Return to the Nature Village

It had been a long time since I had returned to the place which had the label, Prakrithi Gramam, or Nature Village. It was one of the first few places which I had visited with my friends on a motor-bike, and this time, with someone special, I had to return to the place. More about the same is on my Facebook profile, and I will share a few photos with you all on my third trip to the place overall, and the first trip after they built the bridge. The name of the place is Ezhattumugham, and I have already written about it related to my earlier visit, and it is close to the Cochin International Airport at Nedumbassery, and the nearest town is Angamaly. If you are visiting the Athirappilly Waterfalls, you need to go here too.

***The photos used in this post were taken by me on my Asus Zenfone 5.

Also read about the latest, humorous realistic movie in the theatres right now, Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

TeNy

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One Little Trip in Between

As most of my friends know, I was on a Jaipur trip two weeks ago – but as most of my friends here know, the focus was not really on the historic monuments, which is why there were not many good pictures taken, but I will share a few of them with you right now. It is really a beautiful city! 🙂 Maybe I will write about this in detail later, but I can’t be that sure – here are the pictures.

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***All photos used here were taken on my Asus Zenfone 5.

Teny

Being There: Vagamon

The first time I went to Vagamon was during my school days, and during that time, I didn’t know that this place was a hill station. I used to think about it as another scenic place because it was very close to my place, and it might the one hill station which I can go for a one day trip from my location. It is also the only hill station to which I have driven the car all by myself. It is not located not that high as compared to the other popular hill stations like Munnar, Ooty, Kodaikanal, Yercaud and Valparai, and the roads don’t have that much of complicated turns. There is also more than one path to reach there even if you are coming from the same direction.

You can combine the journey to Vagamon with Ilaveezhapoonchira which is another destination on a hill on the way, and is a place of amazing scenic beauty. The first time I was at Vagamon, it was not that much of a big tourist destination, but things have become different now. But still, it doesn’t bring many people from outside Kerala for visit. It is located about a hundred kilometres from the city of Cochin, and the nearest big towns Palai and Thodupuzha are about thirty five and forty five kilometres from Vagamon. Sixty five kilometres away, Kottayam is the nearest railway station. The Cochin Airport is close to a hundred kilometres from Vagamon. Here are ten photos which I had taken during the journey to this particular place, on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310. Even though I have only limited captures of the beauty of the place, I am hoping that this serves as inspiration for your future visit 😀

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TeNy

Of Hills and Rivers

I am sure that most of the people who visited Central Kerala might have visited Munnar, the beautiful hill station which often serves as the Lake District type of inspiration for us. I have made a number of visits to the place with the 2012 journey being the last one. The truth is that you never really get tired of visiting Munnar, which is why I have kept visiting the place throughout my life, and another possible visit to come later some time. Among the hill stations which I visited, Munnar will have the big advantage in my mind. Last time we stayed at Ayur County Chancellor Resorts and it was a nice place to stay with a peaceful atmosphere and beauty of nature all around – the options were also many.

Munnar also has many locations which can be visited during the journey, and as you would have guessed, the traveling part itself is fun and refreshing. Having its name from Mudhirapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly rivers, Munnar’s tea plantations are sure to provide the best view along with its eternally green world. Yes, you will love to have tea at Munnar. Here are ten photos which I had taken during my last visit to Munnar; all of them were taken on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310. I hope these photos will remind you to visit Munnar again, or make you interested in arriving in Kerala and get to Munnar!

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TeNy

District 12: The Heights

You should have surely heard about the District 12 of Kerala – Wayanad. As one of the more popular tourist destinations, it came into existence in its present form in 1980 as the twelfth district of Kerala right out of Kannur and Kozhikode districts. The special thing about this district is that there is no place with the name of the district, and the headquarters is at Kalpetta which has developed very well. Wayanad district also has the distinction of being the only district of Kerala to share the borders with both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, and it is the district with the least population around here.

Wayanad has been known for its natural beauty, and it has no railway connection anywhere in the district; the nearest airport is at Kozhikode. Kalpetta, Mananthavady and Sulthan Bathery are its major towns. When I was a child, I wished to travel here, but the destination wasn’t considered then. But I managed to be there many years later, and I am sharing a few photos from that trip here, even though I still haven’t explored the destination in detail – that is pending, and this post could have a second part. They were all taken on my Sony Cybershot DSC-310. The base of operations for the visit was fixed at Kozhikode at that time with Chevrolet Beat taking that long journey from Aluva, and it extended all the way to Kannur, with three northern districts being toured, and the final one left to visit on another day.

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TeNy

Remember the Waterfalls

Vampire Owl: Welcome, Squire Hamster. Are we ready for the great immortality test?

Vampire Hamster: Yes, Sir Vampire Owl. But we haven’t yet found the right waterfalls with the great scenic beauty which you had asked.

Vampire Bat: It is such a shame. A long time has passed since the search had begun – we might just be delayed this time, and Uncle Dracula won’t be too happy. He had called from the hospital yesterday.

Vampire Alligator: What are these guys talking about? This feels like a new thing for me.

So, the vampires need waterfalls - these rocks are near such a place :D

So, the vampires need waterfalls – these rocks are near such a place 😀

Vampire Crocodile: Every five years, on this day, the vampire community comes up with an immortality test for the vampire apprentices which will make sure that they are immortal and ready for the next step of their training.

Vampire Alligator: What? You mean that they are going to test if we will die or not?

Vampire Crocodile: Somewhat like that. They will push us from the top the waterfalls.

Vampire Alligator: What? Holy alligator of the salt water! I am going to die. I thought immortality came naturally.

Vampire Crocodile: Okay, you can naturally jump from the top.

Vampire Alligator: What? Still, I am going to die! I haven’t even written a will yet.

Vampire Crocodile: Shut up! We are not going to die. We are immortal already. You should attend more classes; you are not understanding the whole point.

Here is the view from top of a particular waterfall ;)

Here is the view from top of a particular waterfall around here 😉

Vampire Alligator: Even if I don’t die of falling, I will still die of fear. I am afraid of heights. I want to see my mummy; the one who is not inside the Pyramids.

Vampire Crocodile: Dude, that is also covered under the vampire immortality clause. If we die, Lady Death will bring our souls back according to the deal which has been signed between the two parties, the dead and the undead. Your life is insured. So, stay cool and wait for the vampire team to find the right waterfalls.

Vampire Alligator: It is okay then, I guess.

Vampire Crocodile: It will be a nice experience. We need to explore our immortality and get so much close to death and then understand that we don’t belong to the world of the dead.

Vampire Panda: I can even practice some Kungfu moves while falling through the air. This is going to be so cool. You will see that I can land on two legs.

Vampire Penguin: And I will do some dance steps in the air.

When waterfalls are around, rocks become more of a thing of beauty, right?

When waterfalls are around, rocks become more of a thing of beauty, right?

Vampire Owl: Come in, Squire Vampire Cat and Squire Vampire Crow.

Vampire Cat: Sir, the right place has been found. It is in Kerala. The location is very beautiful.

Vampire Crow: Half the credit for that should come to me too, as it was me who sent him for this search. I had noticed the signs long ago.

Vampire Bat: I see. I believe that I have been to these waterfalls which you are going to talk about. We can also have some fun walking around. This will also be the official vampire trip of the year. There will be no other journeys outside the realm.

Vampire Owl: So where exactly can we find these waterfalls?

[Vampire Cat takes a map out of the bag].

And a few people whom you will meet on the way there :)

And a few very special people whom you will meet on the way there 🙂

Kerala has a number of waterfalls which have become interesting tourist destinations. There are lots of such names which come into our mind, but there is nothing like one place which has become another name for waterfalls in Kerala, and it is the most popular name among them all. Athirappilly Waterfalls in the Thrissur district in Kerala located about fifty kilometres from the Cochin International Airport and around eighty three kilometres from the City of Cochin, is also only about thirty one kilometres from the Chalakudy town; a fine location for everyone to have a visit.

All the waterfalls which you need can be found here :D

All the waterfalls which you need can be found here along with the water 😀

An Athirappilly visit can also be combined with a journey to Ezhattumugham which is not that far away; if started early during the day, both can be covered in one day. Meanwhile, the Vazhachal Falls are just one around Athirappilly, even though it is not as steep as the big Falls. There is also another waterfall on the side of the road, and you can actually travel through Sholayar to reach the other side of Western Ghats, and the hill station of Valparai awaits you as you cross over to Tamil Nadu. This journey will be through the forests and allowed only duting day time.

You shall witness the glory of Athirappilly Waterfalls :D

And you shall witness the glory of Athirappilly Waterfalls 😀

The visiting time allowed at Athirappilly is between eight and six, and the tickets will be given only until five. Plastic as well as liquor and smoking are prohibited. People are adviced not to feed animals, but people were not that respectful to that advice when we last visited – may be things are better now. There is a some walk to be undertaken after entering the place. The number of tourists here is usually high, as there has been a lot of visitors every time we were there, not just on those big holidays. So, for peace, the journey should be for Ezhaattumugham.

Enjoy the waterfalls and keep the surroundings clean :)

Enjoy the waterfalls and keep the surroundings clean; be responsible 🙂

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310.

TeNy

River Through Camera II

I had posted a few photos of Periyar’s “Aluva puzha” side which you had witnessed in a better way in the blockbuster Premam with all its beauty from the movie makers. Here are a few more photos to go with it. All these were taken by me on my camera and mobile. These will show the beautiful side of the river which blesses the town of Aluva or Alwaye once again. I hope that these will make you fall in love with the beauty of nature again.

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But there were occasions when the river was not that kind; this one happened in the year 2013. The truth is that we are never prepared for situations like floods.

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TeNy

On Responsible Tourism

Exploration is a fine thing to do, and occasional travel refreshes our mind and soul as we wander around those wonderful destinations, whether they are the much visited ones or the locations lesser known. There is the never-ending need to travel, and as we go through these journeys, we arrange our food and stay at some nice place, and take photos of the beauty which is around us. When we are on such a journey, especially through the beauty of nature, we not only have the right to enjoy all these, but also got some responsibilities.

1. The first thing which I would consider as part of the responsible tourism is not to litter, no matter whatever be the circumstances. Well, the situation might differ everywhere, but the nature and our responsibility remains the same. It is a bad idea to leave the trace of our visits here and there. If there is something to be left behind, I would suggest that we leave some love and take home only the beauty which we have captured on our cameras and phones along with those rejuvenating memories.

This tree welcomes you to Ezhattumugham as the official messenger of nature :D

Why someone feel the need to litter at places like these is beyond understanding!

2. I would also suggest treating these places as if they are our own homes. Will we make our own homes dirty? We are supposed to keep these places clean as we would do to our own houses. We do see those historical monuments which are not in the best shape due to the visitors who find some fun in writing on them as well as spitting here and there. Along with conservation of nature, there is the need to preserve these archaeological monuments which tells the story of our past; it is also our duty to consider them as part of our culture.

3. We should also respect the local culture with their customs and traditions. After all, it is their world into which we enter. If something is banned somewhere, lets not use it, whether it is parts of the law or the tradition. If alcohol is banned, do not use it; the same goes for smoking. If some place has a vegetarian traditions, lets follow the same. If beef or pork is not supposed to be part of the culture at some place, respect that too. Wherever photography is prohibited, lets not take photos; there will always be other areas where it can be done.

4. There is also the choice to minimize the pollution in other ways. When there are four people on a journey, you don’t need to use two cars. But unfortunately, some parents who provide too much for their children make sure that they go on and show some style with the extra vehicle. It is mostly in the name of the homes being a few kilometres away from each other. If you are entering a place close to nature, I would suggest keeping the vehicle some more distance away from the place than you are expected to.

5. One should also stop making noises causing disturbance to other people as well as creatures of nature. This kind of people create more terror than most of the others, because they instantly destroy the peace which prevails in areas close to nature. It is a case of lack of respect, and unfortunately, this one can’t be taught by anyone else, but their own people. There is too much disrespect going on among people, especially the new generation and it might to be too much to ask this, but we have to.

So, when Thommankuthu calls you, will you be there? :D

So, you really want to disturb nature and the other visitors – then be ashamed.

6. As a visitor, it is our duty to be aware of where we are going and what we are doing, not just one of us, but the whole group of people. It will help us to cause the minimum impact during our visits and there is nothing which makes a negative impression is left behind. Enough information about the place, its people and nature will help us to make sure that the journey is a responsible one. Even if a place is mostly unexplored, there will be always something available at least related to the surrounding areas.

I am blogging for #ResponsibleTourism activity by Outlook Traveller in association with BlogAdda

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310.

TeNy

A River: Through Camera


There has been a good number of songs which have featured Periyar going through the town of Aluva, the most popular ones having the name itself in the songs including “Aluva Puzhayude” in the recent blockbuster Premam and “Aayiram Padasarangal Kilungi” from the 1969 movie Nadhi. Here are a few shots of the very popular river which has flown through inside a good number of Malayalam movies. All these shots were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 Camera.

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***Keep calm and spend some time near the Aluvaite part of Periyar or “Aluva puzha” 😀 Delighted to have lived so long on the banks of this river 🙂

TeNy

Destination: Impossible

My list of places to travel in this life has been a very long one. I have often thought about buying a new shelf to keep that list. The cities like Rome, Barcelona, Milan, Vienna, Florence, Lisbon, Venice and many others have been part of that list, along with a good number of Latin American nations. There have also been nations on the Eastern side of Asia and the South of Africa which have been in my list. But there is something about Eastern Europe and one nation in particular, which I wished to visit right from my childhood, even before I knew more about the nations, their geographical locations, capitals and the distance to be traveled from here.

I know my friends who wish to travel and settle down in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, along with those who are already there. I am the first one to make this wish here, and I made it when I was in school, and nobody knew the name of even one Eastern European nation other than Russia. I wanted to travel to Romania. Some friends thought that I wanted to travel to Rome with its Colosseum and Vatican, but that was not my priority. I wanted to see the legend, the hero and the prince of darkness, or at least what remained of the myth and history.

I have loved almost everything I have known about Romania, the most recent love related to Simona Halep, the World No.2 in Women Singles Tennis; that even lead to our cat being named after her. Coming back to the love for Dracula, the first non-Malayalam horror novel which I have ever read, Carpathians had become a grand part of my perpetual endearment towards the unexplored side, something which was to be kept away – the kid who read horror is never the lovable kid, right? It was the time when I had to read the children’s books, and there I was, reading the horror novels.

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“That kid who read horror novels” – not that much of a popular tag to have at the Municipal Library of a town; it was a fair title though. Then there were people who had the shocked expression seeing me with the horror novels. I was often called Dracula in the class and I loved it so much; as I soon asked to be called that name, my classmates realized that they couldn’t make fun of me by calling me Dracula and they decided to stop addressing me so. The horror always existed with me, and the genre grew, with horror movies and then reaching my final MA English and Literature project about Vampire as a Cultural Construct.

The Carpathian Mountains should be my place to begin. I should be there alone and be the Jonathon Harker of the time, and it is something which I owe that kid who read horror novels. The Bran Castle should be the big destination as the Dracula Castle, along with Poenari Castle and Hunyad Castle making sure that the legend is truthfully followed. I have always loved the castles even outside the horror stories, and with the myth connected here, you know which is the castle which I wish to visit long before any other. The Dracula Castle is like a holy site of myths for us!

Bucharest, the capital and largest city of Romania also needs to be visited. I have found a number of interesting buildings on the pages, most significant ones being Saint Spyridon the New Church, and the architectural beauty in right there with modernity as well as those with antiquity. Another city on the list is Iasi for the Metropolitan Cathedral there. Constanța, the port city where Simona Halep is from, also makes it to my list. The other cities include Timisoara, Ploiesti, Sibiu, Craiova, Brasov, Galați and Cluj-Napoca – you search for details about a city, and you end up wishing to visit them!

Well, it is clear that I have no job as I have been learning the names of cities. I wish that my MA thesis would come to its real end during a trip to Romania, or may be I could do a Ph.D thesis there on the same topic; the journey is a wish that is never to come true, and Romania is a dream destination which is never to be added to the “visited” list. This is one destination which seems necessary for my salvation, but it is also something which I have put on another list of many impossible things. Do I need to say those six impossible things before tea? May be I do.

***The image used in this blog post was taken by me on Samsung Galaxy A5.

TeNy

Lord Livingstone Special

I had watched the movie Lord Livingstone 7000 Kandi yesterday, and wanted to share something related to nature after having a certain dose of messages against deforestation and rest of the wrongdoings against nature. Even though the movie won’t appeal to everyone in the same manner, the intentions are very good there. Here I am sharing a few photos of nature which I have taken from outside India, that is in Sri Lanka. I believe that I have shared enough photos from Kerala already with the beauty of nature.

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***All the images used in this blog post were taken by me on Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 and DSC-W180.

TeNy

Favourite Shots II

It was only now that I felt the need for sharing a second set of the favourite shots taken on my camera by me. I would start with the Chinese fishing nets at Fort Cochin which have been one of the most significant tourist attractions of the place which haven’t been historical, religious or spiritual in nature. There are so many of them, and as they are photogenic, they form one of the many symbols of the place. If you walk around the Fort Cochin beach, you can have some nice shots of the same. Here you can see a modern reflection on the other side.

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Among the favourite photos, the backwaters of Kerala needs to be there; that didn’t happen in the first set of photos, but it does here. Kumarakom has left a few more memories, as on one day, we decided to choose the smaller boats to go on a journey through the backwaters of Kerala. It is an interesting journey as we see the bigger houseboats keep moving around – there is beauty all around and we notice them closer. After the process, there is also the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary to have a look at.

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Bhoothathankettu Dam and its nearby forests have been the tourist destination which I have known for a very long time, right from my childhood. The place has expanded a lot with more facilities these days as the number of tourists has increased. The myth of the demons and monsters had only re-inforced my love for the place during that horror novel filled childhood. It is less than thirty kilometres from the Cochin International Airport and quite close to the town of Kothamangalam.

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We have visited Ezhattumugham since the first time we had any idea about its existence. The place has changed a lot since my first visit there, and still it retains some of the peace and tranquility of the earlier times. It is one of the closest tourist attraction to the Cochin International Airport and is good enough to combine with your trip with Athirappilly Waterfalls. The photo is from the times of the rain when there was water everywhere. It is more of a joy to watch then.

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Located less than twenty kilometres from Thodupuzha, Thommankuthu is another beautiful destination which I have visited multiple times. It is one of the better known eco-tourism centres of the area, and the walk on the sides of the stream leads to the waterfalls which is a very beautiful sight. It provides a nice and interesting place to spend some time in peace, away from the busy world. All the path to this place itself makes sure that there is an interesting journey in store.

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There was one small island which caught my attention during a houseboat journey through Aleppey, and there were so many houseboats around making it an interesting view of busy waterways. The backwaters remain a thing of beauty, and the time spent in exploring the same is never wasted. There is always something more to be caught in the camera, and it is the advantage of being here.

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I managed to take this photo at Kannur, from the Saint Angelo Fort. It remains a special favourite, and taken during a time when I was reading Old Man and the Sea, it feels good to have this shot coming up good. The fort itself is a wonderful place to spend some time and also witness the historical landmark which is well maintained. There is also the presence of enough greenery around to add to the charm.

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TeNy

Urulanthanni: Not the Obvious

No matter where or how you search for information, Urulanthanni is not a place which you can find with ease; not on the internet or not while talking with those people whom you usually meet. It is because Urulanthanni is far away from most of those places where you visit for a relief from the normal city routine. It is also because it is not that much explored by people of modernity. Urulanthanni remains a name which is not usually talked about among the travelers, but it is a place which deserves to be discovered.

You see this on the way and you know that this is going to be good!

You see this on the way and you know that this is going to be an awesome experience!

If you have searched for Urulanthanni after reading the first paragraph on google, I am sure that you won’t find much of the written information about it, not even on Wikipedia. It is an area around Kuttampuzha river and a few kilometres away from Kuttampuzha – this much should be easy to find. If you come from Cochin, take the road to Muvattupuzha and then to Kothamangalam. Our starting point was at Aluva, fifty nine kilometres from the destination, not including the distance which we had to walk after the drive.

While on the way, you stop here, and just have a look; can't resist!

While on the way, you stop here, and just have a look; can’t resist on this view!

If you are coming from the Cochin Airport, you can join this route, and it will be fifty five kilometres from there, and fourty two from the place where the routes from Aluva and Airport joins – Perumbavoor from where there is fourty two kilometres to the destination. You will be travelling on the Aluva-Munnar road, and you can choose to have food just before reaching the next big town, or rather the last one worth mentioning – Kothamangalam. There is a vegetarian restaurant Dwaraka, and a non-vegetarian restaurant Paradise on the way which might be the best options to have food.

There are smaller places of worship around, as God doesn't go for money around here!

There are smaller places of worship around, as God doesn’t go for money around here!

After Kothamangalam, finding big enough restaurants get tougher except for the fact that there might be something around with Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary on the way, and there is the Bhoothathankettu Dam if you take a deviation, but you won’t if you are going to Urulanthanni. The path is indeed beautiful, and nature only gets better as you keep moving. Once you reach Kuttampuzha, the last small town, you have to take a deviation to the right. Otherwise you might end up reaching Pooyamkutty. You can travel through that road to reach and end from where you will have to walk.

So much green for the eyes, and for the camera - can't deny its power.

So much green for the eyes, and for the camera – can’t deny its extreme power.

There you enter the charming world of Urulanthanni, which is part of the Idukki Wildlife Division, even as it is part of Ernakulam district. Vodafone might be the only network which has connectivity there though. As you walk deeper into the area, you will find not much other than greenery, and there will be streams of water which you need to cross, and so there is the need to be prepared. some of them might be quite deep and having strong currents, so care is needed there. The rain which actually make it stronger and create newer ones.

Just one of those streams which should be crossed during the journey on foot.

Just one of those beautiful streams which should be crossed during the journey on foot.

You will also have to walk through the water which is caught between the rocks, and it should be slippery; therefore further care might be needed. You have to walk, run and jump until you reach the waterfalls which is a nice sight with the greenery. If you can manage to climb to the top of any of the rocks there, you can get a nice view of the surroundings. The beauty of the green is so powerful, and seems like eternal there. As it is not a big tourist site yet, the human disturbance on nature is not there and let’s not create something like that there too.

You can climb one or two of the rocks there and have a detailed look around the area.

You can climb one or two of the rocks there and have a detailed look around the area.

Along with the chances of slipping during the rains, you will also have to be careful about the leeches. I did donate some of my blood to a good number of them during my visit, but you needn’t make them grateful by feeding your blood. The best option will be to wear the shoes rather than chappals. You can ask for the help of locals to guide, as the path can be confusing or even dangerous for people not used to such journeys and leeches at full strength can be disgusting. Urulanthanni might not be the obvious tourist destination, but surely a nice place to visit with all the beauty of nature.

The waterfalls and all those green elements - that surely feels like Tomb Raider!

The waterfalls and all those green elements – that surely feels like Tomb Raider!

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my camera and mobile phone (Sony Cybershot and Samsung Duos).

TeNy

Exploring the Elements

This writing is part of the Explore The Elements Photo Contest which was announced by Thomas Cook. Here I explore and represent the four elements of nature with the help of the photos which I have taken using my Sony Cybershot DSC W-310. You can check here for more details about the contest: http://www.thomascook.com/blog/holiday-competitions-deals/explore-the-elements/ #ExploreTheElements

1. Earth: As it is said and known, “for dust thou art, and to dust shalt thou return” is what the following scene reminds us about claiming our place back under the Earth and hope for a better time at the other world. There is stubbornness in this idea of truth, and the certainty of this return to the dust and dirt is as clear as the presence of these things on the surface of the Earth. The problem with humanity is its consistent loss of memory about this, and their pursuit of Carpe Diem. The photo was taken at a church cemetery around the city of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England.

It is to the insides of Earth that we have to return, for we are dust.

It is right into the insides of Earth that we have to return, for we are dust.

2. Water: You can see how well water could adapt and as much as it can become the life saver, it can be the destroyer. The unbelievable amount of suppleness can be attributed to this element which is a powerful force of nature which can make impact in its presence as well as the absence. The photo shows the brutal strength that the element of water came up with, during the monsoon rain of 2013 (there were worse situations during that period at the banks of the river Periyar) at the town of Aluva, near Cochin, Kerala, India.

Water has its power to take over whenever it wishes to.

Water as an element has its power to take over whenever it wishes to.

3. Fire: The element of fire always burns, either in the minds of the people or on the far away horizons, as the globe of fire reflects our motivation and desire, becoming the silent watcher of the human hatred for the other people of their kind. The energy of fire is something that we can take into our lives, without the negative sides, choosing not to burn the people around us with hatred based on religion, caste or race. There is the need for fire in our lives. The photo was taken at Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India.

The beauty of fire on the sky can't be ignored by any camera.

The beauty of fire on the sky can’t be ignored by the eyes or any camera.

4. Air: There is freedom associated with air, something which is not easy in this world. We, human beings are bound by strange things and weird laws being passed, some of them making just the religion more important than humanity, and a few other making a few animals more significant that human beings. We should have chosen to air in this life, so free and with all the wisdom that is gained by traveling over long distances. In the photo, you can see how the vegetation bows down in reverence to the strength and wisdom of the element of air – photo taken at Ilaveezhapoonjira, Kerala, India.

When the element of air travel around freely with wisdom, take a bow.

When the element of air travel around freely with wisdom, take a bow.

There is only the human nature which is as unpredictable as the elements of nature, with compassion on one side and the tendency to be devastating with a certain amount of inherent evil which comes up here and there. There is something about the use of the word “nature” at both places. I hope you found the four photos of the elements of nature interesting – they have all been cropped and adjusted to a standard size so that there wouldn’t be any confusion. They were all taken by me only on my camera, Sony Cybershot DSC-W310..

Here, I nominate five other bloggers to participate in this contest:
Anita (http://www.anitaexplorer.com)
Maniparna (http://maniparna5002.wordpress.com)
Namrata (http://namratakumari.blogspot.in)
Shibu (http://shibumathewn15.wordpress.com)
Tara (http://crimsonapril.wordpress.com)

TeNy

A Little More Divinity

Here is another flashback of my spiritual journeys that go back a few years to a season of Honda Unicorn. I have my doubts if churches can be called “cute”, but here are a few of them if they can really be called so. All of them are from Kerala, and have left a permanent mark despite their small sizes and in spite of not being that famous. This is the season of Lent, and I would consider a few more of the abodes of God can only do good. After all, I am one of those very few unlucky people who always have their birthdays during the time of Lent.

Christ Church, Munnar: Belonging to Church of South India and having a history of over one hundred years, this one goes back to the people of the tea who had arrived here in relation with the tea plantations of Munnar from Britain. The stone laid in on 11th March, 1910, this church is really well-maintained and you can have a very good view of the hilly town from here, which is beautiful, only to be challenged by the beauty of the church itself. You can see India’s colonial past and understand that this one has a lot of stories to tell.

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Church of Our Lady of Hope, Vypin: Located at the island of Vypin, which forms a part and is connected to the city of Kochi by the group of Goshree bridges, this is a small church which has the lake directly in front of it, and makes a very beautiful view if you are looking from the other side of the water body. There is a lawn, a cross and a grotto in front of this white church building, and also a number of Chinese nets and some huge trees which give enough to shades to have some spiritual rest.

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St. Sebastian’s Church, Thoppumpady: The new bridge which was built at Thoppumpady made sure that you can only travel to Fort Cochin and Mattanchery through the road which goes on the side of this church. This is a protected monument by the archeology department and the renovation works were delayed as it couldn’t be done without permission – it has been renovated now, and the photo that I have is from before that. Its antiquity is its beauty, and there is also the lake on the back-side with a nice view of the historical Harbour Bridge.

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Holy Cross Church, Mattanchery: More of a shrine than a church, this is a pilgrimage centre with historical significance. There is the presence of a small church-like area inside it though. It tells the tale of the historic oath which was made by the members of the Saint Thomas Christian community of Kerala that they would not submit to the rising Portuguese dominance which have been trying to forcibily Latinize the local Christian community that had existed with the Indianized version even before Christianity spread through Europe.

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St. Mary’s Church, Njarakkal: A part and a major centre of Vypin that I had earlier mentioned, this church at Njarakkal is not that different from Church of Our Lady of Hope in its architecture, but can still claim an identity of its own. It has more space inside the structure and also has very beautiful and traditional altar. The style is just like a number of older churches built at that time and having the feeling of being very old, but the renovations have made sure that it stays beautiful and worth the admiration.

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***I wish to leave the total statistics related to the number of the churches I have visited since 2009. The first one is the district-wise division, second on the list outside Kerala and third on the churches visited outside India. The only two districts missing are Kasargode and Malappuram. The districts might not be exact as I have my doubt about the borders, but the numbers are exact. *The photos used in this blog post are those taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC W-310 only.
(Ernakulam-174, Kottayam-69, Thrissur-39, Alappuzha-29, Pathanamthitta-17, Kollam-9, Kozhikode-7, Idukki-13, Kannur-4, Trivandrum-4, Wayanad-4, Palakkad-3)
(Tamil Nadu-59, Pondicherry-11, West Bengal-11, Karnataka-8)
(England-41, Scotland-9, Sri Lanka-8)

TeNy

A Special Ceylon Rewind

My journey to Ceylon is something that I rewind and play very often in my mind. There are many things that I was sure about, but one thing among them was that I had a fantastic time with the Ramayana Tour arranged by Riya Travels with the company of the newfound “spiritual uncles”, all of them who seemed to be above the age of sixty and myself being the not-so-little kid 😀 Here, I am sharing a few places that I wish to recollect – my little packages of joy.

10. The Ravana Ella: There have been a number of waterfalls during our journey through the high altitude areas of Ceylon, and among them, this waterfalls named after Ravana has the first say. This has a background story going back to Ramayana, and it is believed that Ravana hid Seetha in the caves behind this waterfalls.

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9. The Kandy Lake: This man-made lake is a beautiful sight to witness. Built by the last king of the place, Vikrama Rajasinha, before going under the British occupation, this is a nice place in the heart of the city, located next to the Temple of the Tooth. Here is one for your favourite lakes list.

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8. Hakgala Botanical Garden: Often connected to Ravana’s Ashoka Vatika in Ramayana, this is now a botanical garden with nice collection of trees, plants and flowers. The climate is nice and cold, with the place having some beautiful spots for taking photos. Yes, the tea is also around for us.

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7. St. Xavier’s Church, Nuwara Eliya: A walk through the cool climate of the place felt good, and during one of those walks through the hilly town, we came across this church, and an attempt to enter with chappals left on the outside almost lead to the freezing effect. The structure is nicely built and things were nicely arranged.

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6. St. Anthony’s Church, Bandarawela: When we were wandering around the town with lots of spare time having nothing else to do, we found out this hidden gem. It was not a big structure, but managed to be different in its style. It is located at a higher area of the town, and with its attractive looks, has a calm atmosphere.

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5. Seetha Amman Temple, Seetha Eliya: This is where Ravana is supposed to have hidden Seetha after abducting her. It is not a big town or anything, but a peaceful place which seems to have its own spiritual significance for anyone who wishes for some serenity during their journey. This a small, but beautiful structure which stretches from the rocks below to the heights of the road.

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4. The Negombo Beaches: We didn’t have much to spend at Colombo, and therefore the adjustment was made whatever was left with the beaches of Negombo. There were some nice, beautiful scenery there, and some spots which reminds us of home, in an extremely positive manner. There was a lot of Kerala at parts of Negombo, and I didn’t feel away from home at all.

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3. Mackwoods Labookellie Tea Factory, Nuwara Eliya: Providing us with breath-taking scenery of the tea plantations and also for providing us with the much needed awesome tea, the cold climate contributes with a sudden blow of wind which takes out breath away and then we realized that we need to drink more tea.

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2. Temple of the Tooth, Kandy: A royal palace and a temple complex, with the sacred relic of the tooth of Buddha – I don’t think that it could get any better on that trip. It was actually the first Buddhist temple I had ever visited, if my memory is correct; and yes it was not like anything I had seen before.

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1. The Kelaniya Temple: This is where our journey ended, as we went directly to the airporty at Colombo after the visit here. The temple takes us back to the time of the final visit of Buddha to Sri Lanka. It has wonderful paintings and sculptures all around, and special mention is needed for the reclining Buddha. The paintings show the life of the Buddha, incidents related to Buddhism in Sri Lanka, also a few things from the Jataka tales.

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*The photos used in this blog post are all taken by me using a Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 and a Sony Cybershot DSC-W180 – had two cameras with me in case one gave me trouble 😀

TeNy

To Shave or Not to Shave

[No vampires were harmed while writing this story] [All images used here are from Gillette India’s official Facebook Page].

The settings were all complete for the Great Bloody Day of the Vampires. All arrangements were already done by the Vampire Bat, the Vampire Owl and the vampire apprentices. Vampire Crocodile was in charge of saying the welcome speech and the Vampire Cat with the vote of thanks. There was an unlimited supply of noodles and blood shake arranged by the Vampire Kung-fu Panda Catering service. The Vampire Cat was busy making sure everything was at the right places.

“Surprise! I am here early” screamed Dracula.

“Who are you? What do you want? What business do you have here?” asked the Vampire Owl.

Dracula was in doubt. It was the first time he seemed unknown in the vampire community. No other vampire had ever asked him that question; not even Louis de Pointe du Lac or Lestat de Lioncourt. A lot of them knew him from even a kilometre away; such was the impact created by him.

How many reasons do you need to shave with a Gillette?

How many reasons do you need to shave with a Gillette?

“I am your uncle, the great, legendary Dracula” said Dracula.

“No, you are not Dracula. You are just a caveman in a Halloween costume” said the Vampire Crocodile.

“No, I am your most awesome Uncle Dracula. See my fangs?” Dracula said as he showed his teeth.

“No, our uncle is a bloody old man with the looks of a handsome young man. You look like you were wandering in the Carpathians and has now come here to take a free shower” said the Vampire Owl.

“I am Dracula, because my name is Dracula”.

“Yes, you might be a Dracula, but not the Dracula. You were named after our great uncle and teacher?” asked the Vampire Cat.

“What is wrong with you people? This is just the first time that I haven’t shaved”.

Lets learn something from the Wall here.

Lets learn something from the Wall here.

“No, Dracula never had the facial hair. Human turned Vampires never have that. You are a fake” remarked Vampire Owl.

“I never had the facial hair because I always shaved, you idiots” yelled an angry Dracula.

“We are not accepting that. We don’t see the vampire gentleman in there. It is too risky to let another person into this secret celebrations” said the Vampire Bat.

“See, this is my visiting card; it says Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, Member of the House of Drăculești, Full time Vampire and part time Count, The Vampire Castle”.

“Anyone can make such a card. Do you have an id?” asked the Vampire Bat.

“What id? I don’t need an id. I am the greatest vampire of all time. Why do I need an id?” asked an aggressive Dracula.

“We need to approve you if you are to enter here. So, go and get your id”.

“But it will take me hours to go back there and by then it will be too late. Do you have a razor?” asked a worried Dracula.

Roger Federer. Awesomeness, Class and Gillette.

Roger Federer. Awesomeness, Class and Gillette.

“No, we don’t keep razors here, because we don’t need that. Now, please leave as we wait for our one true uncle with absolutely no hair on his face” said the Vampire Owl.

“Yes, you shall not have any of my noodles with the special ingredient unless you prove that you are the one” yelled the Vampire Kung-fu Panda from a distance.

“What kind of idiots have I trained? I should have trained a coconut tree and it would have done better than these guys” murmured Dracula as he returned to the castle.

*Moral of the story from Count Dracula: Always shave or lose a significant moment or two.

This post is a part of #WillYouShave activity
at BlogAdda in association with Gillette.
I’m accepting and acknowledging the tag of Maniparna through this post. I’m tagging a few of my blogger friends for the same activity: Namrata, Rohit, Vartika and Sagarika

Please don’t forget to mention that you were referred by me in your post.

Topics for Girls:
An instance when a stubble came in the way of a man’s chance to make a good impression.
An instance when a well groomed look ensured that they struck gold on an opportunity given to them.
Topics for Guys:
Missed chances- Stories or instances where you missed out on an opportunity because of a non-shaven face.
Luck or Confidence?- Will you leave your fate in the hands of destiny or will you step up and say yes to a well-groomed face to be at your best everyday? #WillYouShave.

TeNy

Of a Romanian Beauty

I have been watching tennis for quite some time now, and I have watched and admired many players, but none so much as Roger Federer, who redefined my days of watching that game which I have never played and might never play. I have spent hours just watching the maestro play, and have watched almost all the grand slams he has won, mostly as live action and sometimes in the form of highlights.

I have also admired Novak Djokovic with his game on a lot of occasions, and has considered him a worthy successor to the number one title which he is holding now. When coming to the women’s tennis, it has never had a clear favourite player in my list, as there used to be Maria Sharapova, replaced by Caroline Wozniacki who still remains one my big favourites, Agnieszka Radwańska who is there forever, and Eugenie Bouchard whom I occasionally root for as part of another army – Genie Army.

Roger Federer and Simona Halep, my choices for every Grand Slam :D

Roger Federer and Simona Halep, my choices for every Grand Slam 😀

Then there is Simona Halep, whom I have been supporting for months now as the latest addition to that list. Along with supporting Roger Federer, I have been wishing that she had one the women’s division too. I might still name my cat Agnieszka who have been the fan favourite player for the last consecutive years (and mine too), but the admiration for Simona has been something that has been growing like a vampire’s fangs. She is not screaming and doing all those strange actions on the court like some of the other players who overdo the same.

It is a feel-good moment when she wins those points :)

It is a feel-good moment when she wins those points 🙂

Ever since reading Dracula, I have always wanted to visit Romania, and support the nation in something, and Simona is the answer to my prayers to find something for the same cause. Yes, another reason to love Romania here, and I was actually surprised at how much she has come up in the rankings all of a sudden and how well she has improved her game. Well, it is still safe to say that not many people from this part of the world knows her yet, and that is rather a disgrace to all kinds of sports.

Always looking good whether on the court or off-court!

Always looking good whether on the court or off-court!

The twenty three year old from Romania has jumped in rankings and has arrived and settled inside the top ten of WTA Rankings, and now sitting steadily at number three below veterans Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. She looks small, but has such an intelligent game to take on the stronger opponents. This was achieved after being a rather less heard name in Women’s tennis, which with frequent serve breaks, has been such an unpredictable side compared to the men’s tennis which has had the big four of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

Hope she wins the next grand slam and more :)

Hope she wins the next grand slam and more 🙂

She came so close to winning the Roland Garros this year too, but there is a thing about the French Open, as it is too elusive for the best players and those who play beautiful tennis. After having not that much of a good record in the grand slams, she could rise to the occasions this year reaching the final of the French Open and the semi-final of the Wimbledon in an year which saw her rise which also lead to the demolition of Serena Williams in the WTA Championships even as she lost in the final to the same opponent.

Not difficult to find Simona here :) (Pic from Simona wiki page)

Not difficult to find Simona here 🙂 (Pic from Simona wiki page)

Among the players who are doing so well in the WTA, I would vote for Simona Halep this time, and the player who recently turned twenty three and at 5 feet 6 inches among the shorter top players, seems to be the rising star for the future of women’s tennis. Lets hope that she continues to play the wonderful tennis that she is producing and keeps us admiring her talent. *All the photos in this post except one are from the official Facebook page of Simona Halep (https://www.facebook.com/simonahalep)

TeNy

Diversity has its Unity

Do check Lufthansa TVC

There is something about pride being the Devil’s favourite sin. But what Mephistopheles hopes to thrive on as per the instructions of Lucifer is rather that pride that a man or woman has on oneself and that selfishness which boosts vanity; it is what the Devil always roots for in man among the Seven Deadly Sins. It is from the lack of care for the other that the pride arises, and it has made man fall beneath the abyss, just like Christopher Marlowe had shown us with the example of Doctor Faustus in a tragic story of human devastation.

With a population that goes above a hundred crores and having a wonderfully diverse culture, an outsider will always have the tendency to think that India is not one – but that is not true. We are one, and this unity among ourselves is rather boosted by the diversity that is there. We actually love the customs of others and respect it, and there lies the pride which extends to the one who is seemingly outside one’s culture, but still part of one’s own extended family. There are exceptions, but considering our population, they are very few. It is a strong message for the outside world.

Sameeksha @kalady, promoting inter-religious harmony (taken on Sony DSC-W180)

Sameeksha @Kalady, promoting inter-religious harmony (taken on Sony DSC-W180)

Here comes the question of being proud, yet again. Yes, we have the right to be proud about our nation, and it is entirely different from being proud of oneself boosting that vanity. This right to be proud is something that we gain by doing something for the nation and keeping its traditions alive rather than something that comes up only when Indian cricket team wins the World Cup or as the means to abuse people from other countries. You are part of a nation by birth, which is rather the accident and you earn the right to be part of the nation when you do what is good for your country. Here, we can see that it includes people who are different from oneself, coming from different cultures.

I remember what I was told when I was a child – that India is a lot like Europe, but we have always had people who had chosen to stay close to each other despite having different languages, religions, cultures and traditions. It is something that would have been entirely difficult at the early times, but has been managed since 1947. We have been one nation of different people who have respected and celebrated our differences like no other nation. It is a message that India has for the world, to respect the other, and it is a message that India should always carry. It is that message that the majority of Indians have had with them.

Lufthansa does portray the Indian side as they could, but the fact remains that India is not just the land of Bollywood, Namaste and one kind of food. India has strong movie industries in the South, with Tamil movies having a huge fan following (I remember seeing the posters of Anniyan at parts of Malaysia), and there are Malayalam movies always coming up with the intellectually superior stuff plus there are also the strong Telugu and Kannada movie industries. Cinema of West Bengal always had my attention, and the film-making occurs in rather too many languages for someone from another nation.

Kadamattom, a mix of different myths - the passage to underworld (taken on Nokia N95)

Kadamattom, a mix of different myths – the passage to underworld (taken on Nokia N95)

And in the case of namaste, there can also be namaskaram, vanakkam, namaskar and many others changing throughout the nation. At the same time, the diversity of food is rather mouth-watering, and not something to worry about. This existence and the respect for diversity is something that India can give to the rest of the world. There is the message of peaceful co-existence and harmony is something that some part of the world does seem to agree with and some other parts need to check and think about. Everywhere in the world, we see wars over small disputes and nations wishing to divide themselves on the basis of something or anything just increasing the number of world nations further, and we wonder why it is so hard to live with people who are different.

There are not many things as beautiful as having a diversity among people. It certainly supports love and care for those who belong to different races. Some people would feel that diversity is a curse and having the same kind of people who think alike will support unity further. But that is clearly not the point as far as you can go through India. There will always be one reason or the other for people who want to hate and divide. In India, it is the diversity that is the beauty which powers the unity, and when we realize that and love the other, it is the message that we pass on to the world, and it is what it needs as turbulence is always waiting for a chance. This example that India has set surely has made some impact already, and it is undeniable.

*The above photos were all taken by me. This blog post was written in relation to the “More Indian than you think” contest from Lufthansa India in association with Indiblogger. Please do visit the link below for further details about the same:
http://bit.ly/MITYTIndiblogger

TeNy

Does it Really Feel Good?

There have been so many so called “feel-good” movies, and it makes one wonder if it is a title which is just used because there is nothing else could used to describe that movie. There has been too much use of that word to describe the recent movies, even the recently released Bangalore Days which actually has nothing to feel that good with even motherhood given no positive points. So many other movies have been asking for that title, or have adorned the movie like a colourless garland. Is it too easy to make some people feel good, or do they make themselves feel good by pressing a button after watching any movie?

So what does feel-good mean? Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary says it is “causing happy and positive feelings about life”, and this is where Bangalore Days completely misses out. But the fans of the movie have been wandering around forcing people to accept their opinions, as it includes fans of too many actors who are part of the multi-starrer. This has become a new device to make bad movies good – a “feel-good movie”. They said the same about Salalah Mobiles, Pattam Pole and Annayum Rasoolum, none of them having that element and are pretty much among the worst.

The poster of North 24 Kaatham (cropped from movie's official page)

The poster of North 24 Kaatham (Cropped from movie’s official page)

To this world of fake feel-good movies, North 24 Kaatham comes and proves to the audience that a true feel-good movie is not about what the fans say, and it can only be understood by the people whose eyes are not tied by the black clothing of celebrity worship. Even as movies like Immanuel, Punyalan Agarbathis and London Bridge do have a certain amount of this feel-good effect, there is nothing like the one cent percent feel-good influence that North 24 Kaatham has on the audience. The winner of Best Feature Film in Malayalam in the 2013 National Film Awards and getting the Best Actor for Fahadh Faasil in the State Film Awards, the movie is making more marks.

The movie has the protagonist going on a journey, and ends up on the road with two strangers on a harthal day with no means of transportation. Our hero is a geek and an introvert with OCD who is not liked by his colleagues. But this wonderful journey will change him in such a way that he is able to go beyond his problems. The journey is woven very nicely with significant lessons at almost every point of the tale. The other two people are also interesting ones, an older honest politician and a social worker. The aim of the journey changes to another one which involves getting the old veteran home as his wife is seriously ill.

The movie has a hero who doesn’t speak much, and the more heroic deeds are rather performed by the female protagonist. She is the smarter and the more active participant of the journey. This is a road movie, and lets not deny its role in the genre, and unlike the movies like Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi, this is not a selfish one, but a powerful message to help others rather than saying that much known dialogue about one deciding his own life and how others don’t really matter. This movie from Anil Radhakrishnan Menon is also a bildungsroman, a story in which the protagonist changes or even gets better over the tale progresses.

Innovative posters by Shilpa Alexander (From movie's official FB page)

Innovative posters by Shilpa Alexander (Cropped from movie’s official FB page)

North 24 Kaatham is a movie that keeps the humanity’s hopes alive for a better tomorrow, and its message of compassion and kindness makes sure that it gives a lot for the audience to be happy about, and obviously feel good. It will play a significant role in restoring faith in humanity sooner or later as we are fed with dumb movies full of mindless violence and sex. The celebrity worshipers, the fans of the worst kind will take it over and praise those movies as greater than whatever movies are known to man, with a ten out of ten rating. There were good and sensible people among them, but where are they? Nowhere to be found in the open?

The main problem which this movie also faced was with the fan-boys and fan-girls, and this was a movie for them to dislike because of its goodness. The interesting thing is that most of them can only use abusive language or illogical excuses without watching the movie. There will be good movies and there is hope in all movie industries, but for that, the fan clubs have to learn to behave instead of abusing other movies and the makers just in the name of appreciating bad superstar movies. The procedure of expressing one’s opinion in a decent way seems to be unknown to some people. This movie could somehow rise above it, but should have had an even better response.

TeNy