Showing posts from November, 2012

The Chinese, Tea and the Nilgiris

I was getting deeper and involved in a topic that I was researching on, getting really engrossed tracking the movements of medieval Chinese sailors crossing the China seas to go to places like Quilon and Calicut. The answer I was seeking was elusive and some of the books and material I had at hand were not getting me the answer, and Google results were also not too cooperative. In one of those quirky moments, it directed me to a nice blog by Nina Varghese writing tales about the blue mountains of Nilgiris. The article was about a group of Chinese convicts in Nilgiris. I recalled vaguely about the mention of these people by Edgar Thruston in one of his anthropology books and also Muthaia’s book on the planters. While the latter had been returned to the library months ago, the former was very much at hand and so with a huge load of thanks to Nina for directing me to the story she started, let me get started.

Tea – That was what it was, and just the other day, I had come across two women…

Kayamkulam Kochunni – The Robin Hood of Kayamkulam

Every place with some history has somebody like Robin Hood in their lore and legends. Kerala had one as well, and the minds of people warm up when they hear and talk about them. As we know, this person has been talked about for the last 80 or so years and one or two movies have been made about his life, not to forget the Amar Chitra Katha comic book that children devour. I myself was lucky, for I heard it first from my paternal aunt with whom I grew up as a child, for she would read me stories from the Aithihyamala. Though she was somewhat stern, and not given to blowing up the account, she would still put flesh and blood to the story, as she read and I would listen carefully and my mind would wander thinking about those locales, the people, the ambience. To this day that wandering mind has not come to rest, I suppose.

The man behind it all spent some 40 years in this world, and was certainly a troubled person to be living a life of crime or a life spent balancing wealth and inequalit…