Main story A model

Like any legendary lot the Khalasis too determinedly deplores and disses any attempt that plebeianises a hard earned reputation. Following the Perumom Tragedy of 1988 when modern cranes and other power tools failed it was the Khalasis who lifted the sunken train compartments out from the depths of the Ashtamudi Lake in Kollam employing just their age-old pulleys, hawsers and rollers. EK Nayanar the then chief minister requested them to lend a hand. Today ‘Service and Khalasi’ is a frequent … More»

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The word ‘archaeology’ is Greek in origin and has nothing to do with monuments or heritage but simply means the ‘pursuit of ancient knowledge.’ While few of us pursue ancient knowledge ardently – or any knowledge for that matter – while on holiday, there is a certain joy we experience while visiting heritage sites – treasure troves of prehistoric civilisations, acmes of ancient creativity, epitomes of thought and design from an era gone by. More so when they are not … More»

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Some tough calls are easy to make because we were just waiting, having known all along. I could have stuck to the brief and brought out my book on time. Or I could talk about tribal dislocation, warn about traffic conditions, mull over Maoists, their lives and death and burial traditions, ponder over poaching that went on unhindered in the ‘protected’ biospheres – inviting the sponsor’s wrath and editorial anguish and thereby also bring upon myself the inevitable and frustrating publication … More»

A town sought-after

“We the people…” Das shouted over the staccato din of his rear engine auto rickshaw “are full support of the port.”
Das and I were on our way to Mulloor, few kilometres from Vizhinjam, a flashpoint in the elaborate and controversial land acquisition exercise for the much touted Vizhinjam Port developed jointly by the state and central governments and infrastructure major Adani Group. “Only the priests and politicians have a problem.”
At the Kuriathy Beach in Mulloor resorts stood in rubbled desolation; … More»

Pointers to an era - the machines, over 250 of them

On the day of the museum’s inauguration in January this year one of the invitees, a prominent local politician, said to Sunny’s wife Josia “This is sheer craziness.” It was, one can imagine, only in the course of faithful disbursal of his duties as a democratically elected representative of the people – the vox populi. Because that was exactly what most of those who had gathered there thought: Sunny must be off his rocker to sink his entire retirement funds … More»


Seldom do we have a say in the situations we find ourselves in. But where we do is whether we come out of them. And how: Shaking like a dry leaf in a harmattan but unscathed, barely scraping through and lucky to be alive. Or what we make of them: Wiser, more patient, better streetsmarts, a newfound appreciation for life. Even as wellsprings of opinion on everything under the sun or a screaming expert on national television. Every recount accords … More»


Land proprietorship in Kerala is classified under three broad no-need-to-quantify heads: muttam (yard), parambu (farm) and estate (estate). The lack of need to quantify arises from an everyday fact – nobody gives out actual figures and everyone assigns everyone else acreage inversely proportional to the degree of familiarity. And everyone is happy: while the meagre holders bask under the enhanced share – of property and thereby social standing, it helps the muthalali, the big fish, hide from taxmen, credit-seeking relatives … More»

Old Jerusalem

The once-happening entrepot Alleppey in Kerala is popular today for backwaters, boat races and beaches, houseboats and homestays. Its immense historicity has been relegated to some sprawling warehouses bearing Victorian names and presiding over hyacinth-laden canals, a handful of ancient temples and a vastly retrenched coir industry. Missing from the milieu of ‘modern’ experiences was the museum – both as a beacon to an era past and a sensory-offensive like the V&A with its mind-dazzling array of decorative arts. The … More»


Strangers have always mistaken me for a holy or an army man. Something which has boggled me and not little – while one means soft eyes in a serene face the other mandates a severe one with stiff deportment. Save for my mother – who thinks I am the accumulation of all features nice and wonderful – the rest of my blood relations have likened me to wanted criminals and soft porn movie stars. When it comes to forming an … More»

White ocean

Night descended on the Tirthan Valley without much ado. The shrilly, tremolo notes of swamp toads and crickets did not besiege us from all around but piped up sporadically, almost like an afterthought. Tiny rounded silhouettes rustled between the deodars by the side of the narrow road. The moon waning into Ramadan-crescent shone brightly above the overarching forest canopy. Beneath it was pitch dark and we had to use the flash lights from our mobile phones. Mountain peaks traced billowy … More»

Don't miss the drive by bussing overnight

The palanquin bearer winced as he stiffened to an abrupt halt. You could see he was under untold duress; cold beads of sweat broke out from his forehead, his eyes bulged out from their sockets like those of the shikhara-supporting bharavahakas. He started again, squirming and with swaying steps. He convulsed as if invisible lassoes tugged at him in different directions. At one point his eyes became hooded – all you could see were the whites – and he made … More»

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