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Monday, September 18, 2017

Tale of Tea

Tale of tea   ( taken from Ivory throne by manu pillai novel on Travancore maharanis ).

During 12 th century in south india from pallava dynasty was born a king with great attraction to spiritual pursuits than matireal ones .
His name was Dharma .
He was a follower of Buddha and by then Buddhism was dying in its land of birth .
So he travelled across the mighty Himalayas to reach China where it greatly respected and followed .
Dharma was recognised as a great saint here .
By then his only desire was Nirvana or achieving the divine peace .
He entered into hard penance as part of this ardous spiritual journey .
He decided he would go into meditation with no sleep ,so he got into a cave and facing a bare wall unblinking he spent five years in a single minded pursuit ,his goal was ten years but by then sleep was his greatest temptation .
He fought the desire to close his eyes into blissful sleep as he knew his spiritual journey would never be completed .
But his body fought badly and one day he almost succumbed in his desire of sleeping
Knowing this he shook himself awake and to control his mind took some wildly growing leaves and stuffed into his mouth .
Suddenly all his energy returned and he felt invigorated .
He managed to conplete 5 more years of penance and attained Gods feet .

Little did the king know that he had discovered the most popular drink the world would ever know
TEA
And thus China got tea discovered by an Indian king .
Within years the beverage spread and demand for tea grew .
By another century the Ming dynasty were even taxing tea
The Portugese took tea from China
Macau near Hong kong was ruled by Portugese and the tea spread into Europe
Later if became famous in England and afternoon tea custom began .
The British took tea to india giving opium to China and thus came opium wars .
The American war of Independence had Boston tea party in defiance to paying tax threw tea chests into the sea .
Later an Englishman secretly sent to China learnt its making and smuggled some  tea plants to Assam thus tea estates were  born in India .
The Tracancore high rise plantations were owned by  mostly British companies given concessions by Maharsja of Travancore
and tea export was becoming very lucrative .

There was grumbling on how the tea companies got almost free land for long duration lease and there was no local benifit in terms of employment as most British companies employed Tamil workers .
By 1926 Maharani Sethu Bayi Lakshmi was regent of Travancore kingdom .
A famous company Brooke Bond put forward a suggestion that if leased land they would take 3/4 leaving rest to local planters give them seeds ,technology knowhow in  cultivating tea and later processing it in factories set up by Brook Bond which would buy the finished product and help in selling it in London auction .

Lot of rumours were spread by the new speices of politicians part of legislative councils n the state against the Maharani that she was selling away Kerala .
Even then politicians talked accused without evidence as it is today
The maharani was also pertrubed at the accusations and slander that she decided to make terms better but the company itself now decided not to invest in a state with such unfriendly climate
Early signs of investment unfriendly state had started for Kerala .
Meanwhile centuries back a muslim priest Budan smuggled six coffee seeds and planted them in Chikmagalur and thus coffee estates began .

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Al Ain The Garden city




For more than three years of my six year stay in Al Ain the garden city of UAE my fifth floor apt balcony looked out into the real center of downtown city .
Sheikh Khaleefa road was the main road in Al Ain lined with commercial shops .offices .malls .restaurants .coffee bars .shavarma centers .perfume shops.mobile shops.high end watches showroom.etc
Best part of it was it really lived to its name as garden city with neat greenery colourful flowers huge trees all along all ro...ads in the city .
The road had one big signal just near my balcony a busy one which was a round about earlier.
It was mesmerising to watch the cars go around the RA so fast but never touching each other , as all drivers are well trained in UAE
Initially when I learnt driving I was not very confident of others stopping once I enter the RA as they come at same speed !
Sulaiman my driving instructor used to tell me dr hari please be assured they will stop as they are trained to drive in UAE and not India
He was true
But still accidents did happen as the RA was so busy , finally traffic lights was a better option .
Though in summer the balcony wasnt a very pleasant place to be in ,in winter it was a grandstand to watch the ballet happening down
Fast cars at times real groovy ones
Lamborghinis
Even Rolls royces werent strange in Al Ain home to a big local Arab population some from very rich families too .
Huge SUV with Arab youngsters would cruise the service roads till late nights stopping at well known famous Shawarma bars .
They would sit in and get served and then move on .
No one would interfere with another and all were polite to each other .
Expatriates carried on with total freedom and even at midnight women could walk safely
The huge mercedes bus of Al Ain transport plied the roads till late night mostly empty as only expatriates without cars used them .
At that time I owned a lengthy camry an American model previously owned by a Sheikina !
It felt good to drive in the royal warmth till I sold it to get a Nissan Xtrail .
Though my hospital was around twenty km away I still liked the downtown apartment as it was very homely and my kerala neighbours Abbas family were like family to me too
All the exotic food cooked in thier house would find way to me ,the doctor from naddu or from home .
I would go for long walks in the late evenings have a sandwich in one of the many mallu sandwich shops
The taste of those burgers and french fries would beat any mc donald or KFC flat and i really miss them these days .
My family kept coming every six months as they should to maintain the resident visa they had also like the center of toen better than the villa I moved into later nearer to my hospitsl but a bit quieter area .
And thus time flew and now Al Ain is just a sweet memory .






































Monday, August 14, 2017

my tsunami


My Tsunami
My multitasker multitalented wifey premila completes one more chapter in her kaleidioscopic life in UAE today as she leaves after two years of working in Metro medical center Ajman .
After being my junior by three years in kilpauk medical college the talented bharatanatyam artiste became my partner !
How she switched over to being the mother of a special child and did it with single minded dedication at that young age befuddles me no end .
The decade of ups and m...ostly lows brought out the best in this woman of mine when her love for Shilpa took precedence over anything else the same fervour went into her building an edifice for our daughter who left us at 11 years in forming and creating Shilpa society for mentally handicapped for 14 long years at the end of which it had 140 special Shilpas .
All along she continued seeing patients in clinic counselling parents of spdcial children at times driving the children home when school van broke down giving talks doing a PG in early intervention of disabilities and also moulding our son and daughter in the best way that they are what they are today
And above all cooking not food but ambrosia
I was lucky to be the shadow of support to her ever .
Her two years of work in Brunei in JPMC hospital found a new premila with not an iota less of her positive spirit and she managed to complete a pediatric diploma from Syndney university and now this two year stint in UAE where she did many TV and radio interviews on disabilty for malayalee audience.
Now you know why we close friends and family call her tsunami
Eager to be blown over again



















culinary porn

mallu menage e trios . Culinary porn
culinary porn isnt a heard genre of writing though iam indulging in one here.
The fluffy aapams of kerala melds well with its two wives either a red spicy fish curry or for some a crunchy fried pearl spot caught still wriggling off a chinese fishing net with a bit of bargaining ...
or
that pale tepid benign istoo or mallus stew of potaoes and coconut milk slow cooked with ginger and green chilles

Of course no aapaam can bear the two at the same time
that becomes a culinary orgy and no writer has liberty to dwell on such extremes whatever be his state of kitchen libido .
The aapam is a quinitissential kerala type of pancake
I wouldnt dare to call it a roti or even a dosa and never a pizza for the puritans could murder me for such blasphemies .
The Sri lankans with thier proximity to kerala also consider it as thier dish and call it as hoppers not a bad name as its fluffy consistency almost gives one the feel it could hop off your plate if you bite it a bit roughly
The aapam is like a virgin nymph nubile and soft in its roundness and white in its apparel coconut milk give its virginal qualities the right flavour and allows its dalliance with both istoo and the fishy dishes in turns or in choices but never ever together whatever be your culinary precociuosness .
So the next time you dip your aapam into your poison vegan or otherwise think of it as an act mentioned in chapter two of the kitchen sutra written by Harimohanayana and bite into its succulence to gain nirvana by a prolonged gastronomic orgasm .
See more

Friday, August 11, 2017

Thrikandiyoor Temple





Tirur in Malppuram district is my paternal native place ,Ootil house in thrikkandiyur specifically is the house .
The place is very famously known for a huge Shiva temple one of the 108 Sivalayams ,the temple is around 3 acres and it has a huge temple tank almost same area in front ,the reson for such a big temple tank is because there was cpnstant fire in the house oppoiste the temple and astrological invstigations showeed the heat from Lord Shivas third eye facing front was...
causig it and a huge tank was built to quench the heat is what the legend says .
Thrikandiyor was supposed to be consecrated by none other than Parasuraama the father of Kerala itself ,he did it on three places on same day ,in the morning at Thriuvannur ,afternoonat Mannur and at dusk in Thrikandiyoor .
Managed by Namboothiri or brhanmin famils who were plenty in that area it was later given to local king Vettathu rajah ,who later handed it over to the british who ruled Malabar who then handed it to Samoothiripaad of calicut to look after .
of course now it is under Malabar Devaswom in short under the Government which is a curse for all temples .
The temple has special sakti puja lasting 41 days and Kodathiri velakku one day ,it had an association with courts for long and still now every festival one day is sponsored by advocates in the area and is called Kodathi vilakku .
Vetatu rajah himself was a connouisuer of arts ,it is said he introduced drums or chenda to Kathakali and stopped actors from singing ,he also encouraged traditional arts .
Science ,literature ,mathematics ,astrology were all at thier peak in tirikandiyoor area for ages .
Dr Charles schultz in 1835 said that Neelakanda somayajpad from here had written baiscs of calculus 300 years before Isaac newton discovered it .
The famous malayalam grammerian and poet Thunjathu ezhutachan also hailed from here and was a regualr visitor to the temple along with his mother who worked as a servant in Thatarambathu house ,he used to listen the vedic teaching in the Brahmana samooham from outside as he wasnt permitted to take part in it by his caste but excelled the students in it ,once he even pointed out a mistake in thier learning .,in this video Tirur Dinesh a writer expaoins all this .
there are no elephants allowed in the temple





Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Top of europe


Switzerland







After Venice our next stop would be  the picture post card country Switzerland itself ,
we were going to Zurich and planned a visit to the top of Europe Jungfrau

Switzerland the fairy tale  country of Heidi with its misty peaks full of  fluffy snow,  wooden cottages with smoking chimneys ,hooded children throwing snowballs ,goggled skiers , hot soups to fill cold stomachs  chugging toy trains wheezing  their way into the high hills of desolate whiteness with tall peaks cute  towns like Lucerne  tingling cows  verdant grass , radiating  happiness for the mind and the body .

We left Venice in the morning, took the Italian Rail to Milan a three hour trip and then changed to Euro rail in Milan to Zurich another three hours
We were to stay at Hotel Mercure Zurich


Scenery was fabulous on the way but food wasn't ,we just had a sad lukewarm mini cup of coffee in the train costing around 3.50 Euros ,
we were hungry and cold on reaching Zurich

 Tramways were the  main mode of transportation in Zurich . ,
one bought tickets by hours and had to authorise them initially in a vending machine   ,there were no checking of tickets but surprise sqauds would put one back by a huge fine if found incorrect .

It cost 8 E for return trip
24 hrs trip is18 E for two
 In Switzerland like in chezchoslovakia Euros were not accepted instead tit was Swiss Francs with an equal value as an Euro .

Switzerland is known for its punctuality and if a sign board mentions next train  iis at 1.30 pm  it  arrives on the dot
We reached hotel Mercure a bit distant from Zurich Railway station by cab as were still not used to local trams .After a thirsty us had an the espresso coffee  in  the hotel room with some madrasi snack it calmed our guts 
Oh how we ached for a Thanjavur filter kaapi !








We then took a walk outside ,Zurich by night  is cool bright and busy 
We walked a bit took a tram to the  central station went around the shiny shops and fhe food places had some hot Thai food and returned back to hotel as planned

There was another reason for us to have gone back to the station as our tour bus to the Alps would start from a stand nearby and we knew we would have no time to search for the place in the morning , European  tours don't wait for late customers they just leave one and go off at their appointed time  ,so had to know the place correcty .

Morning saw us clad in heavy woollens as we expected a very cold climate up in the Alps ,we reached the stand  got into the luxury bus ,the tour was booked by us through viator application a bit costly but it  was very comfortable with an excellent guide cum organiser ,most are highly qualified and talk well and are really priceless as sources of information

we left at 8 Am sharp

We had a ringside view as both of us sat in the front seat and could see through the huge windshield the driver and guide a bit lower level than us ,all along the guide gave running commentary on our days plans and what we would be seeing ,

We first went to Interlaken city







Interlaken is a historical city between two lakes lake Thun and lake Brienz ,it was called  Interlake hence  ,the Aare was the river that flowed between the two lakes .
It was cold around 2 degree Celsius but  we were told junganfrau was colder around -7 degrees and had winds of 130 km ph which wasn’t usual .

Interlaken was 1500 meters above sea level and had a population of around 5000
it was in the Berne canton and most spoke German language there
It  lay in the foothills of the three peaks in Switzerland ,Jungfrau ( 13642 ft ),Eiger ( 13015 feet and Monch ( 13474 ft )









Unexpectedly the tour operator informed us that the top of Europe trip would need to be cancelled due to bad weather and the cogwheel railway would not ply today as the winds were very strong up in the hills
We were all very disappointed, it seems something like this had never happened for a decade ,our luck

now the tour operator knew all had already paid more than 250 US $ each for the tour and so gave the offer that one could go with the tour the next day weather permitting for an extra 50 $ and for the day a tour of Lucerne would be given as compensation
We did manage to avoid that 50 $ as we would be losing our Zurich city tour booked in same company for the next day
So we spent a lot of time in Grindelwald town from where the rail to the mountain train


































We walked in the slight drizzle entered a very warm crowded restaurant  took hot soup and sandwich





We then reached  Lucerne  an old city full of mediaveal buildings and churches 
the first place we went was the Lion memorial in Lucerne
The Swiss had the tradition of fighting for neighbouring kings and countries as they were valiant soldiers .Lion monument of Lucerne eis rected in memory of 740 Swiss solders when they fought a war for the French revolution supporting the king of France ,when the revolutionaries surrounded his palace the swiss bravely protected him and he made his escape ,thoguhthe kig ordered the swiss soldiers should also leave as he knew battle would be futile the message never reached the soldiers who bravely kept on fighting till death took them the monument has a wounded lion a smbol of Swiss bravery with an arrow protruding it dyind sadly head hung low ,

Mark Twain described this when here as one of the saddest monuments he had seen .









We started our walking tour of Lucerne from a central tourist square ,at first we went into the magnificent Jesuits church and admired its hallowed insides ,we were other  side of the Lucerne lake itself ,a little away was the well known chapel bridge one of the earliest covered wooden bridges ,the bridge got burnt accidentally and was rebuilt ,we walked along this heritage structure to the other bank where narrow streets had stately houses well preserved and with fine paintings on its walls ,there were huge fountains n-n the square and the old town was maintained nicely











































We walked back tired but happy to the central shopping place with lot of souvenir shops selling fine Swiss watches ,knifes ,key chains cuckoo clocks etc
We returned back to spend a good rest next day we repeated Interlaken and reached Grindelwald where we took a train to Klinde scheider and changed to one with cog wheels



















Jungan frau is a mountain peak of the Swiss Alps amongst others like Mt Titus. Mt Pilatus .etc
A railway line had been laid to top of jungan frau
Work started in 1894 but ended only by 1912
Many deaths due to dynamite explosions and other accidents took place
The person who started it also died .

It reached height of 3584 mts and reached peak through a tunnel in Eider and Mosch mountains
The line started from Gimber wald and one changed train in kleime schilder to one with cog wheel attachments

It reached the inside of the mountain
One used an elevator to go top of a building called spinx and into terrace to get a view
This was the top most railway station in Europe


It was bitterly cold around -17 degrees
The snow was continous
We did see the glacier in Eiger viewpoint and Eismeer viewpoint

The top station had a exclusive Lindt showroom an Indian restaurant which wasnt open and souvenuir shop
we walked out into the Sphinx the terrace with the observatory ,snow was firling and it was bitterly cold ,we felt a bit breathless in that altitude but the place was mind boggling ,the snow reduced our visibility but we could sense the peak of the mountains we were in ,yes we finally did go to the the top of Europe itself a remarkable feat for us
We returned via laubernatt
Our bus brought us to Zurich after an exhausting 12 hrs



At the end of the trip I saluted the ingenuity of those who made it possible for ordinary people to get to the top of Europe in relative comfort a trip not to be missed indeed








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