumi weekly in the 1998-99 time frame. Look around India today, every now and then there is some place or the other which hosts a ballet or a play based on this story in one language or the other. A good Malayalam movie came out some years ago with this excommunication trial as the basis, named ‘Parinayam’. So much is said and written about this topic, so what is this all about?

Even today the mention of Thathri sets the nerves jangling in Kerala, for it has a…

The Alfonso mango & Albuquerque

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It is mango season again and we had Raji talk to us about that some days ago in her blog. Here in California, we get the Manila and Mexican varieties, especially the ‘Kilimookan’ or Kilichundan mampazham (Totapuri) breed. They are reasonably priced and usually sweet. Indian varieties are exorbitant and you really balk at spending so much and not being sure of what you get eventually when you sink your teeth into a $3 mango wrapped in some plastic padded sheaths. But then of course, there is no harm or expense in talking about our heavenly varieties, of that I am sure and so here is a short note on the Alphonso mango, with a mention of the Malgoa as well.
In Kerala we are more used to the Malgova (Malgoa or Mulgoba). Some of you may remember the 1967 song ‘mampazha thotathil, malgova aanu nee, masangalil nalla kanni masam’. It means, you are the Malgova in the mango orchard and you are the Kanni month of the year. Today it would not be too amusing to any girl if you address her as a ma…

Amity & Enmity – Part II

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The Case of Calicut
I still remember that day, many years ago, as we were returning from Italy (my friend KP & I had gone to Rome and Genoa on business) when we heard about the plague outbreak in Surat. We were destined for Riyadh. The last plane allowed in from Bombay had landed ahead of us. We were confident that we would not have issues as our plane was coming from Rome, but the immigration officer spent ages checking all the passport stamps to see if we had connected from Bombay via Rome, which of course would be the most stupid thing to do (Obviously he had no inkling of Geography or knowledge of ticket fares) but well some of these guys are probably of different intellect, so we left it at that and waited patiently.

At the customs line, a Malayali laborer was standing ahead of me. The Saudi Customs officer took his meager belongings, an air bag with AIR INDIA or something like that painted across it and dumped the whole bag on the inspection platform., Out tumbled some old clo…