Monday, September 28, 2009

Kerala Architecture: The house where I was born

This is my mother’s house, Kallivayalil Konduparambil. She was not born here, but it was home to her till her marriage at the age of 15. But I was born in this building though it was Thekkanattu Parayil that I called home.

This may sound a bit complicated to non-Keralites. In the Christian community of Kerala, a lady would have at least her first confinement in her father’s house. Therefore Ammachi. was born in her maternal grandfather’s house, Tharappel.

The entire family is grateful to my youngest maternal uncle Michael A. Kallivayalil (see: An Indian village remembers its Irish ‘father’.) Aunt Mary, their son Joseph and his wife Preethi for maintaining this 140/150 years old house so beautifully though they normally stay at the hill station Peermade (see: Travel: Mist covers the mountain tops)

Photos by me. All rights reserved.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Photos: Dragonflies by KO Isaac

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Monday, September 21, 2009

A missed Onam

I always look forward to Onam, Kerala's state festival, which this year, was on September 2. It is a fascinating celebration, steeped in tradition, to welcome the mythical king Mahabali (Maveli) of Kerala. It is believed that during Mahabali's reign the people lived in prosperity and happiness and there were no malpractices.

The Onam celebrations consist of many cultural events, mock processions of the former King's triumphant annual visit to his former kingdom, singing and games and dances, feasting and drinking and boat races, rain and sunshine, flowers and pookkalams (floral designs). Our family had a special reason to remember this Onam. Ammachi's birth centenary was on August 28, during the Onam week. (See: Oru Desathinte Amma.)

But I missed it all. On the night of 28th August I developed a severe breathing problem at Chennai. The doctors discovered that I had three major blocks and advised a bypass operation. The procedure was done within a couple days. While I was in the hospital, the functions, particularly relating to Ammachi's birth centenary, were conducted quietly. The motif for the pookkalam designed by the staff at Olavipe Homestay, was the birth centenary itself.

Right in front is the banner '100', partly covering the traditional Kerala lamp with two lighted wicks. The background, to me, appears to be the figure of a kathakali artiste. A good job, I must say.

Since I have to keep both my feet up every half hour, continuous work on desktop is impractical. Therefore I am selecting some relevant Kerala photographs and giving short comments. I hope you like it.

Here is the photo of a model of Kerala's famous snake boat. The state has different type of race boats, but the Snakeboat or 'chundan' is the king of them all. It is fascinating to watch them knife through water. It is said that a winning team has to pull the oar more than 60 times a minute.

There is no proof to back it up if I say that there are more songs about dragon flies in Malayalam than in any other language. These flying beauties which are called 'onathumpi' is part and parcel of Onam. They come out in hoards during the seasom and provide inspiration to poets to turn out great melodies based on them.

This is a conceptual image of a Kerala Houseboat. Backwater tourism which has helped in turning around Kerala economy is remarkable story of finding new use for something fast turning obsolete. The huge country crafts that form the backbone of houseboat industry were originally meant to transport farm products and other goods.

Trucks and mechanized boats took the wind out of the sails of the countrycrafts. Then some visionary gave new life to the rotting boats and the world came to know about the enchanting backwaters of Kerala.

The world famous Kerala bananna chips are made from Nenthrakkaya shown above. The yellow chips in the photo below are thin and salty. The brown ones known as Sharkarapuratti are thicker and sweet. They are coated with a paste of jaggary and spices before frying.

A request:
Please pray that I get well soon.

All photos copyright reserved. Click to enlarge.
Photos by Capt. Philip Manipadam, Reejo, AT.