ഇവിടുത്തെ ആദ്യത്തെ മലയാളം പോസ്റ്റിങ്ങ്‌!

Sunday, 28 November 2010 18:38 by salim

കുറെ നാളായി ഞാന്‍ മലയാളത്തില്‍ ഒരു പോസ്റ്റ്‌ ചെയ്യണം എന്ന് വിചാരിച്ചുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്നു. പക്ഷെ കൊള്ളാവുന്ന ഒരു IME എഡിറ്റര്‍ കിട്ടിയിട്ടാവട്ടെ എന്ന് കരുതി. അവസാനം ഇന്നലെ എന്‍റെ ചേച്ചി എനോട് ഒരു സഹായം ചോദിച്ചു, ഒന്ന് രണ്ടു ലേഖനങ്ങള്‍ PDF-ല്‍ നിന്ന് കണ്‍വേര്‍ട്ട്  ചെയ്യാന്‍ പറ്റുമോ എന്ന്. അപ്പോഴാണ്‌ മലയാള ലിപികളുടെ confusion ഒന്നുകൂടെ എനിക്ക് ഓര്‍മ്മ വന്നത്.

വര്‍ഷങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് മുന്‍പ് ഞങ്ങളുടെ ആദ്യകാല കമ്പനി ഒരു മംഗ്ലീഷ് എഡിറ്റര്‍ ഉണ്ടാക്കാന്‍ തീരുമാനിച്ചു. പക്ഷെ അതിനു വേണ്ട ഫോണ്ടുകളുടെ കാര്യം തപ്പാന്‍‍ തുടങ്ങിയപ്പോള്‍ ആണ് കാര്യങ്ങളുടെ കിടപ്പ്‌ ബോധ്യമായത്. നൂറു കണക്കിന് (ok, പത്തു കണക്കിന്) DTP സോഫ്റ്റ്‌വെയറുകള്‍ മാര്‍ക്കറ്റില്‍ അന്നേ തന്നെ ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നു. പക്ഷെ ഓരോന്നിനും അതിന്‍റെ മാത്രം ഫോണ്ടെ ഉപയോഗിക്കാന്‍ പറ്റുള്ളൂ. പലപ്പോഴും ഇത് സ്വാധീനം ഉറപ്പാക്കാനുള്ള ഒരു വഴിയായാണ് ഉപയോഗിച്ചിരുന്നത്. എന്‍റെ സോഫ്റ്റ്‌വെയര്‍ ഉപയോഗിച്ച് തുടങ്ങിക്കഴിഞ്ഞാല്‍ ‍ you are stuck with it.

ഏതായാലും ഒരു സംഗതി മനസ്സിലായി, ഇത്രയും കാലമായിട്ടും കാര്യങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് വലിയ മാറ്റമൊന്നും ഉണ്ടായിട്ടില്ല.

ഞാനും ശോഭയും കൂടി ഇന്നലെ രാത്രിയും ഇന്ന് ഇതുവരെയും കണ്‍വേര്‍ട്ട് ചെയ്യാനായുള്ള വിവിധ മാര്‍ഗങ്ങള്‍ തപ്പിക്കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുകയായിരുന്നു. പത്തു പതിനഞ്ചു ഫോണ്ട് ഡൌണ്‍ലോഡുകളും അസംഖ്യം ബ്ലോഗ്‌ പോസ്റ്റിങ്ങുകളും കഴിഞ്ഞ് ഒടുവില്‍ ശോഭ Google transliterate project കണ്ടെത്തി.

അവിടെ നിന്ന് IME എഡിറ്ററിലേക്ക് അധികം തപ്പല്‍‍ വേണ്ടി വന്നില്ല. എനിക്കറിയാം ഈ പ്രൊജക്റ്റ്‌ അത്ര പുതിയതൊന്നും അല്ല എന്ന്. എന്നാലും ചിലപ്പോള്‍ നമുക്ക് നല്ല ഒരു കാരണം വേണം കാര്യങ്ങള്‍ കാണാന്‍.

ഞങ്ങളുടെ തപ്പളിനിടയില്‍ പല മലയാളം മോഴിമാറ്റ സംവിധാനങ്ങളും കണ്ടിരുന്നു. പക്ഷെ അവയ്ക്കൊന്നും ഒരു IME എഡിറ്ററിന്‍റെ ഉപയോഗത കണ്ടില്ല. എന്തെങ്കിലും എഴുതുന്നതിനു മുമ്പ് ഒരു web browser തുറക്കണം എന്ന് വച്ചാല്‍ പ്രശ്നമാണ്. എനിക്ക് വേണ്ടിയിരുന്നത് OS-ഉം ആയിട്ടുള്ള സമ്പൂര്‍നമായ സഹപ്രവര്‍ത്തനം ആണ്.

കഴിഞ്ഞ അര മണിക്കൂര്‍ ടൈപ്പ് ചെയ്തതു നോക്കിയിട്ട് ഇത് പ്രായോഗികമാണ്, തികച്ചും. IME വാക്കുകള്‍ തിരഞ്ഞെടുക്കുന്നതിന് ചില കുണ്ട്രാണ്ടികള്‍ സംഭവിക്കുന്നുണ്ട്. കൂടുതലും ചില്ലക്ഷരങ്ങളും ചില കൂടക്ഷരങ്ങളും ഉപയോഗിക്കുന്നതില്‍. പക്ഷെ മിക്കവറും എല്ലാ സന്ദര്‍ഭങ്ങളിലും അധിക സമയം ചിലവഴിക്കാതെ തന്നെ എനിക്ക് ശരിയായ മാര്‍ഗ്ഗം കണ്ടുപിടിക്കാന്‍ കഴിഞ്ഞു.

മലയാള വ്യാകരണത്തിന്‍റെ കാര്യം വേറൊന്നാണ് - ഞാന്‍ മറന്നു പോയി. പല വാചകങ്ങളും എനിക്ക് മാറ്റിയെഴുതെണ്ടി വരുന്നുണ്ട്. അതുകൊണ്ട് തന്നെ ഇനിയുള്ള ദിവസങ്ങളില്‍ ഞാന്‍ കുറെ മലയാളം എഴുതാന്‍ പോവുകയാണ്.

For my non Malayalam readers, here is my language. There will be more like this coming in because I found this nice IME editor for my language (Google IME)

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My Dinner

Sunday, 31 October 2010 01:34 by salim

We both like cooking and eating good food. We both agree that we can cook better food than most restaurants. And our cuisine is pretty eclectic. However, some days we fall back to the nice Kerala style dinners. Today was such a day. When everything was on the plate, I couldn’t help but take a picture. So, here it is

My Dinner

Clockwise from left:

Green cabbage stirfry, green eggplant stirfry, snow peas stirfry, sardines shallow fried in their own oil, chick peas stir fry, tender mango pickle. In the middle of course is Kerala brown rice with sambar and curd (Yogurt).

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The Rainy Rainy Fall

Thursday, 29 October 2009 00:58 by salim

This probably is the rainiest fall that I have seen after coming to the US. But, coming from one of the rainiest place in earth, I have always had very different feeling towards rain than most of my colleagues and friends here.

Kerala gets an average of 3000 MM of rain an year mostly from two monsoons. One of the main things that fascinated me when I first came here was the very distinct seasons. Back in Kerala we have only two seasons. The rainy season (monsoon from June to November) when it rains all the time and the dry season when it rains only every other day.

The South-west monsoon comes to Kerala almost always the day when schools open after midsummer vacation (one of those British legacies which we still continue for reasons beyond my comprehension, but that is in another post). The correlation is actually uncanny. If the government decides postpone the school opening for any reason, the monsoon will also get postponed! Anyways, when it starts, it rains for several days without a gap. One of the main things between the monsoon and the rain is the noise level. Well, I wouldn’t quite classify it as noise. It is very loud, but it is also quite rhythmic and sometimes even melodic.

When I listen to rain, even here, I try to identify the different sounds it makes when it falls on different surfaces. Each kind of leaf has a very distinct sound when the rain drips falls on it. The long tender closely weaved coconut leaves makes an almost hissing sound. The huge oily Taro leaves makes a very bass ringy tone. The leaves of jackfruit tree makes a sound almost like a kettle drum (well more like a Chenda). it is like a huge percussion orchestra. May be that is how we got our affinity towards percussion.

The rain while continue unabated for several days, it changes it intensity from time to time. Almost like waves. The sound rise and fall periodically. Sometimes, the rain becomes almost a shower and the rhythm becomes very truncated. Soon, there will be a rumble, almost like a train coming from a distance… the next wave of rain. One can feel it comes closer and closer, soon the sound engulfs everything else. Yet another wave….

Sometimes I do miss the monsoon rain. So, these periods of fall rain, while much less in strength makes me feel home.

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I missed playing with manure…

Sunday, 9 August 2009 10:57 by salim

Yes, yes, I know. A lot of people consider manure as yucky and playing with it is gross. But growing up in Kerala, cow manure was a constant presence in many shapes and forms around me.

We had cows, so obviously that account for a lot of dung. My father used to do most of the things, but quite often we, the kids get to clean the pasture or take the cowdung and put it in its tank. A tank filled with juicy grubs… I should tell it to survivor man. There was an episode where he practically lived off of grubs from some trees.

So, when my vegetable garden started growing quite fast, thanks to all the rain, I was in a way excited to put my hands on some manure.

So, yesterday, we bought two bags of manure. I made these small dams (we call it Thatam. I really don’t know the actual English word for it.) around the plants. Earlier, without the dams we were missing quite a lot of water. Shobha made it for some of the plants, but they were too shallow to accommodate the manure. It was bit of a back breaker as I could use only a small hand shovel, so as not to damage the plants.

I was a bit disappointed to see that the manure I bought was not just cow dung, but contains many other things like chicken poop (not something I am unfamiliar with), peat moss etc. So, my calculation could be wrong. I may have to go back and get more of these or see if any of the nearby farms sell their dried manure.

Yesterday night’s rain had perfect timing. I hope it did not cause too much of the manure to leach away. Can’t wait to see the first long beans.

Invasion of Crows

Tuesday, 21 July 2009 23:55 by salim

It was a quite cloudy day. Low clouds always give me headache. Sinus problems. Yes, yes, I know, I should stop smoking.

So, in the morning, I was lying in my favorite couch sipping my tea. Suddenly I hear crows.

Crows are a constant presence back home in Kerala. Some of my best memories involve distant crowing in the afternoon. Have you ever listened to the lonely crow? Especially in a hot afternoon. It is kind of magical. But, it is downright creepy when you hear a crow at night.

Anyways, I walked outside and saw a whole bunch of crows at the top branches of the oak. I think I have seen one or two crows around, but never in this many numbers. They must have found something.

In Kerala, one kind of crows are believed to bear the souls departed ones. In the anniversary of death, we call the crows to come and eat cooked sun-dried rice. Take a dip in the pond over there, climb up without drying, clap your wet hands, and there the crows (Bali Kakka – Sacrificial Crow, no we don’t kill them. Rice is the offering to the crows).

It was weird to hear that many crows in Philadelphia. They are much bigger than back home as well. May be they are planning a Hitchcockian invasion!

A non-pedantic, civil musing on GovindanKutty and racial prejudices...

Saturday, 18 July 2009 21:51 by salim
(This post was written in collaboration with Shobha (http://www.chaaya.com) Last post was meant to be a comment and I was not really looking forward to write a follow up on that. But, it looks like I have to, as GK has posted a reply to it (which in itself could be a post) in the comments of the original post in question. (.(http://chespeak.blogspot.com/2008/12/barak-obama-and-skyscrapers-of.html. The comment is towards the end) As a good blogger, I should have left my reply in the comment section itself, but Blogger comments are very limited and I cannot put any formatting, links or pictures (ohh yes, I have one for this). So, I decided to make it into a post as well. There are several parts in GK's reply that I have objections about. []one, as human hue, white is superior to black. forced to make a choice, we would like to be white, not black. which is not to say that to like to be white is necessarily to hate those who have not been lucky to be white. My friend FT told me that I should not be pedantic and should not show resentment (she had it in all CAPS) when I am having a discussion. So, I will be very civil. So, this time, I will start with two stories. One is a native American legend. (http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/TheWell-BakedMan-Pima.html. Here is a more literary retelling of the story http://www.ralphmag.org/CM/cave-god.html). The short version of it is, that the creator made man out of clay and baked it in the fire. But Coyote the trickster fooled creator into baking the first one too little thus having a pale color and the second one too long, with a black color. Creator got very angry, sent the trickster away and made the perfectly baked red skinned man. The second story (I couldn't find a web reference to it), I think was "told" by our own VKN is about the dilemma of European missionaries in explaining the White God and Black Devil to African people. But, we don't have to look far to figure out the connection between the assumption of white as a superior skin color and its relation to social power structure. All we have to remember that some of the prime symbols of female and male beauty in Indian mythology have dark skin. I understand where GK is coming from and acknowledge that in Kerala, and probably in India as a whole, there is a tendency to consider white skinned people as more desirable than dark skinned. But, instead of realizing the social factors behind it, elevating it into a human reality is quite a stretch. I am sure the well known culture critics who have commented in this article could explain it in a more academic way than I could. "fondness for white as a human complexion is a, shall we say, psycho-social reality. if it is a curse for humankind, let us kick the god who made it so. lala har dayal once proposed that a chemical substance be made that can be injected into the skin to turn it white. that would have enlarged the scope of human choice, and solved colour problem in the flick of a finger, but that was not to be." Now, we are going even further to attribute a regional social attitude as a divine reality. (By the way, it is quite possible to bleach one's skin off all melanin and become white.) I don't know if I am reading too much to these two paragraphs, it seems to me that GK is suggesting that the only way for races with dark skin to succeed is by procreating with white skinned people and turning their offspring to white! two, diversity is all very good, we may even delight in diversity, as desmond tutu put it, but it is not good to make everything equal to everything else. I am a bit confused here. Diversity, by definition, is the opposite of making everything equal to everything else. It is the acknowledgement of the exact opposite, realization that everything is NOT equal to everything else. (I have to say, I am quite disappointed that I didn't even make it to the Romantics... It is just pseudo-romantic.) aborigines of nilambur forests, cholanaickens, live in caves and on wild berries and locusts, [...] do we say it is their style, it is their choice, and that their style, their choice, is as good as ours? no. i do not rate those environmentalists [...],as significantly sane. we need to allow ourselves the human right to exercise comparative cultural judgement." No one is questioning making personal judgments on comparative culture. It, as GK writes, is a human right. However, when that judgment goes further into making decisions (often autocratic) about the lives of the "other" culture, it becomes an infringement of human rights. Every societal group assumes their culture to be the right one, better than the "other". This, again, is a right of a people. I have the right to be a Nair and forage for fish and crabs in the streams when not fighting a fierce "war", and the Cholanaickans have their right to forage for wild berries. It brings up yet another example from the not so far in the past. As the new worlds being found by the middle age travelers, there was a huge "concern" about the lack of culture and morality among these newfound worlds. It probably was a very earnest effort from the part of the Missionaries that flocked to these African and South American societies to convert the unbelievers and aborigines to "civilization". But, we now know that, many of these "uncivilized" cultures were, in reality, were technologically and otherwise as much or even more advanced than the European societies at that time. A fine example is the recent researches into El Dorado and the discovery of Dark Earth. (http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Feb06/AAAS.terra.preta.ssl.html, http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2002/eldorado.shtml). One can, of course take the more colorful route of assuming all the achievement of these early civilizations are from visiting Aliens. "[..]do we want to become black and dress our hair like some blacks? like cholanaickens? we mouth a lot of praise for theyyyam but do we like to train our children as theyyam artists?" The question is never whether I want to braid my hair like "some blacks". (I would love a Bob Marley hairdo though. I am slowly getting there.) The question is about being me, and part of my culture is the right thing to do.

(This post was written in collaboration with Shobha (http://www.chaaya.com)

Last post was meant to be a comment and I was not really looking forward to write a follow up on that. But, it looks like I have to, as GK has posted a reply to it (which in itself could be a post) in the comments of the original post in question. (.(http://chespeak.blogspot.com/2008/12/barak-obama-and-skyscrapers-of.html. The comment is towards the end) As a good blogger, I should have left my reply in the comment section itself, but Blogger comments are very limited and I cannot put any formatting, links or pictures (ohh yes, I have one for this). So, I decided to make it into a post as well.

There are several parts in GK's reply that I have objections about.

[]one, as human hue, white is superior to black.
forced to make a choice, we would like to be white, not black.
which is not to say that to like to be white is necessarily to hate
those who have not been lucky to be white.

My friend FT told me that I should not be pedantic and should not show resentment (she had it in all CAPS) when I am having a discussion. So, I will be very civil.

So, this time, I will start with two stories.

One is a native American legend. (http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/TheWell-BakedMan-Pima.html. Here is a more literary retelling of the story http://www.ralphmag.org/CM/cave-god.html). The short version of it is, that the creator made man out of clay and baked it in the fire. But Coyote the trickster fooled creator into baking the first one too little thus having a pale color and the second one too long, with a black color. Creator got very angry, sent the trickster away and made the perfectly baked red skinned man.

The second story (I couldn't find a web reference to it), I think was "told" by our own VKN is about the dilemma of European missionaries in explaining the White God and Black Devil to African people.

But, we don't have to look far to figure out the connection between the assumption of white as a superior skin color and its relation to social power structure. All we have to remember that some of the prime symbols of female and male beauty in Indian mythology have dark skin.

I understand where GK is coming from and acknowledge that in Kerala, and probably in India as a whole, there is a tendency to consider white skinned people as more desirable than dark skinned. But, instead of realizing the social factors behind it, elevating it into a human reality is quite a stretch. I am sure the well known culture critics who have commented in this article could explain it in a more academic way than I could.

"fondness for white as a human complexion is a, shall we say,
psycho-social reality. if it is a curse for humankind, let us kick the god who made it so. lala har dayal once proposed that a chemical substance be made that can be injected into the skin to turn it white. that would have enlarged the scope of human choice, and solved colour problem in the flick of a finger, but that was not to be."

Now, we are going even further to attribute a regional social attitude as a divine reality. (By the way, it is quite possible to bleach one's skin off all melanin and become white.) I don't know if I am reading too much to these two paragraphs, it seems to me that GK is suggesting that the only way for races with dark skin to succeed is by procreating with white skinned people and turning their offspring to white!

two, diversity is all very good, we may even delight in diversity,
as desmond tutu put it, but it is not good to make everything equal to everything else.

I am a bit confused here. Diversity, by definition, is the opposite of making everything equal to everything else. It is the acknowledgement of the exact opposite, realization that everything is NOT equal to everything else.

(I have to say, I am quite disappointed that I didn't even make it to the Romantics... It is just pseudo-romantic.)

aborigines of nilambur forests, cholanaickens, live in caves
and on wild berries and locusts, [...] do we say it is their style, it is their choice, and that their style, their choice, is as good as ours? no. i do not rate those environmentalists [...],as significantly sane. we need to allow ourselves the human right to exercise comparative cultural judgement."

No one is questioning making personal judgments on comparative culture. It, as GK writes, is a human right. However, when that judgment goes further into making decisions (often autocratic) about the lives of the "other" culture, it becomes an infringement of human rights. Every societal group assumes their culture to be the right one, better than the "other". This, again, is a right of a people. I have the right to be a Nair and forage for fish and crabs in the streams when not fighting a fierce "war", and the Cholanaickans have their right to forage for wild berries.

It brings up yet another example from the not so far in the past. As the new worlds being found by the middle age travelers, there was a huge "concern" about the lack of culture and morality among these newfound worlds. It probably was a very earnest effort from the part of the Missionaries that flocked to these African and South American societies to convert the unbelievers and aborigines to "civilization". But, we now know that, many of these "uncivilized" cultures were, in reality, were technologically and otherwise as much or even more advanced than the European societies at that time. A fine example is the recent researches into El Dorado and the discovery of Dark Earth. (http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Feb06/AAAS.terra.preta.ssl.html, http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2002/eldorado.shtml). One can, of course take the more colorful route of assuming all the achievement of these early civilizations are from visiting Aliens.

"[..]do we want to become black and dress our hair like some blacks? like cholanaickens? we mouth a lot of praise for theyyyam but do we like to train our children as theyyam artists?"

Image019 The question is never whether I want to braid my hair like "some blacks". (I would love a Bob Marley hairdo though. I am slowly getting there.) The question is about being me, and being part of my culture is the right thing to do.

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Checkkutty, Govindankutty and African American Hairdo

Sunday, 21 December 2008 20:39 by salim

That is a weird enough title I guess.

Last several months in the US were extremely exciting if you are a political junkie like me. My physical involvement in election was limited to a few days of volunteering with the Obama campaign. Intellectually though, I ended up reading not just things about current election, but also a lot of American political history. It was quite satisfying especially now that my side has won the election.

My days and especially evenings were filled with watching political TV shows and reading hundreds of political blog postings and except for a couple of times, I did not post anything in my blogs. This lack of activity would have continued further but for a very offending posting by someone I used to respect in my younger days.

Yesterday, Shobha forwarded a blog posting from Chekkutty's blog.(http://chespeak.blogspot.com/2008/12/barak-obama-and-skyscrapers-of.html). The specific post is by Govindankutty, a veteran journalist from Kerala.

What Govindankutty displays in his troubled lamenting about African-American hairdo is a total lack of understanding of the social reality in the US and an abundance of snobbery. I would have left it at a few private retorts between me and Shobha. But when I found that a whole bunch of other voices in the comments that mildly glosses over the blatant racism in his post, but praise him on his criticism on a rather outdated poem. (If the children's poem was taught in our schools, that must've been before I started going to school)

In his original post, Govindankutty has two issue with the African-American hairdo. First is that it is "revolting" to his "aesthetic sense" and the second is its unsophisticated tribal character. Then he wonders what would be the result of someone with this hairdo participating in a diplomatic meeting in the white house ("consider the prospect of someone with that kind of remote and ribald hair style sitting in the oval office..."), now that a black is in there! (Some of you might remember a New Yorker cover that, unsuccessfully address this hairdo issue http://abagond.wordpress.com/2008/07/20/michelle-obamas-afro/)

It surprises me that him and many of the commentators fail to see an utter lack of appreciation of diversity (or even xenophobia) in the above statement.

I have seen extreme bewilderment of many people in their early days in the US on seeing the overwhelming diversity of the population, especially if they are coming to any of the major urban centers. But, in most cases I have found this in people who come from relatively homogeneous societies. In every conversation about multiculturalism I boast about my inherent ability to absorb diversity since I come from India, Kerala. However, Govindankutty's statements makes me reconsider that statement. Are we as a society, incapable of appreciating diversity?

Reading further down, I see some pointers from his social interaction where he might have picked up his total "otherness" to afro-american culture. (It is not entirely correct to prefix it with afro. The black culture in the US is only partly African. There are so many other regions and cultures that contribute to the black cultural identity, and it is as diverse as any other subculture.)

He continues

"so i never ask anyone about the african-america hairdo. i avoided looking at them for more than a second. my son has warned me that it is not safe to have eye contact with any group of african-american" [lack of capitalization from original]

I am assuming that GK lives in northern Virginia. I would venture to guess that it is a gated community or an upper middle class development.

In his movie "Bowling for Columbine" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowling_for_Columbine) Michael Moore discusses at length the "white America's fear of the black man". Fear of natives and the "other" is one of the most prevalent aspect of American majority culture. Originally it was the un-sophisticated, unchristian native Americans who were a mortal threat. It later replaced by the threat from former slaves. Right now it has expanded to many others like the Gays, atheists, Latinos, Arabs, Muslims, etc. etc. In many places, we Indians are the "other", the Sand Niggers, Camel Jockeys!

Well, GK, it is ok to look at a black person. It is ok to look at a Latino or Gay. It is possible that there could be a similar feel of "otherness" from the other side too, but it is much less prevalent.

Many of the people who have commented in the original post are people I respect and have read with reverence in my formative years. It is so disappointing to see none of them realized this - I am using that word again - xenophobia even when continuing to discuss racial cultural insensitivities in early Malayalam poetry.

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Things I learned in my last trip to Kerala

Wednesday, 9 April 2008 05:37 by salim
  1. I still love rain: I landed on the 22nd to the midst of a severe spring depression in the Arabian Sea. Really torrential rains for almost three days without a pause. A very nice reminder of the monsoons. Yes, it was disastrous, with large amounts of crops failing as this happened just when the paddy fields were getting ready to be harvested. The rain practically flooded large portions of the road between my brother's house and my sister's house between which I was doing most of the walking.
  2. Kerala drivers are not reckless, they are incredibly patient: I am still afraid of traffic in Kerala roads. I do feel much better driving in the US where there are specific rules and people largely obey them. So, the apparent chaos of the TVM traffic baffled me for a few days. I was trying to imagine how I managed to go through this when I was driving. But, the number of vehicles where several times less then than it is now. The roads have not widened at all, though in TVM, the number of roads have increased. So, as I traveled (as a passenger) around TVM, I came to learn the incredible order in all this chaos. The fundamental principle in the dynamic - you will be surprised - co-operation and patience!!! Every intersection, everybody yielded, watched for others, took the least invasive route. Of course there were tyrants and hot headed drivers and novices. But they all worked within this system of yield and cooperation much more than I see in an intersection with stop sign in the US. We are still learning the wonders of double lane traffic, but I think we are much better and getting better as we do it more.
  3. Kerala Govt. Hospitals are a good place to get health care: I know the maladies of our government hospitals from the corruption among doctors and staff to the lack of availability of equipments and sometimes medicine. But it does operate much more efficiently than many big hospitals in the US. It is quite amazing when you add the fact that most of the service provided by these government hospitals is free. I visited SAT, a hospital that specializes in women and children. It is where most of the difficult child births around TVM and possibly the whole of Kerala happens. In my own family, my elder niece had some complication during birth and was transferred to SAT immediately after birth in a private hospital. My sister gave birth to her daughter there as well. So, I am intimately familiar with the good and the bad. Knowing the amount of talent we have in there and the percentage of hard working dedicated people, with all the perceived bad, I will still trust SAT against any other private hospital and some of the hospitals around me in Philadelphia.
  4. The political discourse in Kerala has not changed a lot: This is a good sign. It has not deteriorated any further. There is the usual penetration of right wing media and further marginalisation of the left voice. But, nothing alarming there. There are the beginnings of alternative discourse becoming more visible through blogs and some odd TV programs. Coming from the US, even the worst offenders of journalistic ethics in Kerala looks like a bastion of Journalistic integrity in US standards)
  5. I love talking in Malayalam: I knew this. I have not done theoretical discussions in Malayalam for a while. Got some chance to do it. Loved it!
  6. There are way too many Cuckoos in Kerala: Yes, there are much more than say 7 years ago. I lived in TVM at two houses and in Kochin at my wife's house. In all the three places, I could hear much more Cuckoo (Kuyil) songs than I used to hear before. It was a novelty to challenge a cuckoo song and make it "mad". But now, it is actually annoying at times. My sister complains about this one cuckoo which start singing at 4 am in the morning!! I should ask an ornithologist about this.

More to come...

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