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Friday, June 23, 2017

my pond

Though this photo is not of the pond in my ancestral house in parappanangadi this looks so much like it .
Unfortunately nothing is left of that for a photo today
During long summer holidays we would troop into it in morning and frolic in its coolness till midafternoon .
Raw mango bites would provide tasty respites
Then we would go back tired and wet to a huge lunch with our mammoth appetites ....
Its the swimming rudiments I learnt then on two hard coconut made float that makes me a reasonably good one now .
The changing room was dark mostly wet and one needed to look out for huge rat snakes there but we boys hardly used it
It was only for the ladies of house
No one else other than the household could use our pond
There was a pipe right in middle of the pond which one could see when water level was little lower and it was said to be connected to the temple pond i really am not sure if thats true .

By end of may the rains would lash the place making it a green forest and we delighted in getting into the water in heavy rains though our elders would ask us to get out the moment they knew .
Even today i love jumping into pool in heavy rain in Brunei probably by this vestigeal association
The pool is generally empty too those times as lightening is a great fear
Well to me that would be a good way to disappear instantaneously into a watery grave !

Mamamak food

Mammaks are indians both muslims and hindus settled in Malaysia more of Tamils who had migrated years back to work in its palm and tea estates .
They have intermarried with malays and developed an unique cuisine of Malay and indian blend
read tamil indians mostly .
The food places which serve them are called mammaks run by mamma or uncle with K silent
Mammaks are very popular in Malaysia and Singapore as they offer delicious food with comfortable ambience though not of th...e elite kind affordable food and long working hours some open for 24 hours
They have big TV s for patrons to watch matches and WIFI
The main menu is different varieties of Roti or types of parottas
Here they are called Roti kosong
Many are stuffed rotis too called murtabaks like with beef .meat .tuna .egg etc
Some have fried eggs some even maggie noodles and ice cream
Of course one could get spicy curries to go along
Rice based dishes like rice with different vegetables curries sambhar can be taken by ones selection and total cost is billed
There are achaars and pappadums too which are very popular as starters in malaysia singapore brunei etc
One also got sup kambing or goat soup
Sup Ayam or chicken soup
Mammak Rojaks are salads with vegetables potatoe meat and sea food
There is also well known fish head curry
And Assam laksha
Biriyanis are known as nasi biriyani
Of course most mammaks serve malay food like mee goreng etc and thai tom yam soup
Tea tarikh or pulled tea is a big mammak hit in these parts
Somehow itsnt my favourite with its sweet treacly nature as it has loads of condensed milk with tea that is poured from one vessel to another to get froth
Tea kopitam is same using coffee
But mammaks also provide one with good strong Bru coffee nescafe milo and even at times filter coffee which cant stand the original from kumbakonam no way
In Singapore city there is an area near Bugis which are full of quaint mosques antique shops predominantly muslim population of the indian kind
I happened to book by chance once in a hotel in that area hotel Ahuliwal and the evenings was spent on visiting the numerous mammaks with names like zam zam and tucking in even deer meat murtabak
I heard on fridays one could get deer biriyani
I dearly missed that

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Satelmond palace

Dr Valiathan Director of Sri Chitra thirunal Institute of Medical sciences is a well known figure not only as an eminent cardiothroacic surgeon but also as the pioneer who gifted the great institute to the country
this post is only about how he got Satelmond palace in Trivandrum for his institute
Around the seventies when the institute was looking for a suitable place to expand its technology department which later would produce innovative cardiac valves and other specialized equipment's for neuro and cardiac surgeries named as Chitra valves etc ,someone suggested the Satelmond palace on the banks of river Karamana .
This was a stately palace and once the house of the queen of Thiruvananthapuram Rani Lakshmi Bayi who ruled as the regent for seven years as the heir maharajah was still below his 18 years .
This tenure was later called by many as the Golden age of Thiruvananthapuram kingdom as the Rani quietly carried out many reforms ,
After the coronation of the maharajah Sri Chitra thirunal the regent Maharani who was his mothers cousin sister and her family were marginalized
the senior Rani left to stay permanently in Bangalore with her daughter though in a separate house .
It was during this time Dr Valiathan requested her for the palace lying unused for the institute and she agreed but there was opposition form the maharajahs side ,luckily it was the time of emergency and there were moves by the police department to use the building for training purposes and the maharajah too agreed for it to be given to the institute which as Dr Valiathan put it to him that it was better it was a medical institute rather a place where than policemen in shorts underwent training !!
And thus Satelmond palace is not only a part of history it still makes one
pic courtesy Deccan chronicle if objected can be removed

Rani Lakshmi Bai

Rani Lakshmi Bayi of Travancore kingdom was the Regent queen ruling Trivandrum for eight years as the heir Maharajah was then only 12 years old
 She was one of the most benevolent far sighted ruler too building schools colleges opening female and non caste based educational centers opening temples to all castes ,building roads bringing the railways to state increasing prosperity of state and maintaining safety
,if we compare to the present rulers with her she was far apart more decorous and had better vision .
After Freedom the by then Maharajah had also lost power but the royals at least lived in their palaces quietly and they deserved it but once the Communists took over power they had to show their antipathy to the monarchy ,the Ranis servants started striking and she was literally in house arrest ,they harassed her to no end ,this person who had done so much for the state ,
finally she had to slink away to Bangalore as she was fed up to settle down there with her children
thus after driving her away the political parties ruling Kerala have systematically wrecked the fabric of the state with their aggressive labor stance that not a soul would invest in Kerala spoiling students by injecting malice in the name of politics inciting violence and murders in politics and spreading a culture of laziness
if at all some money had come in it was because of resourceful bureaucrats ,NRI s who spent huge sums as remittances and tourism which succeeded in spite of these meddlers because of the beauty of the state
We really wish the monarchy had continued
read below for her contribution to women progress in those days
the present system ignores such achievements neither do the women who cry coarse of revolutionary movements nor do the school children know about her for their history is contorted where a butcher Tipu sultan becomes a freedom fighter !
picture courtesy blog of Mr Manu Pillai ( if objected can be removed )

Monday, June 12, 2017

Taipei Taiwan

When I got an opportunity to go to Taipei the capital city of Taiwam otherwise called Republic of China to attend a conference I took it up with alacrity for this was a country i was keen on going to .
There was no direct flight to Taiwan from Brunei and one could go either through Honk Kong or the more circuitous Bangkok as a transit point .
My sponsor booked the Bangkok one ,so most of the day as spent either in the flight or in  Bangkok airport that I reached Taipei only near midnight .
The Brunei to Bangkok stretch was by RBA and as usual the Breakfast came to me with a specially

requested yogurt this time two in numbers !
Though I had been to Thailand earlier Bangkok and its Swarnabhoomi airport has always fascinated me with its long artistic iconic statue of a mahabharatha epic story

After browsing the excellent duty free and swishing in a Singapore sling sitting on a nice bar on the duty free area

the second part of my trip was by Thai airways
I was exited to reach Taipei .
Taiwan is an island off China
For a long time it had aborigines in it and known as the  island of Formosa
The Dutch in their quest for riches started a colony and built forts etc later the Spanish took over for a brief time before the Dutch got it back again ,
The Chinese Quing dynasty then drove the Dutch away and it became part of Chinese Empire till 1895 when it was given to Japan as a spoil in a war they won .
Japan ruled Taiwan for almost fifty years when at the end of the  second world war they surrendered to the Axis powers after the atom bomb explosion in Hiroshima and Nagasaki .
There are lot of Japanese influence in Taiwan with plenty of Japanese type of colonial houses

Mariott hotel Taipei 

breakfast at Mariott 
the walk to Mayfull hotel the venue of the conference 
Morning saw me tucking in an excellent breakfast from Hotel Mariott where i was booked to stay
It was a bit chilly and I made a quick walk to the conference venue hotel Mayfull a short distance away
it was an iconic hotel

Mayfull hotel 
Conference hall 

With the conference going on till late evening i made a getaway as I wanted to see the city ,so I also skipped the banquet dinner and headed to the famous Shilin night market using the Metro which was very convenient


different fruits


 I first attempted an oyster omelette which wasnt bad at all
famous oyster omelette 

The Sizzling steak 

 and then I tucked into a sizzling steak witha Taiwanese Beer
Castilla cake 
 the Castille cake of Taiwan is very famous ,its actually a legacy of the Japanese who got it from Portuguese and means from Castillo
The freshly baked big rectangular cake each having more than 58 eggs are lifted and turned  upside down before cutting into precise portions to be sole ,each piece can be eaten by eight people and the whole process of cutting was almost a ceremony
 The Shilin night market  a hub of activity was chock block with food places and there was so many varieties some of the famous like bubble tea ,oyster omelette ,taiwanese tempura and stinky Tofu are almost legendary .
there is a huge two stroeyed building and it has around 539 food shops in its first floor while its second floor is a parking lot for more than 400 cars .
surrounding this in the nearby streets too there a re plenty of shops many of food again ,
The vendors are friendly and cheerful though English is a language hardly spoken one could manage quite well
the earlier Shilin market got renovated by 2011 to the present area

 there is a Buddhist temple on one of the streets and it was filled with incense spewing crowds

 There are more night markets in Taipei and some are quite famous for exotic rare food types which to me wasnt very inviting like one market specialized in snakes blood ,deer penis wine and the like ,i just avoided the place
i made a return by cab as the metro by now was quite crowded and it beginning to drizzle too .
a word about Taiwan and Taipei is the behavior of the people ,they are very civic minded and follow rules meticulously ,even at midnight when streets are empty pedestrians cross the road only when signal comes ,the motorists too are respectful to pedestrians and each other ,there is no obvious theft in crowded metros and its totally safe ,one hardly sees any police but there is no need for them too
These are great lessons for countries like India
stationary golf center ,here golf ballsa re hit into a ground from two floors 

Miranmar plaza ear my hotel with a giant wheel 

the metro is quick efficient safe and gets us anywhere in a jiffy 

Chian kai shek memorial 
chian Kai shaek memorial 
 Chian kai shek literally the father of Taiwan had his childhood in maniland china as a fatherless boy brought up by a brave mother ,he would go to Japan to do his studies and joined the military
he returned and joined the Kuomintang and wasa right hand to sun Yat sen  and his successor too
The Kuomintang which ruled China since 1928 ,initially ruthlessly suppressed the communists in a massacre wimping out thousands and called the white terror
and lost to the communists in the Chinese civil war in 1949 retreated to Taiwan and its leader Chian kai shek became the president of the republic of China which they said was the real china and the Chinese mainland under Maos party became the Peoples republic of China .
From 1949 to his death in 1975 he was the sole power of Taiwan

car of chain Kai Shek 
 the period also brought about great progress for the country ith rapid industrialization and infrastructure
The whiffs of democracy started blowing in the seventies and by the nineties it became a multi party democracy with he Kuomintang a prominent party even today at present it is in the opposition

next evening i started with The chiang Kai shek memorial park is a vast open space with a park on one side ,a huge museum and a quaint memorial built to Chaing kai shek ,inside was memoirs of the leader exhibits photos his cars and used things ,every hour there was a march past by the security inside .
though he skyscraper building of Taipei the Taipei 101 was famous I had to give it a skip as i had to see other places of interest
i also couldn't visit the famous Longhuan temple
i took a train changed tracks ato reach Beitou area to see the famous thermal springs ,the last stretch of the metro to this are is by a special tourist train with huge glass roofed viewing windows
i saw there was a relgious procession going on and made a long walk but faile to see the thermal spring

daily march past ,this was held every hour 

religous procession on way to Beitou springs

a burger in ximen
a hungry me opted for a fat juicy burger served by a smiling youngster who took a selfie with me 

,i returned back a bit forlorn and took metro to reach the famous shopping area called Ximen
and thus the very short stay in Taipei ended but i could get a feel of the country and enjoyed it

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