Perumbavoor’s Own Poru

You know how much nature and its beauty means to us these days. It is more than what it used to be, as despite Kerala having so much of greenery, we are having more and more of the concrete jungles every day, making life further difficult. It is where Paniyeli Poru comes to the picture again. It is a place about which I had written earlier, and as a place close to home, it has been easier to visit. The same meant that there was to be another visit to follow, and here it is. I am sharing a few pictures of the latest visit, and I am sure that you are all familiar with the place if you have been following this blog. The closest town is Perumbavoor, followed by Kothamangalam and then Muvattupuzha, it is also costing only a short drive from the Cochin International Airport. Vengoor and Kodanad are nearby villages where you can stop for a cup of tea. You can also combine the deer park at Abhayaranyam, elephant training centre at Kodanad, the birthplace of Sri Adi Shankara at Kalady and the International pilgrim centre at Malayattoor with this journey. Ernakulam district does have a lot more than it seems.

***All the photos shared here were taken by me on my Asus Zenfone 5, during my journeys. For the best among divergent horror movies, read about The Autopsy of Jane Doe.

TeNy

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Return to a Model Village

Kumbalangy is known to be India’s first model tourism village, and it has been a place where I spent a lot of my childhood; and a long time later, I made a return to the place. It looks the same as there is the scenic beauty close enough to the city of Cochin, but with better roads and more facilities for tourism than during those earlier days. Here is something that I leave for you readers from my visit, and you can check my earlier post too 🙂

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***All images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Asus Zenfone 5 or Sony Cybershot DSC-W310.

TeNy

The Blog Post No: 500

I have been moving towards this milestone, the five hundredth post on this blog for some time – there was a time when I thought that I could get to five hundred posts only while combining all my blogs together, but here I am, as The Tea Cerebration(s) has achieved that figure. I have been thinking about writing about a movie for this special occasion, but then I felt that I should stick to the personal side with this post. I really haven’t watched that special a movie for some time; so lets take this one back through the memories.

Lets talk about the awesome people I have met in the last one year or so. At a time when I was wondering what was next for me, the blogging fraternity has always been there for me – I am thankful to them for the same. I have met a number of my fellow bloggers, all of them at Cochin or Delhi. I have met a lot of people already from online communities, and last one year for so, has been special. I have met some of the most amazing people in these times, and I have been a lot of happy about the same.

At Delhi, there were four other bloggers for the conclave, as the winners of the writing contest on The World Remade; I met Arvind, Shoma, Shreya and Yogita at Taj Palace Hotel, Delhi. It was the best of times – I also met Mayank from India Today there. This one might always be my biggest win ever, and the only time when I have met so many bloggers at the same time. It was also one of the most interesting journeys of all-time, with the chance to see all those celebrities in person, and also to wander around the city as a tourist. I really needed a reason to visit Taj Mahal, and finally, there I was, with the suitable reason.

It is good to have an identity - we don't always get to have one.

I was surely left with the feeling that I missed meeting so many other bloggers at Delhi though, with the chance there – maybe there is another opportunity on another day. Life has the ability to provide you with second chances, as I have felt and proven at many points of my time-line of existence. Well, hope has got wings, right? I am sure that we have read that somewhere in a poem. According to Emily Dickinson, it had feathers, I guess. It should never cease to exist – there were many situations when I thought that I was done with blogging, but here I am, with my existence still being there.

On another day, I managed to meet Anoop, at the Ernakulam South railway station, followed by four cups of tea. It was a meeting which was waiting to happen; I was sure that it was supposed to happen some day, and in the end, it did. At least before Batman was to go and battle Superman, it had to happen 😛 At my break between two movies – Paavada and Monsoon Mangoes, I met Ranjini at the mall – with the tea; that was another meeting which was due for so long, of course; well, we did happen to go to the same school at a point of our life too 😛 Well, a fine day is to be chosen for meeting such wonderful people. I was just lucky enough to find the best time 😀

I later met Deepa at Durbar Hall Art Gallery in Cochin during the exhibition of her paintings last month; feels good to see such awesome creativity at any time. It was just last day that I met Shrinidhi during his visit to Cochin. I am more than happy to meet such amazing people, they have been directly or indirectly a significant part of my life, as not only have they supported me, but their writings have always been a source of inspiration for me. People look at many fields for some motivation, but I have found the same among my friends – the bloggers about whom I have talked about a lot already.

You can avoid and forget many things, but not the lovely tea!

It has taken me 642 days to get to 500 posts on this blog. I have been stuck at the score of 499 for too long after continuously writing for more than a year, and I am glad to have finally got to this milestone. Sometimes, you feel that you need these scores to make you remember, but there are occasions when you understand that it is all about the ideas and the people, and the records and achievements will just follow. I haven’t been able to blog much in the last few months due to work, but I hope to keep this going, as blogging has defined my life more than anything else, and the impact has surely been deeper than I felt earlier.

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

TeNy

An Isle and Two Towers

Among the many things, Kochi has also been known for its islands. I had earlier written about Kumbalangy which is a model tourism village and an island which has become quite popular in the recent years for its serenity and natural beauty. This time, the post is going to be related to another island, which is situated on the Vembanad Lake itself and has its own beautiful areas of backwaters. There is no shortage of natural beauty here either. Vallarpadam is situated between two other islands, Bolghatty and Vypin, and the port of Cochin is partially situated here with major portion going to Willingdon Island which is the largest man-made isle in India. The Bolghatty Palace as well as the Kochi Marina are close, with the Goshree bridges opened about twelve years ago.

Vallarpadam is home to the International Container Transshipment Terminal as well as the Basilica of Our Lady of Ransom which is also known as the pilgrimage centre dedicated to Vallarpadathamma. It is one of the most visited Marian pilgrimage centres in Kerala along with the popular pilgrimage centres at Koratty and Kuravilangad. There is a nice view possible from the top of the church towers. With the location being very close to the city with the Goshree bridges, and connected to the other side by the new Container Terminal Road, the popularity of the place has only increased. The journey through the road is smooth without much traffic and a nice scenic view. The travelers on two-wheelers at noon will feel the heat though.

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The journey to Vallarpadam has some nice scenic areas.

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The idea of stopping on the way will be nice.

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You have surely seen this one before, remember?

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The Rosary Park which is associated with the church.

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The church’s last renovation has made it look huge.

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A look from the top of the church tower becomes a necessity.

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One side of the Rosary Park – interesting views all around.

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The Two Towers: From one to the other.

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You stop the car and take the photos – I don’t see why not.

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Then you take more photos as you keep stopping 😀

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 on the way to Vallarpadam from Aluva and at the island. Btw, click here for the movie choice for Christmas 2015 season.

TeNy

Kodanad: Of the Past

I am sure that a lot of people who have traveled to Central Kerala will have heard about Kodanad, the village and the popular elephant training centre which has existed for a very long. This long history of the place means that it is better known among the locals than those more popular destinations which have come into existence in the last few years. This has been a regular holiday destination for us as little children. It is located about ten kilometres from Perumbavooor, which is the closest big town for the place. It is a place of natural beauty which can be connected to your journey closer to nature with Paniyeli-Poru, the location which has developed so much more.

With the new bridge ready for operation, Malayattoor, one of the most significant Christian pilgrim centres in Kerala also gets connected to the place better, as the distance is a lot reduced. Kalady, the birthplace of Adi Sankaracharya is also one thirteen kilometres from here. Kodanad is also located at about nineteen kilometres from the Cochin International Airport, and Angamaly railway station is only at twenty one kilometres from there making the closest railway station; the nearest big railway station will be Aluva though, at twenty five kilometres distance. There are interesting churches and temples on the way, and there are frequent bus services, along with one non-AC low-floor bus which starts from Perumbavoor KSRTC bus station for Paniyeli-Poru.

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Well, this particular photo means that some explanation is done with ease 😀

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All the natural beauty that you need right here; take it 😀

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Vallom Church on the way is dedicated to Teresa, the patron of writers.

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You do want to be here with all the greenery around, right? Do agree 😛

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The baby elephant has a look outside as humans wander around.

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Just a view which you have while walking around the place.

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Lets sit here and talk about topics from vampires to tapioca chips 😀

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Here are a few companions which you find at Kodanad 😀

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And yes, these people will also be there to provide some company 😀

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And then, you will have one final look at nature as you leave!

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 during my earlier visits to this particular place of natural beauty. Btw, have you read the 2015 Movie Summary and Review post yet? 🙂

TeNy

Kerala and Houseboats

During your journey to Kerala, you might have wandered around Alappuzha/Aleppey which is called the Venice of the East, and also through Kumarakom, both being huge tourism destinations on the Vembanad Lake – the longest lake in India, and the largest in Kerala. This lake which serves the three districts of Kottayam, Alappuzha and Ernakulam, is also known by the names Punnamada Lake and Kochi Lake as it has Kochi’s significant islands located on it or bordered by the lake and the Arabian Sea. The houseboats or kettuvallams have been a major component of Kerala’s backwater tourism, and these will be the special attractions which you should have noticed during your journeys! Here are a few photos of them with the natural beauty of Kerala from around Alappuzha-Kumarakom area.

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So, have you been to one of these houseboats or traveled through/near the backwaters of Kerala having one of the most beautiful waterways around? If this hasn’t been accomplished yet, when are you making an attempt? There are also some interesting temples and churches which you can also visit while doing the same. The Venetian Capital of Kerala and the other towns around awaits you, as a journey to the South of India won’t be complete without witnessing the charm of this area which has canals, backwaters, beaches, and lagoons within a few kilometres.

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 around Alappuzha and Kumarakom during the period of 2010-2011, and it is a small selection from a big collection of photos.

TeNy

When Darkness Calls

Vampire Hamster: A strange creature has arrived, Sir Vampire Bat and Sir Vampire Owl. It just can’t wait to meet you and has told me that it is urgent.

Vampire Bat: Let it in, after checking for any magical devices in its possession which can cause harm to the vampire kind.

Vampire Owl: Don’t you think that we taking the role of Uncle Dracula when he is not here, is not really the right thing to do as he hasn’t named a temporary substitute?

Vampire Bat: Well, in that case, he should have named someone before choosing to watch some of those terrible Bollywood movies. As of now, we have to take control or the whole of the New Vampire World will fall into chaos. The werewolves, the Lich Queen and the dark elves are looking for this opportunity. The rest of the creatures including the orcs, high elves, goblins, dwarves and the wood elves are no different either.

Vampire Owl: We shall defend the vampire world, whatever be the cost. I am sure that we can’t trust that Werewolf Anger at all. Lich Queen is a bloody opportunist and we know that she wants to rule us.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is exactly what I am talking about.

Vampire Owl: I would say that this is also a nice time to talk about it as the Vampire Crocodile has gone to study break-dance.

Vampire Bat: What? Is he seriously going to do that? He told me that he was going to the bathroom.

Vampire Owl: You know what kind of a person he is. He is always looking for opportunities to overtake his. He thinks that learning this strange art form of humans can make him more popular. It is not just the usual dance, because it has breaks; he once said!

The Creature: Greetings, vampire lords. I am from the Shadow World with a message from the Dark Overlord.

Vampire Owl: Speak, strange creature. I hope you bring good news.

The Creature: As the King of Kings, Dracula is hospitalized, we have decided to declare emergency in the borders, which means that you will have to pay tribute to the dark souls with one place of darkness for a month.

Vampire Owl: Is this really happening?

Vampire Bat: Yes, this declaration of emergency and the protection of the shadow creatures are needed to ensure that the vampire world remains safe from terrorist infiltration through the border areas.

The Creature: I shall return again next week to collect this month’s tribute, a place with darkness in its name.

Vampire Hamster: I don’t like this creature at all. Why do shadow creatures wander around the world of vampires which has no shadows or reflections?

Vampire Owl: Do you think that we can do it? Is there such a place with darkness in its name?

Vampire Bat: Yes, there is one; Andhakaranazhy – it is a beach, and the name means “The Darkness Lagoon” or “The Lagoon of Darkness”.

Vampire Owl: Fine, lets just go and explore that place then.

[Transforms a unicorn into a Honda Unicorn and leaves for Andhakaranazhy with chocolate chip cookies].

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You are arriving at Andhakaranazhy Beach. You are welcome here and be good.

Andhakaranazhy is located about twenty eight kilometres from Cochin if you take the usual route through the highway; the distance will be shorter with a few other smaller routes though, but they should be harder to find and travel through. The distance from Aleppey is around thirty four kilometres, which makes this location a nice choice from both sides of Kerala. The Cochin-Alleppey route is a nice route to travel, and there is also an Indian Coffee House at Aroor when coming from Cochin. When coming from the Aleppey side, the best option for food is the KTDC Restaurant on the way.

As you know already, there is a nice beach around here!

As you know already, there is a nice beach around here; take a walk around!

The journey from the Cochin side is through Vyttila, Maradu, Aroor and you have to take a right turn a few kilometres after you pass Thuravoor and when you go through Vayalar Railway Station, you know that you are traveling in the right direction. When you are coming from Perumbavoor, the total distance will be sixty one kilometres through thet Chithrapuzha route – people around the town can calculate accordingly. Coming from Aluva requires traveling fifty eight kilometres, and so those who are coming from places beyond that town needs to calculate based on this – it is the same distance from the Cochin International Airport.

Well, we are always fond of such wonderful sunsets, aren't we?

Well, we are always fond of such wonderful sunsets around here, aren’t we?

Those coming from Muvattupuzha side can take the Tripunithura route, and travelers from Kothamangalam side can follow the same path. The closest big town for Andhakaranazhy should be Cherthala, and it comes under the Pattanakkad Panchayath of Cherthala Taluk. If you have watched Aashiq Abu’s heavy nostalgia movie Idukki Gold, you will remember seeing this beach and the area around it. It is a beautiful place, and quite different from those usual beaches which you see around in Kerala. It is quite a neat place which is well-maintained, but will require more attention to develop it into something bigger.

The sea meets the backwaters, and the sands separate them.

The sea meets the backwaters here, and the sands separate them in style.

The crowd was there when we visited the place, but that was expected because it was the evening on a Sunday. We had some cardamom tea there, enjoying the view of the sunset. There are some good small shops all around to have some snacks. Even with the clouds threatening to bring the rain and also obstruct the view, we had some good time there on that day. The silhouettes of the trees were around, and the people looked very confident in playing with the waves; it can get rough though. There is that place where the sea joins the backwaters, and a lighthouse is also present there, catching our attention along with the other structures which are already built there.

***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

Queen of the Arabian Sea

Kochi, or Cochin, known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, is the city which has driven me forward throughout my life. Yes, we use both names for the city; Cochin and Kochi are used like we wish to! I have always lived less than fifty kilometres from the city, except when I had those trips which lasted not more than one or two months. I believe that this will also be the city which will drive me towards my desires and destinations in life. My mother’s place is located on the other side of the city and so I have traveled through Kochi a lot during my childhood, and later, the malls and multiplexes increased the number of city visits.

The fishing boats with the old bridge of Cochin on the background.

The fishing boats with the old bridge of Cochin on the background.

We used to love going on a drive through the city later in the night, and have food at some special places there. The traffic would be so less at that time. We enjoyed spending our time at the beaches as well as the Marine Drive during our early college life. During those times, there were multiplexes were only on waiting list as the malls were absent, and we frequented the local theatres and had fun there. We also had those historical tourist destinations of Fort Cochin making the place the one choice of antiquity – it was one design of Cochin for us, and now there is more of that design. We always considered Cochin as a city #madeofgreat.

Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica at Fort Cochin is an architectural beauty of great historical, religious and spiritual significance. You can also see the Jewish Synagogue which is considered as the oldest of its kind at this part of the world. The Mattancherry Palace will let you through another journey through the history of Kerala, surrounded by temples. There is also a beautiful Jain Temple. There is also the Dutch Cemetery. Saint Francis Church, the oldest European Church in India is also located at Fort Cochin. The Koonankurishu Church where the famous Coonan Cross Oath against the Portuguese domination took place among the native Christians of Kerala is located around Mattanchery area. You should also add Kumbalangy model tourism village to your journey as you have peace within the extended city!

Santa Cruz Basilica - a structure that you wouldn't want to miss.

Santa Cruz Basilica – a beautiful structure that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Meanwhile, the Kochi International Marina is the only marina in India. Pallipuram Fort built by the Portuguese is the oldest existing European fort in India; it was last owned by the Kingdom of Travancore. There is also the largest archaeological museum in Kerala, the Tripunithura Hill Palace. So many beaches are around from the Fort Cochin beach to the Puthuvype, Cherai and Munambam beaches. You see that there is history and there is the beauty of nature along with the newly arrived modernity – it is the right mixture in the design which you won’t fail to notice. Another nice mixture happens with the religious population which is like not many other cities can boast about.

Kochi has also been a city which has connected us friends coming from different suburbs, towns and villages around the place. Even now, it is where a lot of old friends arrive and we meet up there; the change in the design is with the malls though, with six malls around, and five of them having the multiplex option, Lulu being the largest mall in India. Connecting with the old friends over some food and movie has only managed to get things better. Kochi is well-connected to the towns around, and the bus option is easy, with the Kochi Metro Rail coming up, about to make things even more amazing.

Chinese fishing nets - always part of Cochin and its islands.

The Chinese fishing nets – always part of Cochin and all its islands.

Along with having connectivity through rail, air, water and the National Highway, Kochi’s location right at the centre of Kerala makes it easier for people from all around. The significance of Kochi has only been increasing at a steady rate throughout the the last few years. The Cochin International Airport is the largest and the busiest airport in Kerala it is also the fourth busiest airport in India according to the international passenger traffic recorded. It is also world’s first completely solar energy powered airport. Meanwhile, Cochin Port, has the largest container trans-shipment facility in India.

The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the home of Kerala Blasters and former home of Kochi Tuskers Kerala is one amazing place to spend some great time during a football match; you will see the love for football like nowhere else. There is one thing about which you can be more certain than many other things, and it is about the beauty of the backwaters of Kochi – it will be an instant hit going right into the soul, even more than those lovely beaches. Kochi also has some amazing food with a lot of variety, and it is up-to you to decide what drives you to connect with the grand design of Kochi. Maybe it can be the Kochi-Muziris Biennale with all the brilliant art on display?

A quote I found interesting during the Kochi Biennale :)

A quote which I found interesting during the Kochi Biennale visit 🙂

What about your favourite city? Is it also made of great things, driving you through its design and having a certain connection to your soul? http://madeofgreat.tatamotors.com/

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

TeNy

A Fort of Monsters

A long time ago, there lived a kid who believed in monsters. He believed in monsters long before he had detailed information about them. He knew that they were real. He used to go under the bed and search for them so that there would be someone for him to play with. But he never really found the monster. They were real, but still they were not there. He waited for them to arrive, but they never came. Still, he knew that they had to come, and that much he had hoped.

The monsters exist, just like the certainty of the beauty of nature.

The monsters exist, just like the certainty of the beauty of nature.

There was such a destination for the myths. I still believe in monsters, and this place called Bhoothathankettu or the Fort of Monsters had a good role to play during my early monster belief season. The advantage of this Malayalam word is that it can be used in more than one way; we can also call them demons. I am sure that they won’t mind whatever we call them because horror is beyond names. Bhoothathankettu has a dam and is a popular tourist destination which was lesser visited at those times.

Bhoothathankettu has been the place to visit again and again.

Bhoothathankettu has been the place to visit again and again – worth it.

But it existed when I was a kid and it was only eleven kilometres from my Kothamangalam where my ancestral home is situated. So, it was always going to be a popular destination for me. It was different at that time, with less tourists, and naming it a tourist destination wasn’t going to be accurate during those days. The places for tourists were at other places, and this was just a dam and a park. But now, things have changed and a lot more facilities became available around the dam.

This might be the first dam which I ever saw, but can't be so sure.

This might be the first dam which I ever saw in my life, but can’t be so sure.

Located about fourty seven kilometres from the nearest railway station at Aluva and around fourty two kilometres from the Cochin International Airport, you can pass through the town of Kothamangalam to reach this place. There are tree houses and boating facilities for the tourists, and more have been added in the recent years. It has been some time since we last visited the place, and an update was to happen when I decided to travel less. May be another day with relatives will see me traveling again here, later.

Nature makes the call, but we are rarely ready for the journey.

Nature makes the call, but we are rarely ready for the journey to the greens.

From there, you can also travel to the Idamalayar Dam which provides more of the scenic views there. Then you can go for the other option, which is the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary which is also not that far away from there; it is also close enough to Kothamangalam, reached by taking a turn while going to Bhoothathankettu. It was the first bird sanctuary in Kerala, and is named after the famous ornithologist Salim Ali. You can also travel to Kuttampuzha, Urulanthanni and Pooyamkutty if you keep that route.

The tree-house - this one never losses the charm, that is for sure.

The tree-house once again – this one never losses the charm, that is for sure.

The distance from the city of Cochin will be around sixty three kilometres. There is quite some distance which can be traveled through the forests, with all the greenery around. There is a park on the side, and the dam itself provides a nice view of the nature which has blessed the surroundings. It will be an ideal tourist spot if you decide to travel to this side – you can find many other places, but this one will have its special charm with the myths, the dam and the improving scope.

You take a walk around to make it feel better, and nature heals.

You take a walk around here to make it feel better, and nature can heal.

There is something about this place which I have visited so many times, with friends and also with relatives. But time has passed since the last journey and I hope to be back there again. May be that will happen on another day when I will have the desire to travel again. There will be a lot more awaiting me by that time with the popularity of the place increasing. I hope that the kid finds the right monsters there on that special day, because the human monsters have been too evil for his liking.

Can the monsters be around here? This is a nice place, isn't it?

Can the monsters be around here? This is a nice place for them, isn’t it?

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

TeNy

More Time with Nature

Nature has been my first inspiration to blog. My first blog comes from my thoughts during the times of travel. Now, even this blog stands here many more posts older. On this day, I will add something about another interesting destination close to nature; a place which I have visited multiple times, and one of the closest eco-tourism destinations near my home. If any of you come to my home, I am sure that this will be the first place I will make you visit 😀

You will see this Nandi statue on the way; one of the largest in India.

You will see this Nandi statue on the way to the destination; one of the largest in India.

The place is Paniyeli Poru, another place which brings us close to nature, away from the troubles of modernity. It has only gained popularity in the last few years, but most of you will be very much familiar about the famous Elephant training center near the destination, Kodanad. It was always a popular destination, going back to my childhood when we went to see the elephants there – well, now Paniyeli Poru joins the package, just about five kilometres from this location.

The Pietà on the way tells you that the path taken is correct.

The Pietà on the way tells you that the path taken is correct and you need to continue.

You can reach the road to Kodanad by taking a right turn at Vallom if you are coming from Perumbavoor side, or the left turn if coming from the Angamaly side. The former is for people coming from the South which includes the city of Cochin and the latter is for those arriving from the Northern side which includes the Cochin International Airport. On the way, you can find a huge Nandi statue on left – a part of Aimury Shri Mahadeva Temple; this might be the largest statue of Nandi as of now. After a few kilometres, on the right, you will find a Pietà, and you know that the path is right.

You travel and travel looking to reach this place of serenity.

You travel and travel looking to reach this beautiful place of serenity; keep going.

Along with Kodanad, you can also visit Abhayaranyam Mini Zoo, which has mostly deers – it was still under construction when I last visited. Perumbavoor is the closest town, just above fifteen kilometres from there through the straight route and a lot shorter through shortcuts. about twenty five kilometres from there, Angamaly is the closest railway station while Aluva at thirty one kilometres is the closest big station. It is twenty five kilometres from the Cochin International Airport and fifty five kilometres from the city of Cochin.

There are some swings which are close to nature around here :D

There are some swings which are close to nature around here; for the inner child 😀

You can also combine this journey with your trips to the spiritual town of Kalady where Adi Shankara was born, and Malayattoor which is a very popular Christian pilgrim centre due to its relation to Saint Thomas. But once you reach Paniyeli Poru, it is all about you and nature. Actually, there is a KSRTC low-floor non-AC (green) bus which goes from Perumbavoor to Paniyeli Poru. This place which is located on the banks of river Periyar will have some interesting places on the way there where you might want to stop.

This side of Periyar continues to display that awesome beauty.

This side of Periyar continues to display that awesome beauty; you know the river.

There is a nice walk through the paved path which leads to further inside where there are rocks, water and greenery all around. There is beautiful sights all around, it is only gaining in popularity with more families coming there instead of the adventurous youth who were the only ones who preferred the place earlier. It has a history youth falling prey to the slippery areas around. People are adviced not to get into water during the monsoon season when there is more risk.

You go along such paved paths until you reach the rocks.

You go along such paved paths until you reach the rocks while noticing the river.

Paniyeli Poru is the kind of place where you can spend some time in peace. It might be the best place to find some time with nature when you are coming from Cochin. Your choice of places to combine with this nice package to Paniyeli Poru will depend on your interests. With the new bridge up, you can travel through Kalady and Malayattoor to reach Kodanad when coming from the North, and that will surely make a nice spiritual trip combined with the time nature at Paniyeli Poru. For food nearby, check out Possible Food Programs, even though some details in the post has changed.

The mountains are far away, but you know that there are promises to keep.

The mountains are far away, but you know that there are promises to keep.

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

TeNy

Of Malls and Movies

There is a duty that I have failed to do as someone who lives and wanders around Kochi. It was something that I should have done a long time ago, but when there was the need, I didn’t have this blog, but I have it now. It was on the week of my birthday two years ago that the largest mall in India opened at Edappally, Kochi. The year 2013 not only saw the opening of Lulu International Shopping Mall, but it also made sure that the PVR Cinemas made my movie experience a lot better. This memory is a tribute to the mall of Kochi.

I remember the first mall we have had as Bay Pride Mall. It was never really a complete mall, and never gave the experience of having the true mall experience. But it had the advantage of the nice surroundings. The location on the side of the Kochi Marine Drive makes sure that there is some nice view and chance for a peaceful walk in the evening. As I remember, there were some nice brands there and a food court inside. It was a small mall, but it was the first one, and the nice little memory.

But what brought the big change was Oberon Mall. It was the first mall to have cinema. The idea of multiplex came with this mall and it used to be the most popular destination for spending some time with friends. I remember that it was so difficult to get a seat at the food court there when it started for the first time. The food court is still among my favourites, especially the vegetarian food there, and I still choose the Cinemax there as it is a nice place to watch movies peacefully – PVR at Lulu has more rush.

A lovely morning at Oberon Mall when you go for an early movie :)

A lovely morning at Oberon Mall when you go for an early movie 🙂

The presence of Lulu has decreased the rush in Oberon, and same is the case with Gold Souke Grande, the mall which followed Oberon as it started and came up with Q Cinemas as the next multiplex. Located closer to Vyttila, I remember the place as where we watched three movies continuously in a day, and the mall where we have some nice tea and puffs. It was also the first mall to have KFC, and it introduced the chain in Kerala. I have not noticed a Subway restaurant in a mall in Kerala before the shop opening here either.

Abad Nucleus Mall was the other one to come to existence. It is located further though, at Maradu, reached after crossing Vyttila from the city. We used to visit the food court there, and now, Pan Cinemas has opened there, increasing the options for watching movies. Still, the number of screens and movie options seem to be less there. I would guess that it would serve the people from the other side of the city better. I hope to make the first visit to that multiplex one day.

The Centre Square Mall is my personal favourite though. It opened after Lulu, and has certain advantages even though it is far away from my place. It is located right at the centre of the city, and has the largest multiplex in Kerala in the form of Cinepolis. There are eleven screens, which is two more than what we got at PVR Cinemas in Lulu. Three of them are actually VIP screens which provide better comfort at higher prices. The food court there also has a lot of variety, and all around the mall, there are local theatres outside too.

Even with other malls under construction, Lulu will always have a special place. Yes, it has too much rush, and sometimes parking is real pain. Along with being the largest and also having the first McDonalds in the state, PVR has served me more than any other theatre since starting my movie review blog. I have visited PVR sixty eight times to watch movies, having been to the mall more than a hundred times. We used to visit the McDonalds and KFC there a lot, and I will keep these strong with the memories of the other malls as none of the friends really remain in Kerala anymore.

A shot on one of the early days of Lulu Mall after the grand opening :)

A shot on one of the early days of Lulu Mall after the grand opening 🙂

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on Samsung Galaxy A5 and Sony Cybershot DSC-W310.

TeNy

Tale of Five Towns

I have traveled a lot in a particular area more than any other, from the time I can recollect anything about the same. Just because I had nothing else to do, one day, I looked at the Google Maps and checked for those five towns to which I have traveled the most, and made a connection between them. I found out that the connection that I made looked like a mask; and for me, it felt like the mask of Zorro, Robin, the Green Hornet, the Spirit, the Phantom, the Green Lantern and the Lone Ranger – well, in simple words, it looked like a domino mask.

These five towns are part of the Ernakulam district of Kerala, not that far away from the city of Cochin. They are Aluva, Angamaly, Perumbavoor, Muvattupuzha and Kothamangalam. All of these towns were visited by me for watching movies, and all of them had the presence of Indian Coffee House at some point of time. There are also interesting tourist places close enough to them, mostly related to natural beauty and the same can be said about places of religious and spiritual significance. They are all well-developed, and have some interesting restaurants and bakeries for the food lovers.

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1. Perumbavoor: The town lies in the centre of the other four towns, with less than twenty kilometres to each of them, the closest being Angamaly. Aluva-Munnar as well as the Main Central Road joins here to create one of the most prominent junctions without a National Highway passing through. The closest places of natural beauty are Kodanad which is famous for the elephant rescue/training centre and Paniyeli-Poru which is known for its serene beauty. With no railway connection, Perumbavoor along with Aluva and Angamaly becomes the three big towns near the Cochin International Airport. There is famous temple at Iringole Kavu near Perumbavoor, and other interesting places of worship also exists for all the three major religions.

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2. Angamaly: Even though Kalady, the birthplace of Adi Sankaracharya, and Malayattoor, where Saint Thomas had prayed remain close to both Angamaly and Perumbavoor, it is this town which has the railway station which serves these two places of spirituality. National Highway 47 connecting Kanyakumari to Salem goes through the town, and it has one of the largest churches in India, and the town has a long history of Christian spirituality. It also has one of the best-looking Kerala State Transport Bus Stations, and one of the earliest modern style multiplexes in the area in the form of Carnival Cinemas. The only double-decker bus service in the district starts from here. This also serves as the border town of Ernakulam district with Thrissur district close to it.

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3. Aluva: Often stylized with the older name of Alwaye, its most well-known part is the Sivarathri Manappuram and the Siva Temple there. Aluva Sivarathri is very famous, and the Advaita Ashram here was founded in 1913 by Sree Narayana Guru. St. Joseph Pontifical Seminary is also one of the oldest in the state. Aluva stays on the National Highway 47 connecting Kanyakumari to Salem, and Aluva-Munnar road is a common route taken by tourists. Aluva is where the city service to Cochin starts, and also the point from where the Kochi Metro begins, thus making it the unofficial finish-line of the city. Surrounded by the river Periyar, Aluva is also home to the Federal Bank Head Office. The Marthanda Varma Bridge is a significant landmark and the railway station is a busy one. Union Christian College (UCC) is the oldest college, and Premam movie shows a lot of the town and the college.

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4. Muvattupuzha: On the Main Central Road, Muvattupuzha lies as a border of Ernakulam district towards the higher grounds. Connected to Perumbavoor with a perfect road and also well connected to Kothamangalam, it also has the districts of Kottayam and Idukki close enough to it, making the place more like an entrance to the the lower lands. It easy to go to both the smaller Areekal falls and the larger Thommankuthu falls from here, passing through Thodupuzha. You can also travel to Ilaveezhapoinjira, Vagamon and other places of natural beauty from here.
Muvattupuzha, despite the absence of a railway station and being further away from the airport, has undergone very good development, including becoming the only town outside the Kochi city limits to have a mall with multiplex.

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5. Kothamangalam: Located closer to Muvattupuzha than any other town and also well connected to Perumbavoor, Kothamangalam is more like a gateway to the natural beauty of Kerala’s hilly areas. With no Latin influence, the town is known for its ancient Syrian Christian churches. It is a major pilgrimage area for the Jacobite Syrian Church, and the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church also has a strong presence there. The Thrikkariyoor Temple nearby dates a long way back. Interesting places of natural beauty like Bhoothathankettu, Thattekkad, Urulanthanni, Pooyamkutty etc are nearby, and this is the path which you follow to Munnar and all the beautiful places related to that destination despite being further away from air travel and railways.

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***I have shared one photo of natural beauty from each of these towns along with the Google Map screenshot. All the photos were taken on my camera or mobile in the last five or six years. The most traveled cities are in the order – Aluva, Perumbavoor, Kothamangalam, Muvattupuzha and Angamaly.

TeNy

Kerala District 007: Ernakulam

You know which district comes to the mind when you see KL-7 on the number plates of a vehicle. The district can’t be determined by the plates any more, but the number seven remains. Ernakulam was the first cent percent literate district in India and has two universities, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit and Cochin University of Science and Technology. It also has a high number of education institutions and rightly claims to be the commercial capital of Kerala. It is also known for its beaches and also has a good number of religious places of high significance. Lets just check six of the tourist destinations in the district right now.

Paniyeli Poru
It might be the closest big destination having so much greenery as far as the people visiting the City of Cochin are concerned. With the closest town being Perumbavoor at the tip of the Greater Cochin area, this is exactly the place you might want to go away from the city, but still connected to it. There is one low-floor KSRTC bus from Perumbavoor to this place of great natural beauty. There are big trees all around, and you can walk on the sides of the river Periyar, through the streams and on the rocks as you enjoy the beauty that surrounds you. The water here is dangerous though, and care is needed in case of getting in, and rocks can be slippery. It is around fifty five kilometres from the City of Cochin, thirteen kilometres from the nearby town of Perumbavoor, and twenty four kilometres from Cochin International Airport.

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Kodanad
You should know this name. Most of the people I know, including the foreigners know, and so if you don’t know it yet, do realize that this place has been a big name in the list of tourist attractions when I was a kid. Located just eight kilometres from the nearest town of Perumbavoor, this is actually on the way to Paniyeli Poru and can ne joined to make a nice combined trip. There is a park there, and the Elephant training center is very famous. Even though it interests the locals less these days as it has been there for a very long time inspiring too many visits, this is a much loved place by the people coming from far away. You can also check Abhayaranyam Mini Zoo at Kaprikkad which keeps the other animals; it is not too far away from there.

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Ezhaattumugham
A beautiful place which lies around the borders of the Ernakulam district, Ezhaattumugham is a peaceful place to spend some time with nature. It has so many similarities with Paniyeli Poru, and if you are going to visit the Athirappally Waterfalls, you might want to join this place and do a combined visit. The tourists are rather lesser in number and visits during different seasons give different feelings. Located just about ten kilometres from Angamaly, the nearest big town with railway station, and thirteen kilometres from Chalakudy, this place is also just around fifteen kilometres from the Cochin International Airport. When arriving from the Cochin city, it is fifty four kilometres, and most of the journey is through the National Highway.

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Bhoothathankettu
There is some special love for this place, as I love the name right here – bhootham means ghost, and the supernatural name had me interested in the place; there is also some myth concerning the spirits related to the location. Located just around ten kilometres from the nearest town of Kothamangalam and sixty four kilometres from the City of Cochin, it is forty two kilometres from the Airport. Originally known for the dam and reservior along with a small park and closeness to nature, the place has developed into a bigger tourist desination having tree houses, boat rides, shops, restaurants and other facilities for the tourists; it is still going through the development process. Also do add Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary to this visit or to the one mentioned below.

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Urulanthanni
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 travellers, but it is a place which deserves to. This is a journey right into nature. Read details at: https://theteacerebration.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/not-the-obvious

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

Fort Cochin
This one should be rather very well known. A journey to Fort Cochin shouldn’t be limited to one place. It should consist of four places – Fort Cochin, Mattanchery, Thoppumpady and Kumbalanghi, the last one being a tourist village and an island with so much of natural beauty – I certify the same. The second last one is on the way to Fort Cochin, and Saint Sebastian’s Church there, a heritage building and a famous religious structure, is worth your time, and you can also have a nice view of the lake from the back side of the building. The other two are rather the big names. Read details at: https://theteacerebration.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/never-say-no/

Santa Cruz Basilica - a structure that you wouldn't want to miss.

TeNy

The Spiritual Variety

As I have been thinking about variety, there are a number of churches which come to mind – those which would seem like small structures, but manages to catch our attention with a certain amount of difference with their looks, as they are combined with beauty and spirituality in the right manner. Here are a few of those smaller, but beautiful structures which I wish to share here – all of them from Kerala, and to be more exact – from the Ernakulam district except for the first one in the special mention.

1. St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Muvattupuzha: On the way to Muvattupuzha from Perumbavoor, the dome of this beautiful structure catches our attention from a distance. The photo was taken before the church work for the rebuilding was complete and so it looks even better now. Unlike the other churches around here with a dome, this one has onion domes of different sizes. It reminds me of Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, and whenever I dream of traveling to Russia with all the churches with similar domes, I look at this cathedral and be happy, telling myself that I shall see more of it 😀

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2. St. Joseph Church, Karayamparambu (Angamaly): I have waited very long for this church to complete its renovation or rather rebuilding. After the process, this surely looks like a structure that you can’t miss while traveling from Cochin to Trichur on the National Highway 47 connecting Salem and Kanyakumari, just after Angamaly, on the way to Chalakudi. It has a very beautiful altar and you have to look under that beautiful dome right after you enter. There is a lot of nice imagery surrounding the dove as the Holy Spirit. A small structure here, but still so Herculean in its beauty.

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3. St. Xavier’s Church, Aluva: This rebuilt church at Alwaye has been my favourite church to attend a Holy Mass for quite a long time. They have the English Mass too, and what catches one’s attention more than anything else are those glass paintings which are around the altar and beyond. The saints are there, and so is the representation of the scriptures. The crucifix image is also different and catching our attention – there is a lot of spiritual feeling with the evening programs as the lights enter through the glasses. It is the major reason why I go for the evening mass too.

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4. St. Thomas Church, Chowara (Aluva): Unlike what people think, Aluva surely has some of the most beautiful churches, scattered around the town and its outskirts, mostly Syro-Malabar and Latin in rite. It has a mixed design, and inside, part of the old altar is preserved. The floor has wood as well as tiles, and the option of AC is also there. The imagery is nice and so are the surroundings. You can see the top of the church building from quite a distance and is located just before the town when coming from Aluva on the route to Sreemoolanagaram/Kanjoor.

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5. St. Thomas Church, Karumalloor (Paravur): With all the lights inside switched on at night and shining in the darkness around, I have found this one a very special structure. You can easily notice the beauty if you have travelled through the route at night. With some very effective lighting, the church has some simpler and yet effective imagery inside. The lighting as well as the borders and colour combinations make the images more beautiful. There are also some nice work on the glasses, even as they are lesser in number. This is on the right side while you travel from Aluva to Paravur.

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Older churches: Special Mention:
St. Thomas Church, Palayur: This church founded by Saint Thomas the Apostle in 52 AD is believed to be the first Church and thus the oldest standing Christian worship place in India. Connected to many ancient trading centres through rivers and lakes, and with the existence of ancient Jewish settlements, this had become a perfect place to find the church, and this structure maintains the ancient Kerala architecture even with a lot of additions being made to it. It has a Saint Thomas Monument and a museum too.

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St. Francis Church, Fort Kochi: Here is the oldest European church in India, and its antiquity is actually easily visible from a distance. Vasco da Gama died in Kochi in the year 1524 and was buried in this church before his remains were moved to Lisbon, Portugal. The structure has a great historical significance, as it was a witness to the colonial battles for supremacy and a long lasting symbol of India’s colonial past. There are a few things of interest inside the church, but as photography is not allowed inside, I have no pictures.

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***All the images used in this blog post are from my camera (Sony Cybershot DSC W-310).

TeNy

Kochi Biennale 20:20

I do still want to visit Kochi Biennale (http://kochimuzirisbiennale.org) this year, but it turns out that I am too lazy to travel that far and have been unable to find someone who can go there with me. Yes, finding partners to see art has never been this difficult. Therefore, I was looking at the photos taken by me during last Biennale and I wish to share twenty of them with you. All of them were taken on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 and chosen just because they look interesting for me now at the first look 😀

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Keep calm and hope to go for Biennale 😀

TeNy

Antiquity, Beauty and Beliefs

Here are ten of my favourite Catholic churches in Kerala. Yes, I have traveled to a lot of them, and have taken photos of most of them. I have been pretty much interested in the spiritual affairs for some time now; some of these also got the value of antiquity and the rest has the strength of beauty, powered by legends and beliefs.

10. Basilica of Our Lady of Snows, Pallippuram: Saved from Tipu Sultan’s attack during the Mysorean Invasion of Travancore, this one managed not only to be spared from destruction but thrive, and is a smaller but beautiful structure located close to the oldest existing European fort in India.

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9. St. Joseph’s Church, Aluva: Part of the St. Joseph Pontifical Institute Of Theology Philosophy, which is one of the biggest of its kind in the area, this is one structure that you might wish to see for all its beauty in architecture as well as nature.

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8. Basilica of Our Lady of Ransom, Vallarpadam: Built after the tradition of Vallarpadath Amma who is believed to have saved her devotees multiple times from the forces of nature, this structure also has a tower which you can enter and see the area from a big height.

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7. Santa Cruz Basilica, Fort Cochin: Originally built by Portuguese, and later rebuilt after being demolished by the British, this church is a beautiful building of Gothic and colonial architecture, becoming a symbol of Fort Cochin itself.

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6. St. Andrew’s Basilica, Arthunkal: Known for St. Sebastian’s feast, this church is also known for being a big pilgrimage centre. Its tradition traces its origins back to a mythical tale that links the Arthunkal Veluthachan of the church with the Sabarimala Ayyappan.

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5. St. George Church, Kothamangalam: The Catholic Church at Kothamangalam is often less noticed compared to the other churches there, but the beauty and the architectural style are something that will surely catch your attention.

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4. St. Mary’s Church, Kuravilangad: Believed to have witnessed the Marian apparition, and having a long history before the Europe even got close to being Christian, this church is another wonderful structure.

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3. St. Thomas Church, Malayattoor: At a pilgrim centre which has more churches, this newly built version of the older church is a mesmerizing beauty, and you just need to have a look at its altar to believe in Keats’ version of beauty.

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2. St. George Basilica, Angamaly: Often considered the largest church in India, or sometimes corrected as the biggest in South India, this one has some of the most beautiful painted glasses around, and the light reflected through the same is a thing of extreme beauty.

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1. Our Lady Of Dolours Basilica, Trichur: The tallest church in India and one of the tallest in Asia, this Gothic structure also has a big tower which can be entered to see the whole town, as this is also the tallest building in the town.

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All photos were taken on my camera and my previous mobile (Sony Cybershot DSC-W310/Samsung Star Duos). Which one is your favourite? 😉
TeNy

Safety is a Priority

On the road safety should be a priority. The number of road accidents don’t seem to come down by much, and neither does the deaths by the same. If you open the newspaper early morning, this is what you get first. Yes, there are news about other kinds of deaths, murders, robbery and everything else, but this is more of a case that you can avoid as long as everyone can find safety as a priority, and not some other random things like reaching a place early or driving fast and in a stylish manner with almost no reason. *Except for the first photo on the road which was taken on my Sony Cybershot DSC W310, the rest are from Nissan Safety Driving Forum (NSDF) website.

1. Let there be no pothole: Even as this is completely in the hands of the government, it is up-to us motorists to raise our voice for getting the roads repaired. Yes, it is injurious to the suspension of the vehicles, but the bigger problem is when people suddenly breaks or turns the vehicles causing accidents – there are even cases of people falling into some of the deeper ones and losing control of the two-wheelers, sometimes even causing deaths. There is more than one kind of terror that these potholes can come up with, and repairing the roads shouldn’t take long. There are too many bad roads around, and each pothole is a possible death-bringer, especially during the rainy season. We have such problems even on the state and national highways – not fair at all.

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2. Know no traffic signal breaks: We see this too often, and the cars which do this often are the big ones, and the same is the case of those huge trucks or buses and often the auto rickshaws. Sometimes, it won’t be that easy following the signals, as they could work in a strange manner, and there might be occasions when they just stop working or when the police tries to help, it doesn’t work well. But our duty is to obey the signal, and at the same time look for the movement from other vehicles. Yes, a few adjustment would be needed here as there is a difference in the concept of “yellow” for many people. So always look for any vehicle passing through before obeying the traffic lights. Some of those who breaks the traffic signals even have number plates which are hard to read – how can someone allow such a thing?

3. Realize your speed limit: Even if someone has bought a costly car with a top speed beyond comprehension, he should also be paying the fine for breaking the speed limit, may be a bigger fine for the bigger cars – small fines rarely make an impact due to having a big purse. What we should do on these occasions is to try not to race with the maniacs who can’t decrease their speed. Let’s keep within the speed limits because a rule is a rule, and it is a fair thing to do. Along with the same, use helmets and seat belts – yes, we may be driving slow and causing no trouble to others, but there will always be those maniacs who drive fast and without any responsibility. Let’s save ourselves and not fall into the death-trap for the fault of someone else. After all, it seems like a group of drivers who don’t care at all, and it is up-to us to bring a change here. Let’s also hope for more “hidden” cameras to catch these people.

4. Respect the rest of your kind: There is nothing like giving chance for the rest of the humanity, including the motorist and the pedestrian a chance to pass. We are not the only busy people out on the streets, an everyone needs a fair chance. It might not be easy to let someone pass through and take a turn when some random stranger is honking from the back, but lets give that person a chance. To add to it, the road doesn’t belong to anyone in particular, and so keep left and stay off the side of the path. It is only by respect towards the rest of the people on the road that once can claim to be a good driver – not by driving fast, scaring others or by showing circus on the bike. It is not about having a costly vehicle and making some ridiculous sound either – give respect and take respect, as for a good number of people, vehicles are for transportation and not to show off.

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5. Discover the indicator: Some people still don’t know where this button is. It comes under the steering, for some cars on the right and for the other, on the left. It also seems to take too much strength to do the same, that a lot of people just turns without prior warning, especially the auto rickshaws, buses and trucks. I have often wondered where their indicators are? Do they usually come out of the showroom without that facility? Everybody needs an indicator, and let’s hope that someone will tell these people about the same. Meanwhile, lets make sure that each and everyone of use indicators whenever there is a need, and after taking a turn, we need to be sure that it is turned off – we don’t want to create another nuisance on the road by having a tendency to turn in a direction almost every second.

6. Find a way to dim the lights: This is a necessity, especially as the road is no private property. There is roughly around fifty percent of the night drivers who dim their lights. It is all about what they can see, and the rest needs to adjust. They don’t realize that the other person also has the need to see the road. Even when we brighten and dim our lights, some people don’t seem to care. I would guess that it is because night driving is not taught in driving schools. Those who wish to get a licence are taught only how to take the “H” in the case of four-wheelers and “8” for two-wheelers. Even the driving time on the roads happen during the daytime and nobody knows that what to do with the bright and dim feature. The system of giving driving licence surely needs a change.

7. The things that are never to do: The first thing to follow is never to drink and drive. Any doubt about the same is just plain ridiculous. There are so many of such incidents that we know from the newspapers. The second thing is not to use the mobile phones while driving. I don’t know why too many people do this in broad daylight when other people are watching. It is clear that doing so is not safe. But it seems that some people value that more than human lives. When there is a phone ringing, stop the vehicle and talk or call back later. There is the need for bigger fines for these two categories. Another thing – never keep changing lanes; it could be solved by developing a certain amount of common sense, I guess. But it is becoming more and more rare these days – not common. Let’s try to do what is in our power and hope for better results.

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This blog post is written in relation to Nissan Safety Driving Forum’s nationwide safety campaign with the concept of “Safety begins with me”. It says that saftety and etiquette are not to be taken lightly as it is the responsibility of each and every driver and not a selected few. There is a duty that we have to our fellow motorists as well as the pedestrians who consists more of the common man. For more details, please check https://www.nissan.in/innovation/NSDF.html and make sure you drive safe.

The Nissan Motor’s Nissan Safety Driving Forum (NSDF) is part of its safety driving promotion activities, having the beginning in 2012. Starting with three main Indian cities – Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai – it has gone on to touch other cities. This year, NSDF has new cities to go – Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Jaipur, Vadodara, Nagpur, Chennai, Mangalore and Cochin with a reach to about two lakh citizens. NSDF has also seen an impressive 126% growth in the sensitisation of wearing seatbelts. It also conducts simulated car crash to understand safety. Nissan’s NSDF continues to try to build awareness of safe driving in India as it encourages drivers and passengers to wear seatbelts through interactive programmes. Nissan’s aim is to decrease fatalities and injuries caused by traffic accidents, and it considers the same a commitment to the customers in India.

TeNy

The College Days at UCC

This post is my entry for ‘My College Diary’ contest held by travel blog My Yatra Diary in collaboration with Collegedunia.com

There are not many memories that give me a better feeling than my days at Union Christian College, Aluva – where I attended for my MA English. I have been to other educational institutions for a longer period of time, but there was nothing like being in this college which had the most interesting days of my life. It was like each and every day was special, and had something new for me. I have always been a lazy person who hesitated to go for the classes, but everything changed and I came out of there as a different person.

I was always there to witness the first rays of the sun.

I was always there to witness the beautiful rays of the sun, very early.

There is something about learning English Literature in one of the oldest and the most reputed colleges in Kerala. With a green campus full of trees and having a number of old buildings of antique value which takes us to world beyond the busy traffic right outside the gate, being at UC College is a privilege that I never thought I would have, and for the same, I would like to thank God as I could get the admission by merit itself without any trouble, and that is one miracle that stays on my list forever.

UCC on a rainy day while reading romantic poetry!

UCC on a rainy day while reading romantic poetry! Nostalgia strikes!

We had our classes right on the block on the back side of the oldest building around, surrounded by trees and having a shortcut to the canteen. The first thing we notice there being the lines from Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind, “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”, I entered the classroom with doubts about what was next in my life. I was quite late for post-graduation, as I had changed my graduation to Literature after having my way with Computer Application.

Now you know where I parked my car :D

Now you know where I parked my car 😀 Loved parking it – was more like hiding it 😉

1. The Strangers’ Paradise: I entered this place, which was the paradise of strangers, a world which had students who had taken graduation from different colleges. There were eighteen including two of us boys, a number which decreased to thirteen by the final year. Most of them didn’t know each other, and what made me feel better was that nobody knew me at all. Being a stranger among strangers was fair, the right point to make an introduction. I could make the right impression, but still I ended up being just me, and thinking about it, that was the best thing that I did there – being myself.

That visual from our first year classroom and nearby.

That visual from our first year classroom and nearby; almost made me jump at times.

2. The Strength of Tea: The first thing I asked after getting there was about the canteen. Yes, the toilet and the library are significant, but there was the need for tea. Ever since finding the place, I was a regular visitor there, even meeting the teachers further there. It is the place which tells us that our teachers are awesome, over a cup of tea. We know our friends better at the canteen with the tea, and meet a lot more people there. We might still not know them directly, but it is a certainty that if we see them somewhere outside the college or on Facebook, we know who they are. I used to jump out of the classroom for the same reason, having a cup of tea between the hours.

Those steps under the chapel: a usual place.

Those steps under the chapel: a usual place, no matter what the time.

3. The Literary Power: The power of the library was clear right from the beginning, and I was clear about it before joining the college. We were blessed with a very old library which had a very good collection of literary works, but nothing new though. I used to make some frequent visits to library in the beginning, a habit which I somewhat abandoned as I could get the e-books in an easier way. But then, there was the idea of helping others to get the book – with canteen so close to the library, how could I not choose to go to the library? Cutlet and tea with books – a fair choice.

Those library cards on the final day of college.

Those library cards on the final day of college – one last look as I left.

4. Seminars of the World: A habit which soon developed was to go for literature based seminars at different colleges. Even as there were some of us going in the beginning, soon there was the practice of going together or staying at home so that there would be no class. But soon, some of the studious girls would develop the practice of going to the college to listen to the lectures based on syllabus, and I had to go alone or in smaller groups. But we got the attendance, and the classes rarely mattered to me as I had enough material to go through. The journeys on a Chevrolet Beat also started with these, making my car a regular visitor to the college.

A little more of the natural beauty to make you miss the place more.

A little more of the natural beauty to make you miss the place more.

5. Change of Perspective: The first few months had us taking down lecture notes as well as those which are provided to us. Then the situation changes to just writing down some random things, pretending to write and finally ends up not writing anything at all. Yes, there are the studious girls who got to write them, but we are people of the last bench. We know that it is not by what is taught in the classes that we are redeemed when the examinations arrive. We know that we have to read, and not accepting whatever is taught in a class; that is about having one’s own perspective.

Another beautiful, rainy day on the campus inspiring poetry.

Another beautiful, rainy day on the campus inspiring poetry.

6. The Quiz Surprise: Even as the things were going okay, nothing really made an impact like this surprise. There was the inter-college quiz competition for which I was told to go, just because there was the shortage of willing people; that was a nice journey, with two teams of us participating in the same, and myself and my partner winning the second prize. That was quite a turning point, with myself going to more of the competitions, with different partners – that was the beginning of the next phase which came only in the final year. I admired the department for the support here, and those who accompanied me for the competitions.

A screenshot from the college website at that time.

A screenshot from the UC college website at that time.

7. Political Extravaganza: Politics was banned for the first year I joined there as there were some bad incidents. But it came back with full power in the next year, with the Communist students wing SFI gaining most of the seats and the other Communist wing AISF coming so close. Congress’ KSU came right down and BJP’s ABVP managed one seat. It was not the result that caught my attention though, because it was the campaigning which has the beauty about it. There were thos nice artworks to support the parties as well as some cultural stuff. Who can forget those strikes which gave us more freedom?

A photo from the day before the election.

A photo from the day before the election.

8. Before Final Destination: Then came the season of trouble; the time for the final exams followed by the time dedicated for the thesis. There were lot of turbulence out there, especially concerning the studious girls, worried about the marks as well as how their thesis will look for others; but the rest of us were pretty sure that they will score high as usual and were just making a scene to bother us – that ended well. Among this maddening crowd, the thesis progressed fine,, and I am glad to say that I enjoyed working on my topic, and the support from the English Department was splendid.

Those final days of thesis; had to be the techie again.

Those final days of thesis; had to be the techie again and be the helping hand.

If I have the opportunity to go through all these, I would be glad to – it is that kind of a feeling that this college has left me with. It is not that I have never thought about it, and taking another post graduation in History would have been a perfect choice. But considering the fact that the syllabus has changed and so has the new generation, I would just end up being an outdated man, not old enough and yet not working well with the younger generation. So, I shall happily hold on to these memories which remain special for me.

A few things the elections brought for the college.

A few things the elections brought for the college; the area near the canteen.

Five bloggers I tag here are NamrataManiparna, KokilaRohit  and Nishi. I wish them best of luck 🙂
I also thank Sagarika for the tag 🙂 and My Yatra Diary for this opportunity.
*All the photos used here were taken on my former phone – Samsung Star Duos.

TeNy

UC as in You See and MGU

One year has passed after completing that voyage from a student to a former student at Union Christian College, Alwaye (UCC). It was rather an expedition for the cause of being an UCean which started with the Mahatma Gandhi University’s Centralized Allotment Process, something which made sure that I would get the admission, something which would have not been possible with a normal procedure and without Divine intervention. There haven’t been many of my friends who admire MG University and its way of operations, but I do; for even as I admit that I did suffer with its Off Campus Department working with that Distance Education, the rest has actually worked so well for me. I might need to complain about my total percentage like everyone else, but I am mostly a pessimist and a cynic who lacks focus, so no complaints about it from my side.

The first rays of a UC morning (taken on my GT-B7722)

The first rays of a UC morning (taken on my GT-B7722)

MGU’s CAP procedure made sure that I had the admission through a straight path, and there was something else about it, and it is about the out of syllabus questions that it comes up with. Yes, it once came up with the question who is Mrs Norris; the answer being the pet cat of Argus Filch, the caretaker of Hogwarts – I love when they come up with such questions, which I can proudly answer just because of a random reading or movie watching habit instead of studying those books which are forced on us. I didn’t remember the owner’s name, but the other details including its petrification in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets were clear in the mind. I have always hoped for them to ask some purely Gothic horror question out of syllabus, they never did though.

Whatever is closest to the tree of life :D (GT-B7722)

Whatever is closest to the tree of life 😀 (GT-B7722)

MGU, you are an intellectual beauty, and what you did with a lot of out of syllabus questions was to make the students think and read more literature making the library of some use. I know that a lot of students might despise the same, but I don’t. I admire what came up there even as nobody there might have really wanted that to happen. What English Literature students need are those out of syllabus questions, because you can’t restrict the post graduation in Literature to a few books, for it is a vast subject and questions has to come in such a way that the best readers get the better score instead of those who just memorize for the examinations. It would have even prepared us better for the NET exams. I shall choose to be a pariah rather than not support an out of syllabus question paper for MA English. I would say “add a little more history to it too”.

We are now not unlike this tree (GT-B7722)

We are now not unlike this tree (GT-B7722)

Being a UCean is a prestige, and it might not be something that one realizes when he or she is already studying there. We take our wonderful situation as granted, and a few months later, we realize that we should have considered it with that reverence that it actually deserved. But we are lost within such trivial matters that are so inconsequential that the fact rarely come up in our minds. We are lost not in the fog, but the haar of the coast, being caught in the imaginary British Literary Isles. But out reminiscences of our days at the college come up later, and that happens with such strength that it is impossible to resist, and with that strength comes unbelievable durability of the memories. We were all the riders to the sea, and now we are the fallens angels of that lost paradise, except for those who had chosen to turn Faustus and sell their souls to Mephistopheles.

Nature is happiness, it has always been (GT-B7722)

Nature is happiness, it has always been (GT-B7722)

When the life turns rather nugatory, that black hole which has been created in this busy world of chaos, turns on you and make you realize about its supernatural ability of preventing escape, and the first thing that it reminds you about, is that beautiful free world that you left behind, an year ago – the end of them all came in August 2013, even as the results came in December last year. There is no longer a free world, as the constraints stretch its arms towards you and works as dementors, feeding off the happiness and bringing out that mighty despair which converts itself to the mighy gladiator which has finally found a worthy amphitheatre. At that moment, UCC comes back to you, and the need to be a student again becomes stronger than ever. It was not just good being a student, it was awesome.

And then you give that building one last look (GT-B7722)

And then you give that building one last look (GT-B7722)

There is the morning light that you see at the college as you become one of the first students to set your foot on the college land every single day, and the meaning of the light becomes poetry when you are no longer that student. There is the evening sun which shines with its strange light going through the branches covered by green, reflecting on my Chevrolet Beat, a vision that inspires immortality. Then there is the tree under which you sit and read some random novel you take from the reading room or the library becomes the history book that you lost in the war that was to follow, randomly collecting the daily battles which are never won by any side. All the tea that you had from that canteen between the class hours is that memory which asks to be awakened – but you can’t go for tea from the class room if there is no class any more, right? How can one have the opportunity to be absent when there is no class? My absence is of no value any more, and makes me doubt my own existence.

Finally, the sun sets on thee and thy car (GT-B7722)

Finally, the sun sets on thee and thy car (GT-B7722)

UCC was the perfect place for me to be. It was always supposed to be so. But what does it take to realize the same? Not just some wrong decisions, but also two years of being there along with a few more months of pondering over it. But the question remains if it would have been any better if this worked more like school and I could just fail to stay in the same class for longer, for I would like to think that the time period between 2011 and 2013 was almost perfect for my existence there, and a few years early or just a little bit later might have taken the beauty out of it. Some things come late, and there is certainly a time for everything – some of them working well and the others working terrible, but all of them should come to an end, that ragnorak which happened and I never gave it the significane it deserved – damned be those pettifogging things which intervened.

I miss the tea at the canteen, parking the Chevrolet Beat under that huge tree, the quiz competitions and the English Department plus all the bloody green trees and even the grass. Above all, I miss literature in all its glory, and I lack inspiration with all its opulence, for I can no longer visualize Valhalla or Avalon 😦

TeNy