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.

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.

Meet Poonam Bevli Sahi a Painter and a Business Woman

She successfully manages two careers, as a Graphic Designer and a Painter with elan. Poonam Bevli Sahi has been running her designing studio, FACET, for the last few decades. She got many prestigious customers, Help Age India being the first, who design their dossiers and other communication material at her office. Many well known companies have got their designing works done with her for decades, as they trust her reliable and quality services.

When you go to her office-room there will always be an unfinished canvas which is being painted. And the canvas is the indication of her other profession as a Painter. She has been Painting, and wining prizes, since her childhood. Asked how she finds time for painting, in the midst of the already busy and time-bound designing career, she says steals time.

Poonam Bevli Sahi, I know her since I used to get the designing work done at her designing cum home, for the magazine that I worked with. There is an artistic feel in her home, beautiful wall hangings, artistically shaped furniture and everything placed in such a manner so as to accentuate the beauty of the surrounding. And the most attractive was the floating flower arrangement in a copper vessel.

Poonam Bevli Sahi has conducted a number of exhibitions both in India and Abroad. Many of her paintings are brought by private painting collectors around the world.

From March 2nd to 8th, she has been exhibiting her paintings at IIC, Delhi with the theme of the painting being ‘Life is a Circus’. She narrates the various  challenges in life which is similar to the tasks carried out by Circus artists. Circus is an unexplored theme in painting.

Poonam Bevli Sahi inherited her passion and painting talents from her mother who herself was an amateur Painter. Her mother was married young, and before starting her career at NCERT, she used to do a lot of canvasses.  And she used to visit, with her mother and sister, many painting exhibitions and interact with artist. The exposure to the world of paintings, she says constantly fuelled her passion for painting.

When asked whether painting, was a hobby, which she pursued during her free time, she reiterated that painting was her profession. Leading a disciplined life with proper diet, yoga and meditation helps to manage all the activities.

When asked about how she portrayed women in her paintings, she said that for her men and women are  equal.

In today’s world when women try to balance their family and career, like a trapeze artist, Poonam Bevli Sahi is an inspiration for women. With proper delegation, passion and hard work you can be successful in two parallel professions.

When asked what message she would like to give to the young women entrepreneurs, she said there is nothing impossible for women. Be consistent in your pursuit and you will achieve your dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

Delhi Malayalee Association Celebrates Onam

Like every year, this year too the Malayalees in Delhi, gathered in Delhi on September 10th, at Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium, to celebrate Onam Festival. There was a cultural feast, with traditional dance and song forms from Kerala  being performed by the 25 units of Delhi Malayalee Association (DMA) functioning at different parts of Delhi.

This year the Chief Guest was D V Sadananda Gowda, Minister of Statistics and Programme Implementation. And the Guest of Honours were Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi and Richard Hay,Member of Parliament.

The cultural extravaganza included the various dance and music from Kerala, which rose a nostalgic feeling of the colours and ambience of the 10 day festival. In the morning there was the floral decoration (Attapu) competition. And in the evening the cultural programme began by distributing prizes to the winners. Also prizes were given to the toppers in Academics 2015-2016.

The colourful programme included the Soopana Sangeetha, which showcased the rich folk tradition of Kerala. Followed by Thiruvathira, the most important Onam dance performed by Women. Another all women dance performance was the Oppana, the muslim wedding dance.

A unique performance was a tribute to the great poet Kavalam Narayana Panicker. A dance programme was performed based on his famous movie, light music and folk songs.

The story-telling ancient musical art form Villadichampattu was one of the highlights of the evening, with the simple instruments and the symbolic colourful villu, the bow used by ancient warriors.

Most of the people came is traditional kasavy munddu and set sarees and took selfie with the mahabali and the colourful attapus decorated by the 15 groups that participated in the Attapu Competition.

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Cheer Up for participants at Rio Olympic 2016

When there is IPL there is whole lot of celebration in India. And during the Football World Cup, even if India is not represented, we watch the matches at midnight and follow the Stars with pride.

Now our Indian team is at RIO Olympic 2016. And today is the 10th day of the game and another few more days to go. How many of us woke up early in the morning to watch the opening ceremony? How many of us woke up in the midnight to watch Dipa Karmarkar?

When I talk to my fellow Indians, I understand that some of them do not know that India ever won an Olympic medal. Dear friends if you have not started watching  Olympics please do it today itself. We still got some more medal hopes and our watching and praying means a lot to our sportsmen out there. All of them have been dreaming of a medal and training for years to reach the Events.

This year four countries, as big as a small city in India won their first Olympic medal at RIO Olympic 2016 – Bahrain, Singapore, Puerto rico and Fiji.

It a sense of great patriotism and pride when the gold medallist’s country’s National Anthem is played and the flag is hoisted. Only Abhinav Bindra could do that honour for India in the last few years.

I have never missed a single Olympics from Seoul  in 1988. It is a matter of pride to see the 200 plus countries representing all the human race on planet earth. I used to sit with Malayala Manorama year book to locate the names of the countries and their details. We come to know about the existence of some countries only during Olympics.

You come to know of the new countries that are formed and the political divisions that happened when the delegates march in for the ceremony. This time, the most humanitarian act was when sportsmen from the refugee communities in the world were represented as Refugee Olympic Team under the Olympic Official Flag. The team got the maximum  ovation and whichever event they participated they got the maximum support from the audience. I think the Olympics committee should be given noble prize for this blissful act.

Some nations you remember only during the Olympic time, because of their exceptional talent or sportsman spirit exhibited during Olympics – Bulgaria, Roumania, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Poland, Eritrea, etc.

Create an Olympic fever so that our champions out their are encouraged by our enthusiasm to see them come back with laurels. We remember ever details of football and cricket, but we forget how many Olympians won medal for us till now.

Olympic is not just about winning medal. It is not just for the participant. They represent our spirits at the game. It is a time for the nation to show their patriotic spirit and encourage our representative sportsmen to make our anthem be played at the podium.

Cheer our participants because they are  representing us at Olympics. Whatever they do at Olympics leaves an indelible impression on the world community for the next four year. What a moment it was for Singaporeans when Joseph Schooling stood on the podium and Singapore’s National Anthem was played. Now let us do our best to make our player reach the top of the podium and make us hear our National Anthem being sung.

To know more about the upcoming events of India please click here.

Bharat parv festival at Rajpath to celebrate Independence day

When Delhites have to plan for a quick outing, they will say Chalo India Gate Chale (Let us go to the India Gate). India Gate and the Rajpath in famous for the Republic Day parade, oflate a number of events are being conducted at the Rajpath Lawns which are both entertaining and informative. The events like the Bharat Parv are the best outing for all age groups where apart from delicacies from various parts of India, you can have feast for ears and eyes.

Sometime back Shauyanjali was organized to commemorate the 1965. Now to celebrate the 70th year of India’s Independence, Bharat Parv has been organised at the Rajapath Lawn. With over 50 pavilions there are food courts, exhibition from states, cultural programs, and a photo exhibition by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

The entire stretch for the event is decorated with various artefacts like puppets, masks and ribbon that replicate various cultures of India. Apart from the cultural programs from different parts of India at the stage, various groups perform randomly on the lawns and lanes of Rajpath. At any time at the even you can enjoy colourful entertainment programs at every corner of the Rajpath.

You have ample opportunity for Instagram pictures, videos and selfies of the melodious and colourful dance, martial arts and other programs at the Bharat Parv.

Bharat parv which began on Aug 12th, Friday, is a six days program to commemorate the Independence day.

Bharat Parv 8

Bharat Parv 2

Bharat parv 6

Bharat Parv 5

Bharat Parv 7

The whole new level of credit card fraud calls

Yesterday a friend, busily working in office, got a call from his credit card Bank inquiring if he was receiving Bank Statements on time. The call was from Chennai, as usual, so the caller, a female voice, had a south Indian accent. She told him that they received many complaints about frauds and non-receiving of statements. She was very convincing; she told him his Credit Card Number, official and residential address, and said that his card was getting upgraded.

She then asked for his CVV no., Date of birth and expiry date, which he readily gave. He gave the details because:

  • Fraudsters usually know  only the last four digit of the card number.
  • They do not know the address.
  • They do not know full name.

Genuine Calls Vs Fraud Calls

Everyday we read and watch a number of messages and videos warning us from being mislead by fraud calls. Yet we get caught off guard because the fraud callers use a new technique, every time, to win the victims confidence. However there are a number of differences between a fraud call and a genuine call from the bank:

  • Genuine calls do not ask for you verification. They call you for upgrading a card because you are pre-verified, and fulfill the eligibility for a upgraded card.
  • Your verification detail is asked when you call the banks customer care, and not when they call you.
  • If someone says he is calling from the insurance department, then it is a fraud call. Insurance department never makes such calls.
  • If the callers asks you if you are an account holder of a particular bank, that means he is not calling from the bank. Had he been calling from the bank he would have known that you are an account holder.
  • No bank will ask for you CVV no. or OTP (One Time Password). These are  your ‘exclusive keys’ to access your account.

Precautions to be taken

  • For those who do lot of online transactions, keep your personal and social media accounts separate.
  • Possibly use your name differently in the social media accounts.
  • Possibly use different emails and sim cards for social media and personal/professional accounts
  • Install Truecaller App on your mobile phone. Most fraud calls will appear as ‘fraud/scam calls through truecaller. Even if you get fraud call from an unidentified number, save that number as ‘fraud/scam’ calls.
  • Inform the elderly about the fraud calls and tell them not to divulge any information on phone.
  • Tell the caller that you will call back the bank and give the information they are asking.

 

HE WAS RESCUED AND IDENTIFIED; 3 YEARS AFTER LYING UNKNOWN ON STREETS

Had it not been for the timely intervention of Fr. Biju P Thomas, Suresh would have been lying unknown on streets and cremated as an unidentified person. 

Suresh was lying under a fly over in Punjabi Bagh, for the last three years, and last week, on 7th July, Thursday, a malayali boy came to know that Suresh hails from Kerala and so gave a call to Fr Biju, the Vicar of St. Gregorios Church, Janakpuri.  Father took swift action and he took Suresh to a shelter home, Santhibhavan at Jasola, where he was cleaned and given good food.

Suresh said three years back he was hit by a vehicle, and he lay on the roadside unable to move, he ate biscuits and water provided by good samaritans. A rickshaw puller had left him in the present place.

Suresh lost his memory, so could not remember much about himself. He recollected that he has a brother called Sunil and that he came to Delhi at a very young age, accompanying his uncle, in search of a job.

After being cleaned and fed at the shelter home, Suresh slowly regained his memory and then he got nostalgic wanting to return to his village and meet his family. When his care takers asked him why he hadn’t shared his feelings with anyone in these three year, he said he had told some people.

Soon the news was shared by the media which led to more help coming from DMA (Delhi Malayalee Association). Minister Kodikunnil Suresh, visited him at the Shelter Home. Suresh’s mother recognised him from a picture in the Newspaper. She said that her son after leaving for Delhi, with his paternal uncle, 22 years back, at the age of 14,  never returned.

Suresh’s brother and a ward member, of his native village, left for Delhi and were to reach on Monday morning. Fate had something else in store for Suresh. He vomited blood on Sunday and his health took for the worse. Most of his internal organs were dysfunctional. He was admitted to the Holy Family Hospital and put on the ventilator and he died at 4:00 A.M. on Monday.

His body which was handed over to the DMS, was embalmed and kept at AIIMS. Many organisations and individuals came forward to help Suresh. His Body has been flown today to his home and finally will be buried beside in father, in his ancestral home in Kollam.

22 years is a very long time, fortunately for Suresh he did not forget his mother tongue that helped in his rescue. Suresh has been identified as Suresh Pillai from Thevalakara, son of Saraswathi Amma and Surendran Pillai. He got a brother Sunil and a sister Sujatha.

There are hundreds and thousands of such Suresh’s  on the street whom we presume to be drunkards or homeless. A small enquiry may change the life of the person forever.

Thanks to the effort of the Good Samaritans, Suresh could spend his last few days in a peaceful abode and establish communication with his family.