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Showing posts from 2013

A Far-Eastern sojourn

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I can assure you my friends, that if you want to open your mind and your senses, you have to travel. A trip to the east is always rejuvenating, and in our case it involved over three countries and a travel itinerary covering some 22 days. As my wife and I spent the days moving through land and air between Malaysia, Cambodia and Indonesia, I could only marvel at the ways the trading Indians had established bases at Malacca, Pinang, Bali and at Siem reap amongst other places in the far east. These early South Indians stamped their practices and their varying religious ways at all these port cities starting roughly from the 9th century.  Today the astounding temples, mosques and buildings in many of these places are testament to their varying fates and glorious lives and we had the good fortunes to see so many of them. But it was not all related to history for we spent a good amount of time with our friends Anju and Anand and also attended a nephew’s ‘interesting’ wedding reception at T…

A Rummy Tale

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The man who walked into the bank slowly made his way to the glass encased cashier’s cabin. Not many noticed him, nor were they interested. But the security man who waved him though and knew him, did make a spectacle, standing at over 6 feet in height, with a magnificent drooping mustache that reminded one of a great pathan soldier from over two centuries ago, only he did not wear a turban. If they had stopped and looked at the rifle he held to his side, especially one who knows about guns, they would have reason to snigger, for it was an ancient break action shotgun which at first sight made you feel that it would do little harm to even the mongrel dogs lounging under the tree across the street. It was not loaded and the four or five reddish colored cartridges on his belt looked ancient, scratched up and distinctly unusable. The only time the gun was loaded was when they brought in or took out money from the bank and the same bullets were loaded into and unloaded from it. But then ag…

A Pope and an Elephant

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Popum Aanayum Vathikanil…….
As you may have noticed from previous posts, I am quite partial to elephant stories like most Malayalees and I do like the pachyderm a lot. Earlier I wrote about Murugan in Amsterdam, Suleiman in Vienna and this time it is about an elephant that lived in the Vatican. It is a story detailing the attachment between a fun loving Pope Leo X and his baby white elephant which hailed from Cochin. The story is fun, it is sad, and is a story of the times, with politics, satire, romance and all kinds of stuff attached to it. It even has three greats hovering on the fences, the genius Leonardo da Vinci, another stalwart Michelangelo and the great artist Raphael, as well as a couple of Malayalees, perhaps the first residents in the Vatican area. The time period of this story is 1509-1516 and Vatican did not exist then, it was just the sanctified area of the Holy See, the apostle palace and the Belvedere.
First some perspective - The Columbus discovery of western lands…

Dr Syud Hossain and Indian independence

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Part 2 Life and times in the USA - 1921-1946
In Part 1, we got to know briefly the character of Syud Hossain, the man exiled from his shores to fight for his nation’s independence. Syud Hossain, that was how his name was spelled and Syud was very clear about it from the very beginning, correcting people who misspelt it as Syed. However even Vijayalakshmi would spell it wrongly in her memoirs! In this section, we will run through his 25 years stay in USA and his final days in the limelight, before fading into obscurity.

Move to USA The world congress of religions was then holding a conference in New York and using the influence of Agha Khan and Mr Chotani, Syud managed to get across the Atlantic to the new world. That he needed special help to travel is clear due to the simple fact that his passport had already been impounded, effectively ensuring that he could only remain where the British wanted him, far away from India.Thus it was in 1921, that Syud Hossain arrived in USA to lecture …