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[ 17 Feb 2017 | 2 Comments ]
Men of men: Prasad

When the rest of the country celebrates saving a life with gallantry awards, honours and cash tributes, there is a bunch for whom saving lives is everyday. Other lives are their living; on any given day during peak tourist season they save at least one. That they are paid for doing this doesn’t diminish the heroism involved, the willingness to imperil their own lives for that of another, a perfect stranger, and sometimes even knuckling under shattered joints and dislocated … More»

[ 10 Feb 2017 | No Comment ]
Beat it

In most tourism hubs the underbelly comes cleverly right beneath the nose. It is rarely that removed from the ordered façade – that ever-smiling and well-groomed veneer which makes the cover of travel brochures and magazine stories and envy-inducing backgrounds to likeable selfies – but tucked safely away from casual glances. I loped through this netherland, the ‘warren-side’, of Kovalam, a mishmash of shops and restaurants, beauty boutiques and Ayurveda parlours, with Mani, a tourism police constable, in his off-duty … More»

[ 2 Feb 2017 | No Comment ]
To go up, or not

It reminds you of a Grimm tale illustration – red and white striped delectable candy on the outside, lurking peril inside. When a ‘revamped’ Kovalam lighthouse – officially Vizhinjam lighthouse, was opened to the public on December 4 last year, I was among the few enthusiastic ones who flocked to applaud the rise of a new genre in tourism – lighthouse tourism. As a global phenomenon, it had been around for some time and had now reached my shores. The … More»

[ 14 Jan 2017 | No Comment ]
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One of the funniest stories my dad told me from his younger days was about Sosamma who ran a roadside eatery. One day Sosamma made 10 puttu, hoping to sell each for one rupee. For whatever reason, she was particularly hungry that day and began polishing off the puttu one by one. By evening there was only one puttu left and in order to meet her sales target she priced it at 10 rupees. The fate of that sole remaining … More»

[ 8 Jan 2017 | 8 Comments ]
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As far as office rides go this one takes the cup. The fibre boat crested every wave at somersault angles and landed with emphatic thuds, each a sledgehammer blow from below deck. I sat close to the helm – it is smoother toward the aft, where the rest of the crew were – where I was installed prior to the launch. If I attempted to move back now from fore I might have to swim ashore – a skill which … More»

[ 9 Dec 2016 | No Comment ]
8

Trading and religion have always gone hand in hand – the unpredictability of one unfailingly appealed to the vagary of the other. Pala, flanking the fertile banks of the Meenachil River, attracted farmer settlers from millennia ago. Recorded history shows they were mostly Christians or Nasrani – as the Syrian Christians of Kerala are known as – due to the evangelisation efforts of St Thomas who came ashore the sub-continent in the first century. Achayan, as the Nasrani menfolk are … More»

[ 10 Nov 2016 | No Comment ]
Movement mellifluous: A Balinese lady

It was a rare event – Wally was quiet. And Wally was never quiet, as his friends vouched, unless he was sleeping nor still if he wasn’t staring you down enquiring after the ‘angle of the dangle.’ Then at the Tree Top Bar which he runs with his son Mathews close to the Labuan Bajo harbour there is always some reason to be raucous. Like when I walked in Mathews had just announced that he had got a new dog … More»

[ 4 Nov 2016 | 8 Comments ]
Fast fading glory

What do you wear when you are soon going to doff it for a copulation session for canvas? What was that semaphore again for more shisha in the hookah? How long does one keep jigging for the frolicsome mood to be captured as still life? At the Qudsia Bagh in Civil Lines I tried to lay a handle on some possible existential crises of Mohammad Shah ‘Rangeela’ (‘The colourful’), one of whose begums built the eponymous garden. The crossdressing debauchee … More»

[ 27 Oct 2016 | 4 Comments ]
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‘Geological time includes now.’
Looking up at the looming cracked dolmens, precariously balanced boulders, perching promontories and other formidable formations from the gulch I was tracing it wasn’t easy to shrug away Edward Abbey’s artful caution. That they had been like that for most part of millions of years is exactly what prompts – and tempts – you to walk among them and even try a hand at bouldering while there. Soloing myself up, no fancy highballing, I looked up again … More»

[ 13 Oct 2016 | No Comment ]
Enter colour - a karaoke bar

“When I invite my girlfriend to an evening in the karaoke bar she is aroused and anguished at the same time,” says Alitt Susanto taking deep drags from a fancy cigarette atomiser. A fruity flavour wafts around us.
“She doesn’t know whether I will be singing about love and longing. Or leaving.” The silver haze is quite atmospheric, something like what Rhett Butler might have stepped out into after the famous ‘Frankly…’  Alitt, a bestselling author and vlogger from Indonesia, cloaked … More»