It was Chingam 1, the New Year of the Malayalam calendar and around 10:30 in the Morning when we reached Ayyappa temple R K Puram, in Delhi. Seveli, the daily ritual was about to begin.
Devotees were present standing barefoot on the hot concrete tiles waiting to pay obeisance to the deity. The daily procession of diety takes place three times around the temple every morning and evening.
History of AYYAPPA TEMPLE R K PURAM
The Ayyappa Temple at R K Puram is one of the well known Ayyappa temples in India. During the Sabarimala season, Devotees preparing to go on the Sabarimala pilgrimage, carrying the ‘erumudi’, visit here wearing the ‘Chandana-mala’.
The consecration of the Shrine, built in the Chera architecture style, took place on 30th April 1980. Twenty-five sculptors in this temple were carved in Kerala and took two years to complete. The stones for the construction were collected from the Barathapuza River.
The Kathakali Sculpture
A life-size sculpture of Kathakali dancer performing a mudra. There are some 20 main mudras or the hand signs and many small mudras that are the main element to performance the story. Katha means story and kali mean performance and art. The themes of the kathakali are from the religious legends and folk mythologies of the Hindu Puranas.
There is also Goddess Durga (Bhadrakali) and Sarpa Kavu for Nagas (with the installation of Nagaraja, Naga Yakshi and a Chithrakuda, representing all snakes).
The bells: According to ancient scriptures, the bell helps to give sound for keeping away evil forces, and the ringing of the bell is pleasant to God. The peaceful and sacred temple built in the pristine green expanse is a must-visit holy destination in south Delhi.
An earlier post was done about the historical and spiritual importance on Onatukara in Kerala. Click the link to read about the little know history and religous significance of this place in Travancore.
Want some tailormade western suits and jeans, because readymades dont fit well? Then why not get one stitched here. These stitched jeans and formal suits looks as perfect as the readymade and that too at a price that will not burn a hole in the pocket. These shops in Mohan Place are the hot shopping spot for college students because they can get a perfect fitting Denim Jeans at less than 1000 Rupees.
These stitching shops mastering in tailormade Western formal suits and Jean have been functioning for over 40 years. There are over 100 shops in the entire building. We had come to visit the Coffee House on the fourth floor when we chanced upon these unique stitching shops.
The material for stitching the suits can be purchased from the shops itself. The stitching time is one to two days, and the price of the suit is around 5000 Rs. If you bring the suit material, then the stitching price is 3500. The tailors will be too happy if you get a picture of the suit design that you prefer. That will make their work easier.
They stitch formal shirts that look like readymade shirts. The material for which is available at the shops. For those who prefer to get sewed all their clothes, these shops will make sure that your wardrobe is full of customised, stitched, clothes, right from jeans to western formal suits.
The material for the made to order jeans can be purchased from the shops itself and the stitching time is one to one and a half hours. So while you cool the heels for the stitched jean, refresh yourself with some hot coffee from the iconic Coffee House on the fourth floor.
The post Independence history of India will be incomplete without a mention of the story of Indian Coffee House, in Connaught Place Delhi. The Indian coffee house, in Mohan Singh Place, is one of the 400 coffee houses, run by the Indian Coffee Worker’s Cooperative Society, in several parts of the country. Waiters in white uniform, headgears and matching bandanas, the piping hot coffee is symbolic of every coffee house.
An Old-timers testimony
“I have been coming in this Coffee House for 50 years, since 1971. This is one of the best places in whole world.” Says Mr Rajan, an Advocate. “And many dignitaries used to come here like Inder Kumar Gujral, Vishnu Prabhakar. Many celebrities used to come here, and they used to gain inspiration from this place only. In 1971 there were two places. One was at the Palika Kendra and other was this one. When market was erected in 1977, all the people came to this place. “
The entire Palika Bazaar that we know now was once The Indian Coffee house frequented by intellectuals, writers, journalists and politicians discussing hot topics. Nine Prime Ministers visited here.
The stalwart customers
The story of the Indian Coffee House is incomplete without the metion of the stalwarts who associated with this iconic place. The Staff say Indira Gandhi’s breakfast went from here after inspection by a doctor. And one the former Staff used to go to her house to prepare the Filter coffee decoction.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the Coffee at the Indian Coffee house arouses the intellect and creativity. Stalwarts like Rabindranath Tagore, Manna Dey and Sathyajith Ray used to frequent the Indian Coffee House in Kolkata. Manna Dey even wrote a song about his nostalgic days at the Indian Coffee House.
In this age of high-end coffees outlets, patronized by the younger generation, the Indian Coffee house still has a large number of young customers. Youngsters from nearby colleges find Coffee house pocket friendly.
Some of them come here to brainstorm, to write books, scripts and blogs. Others are marketing and sales executives who come here to discuss their plans.
The Den of thinkers
One unique feature of the Coffee house is the no-hurry attitude of the waiters. “This hall”, the Staff say pointing towards a hall full of tables and chairs, is the den of the Journalists, writers and thinkers. They come and sit and talk for hours.
“When you ask them to leave they will order another coffee, in this way they will have 7-8 coffees in a day”, he said with a smile. “And some of the old-timers they will leave when we prepare to close”. That is the emotional connect between the Staff and loyal customers of the coffee house.
History of Coffee House
The COFFEE BOARD founded the ‘India Coffee House’ in the early 1940s, during the British rule. In the mid-1950s, the Board closed down several Coffee Houses in different cities throughout India. A large number of employees lost their jobs.
The well known great communist leader A K Gopalan organized Societies all over India in various states forming the “INDIA COFFEE BOARD WORKER’S CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY”. The first Society was formed in Bangalore in August 1957.
Coffee House is just everywhere….
Now there are various Coffee House societies. In Kerala, there are two, Thrissur and Kannur Coffee boards. The most flourishing Coffee boards in the one in Jabalpur with 200 coffee houses and almost 40 in Jabalpur Itself.
The famous Shimla and Chandigarh Coffee Houses come under the Delhi Coffee Board. The first Coffee House was opened in Delhi in 1957. The Staff say that at one time there more than 25 Coffee Houses in Delhi. In every Bhavan, there was Coffee Houses. Mandi House, Vikas Bhavan, IT Bhavan, Delhi School of Economics, Kamla Nagar Coffee House near Head Office, to name a few.
The Beetroot story of the indian coffee house
When one thinks of Coffee, the first thing that comes to mind is that of the Beetroot Cutlets. Google’ Coffee House Cutlet” and there are several videos by food vloggers on Coffee house style Cutlet, with the inevitable ingredient being the beetroots.
It is said during the time Coffee House was first founded in 1940, food and clothing were in the ration for the public. The country was facing a financial crisis due to the two world wars. So Coffee House used the cheapest ingredient available in their recipes, which were beetroots.
Beetroot Online trolls
Few years ago, Coffee House was trolled on twitter for using beetroot in every recipe except water. So they removed beetroot from their recipes; but, within four days, beetroots were reinstated due to public demand.
The story of this Coffee House in Delhi is a cut about the 399 other Coffee Houses. Afterall stalwarts frequented this Coffee House. Many new ideas might have germinated in these rooms. The Staff say they never used beetroots their recipes, and cutlets are the least popular items. The fast-moving food items are the Masala Dosas and the Coffees.
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. Therefore the best place for beginning the day in the park and yoga
Hence, from the break of dawn, people staying in the neighbourhood come to this Sprawling Park.
Not only the leafy foliage acts as the oxygen chamber but also the shady trees provide relief from the sweltering heat in summer.
As a result, in the green expanse people walk, jog, exercise, gym, play team sports and meditate.
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 either book your table online or book on the spot outside the Restaurant.
The unlimited chilled lemon juice served to those who waited outside cooled the irritation about the long wait. That too on a wedding anniversary.
Art & Design
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 this Restaurant, 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’. Onam marks the annual visit of the legendary king Mahabali.
The Funny Posters
Funny posters attract everyone’s attention. The funny banners attract everyone’s attention because they reflect the current demography of Kerala. The bar named ‘Mala Bar’ displays the signboard of a Kerala Toddy Shop. And the washbasin, shaped like a Urali, traditional copper cooking vessel of Kerala.
The customers are of mixed demography, “We have a mixed group of people coming here, not restricted to any 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.
Tasty, authentic and attractive On that day, we had Kappa, fish curry, Kerala porotta and Chicken roast. The food was delicious, authentic and appealing. Located in Upscale Delhi, the rates seem reasonable.
We all thought 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. 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.
On September 10th, 11th and 12th Mahabelly Restaurant will be exclusively serving authentic Onam Sadhya, during lunch and dinner with ingredients brought from Kerala. There will be around 21-25 dishes, including two yummy payasam, 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.
About serving Kerala Toddy, 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, 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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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, TheUnlimited 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.
UnBox Open House: Friday @ Bangalore International Centre
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.
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.
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.