Tony Paul – Enterprising Entrepreneur

Hailing from rural Kasaragod in Kerala, Tony Paul, with his left leaning idealism, did not in his wildest dreams think that he would end up being an entrepreneur. Yet this firebrand student leader found himself doing just that. The young and dynamic co-founder of Datahut shares the salient points of his journey. Edited excerpts from a conversation over coffee: Veena Narayan: What comes to mind immediately when I say childhood? Tony Paul: Curiosity. I was a curious kid, full of questions. I studied in a school close to my home and I was fortunate to have teachers who actively encouraged … Continue reading Tony Paul – Enterprising Entrepreneur

Kandan – An Elephant with a Free Spirit

Kandan was a temple elephant. He was extraordinarily tall even for an elephant and stood a couple of feet taller than the tallest elephants in the land. And a couple of feet broader too. His majestic bearing and long curved tusks made him a very attractive elephant indeed. But what made him truly exceptional were his intelligence and his quirky personality. Kandan was so gentle that even small children would go close to him without fear of harm. But at other times, when he wanted to, he could prove aggressive too. He was stubborn and punctual and followed rules religiously; … Continue reading Kandan – An Elephant with a Free Spirit

Quit a Book

15/09/2021 Quit a book if it does not interest you. That was the advice the well known author had put forth in an article. Sacrilege! I thought. I never quit a book. Not only that, I read it from cover to cover. When I say that I mean it literally. I read everything from the front matter down to the last word in the acknowledgments. But truth be told there were quite a number of books I was stuck with. I wouldn’t admit even to myself that I had quit reading them. But there they were on my bookshelf with … Continue reading Quit a Book

Guest Post – Olive Green Dreams

This is a guest post by Major Haseena P. M. Born and raised in picturesque Kerala’s Kannur district, Major Haseena is a post graduate in physics from the University of Calicut. By all appearances, she was an ordinary girl. But what set her apart from others her age was the colour of her dreams. May Good Sense Prevail Here’s a spirited peek into good old times of school and college days; thoughts that freeze my life at youth, forever! For me, school was everything but studies. What an ironic combo – school and studies! Every term the progress card presented … Continue reading Guest Post – Olive Green Dreams

Dr C. P. Unnikrishnan – Scholar, Kathakali Exponent

Scholar, Kathakali artist, choreographer, educationist, gadget geek – these are only some of the several ways one could describe Dr C. P. Unnikrishnan. Born in Ernakulam and with strong roots in Palakkad and Kozhikode, Dr Unnikrishnan is an alumnus of the Wilson College, Mumbai. After obtaining a doctorate in human physiology, everyone expected him to follow the path of research. But the pull of Kathakali, the mesmerising dance form unique to Kerala, was too strong and Dr Unnikrishnan returned home to follow his passion. Edited excerpts from a long conversation: Veena Narayan: Please share some childhood memories. Dr C. P. … Continue reading Dr C. P. Unnikrishnan – Scholar, Kathakali Exponent

Guest Post – A Strange Night

[This is a guest post written by Vaibhav K. Vaibhav is a guitarist active in the independent music scene for a long while now. He loves all things music and motor sport and is currently exploring the music scene in Mumbai.] Those closest to me know about how I gave up on a lot of things in life to pursue my love for music. And it is through this love for music, that I discovered how much I enjoyed being on the road. I had never truly experienced wanderlust while traveling by air, or by train or any other public … Continue reading Guest Post – A Strange Night

Interview: Anand Narayan – Banker with a Penchant for Stencil Art

Banking and art – they don’t seem to have much in common. But here is a banker who found expression for his creativity through stencil art. Meet Anand Narayan, a Mumbaikar, who lives and works in Hong Kong as Senior Trader with HSBC Asset Management. An alumnus of the St Lawrence High School, Santa Cruz, Mumbai, Anand also holds a post graduate degree from the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. Edited excerpts from an email interview:  Veena Narayan: I understand you were born and brought up in Mumbai. Any childhood memories that you would like to share? Anand Narayan: … Continue reading Interview: Anand Narayan – Banker with a Penchant for Stencil Art

Reading Freedom

It’s that time of the year again. Independence Day is round the corner. Here’s my take on when I feel most free: I’m free when I read. I really get a kick out of it when I think that with something as simple as the flip of a cover I’m free to enter a whole new world. This may be fantastic or futuristic. It could be a world gone by, a world that existed many centuries ago. Yet with the flip of a cover, it becomes real and I dissolve into it and become a part of it. The world … Continue reading Reading Freedom

My Fluid Relationship with Rain

I like to think there’s something special about the rains in Kerala. Their very sound is different. But they have been playing truant and that set me thinking about my rather fluid relationship with rains. Rains bring childhood memories-   Of wading along in knee high water through a maze of lanes, clutching my umbrella close while the beast pounded incessantly on it. Of Father wading along beside me, pants folded to knee length; grim faced and silent because conversation was impossible in the roar. Of the smell of new schoolbooks both texts and note and the slightly damp feel … Continue reading My Fluid Relationship with Rain

My Brush With the Virus

So, it finally found me; the virus did. The symptoms began the day after the Malayalam New Year’s day – Vishu. My mind immediately went on high alert about my breathing. It popped all sorts of questions. Was there a strain? Was I drawing in air with difficulty? Were my oxygen levels dropping? Would I know if they did? Would the oxygen levels dip while I was asleep? Wouldn’t it be better if I stayed awake and monitored my breathing?   Someone sent an oximeter and that proved to be a huge relief. The tiny little display panel was solid … Continue reading My Brush With the Virus

The Naked Warrior and the Crafty Classmate

Unni had reached the capital of Travancore and was granted an audience with King Marthanda Varma. Read the first part of the story here. The next day when Unni turned up at the palace at the appointed hour, he found the fort gates locked and bolted from the inside. Normally, there would be guards posted at the entrance, but today they too were missing. Puzzled, Unni took a walk around the fort and found all the doors locked and secured and no guards at any positions. When he came back to the original entrance, he knew that the great king … Continue reading The Naked Warrior and the Crafty Classmate

Exponent Extraordinaire

Kalarippayattu, the martial arts form unique to Kerala has always been part of its folklore. Thus we get to know of colourful masters who performed great deeds of valour and showed unimaginable skill. One such master of martial arts was Kallanthattil Gurukkal. It’s interesting how we rarely get to know the name of the particular individual. Here Kallanthattil is the family name and Gurukkal, the title given to him. But, what was his given name? No one knows. It has been lost in the folds of time. For the sake of narrative convenience, let’s call him Unni, a very common … Continue reading Exponent Extraordinaire

The Good Doctor and the Labourer Who Made Him Cry

Aryan Narayana Mooss was a famous Ayurvedic physician who lived in Kerala more than a century ago. Read the first part of the story here. One day, Mooss was sitting on an armchair on the veranda of the southern wing of his house. A poor mappilla labourer came in through the gatehouse and approached Mooss. But when he reached the middle of the courtyard, he sat down and couldn’t move. “My lord, I can’t stand,” he said piteously and continued to sit there on the courtyard that had been flattened smooth, and swept clean. “Tell me what ails you,” said … Continue reading The Good Doctor and the Labourer Who Made Him Cry

The Good Doctor

When Aryan Narayana Mooss was all of sixteen, his father, the great Ayurvedic physician deemed that he had learnt enough and could be trusted to treat patients on his own. So the younger Mooss took over from his father the tasks of examining the patients, prescribing medicines, gathering herbs and plants that had medicinal value and supervising the preparations of special medicines using these. When it was needed, he visited the patients in their homes too. But the father did maintain a close watch over his son who was also his disciple. Often at the end of the day, father … Continue reading The Good Doctor

Bhima and the Runaway Forests

Bhima and his friend Mannathu Panikkar sat down to have lunch when the king’s messenger came in with an urgent message. (Read part one of the story here.) “Please read out the king’s message,” said Bhima politely. “But sir, you’re having lunch,” the messenger hesitated. “That’s okay. You said it was urgent. So lunch can wait,” said Bhima. “The neighbouring kingdom has sent a huge army to attack our land. Please help.” The messenger read out.   The Poonjaar army was battle ready but they would be outnumbered easily. Panikkar and Bhima immediately rushed out. When they reached outside it … Continue reading Bhima and the Runaway Forests

A Teacher Fondly Remembered

We have no idea whether any of us were her pets. She was quite brusque in her ways and did not seem to favour any student over the others. Yet we were fond of her. Of her springy hair wisps of which would escape the tight bun at the nape of her neck especially when she was annoyed with us and in a temper. Of her erect dignified stance, of the alert bird like movements of her neck which rose above the dull orange of her high collared full sleeved blouse. In her black and white habit all that springy … Continue reading A Teacher Fondly Remembered

Quotes Recalled

As a child and later as a teenager, I had this habit of collecting quotes. I would write them all down in a notebook I’d stitched together from the blank pages of used notebooks from the previous academic year. In those ancient pre internet days I would often come back to a quote either to pep up an essay we’d been set or to introduce a speech as part of an elocution contest I was participating in or simply for the sheer pleasure of it. My notebook of quotes was lost in the several moves that we made from one … Continue reading Quotes Recalled

Some Musings on the Tamil Film Super Deluxe

It has been more than a year since the release of the Thiagarajan Kumararaja Tamil film Super Deluxe. But I suppose one can indulge in some thoughts about it after having watched it recently on an OTT platform. Spoilers Ahead For those who are reading this and haven’t yet watched the film but are planning to there are disclosures about the ending of the film ahead that may spoil your enjoyment of it. Plot The film strings together the stories of an unfaithful wife, three teenagers whose hormones are running high and a transgender who has returned home. It is … Continue reading Some Musings on the Tamil Film Super Deluxe

Policing Memory – Book Review

Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police is a dystopian novel set on an unnamed island where the Memory Police disappear things from time to time. The protagonist is a novelist (also unnamed) who lives alone in a house by the river. Both her parents are dead and from as long as she can remember things have been disappeared from the island. The other characters are an old man and R the editor of the protagonist’s novels. The people on the island forget what has been disappeared though not all of them do. They are the ones in danger of being arrested … Continue reading Policing Memory – Book Review