Category Archives: CITY

About the activities in the city that contribute towards a improved lifestyle. And also inspiring stories and tips to pep up your lifestyle.

A day in the park and yoga

Well-Kept with a diversity of flora and fauna, the District Park of Janakpuri is one of the best parks for morning routines in Delhi.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA

Hence, from the break of dawn, people staying in the neighbourhood come to this Sprawling Park.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA

Not only the leafy foliage acts as the oxygen chamber but also the shady trees provide relief from the sweltering heat in summer.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA

As a result, in the green expanse people walk, jog, exercise, gym, play team sports and meditate.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA
1.25 Km longs tails for walks and jogs

Even on the most crowded day, this idyllic park provides quietness and solitude.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA
Fragrant and Medicinal Eucyalyptus

The Fragrance of the Eucalyptus fills the air throughout year. The intoxicating smell of the Saptaparani in the autumn evenings harbingers the winter.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA

Now that the pandemics slowed the lifestyle, the park repaired by itself. The monsoon made the park even prettier.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA

The grassy lawns are greener, and the flowers are in full bloom, unhindered by humans.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA
Walking barefoot

The paved paths make walking and jogging smoother. You don’t need shoes; you can walk barefoot unhurt on the 1.25 km long trail.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA
Open Gym

People of all age groups come here. Some come to relax and chatter, while others come to tone up their body and mind.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA

Some of them have been coming to the park for 40 years. They share a special bonding with the trees and the park dogs.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA
A permanent resident of the park and a friend of reqular visitors. Pampered with food.

Mynah, Crows, Sparrows, Pigeons and Squirrels are some of the permanent residents of this park.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA

Now that the traffic is less, you can listen to the birds chirping.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA
The leafty foliage to heal writers block

If you experience writer’s block, you can get healed when you walk through the shady paths covered by the canopy of tall, leafy Eucalyptus, Ashoka and peepal trees.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA

Besides the colourful foliage of the Amaltas, Gulmohar and Bougainville on the vast expanse of the parks provide a visual treat.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA

When you walk through the park, some people get noticed because of their unique mannerism in walking, jogging and meditating.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA
Padma Mayurasana/Lotus Peacock Pose

Mr Krishnan is one such regular visitor to the parks. He walks on the trails and does yoga on the grassy lawns.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA
Mayurasana/Male Peacock pose

Yoga is one way to remain healthy and maintain mental equilibrium in this pandemic.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA
Halasana/Plough pose

When we approached Mr Krishnan, he agreed to show us yoga asanas that will be beneficial for various diseases.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA
Supta Konasana/Reclining Angle Pose

He said he never he allowed a video shoot of his daily yoga practice.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA
Matsyasana / Fish pose

As he demonstrated the yoga postures, we watched and listened to him with silence and concentration.  

Watch the Video:

The perfect restaurant for an authentic Onam Sadhya in Delhi

We went to Mahabelly for a family dinner on our wedding anniversary. We waited for our turn for one hour outside the restaurant because they are very strict about serving on a first-come-first-served basis. You can either book your table online or book on the spot outside the restaurant.

 If there was any irritation about being made to wait, especially on a wedding anniversary, it was washed down by the unlimited chilled lemon juice that the waiters served to those who waited outside.

Art & Design

Onam Sadhya in Delhi
A perfect blend of the tradition and the modern

Once we went inside, what struck me was that this Restaurant stood apart from all the other Kerala Restaurants that I visited so far. Usually Kerala Restaurants give priority only to food, however, at Mahabelly there is a Kerala ambience because of the art and design of the restaurant. There is a mix of tradition and contemporary in every aspect, right from the name of the restaurant, ‘Mahabelly’.  Mahabali, the legendary king is believed to visit Kerala during Onam.

The Funny Posters

Onam Sadhya in Delhi
The funny posters attract everyone’s attention

The funny posters attract everyone’s attention because they reflect the current demography of Kerala. The bar named ‘Mala Bar’ ostentatiously displays the signboard of a Kerala Toddy Shop. And the washbasin is shaped like an Urali, traditional copper cooking vessel of Kerala.

The customers of Mahabelly are of mixed demography, “We have a mixed group of people coming here and it is not restricted to a single demography as such. We have a lot of Malayalees visiting us who are our bread and butter. Apart from them also have people from the North, the locals from here and also a lot of foreigners.” Says Zachariah Jacob, one of the three partners, of Mahabelly.

The Food

Onam Sadhya in Delhi
Tasty, authentic and attractively served

On that day, we had Kappa, fish curry, Kerala porotta and Chicken roast. The food was tasty, authentic and attractively served. Located in Upscale Delhi, the rates seem reasonable. We all were of the opinion that this is the best Kerala Restaurant in Delhi. I emailed to Zachariah, to allow me to write a review about the restaurant. He invited me to experience an Onam sadhya when there was a shooting going on by Red FM. Mahabelly has got great reviews by almost all leading media houses in India.

So this review is not a sponsored post. This is a usual lifestyletodyanews blog, written to inform and inspire you. Just to inform you that if you want to experience one good Onam sadhya in Delhi, during the Onam season, Mahabelly in Saket, is the right option in Delhi.

Onam Sadhya

Onam Sadhya in Delhi

On September 10th, 11th and 12th Mahabelly restaurant will be exclusively serving authentic Onam Sadhya, during lunch and dinner with ingredients brought directly from Kerala. There will be around 21-25 dishes, including two yummy payasams, served on original banana leaves. The rate is ₹888 per head, which is all-inclusive.

For those who cannot do without non-vegetarian even for an Onam sadhya, there are a few non-vegetarian starters also available.

Kerala Toddy

Onam Sadhya in Delhi

On being asked whether Kerala Toddy is being served, Zachariah said, “We are not serving Kerala toddy. Unfortunately, the licensing rules do not allow us to serve Kerala Toddy here. At the same time, we have a lot of other options, especially southern themed cocktails, which are specially curated for the kind of cuisine we serve.”

So this Onam, if you are in Delhi on September 10th, 11th or 12th, celebrate the visit of our beloved king Mahabali by having an authentic Kerala Sadhya at Mahabelly Saket.

HAPPY ONAM

Day 1 of Unbox Festival filled with activities and entertainments

Like the past editions of UnBox festival, this year the line up for day one was stacked with some great talks, panel discussions, workshops, exhibitions, installations and meals. 

Festival attendees got a chance to explore talks and panels on water-related issues, the future of urban farming, the digital content landscape in India, language and learning, the impact of social media on the upcoming general elections, building resilience from distress and tech ecologies.

Produced by UnBox Food Labs, lunch at the festival was catered by Bengaluru Oota Company which was a tribute to the Gowda and Mangalorean cuisines of Karnataka, a culinary experience based on heirloom family recipes that are passed down through the generations.

Post lunch, we dived right into workshops – Experiential Immersion in Disability, The future of History, Smellscape, Emergent Tech, What is your feminist wishlist?, Narkasur, Conspiracy creation and Seeing Invisibility. 

UnBox X Open house – a free for all event kicked off at 6PM with Now: A Kinetic Life – an interactive installation and performance, and a three-part film addressing the challenges of rising food demands. A collection of art exhibits, installations, screenings and immersive experiences were on display and open for all those who walked through the fest. We closed day one with a trans-media narrative of hypnagogic dreamscapes (titled Dreamswitch) through improvised electronica and live visual programming, featuring Seasonal Affected Beats, Aural Eye and Cursorama. 

As reported by Vibhuti Jaswal from the festival venue.

Information about the Evening Performances On February 16th and 17th.

February 16 | 8:00PM onwards
UnBox After Dark
Aural Eye X Cursorama X Echofloat X SPRYKPresented at Foxtrot – House of Subculture in Koramangala.

Unbox After Dark presents a collaborative Audio Visual showcase by the Unbox residents and guests. The night combines sounds from Bombay based electronic musicians SPRYK and Echofloat, with visual interpretations from Thiruda and Cursorama from the VJing collective, Alt-Q supported by Romanian collective- Aural Eye Visions Studio.
Spryk is the brainchild of Tejas Nair, an independent electronic musician pushing boundaries of technology-driven art. EchoFloat is a music project conceived by Jeff Nelson, exploring productions and DJ sets ranging from lush thoughtful soundscapes to intricate granular textures, to invoke a sense of space, form, interconnectivity and movement.

February 17 | 6:00PM-10:00PM

The Unwind Collection

Nikhil Narendra X Shreyas Dipali X Tambe and Friends
Presented at The Humming Tree in Indira Nagar.
Tambe & Friends is an indie folk trio based out of Bangalore, India. The project revolves around an intimate collection of songs written and sung by Abhi Tambe with ample support from Michael Dias and Kaushik Kumar on guitars and vocal harmonies. Abhi Tambe, currently performing as a solo singer-songwriter, is remembered in the city as one of the founding members of the cult band Lounge Piranha, which disbanded back in 2010. Michael Dias is founder and frontman for current city favourites Mad Orange Fireworks and Kaushik Kumar plays bass in the same band.

They will be followed by a modern, electronic set that brings together the sound experiments of Nikhil Narendra and Shreyas Dipali. They used to perform with alternative band The Bicycle Days, but have found their true calling in electronic music that condenses their many influences into one sound. 

A Curtain Raiser to The Unbox Festival

The countdown has begun for a festival that connects people and helps one to learn from the experience of people from various fields. The Unbox Festival is being put together, for the fifth time, by Quicksand Design Studio, a research and design practice with studios in New Delhi, Bangalore and Goa.

UnBox Festival will take place at the Bangalore International Centre, in Domlur, between February 15-17, 2019. Here is an interview with Babitha George, Co-Founder – UnBox Festival & Director – Quicksand Design Studio. She talks about the events at the festival this year, how the festival began, and the outcomes from the festival so far.

Tell us something about UnBox Festival?

The multi-disciplinary festival brings together people from various fields of design, technology, culture, art and Policymaking.

Incepted by Quicksand Design Studio in 2011 as an annual festival in India, and a fellowship program since 2012, UnBox has promoted new thoughts and partnerships at the intersection of design, art, culture and social innovation. UnBox is a growing community of creative, academic and developmental professionals seeking to collaborate beyond their immediate practice and looking to infuse future world experiences with imagination, sustainability and responsibility.

In 2014 we took a pause on the UnBox festival format to reflect and renew. While we were away, we spent time quietly tinkering. UnBox was evolving and we tried on many hats. We packed it small and took it to Ahmedabad, Bombay, Bangalore, Goa, Berlin, London, Leeds, Sheffield, Anstruther, and Tokyo. It became a lab, a caravan, a pop-up, an immersive media arts platform, and an in-house experiment for the folks at the studio. It’s now back in India as a festival platform after a 4-year hiatus and with the upcoming edition we hope to rediscover lost paths, forge new trails, and have a good time while we are at it!

This year, UnBox will take place at the Bangalore International Centre in Domlur between February 15-17, 2019 and will bring together a unique programme that features diverse tracks for participants to explore intersections across design, art, culture, technology and policy. The festival will invite diverse participation and bring together technologists, activists, policy makers and a mix of the creative community to ideate and collaborate on the most pressing challenges facing India today.

What are the main events at the festival?

UnBox 2019 will run across three full days with workshops, labs, conference sessions and conversations over meals, along with evenings of performances and excursions into the city curated to inspire, provoke and imagine. With a detailed programming in place this year we deep dive into conversations around art, design, culture, technology, policy, environment and social innovation. Right from conversations and discussions around emerging technologies such as AI to conservation and human ecologies, design led innovation to digital heritage and food ecosystems to creating a smell map of the city, UnBox 2019 brings together a diverse mix of projects which are shared either as evolved project ideas, or other projects that either culminate or are initiated at the festival. In this way the UnBox experience lives not just for the three days of the festival, but moves into a space of continued learning and collaborations.

Who are the participants at the festival?

UnBox 2019 is where people from seemingly disparate backgrounds, but with similar interests and values around collaboration come together to explore diverse themes and apply their unique skills and talents in co-creating new products and ideas. The festival line up in terms of participants and practitioners is carefully curated for a rich balance of the intellectual and the experiential.

How did the UnBox festival begin in the first place?

We started UnBox with the intent to create a larger community who value multidisciplinary approaches and are open to questioning their own practice and learn from others. 8 years in, we have built a vibrant network of artists, designers, thinkers, young professionals and stakeholders in the creative economy space in India and abroad. We’ve always put innovative experiments at the center of our programming and this year UnBox festival will be no different. With UnBox 2019 we hope to bring people from disparate backgrounds together to explore diverse themes and co-create new products and share fresh ideas. It’s important to have a safe space that allows for discussions about failure as well as about work that is in progress, which might be messy and chaotic.

Through UnBox, we want to allow for new encounters and conversations, and to draw inspiration from unlikely spaces. This festival edition will collectively engage with new futures in a way that acknowledges and builds on the multilayered complexity of our lives, from culture, memories and the past to the spaces and communities we inhabit and shape.

Tell us something about the outcome of the festival in previous years?

The outcomes of the festival are both tangible and intangible. Some projects have started at the festival and continued into longer projects. For eg; UnBox has been working with the University of Dundee for a while around decentralised narratives for technology that attempt to co-create solutions with communities that are appropriate for the context. We are partnering with Black Baza Coffee and Buffalo Back Collective on this project and all of these explorations will make its way to the festival this year via conversations, workshops and exhibits.

There are several other examples like this, also of projects that start at the festival and continue to be explored beyond the festival through active collaborations. Some other outcomes are intangible, through connections that are made. The intimate format of the festival allows for informal and meaningful networking, some of which are facilitated by the UnBox team, while some others happen organically.

What is most exciting is when practices that would traditionally not work with each other find points of connections and new ways of collaborating and exploring challenges. For eg; what does it mean for a technologist to work with a social scientist to think of what it means to develop more sensitive and thoughtful technology services for communities, that take into account the unique aspects of various contexts.  

Tell us something about the installations, exhibition and performances at the festival?  

Attendees can expect to see a diverse mix of installations, exhibitions and performances at the festival. For instance, Invisible Flock and Quicksand bring to UnBox 2019 Kāṇada kathegaḷu which aims to mix environmental data collection with technology to find new ways of representing hidden elements of nature and our fragile relationship to it.

Stories from Down Under: VR Cinema Pods with Crossover Labs (UK) is a showcase of cutting-edge immersive entertainment from Australia featuring award-winning virtual reality films in association with Australian High Commission. The films export you to different worlds including the life of a street artist, a magical autumn forest and the land of an Australian indigenous elder.

Anatomy of an AI – In this talk, Prof. Vladan Joler from Novi Sad University uncovers the invisible matrix of human labour, energy consumption and resource extraction that is hidden behind digital networks and Artificial Intelligence. Specifically, it takes the home assistant Amazon Echo as a case study of black box technology and, step by step, reconstructs its design and the relations of each component with planetary ecology and economy.

In a participatory performance installation titled Un Parfum En Commun (supported by Pro Helvetia) with Swiss artist Maeva Rosset the intent is to create a common scent that identifies with all those who become part of its creation.

Aurora with Invisible Flock and Quicksand aims to open up a dialogue on the value of water at a local and global level, to understand it as an element, a life force, a resource, a commodity and a danger.  

NOW – A Kinetic Life (supported by Goethe India) with Thomas Heidtmann (Lacuna Lab) and Bidisha Das is an interactive installation that spans a visual and acoustic connections between outer space and physical spaces that surround us. It is an orchestra of movement using elements from outer space, nature and human bodies as instrumentations.

Reminiscent of the warmth of a hardbound book and the scent of its pages, The Unlimited Book with Thejesh GN expands the ecosystem of a library as the keeper of infinite knowledge. Taking the form of a secret book safe which consists of a custom server that runs on battery it serves readings that are stored locally on the server without the use of the internet. Project Infinity with Thejesh GN and PARI, an edition of the Unlimited Book includes a curated selection of stories from the People’s Archive of Rural India.

Mix the City Auto with Indian Music Experience is a transient space created within an Indian Auto Rickshaw to showcase and experience the diversity of sound, music and cultural influences from various cities in the country. It features original content by Indian composers and musicians in the form of short audio and video samples, compiled by UK music producers (Boxed In, Django Django and Anna Meredith, along with Israeli producer Kutiman). Supported by the British Council.

UK-India Lab with Invisible Flock and Quicksand who are facilitating a new network of artists and creatives from UK and India through a lab that focuses on building meaningful, cross-disciplinary collaborations within environmental and socially engaged practices. Supported by the British Council.

Swarpeti with Pratyush Gupta explores Indian classical music is intertwined with nature, seasons, colours and emotions. It transcends time and cultures to create a blend of music full of depth and wonder.

Talking Albums with PARI present a curated set of albums that speak from The People’s Archive of Rural India, a living journal and an archive of stories from India’s countryside.

Boundary Conditions with Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy, Abhijeet Tambe is an installation which looks to ignite an experience that is created by placing moving bodies in and against an architectural space that speaks of itself.

Performances

UnBox Open House: Friday @ Bangalore International Centre

With: Seasonal Affected Beats (Tarun Balani) and Aural Eye (Alina & Daniel)

UnBox Afterdark: Saturday @ Foxtrot

With: SPRYK (Tejas), Thiruda, Alt-Q and Echofloat (Jeff Nelson)

UnBox Unwind: Sunday @ HummingTree

With: Abhijeet Tambe & Friends, Nikhil and Shreyas

How can someone participate in the festival?

Apart from an extended team of co-creators, mentors and practitioners who make up the festival programme, there is also a ticketed, open call for participants. Attendees will have access to talks, discussions, workshops, exhibitions, installations, meals, performances and excursions into the city curated to inspire, provoke and imagine.


Babitha George, Co-Founder – UnBox Festival & Director – Quicksand Design Studio

Kerala needs help, situation worse than Thailand

This flood in Kerala is probably the biggest flood after Noah’s time. The flood is not getting over in a day or two. The calamity is continuing for over 40 days now. It is raining and flooding every District of Kerala and places that have never seen flood are getting inundated.

People are reluctant to leave their homes because they can’t believe that their beloved rivers will flood their house to kill them. Most of them are being uprooted from their homes where they have been staying for generations.

The fire force, the police, volunteer and hundreds of army men are working day and night. They are concentrating on areas which are adversely affected. Two days back they were concentrating on Idukki, Kochi and Pathanamthitta. Now they are concentrating on Chengennur and Chalakuddi.

But the issue is there are people stranded in other parts too. On the road from Parumala to Thiruvalla, I know at least four houses where people are stranded on the top floor. In one house there are 20 people. Imagine staying on the terrace with limited food, no electricity, no television,  and now no phone connectivity for four days. How do they defecate? I can’t imagine. Most houses have elderly staying alone. We are unable to contact them.

I think the navy and the army may not be able to reach these places because there are other places with bigger tragedies. But if these people are neglected for another day there will be tragedies like the one that happened in Chengannur (In Chengannur when the rescue workers reached a home a 90-year-old lady, her daughter and grandson were found dead).

What are the hurdles?

  • There is no forecast about which places will get flooded. On Friday the people in Pandalam were taken by surprise when the river started flowing through the town.
  • Flood water is entering some areas of Harippad and Mavelikara. People do not know how high the water will reach. They are waiting with their fingers crossed.
  • It is a relief to know that Pampa water is receding. So the stranded people on the Parumala-Thiruvallla route can relax. What if there is a heavy rain? Will the water level go up? We are worried. Ironically, the stranded people do not have any information about the water level. No information can be shared with them. Who can help them?
  • The relatives of those stranded in the Parumala-Thirvulla area thought that, in case of emergency, they can be rescued using boats. But there was disturbing News. A boat carrying 15 rescue workers in this area went missing yesterday at 5:00 PM and now their boat was found today morning in a secluded area with all the rescuers in bad health. They lost the way, or fuel got over, is not known. This incident shows boat rescue is not an easy option here.
  • All we want is the assurance that our relatives will be safe in their stranded places. We want them to have enough food and medicine. Who can provide us with this assurance?

We need more HELP

We need more expert help in Kerala. When there was a tragedy in Thailand the whole world came together. Right now Kerala needs the attention of the world.

Kerala is a State. Then towns, cities and villages of Kerala are well connected. Kerala has low lying areas, plains and highlands. So rescue operation is a challenge.  So far, Keralites managed the situation like no one else could do.  Now, the stranded people are spread all over the state. It is difficult to decide which place needs more help.

The relatives of the stranded people staying in other parts of India, and abroad, are able to make the best coordination. Yesterday one relative could send me an SMS that they are safe on the top floor. I could share the message with others. Now there is no more communication. Someone will be able to make contact, I am sure.

There are hundreds of Keralites waiting to help the victims. Churches, Youths, Voluntary Organisations, all are helping and more are willing to help. Yet the help is not reaching the people.

The biggest hurdle is that when thousands are rescued thousands of others are affected in another area. The calamity is unending. New Channels are unable to concentrate on one story. There are hundreds of stories of victims to share which can fill the newspapers for years. The calamity is so vast and unending that I feel we need help from every corner of the world.

 

An overview of the flood situation in Pathanamthitta Kerala


Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

If this post helps in saving at least one person from the flood in Kerala, my mission is accomplished. One of the worst-hit district in the flood in Pathanamthitta. My mother’s house is in Pathanamthitta district and I had spent my childhood vacations in some areas here. I got a lot of friends and relatives in different parts of the district. So I feel my article will give you some guidance to survive the flood.

Wednesday night there was a television announcement that there will be more flooding in Pathanamthitta. Pampa river was flooded and so there was red alert in the district. I called my relative whose house, I made a mental calculation, was away from the main road and close to a side stream of river Pampa. So there was every chance of their house getting flooded and they getting cutoff. I called them at 11:00 at night and they were oblivion of the grave situation. As I guessed, the house got surrounded by water next morning and they are stranded in the house. And their phone is switched off now.

Thursday Morning, there were news reports that Ranni in Pathanamthitta was flooded and water was rising. So I called a friend there who had earlier sent WhatsApp pictures of his house surrounded by water. He said the water was at the doorstep, and the water was receding.  He said he was not planning to leave and in case of emergency he will shift to his neighbour’s house which is on a higher area. His phone is also switched off.

Then I came to known that a relatives house in Chengannur, which has never seen a flood before, was flooded. The houses in their neighbourhood were flooded so around 15 people were staying in their house. Thankfully water had not entered the house but there was water up to neck outside the house. I called them and asked if I should contact the rescue team to help them. They were unable to give a conclusive answer about whether they wanted to leave the house. The 84-year-old head of the family did not want to leave the house at any cost.

In the evening there was a news report that water will increase in Chengannur. So they were rescued by boat and shifted to their relatives’ houses.

Thursday evening I came to know that a relative in a low lying area, (My maternal grandparents’ place)  has escaped to a safer place after wading through water, for 3 km, with kids. Earlier  I was worried for them because someone had put a video of a roaring Pampa and warned people on the banks of the river to evacuate immediately. This relative resides on the banks of river Pampa. This area is a low lying area with paddy filed on both sides of the tarred road. Flood is an annual affair for the people here.

The children here learn swimming before they can walk. The can rowboat and catch fish. In my childhood, my cousins here used to hold breath and stay underwater and we used to count. In short, the children here know how to survive the flood. And they enjoy flood. The houses are built on a higher platform, so water won’t enter the house. So they can cooley sit on the veranda and do some fishing in flood water. During floods, costly timber sometimes floats and that is a big catch (watch the movie Naran to know more).

I called him after he reached his wife’s house, in a safer place. He said his house is single-storeyed and water was slowly entering the house. He only had phone connectivity. There was no electricity or social media, so he was unaware of the gravity of the situation.  He decided to escape only when many people started calling him and requested him to leave the place. He said his neighbour, who has a two-story house, is still there staying on the second floor. They have no plans to escape.

I feel there is a difference between all the noise and the panic that is created online, and the situation of those who are facing the threat of flood.

We panic because we are flooded with images and videos of the flood. On the other hand, the people in Pathanamthitta do not have electricity. So they are not watching television. When we try to brief them of the gravity of the situation they are unable to grasp the issue.

They are trying to stay in their house and hold on to all their belongings.

When the water reaches the front yard, they wait. But once the water in inside the house they are unable to leave.

When the flash flood gushes in you are not given the time to carry belongings to the top floor. The friendly river is a foe for the time being.

Not all area in Pathanamthitta is flooded. One relative said they do not have dams nearby. Their house in on the top of a hill and the river flow at the bottom of the hill. So the water will not come to their house. They are praying that no landslides occur.

My feeling is if you are in Pathanamthitta and you have a river or a dam in the 4 km vicinity, then please try to move to a safer place. Or you make a mental calculation of the escape route so that things will be easier if there is a grave situation.

Don’t wait for the water to come knocking at your doorsteps. Move your valuables, food and drinking water to the top floor. If you have food and telephone, and no medical issues then you can wait patiently until the help reaches you.

Keep all the torch and emergency lights ready. If you have to make an aerial escape then a torch is useful. The rescue team on the helicopter can spot you if the torchlight is on.

You might be sitting assured that in case of emergency you can contact the rescue team and they will help. Actually, the rescue team is concentrating on people stranded from Wednesday. They will reach you but it will take time.

In many places, the rescue team has not reached because the calamity is so huge. The government is doing their best, and so is the army and volunteers. As natures fury is not subsiding the rescue work is increasing.

I write this post because I feel some of you who are under the threat of flood will read this post. And you will make the right decision to reach a safer place before the situation worsens.

Also, those who are away from home can guide their loved ones in flood-hit areas to reach safer destinations.

Journey of a Traditional Kerala House from Kerala to Delhi

A 300-year-old traditional Kerala house, beautifully built with stones and wood was moved,1300 km from Kerala to Delhi. The house that belonged to a traditional agrarian family, was handed over from one generation to another to the youngest son of the family. And so the house finally was inherited by Oommen George, an Architect and Artist who now stays in the US. He had no plans to stay in his ancestral home.

What he wanted to be done with the house…..

When Mr. Oommen tried to sell the house, called Meda, in Mepral, Thirvulla, he realised that everyone was interested in the plot and the wooden antiques in the house which could be sold. None was interested in restoring and staying in the house. There was only one option before him which was to dismantle the house which was in a dilapidated state.

Traditional Kerala House

Who came to his rescue……….

His friend and Famous architect Pradeep Sachdeva came to his rescue at this moment. Well known for his projects like the Delhi Haat and the Garden of five senses. He is also the architect of offices and hotels like Taj.

How could Sachdeva dismantle the building unscathed?

What Sachdeva did next was to get the local traditional carpenter, Narayan Achari who knew about the wood works.  Commonly known as Achari, the Acharis are carpenters and they pass on their tradition from generation to generation. Narayan Achari and his local group of workers worked like professionals to systematically remove all the wood pieces of Meda and to number them and to pack them in groups.

What is unique about the traditional Kerala house?

Traditional Kerala House
Meda in 1900

Fifty years back in Kerala there used to be only a few pucca houses in a village, and the rest will be thatched huts. Hence the entire village had an emotional attachment to the palatial landmarks of their village. The arapura,  is the wooden room which is a granary, and has a granary box (pathayam) and ostensibly built at the entrance of the house with wooden carved door, gold platings and sophisticated locking system. The arapura was the storing place for the rice and other food items.

Why are Keralites emotional about traditional houses?

Every village has some kind of traditional stories related to the tharavad (ancestral home) and to the arapura of the tharavad. In my grandmother’s childhood home, a tradition is followed even now. The preparation for the temple celebration begins from that village ( know as kara) only after the karnavar (head of the family) of the tharavad opens the arapura and gives two bottles of coconut oil to the temple authorities. ‘Meda’, it is said was located above sea level, hence the villagers found shelter here during floods.

Traditional Kerala House

 

 

 

 

 

Role of an Acharis’ in the construction of a traditional Kerala house

The acharis, have got an important place in the Kerala architecture. They hand down their trade secret to the next generation. The role of an Achari is immense in traditional Kerala house construction. In olden days they were the consultant architects, engineers, carpenter and astrologer for any construction project.  Narayan Achari started mastering the skills at a very young age.

Features of a wooden room or Ara………….

Traditional Kerala house rooms of woods are known as Ara and Nira. Nira means panels. The walls, ceilings and the floors are made of wooden panels which are joined without nuts and bolts. The wooden panels are joined like jigsaw puzzles.Traditional Kerala House

Achari’s role in dismantling the house…….

Naryan Achari, dexterously removed the panels and packed them in groups so that when the package reached Gurugram, the panels could be easily unpacked and joined.

Did they use new materials in reconstruction in Gurugram?

Some of the wood was unusable, so Pradeep Sachedeva made a few new panels using similar wood in Gurugram. And only the wooden rooms of upstairs was brought to Delhi. Instead of the stones used for the ground floor walls, bricks were used in gurugram.

How long was the reconstruction……

Achari and his team were brought to Gurugram where the assembling and reconstruction were done within six weeks.

Traditional Kerala House

Traditional Kerala House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What were the additions made to the traditional building?

John Bowman, a British architect created a cast iron spiral steps to the upper floor. Initially, the staircase was of wood. In addition, a bathroom and a kitchen were constructed on the ground floor. In addition, electricity and plumbing were installed.

How is the house after eight years of shifting………..

Mr. Sachdeva says the house seems to belong to the place, and wood will be fine for a long time.

Is the upkeep of the wood structure difficult

He says maintenance of the structure is not difficult and the house is cleaned and kept well maintained.

How economical is it to shift a traditional house?

Mr. Sachdeva says that shifting the house is not a costly affair.

Traditional Kerala House

What is the house being used as in Gurugram?

Meda is being used as a weekend home by Mr. Sachdeva and it is also  used as  a guesthouse.

What do the guests say about the house?

They are absolutely thrilled!!!

Around the world in a wheelchair -Nadia Clarke

You might know children with cerebral palsy, who is the child of your friend, relative or a neighbour, who is bed ridden and you sympathise with the family which is taking care of the child. Nadia could have ended up simply lying in a corner of her house had it not been for the determination of her parent and the will power of Nadia herself. Her parents ensured that she studied in a regular school with her 9 siblings, for which they had to change locations.

Nadia Clarke has cerebral palsy and she is deaf from her birth. At the age of 5, she got a wheelchair and a communication aid implanted on that. Her communication aid is her voice which she uses to communicate. Using the communicative aid is not easy.  When she is talking to someone, her support staff communicates to her using signs. Then she makes sentence using the communication aid. Her communication aid consist of hundreds of words. It takes couple of minutes for Nadia to form a simple sentence.

The process of communicating with the aid is lot of hard work for Naida and her support staff, and sometimes a bit boring for the listeners because of the  long gap in between the communication. But that doesn’t stop Nadia from communicating and globe trotting.

The Guardian Newspaper describes Nadia’s mother as someone with turbo energy which she has passed on to her children. Her parent were determined that she studied in a normal school, hence they had to shift to different localities to send Nadia to schools that accepted her along with her brothers and sisters.

Nadia completed high school and level 2 in health and social care. Here next aim is to attend the university.

Nadia has got indomitable spirit and she is supported by an organisation 1 voice. She has travelled  around the world to Europe, US, Asia, Australia, etc.  She blogs about all her experiences in her blog.  One of her dream destination was India, and so now she was in India and she is quiet excited to visit Taj Mahal.

When she came to India she visited Anchal-Centre for differently abled children. She interacted with the children and their parents using her communication aid and her interpreters Samantha Jayne Green and Tanya Louise Perry. Sibi, a student of Anchal refused at first to dance because she thought her costume was too long and she might fall. But the teachers and parents convinced her to dance. Before leaving Aanchal Nadia called Sibi and congratulated her for being so brave to overcome the obstacle.

Nadia is all smiles always from her childhood picture upto now. She goes around the world and encourages children like her to move ahead in life and to explore opportunities. She says her biggest  gift in life was the communication aid. She says for deaf and dumb people the aid protects them from abusers, because they can always communicate.

When asked about the secret of her evergreen smile she said that her mother told her to wake up with a smile and to remain positve always.

In conversation with Grady Long

Grady Long’s video had gone viral where he sings ‘Aayiram Kannumai‘ at the ‘Kairali Gandharva Sandhya‘ in Kerala. He sang in the presence of eminent singers K J YeshuDas and Usha Uthup and there were a couple of other stalwart musicians present including the composer of the song, Jerry Amaldev.

Grady says he was surprised by the rousing applause from the audience. His plan was just to sing and leave the stage. But he became an overnight celebrity in Kerala, and in the last one year the video of the song has been shared and viewed tremendously  on the social media.

 

 

 

Before singing the song, Grady tell the audience that he was introduced to malayalam movies by his malayali wife…..

I got an opportunity to have a video conference with Grady, his wife Suja and Children.

Speaking different languages is a talent, and Suja got the talent to speak different languages fluently. She uses English, Spanish and Malayalam in her daily conversation. Though Suja left Kerala for the US at the age of 4, she put in lots of effort so as not to forget her mother tongue.

After her marriage with Grady Long, 15 years ago, they both used to watch a lot of malayalam movies, whereby Grady learnt malayalam movie songs that included Aayiram Kannumai.

When malayli kids born and brought up abroad or outside Kerala, say that malayalam is difficult to master, an American son-in-law of Kerala sang the evergreen song with relative ease. He also gave beautiful musical twist to the song which surprised Jerry Amaldev and K. J. Yeshudas, and they appreciated him.

Suja Long is now on the mission to train their three kids to speak in malayalam. She even posted her first video of teaching her children basic malayalam. Her video has got good review from the media. She plans to make more videos in the coming days.

 

 

Before his tryst with malayalam music, Gary was already a well accomplished singer in the US, singing with many bands. He sings in various Genre and different languages like Spanish, German and Latin. He was also popular for singing Bollywood songs. Gary has also sung Tamil songs.

He will be singing more songs in India very soon, for which he will travel to India with family. He will keep us updated on the developments. And in the meantime Suja is teaching children malayalam so that they can communicate well in Kerala. Both Grady and Suja agree that to learn any language you need to speak the language, and you will make mistakes which is part of the learning process.

We wish Grady and Suja Long all the very best for their upcoming projects.