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They never rolled their beedies in their domestic cottages purported to be a cottage industry under Government Statute but the beedi manufacturing was done in large beedi companies .Such companies in our village boasted workers number which hovered over a hundred .They all sat on the floor in a large hall (a misnomer being a three walled space ) which had a roadside frontage which could be shuttered in the evening with portable wooden panels . The heavy wooden frame on four sides of the shutters held them safe especially when the top and bottom ends of the wooden panels got into deep groves in the frame.The entire length of the frontage did’t ran a ‘ monolithic’ framework instead they were parcelled out into multiple independent frame works .
Each roller had a bamboo pan(Muram) kept on his lap which held his raw materials of beedi leaves , ground tobacco leaves and roll of threads .They went about rolling beedies and tying them with a uniform lengths of tenuous threads rather effortlessly never breaking a collective rhythm of the manufacturing unit .But one person was spared from work whose wage he would surely get in the evening . His colleagues having gladly chipped in with a share from their own wages, pittance though they were by all means .The work shirkers needed to have certain qualifying capabilities .They should be literate enough to read,at least vocally healthy to read much aloud and in order to sustain in this unique calling they needed to have enough pleasure quotient in the task of perusal for the public .What was read aloud were some two to three Malayalam news papers . No item of news was overlooked . But all news items did not receive equal attention. Those related to politics were zeroed in on with extra breath force and most often such news elicited high decibel vocal responses from the audience and the reader too would join the chorus .These reactions were not rouge hecklers’ shallow voiceovers instead they were bench marked news analysis .The reader would never lose his cool in the face of this interruption and he would navigate to other news item only on the unhurried conclusion of one episode of this piecemeal disputation.
Old Kuttiyappan in birth suit except for a skimpy loin wear was a farm ‘oligarch’whoes rice paddy he got free ,for a left leaning government turned his tenancy into bonafide ownership overnight . He sat in his wooden chair on all his fours ,a pair of his much emaciated asses and feet the terminus of his twigish legs completely bent at the ankle joint . He held his much scanty bent legs in a tight manual hug making the chair appear roomy enough to seat yet another apparition of his physical facsimile. Being consumptive was the last thing on his mind that would turn him plaintive .His locked over hands unshackled themselves only to transport beedi to and from his beedi sucking mouth .Some two newspapers lied on a table nearby with the sheaf of their sheets all in disarray,which could be the result of the reading ‘public’ doing cursory references to them whenever Kuttyappan held his flash courts almost throughout the day .
Post emergency in1977 Morarji Desai the leader of Janatha party became the Priminister of India . A Non Congress dispensation at the centre had not been anybody’s idea till that point of free India’s history .The beedi company think tank had a harrowing time and hectic secessions of polemic went well past three in the afternoon but to remain inconclusive and a tenable forecast turned out to be elusive regarding the likely fallout of the much strange political development .That day’s turn over of their merchandise nosedived which actually was’t their problem instead an intelligent forecast missing definitely was. Hitting the apex referral personage became obligatory and a headlong passage to Kuttyappan’s took place .A score of ill clad beedi workers fell silent as they stood flanked their oracle who was all set to brighten up their dark . They had put their question in chorus but Kuttiyappan kept his sedate self .After a brief tense wait Kuttiyappan’s robust voice rose breaking the silence and it was a trite ‘this Government would burst like an Avittu’ and to paraphrase, it would take a smooth upward trajectory only to explode into smithereens at its point of apogee. Kuttiyappan’s legion of faithfuls decoded the message , made a quick exit finding peace in the certitude of the prophesy .The Master was proved right the Janatha party formed the Government eventlessly but a few months into rule internecine battles broke out which culminated in its virtual explosion into several tiny particles of splinter outfits which defied count .
Krishnankutty owned a barbershop in the Mofussil town of Alathur . Though short statured he could be dubbed portly . He wore Khadi mundu and shirt of spotless white which scarcely turned even slightly off white despite his constant leaning against his custom’s body parts which were by no means a match to his own benchmarked unsoiled cleanliness . Besides his white dress invariably took some hirsute load on itself despite his deft scissors welding but this occupational hazard took no toll on his neat appearance nor anyway mar his gentlemanly aura .My father always patronised his shop and we two brothers too went under Krishnankutty’s scissors if our scalps too synchronised with our Dad’s level of cut worthy hair growth at such visits . My father’s interest in contemporary politics was very deep and he took delight in sharing it with like minded people.Barbar Krishnankutty by then was in his early sixties and uncharacteristic of his class erudite politically and in general awareness . As he went about doing his work my father and he spoke spiritedly about current affairs mainly politics savouring each others much thought out observations without rancour .At that time many teashops ,Barbar shops etc sported instructions in prodigious font ‘ Do not talk politics ‘ on their premises .It was done to preempt unruly behaviour and to keep their mercantile activities unharmed.
For me it was an extremely edifying experience and I heard about the Kamaraj Plan at that time and though much of its details went beyond my boyish grasp it indeed was a delectable exposure to the pleasures of politics.
Kareem Annan was known to be upfront and it proved the corner stone of his credibility though he dabbled in the match making business ( brokering of matrimonial alliances ) where the operators often took to much devious speech as they hard sold their ‘Human Resource ‘ to their clientele. A beedi roller by profession his swan song was felt to be in the offing courtesy of mild vision impairment at slow but sure pace to make the song more audible besides his arthritic fingers little retained its former glib movements. So his search for additional means of livelihood landed him one in which renumeration came in ‘princely’ sums though at erratic intervals .But his avocations didn’t stand in his way of his resorting to losing himself in the orgy of his passion which was nothing but international politics . The mainstay of his daily news binge was news items and articles in the newspapers that dealt with global political affairs . Once he mentioned quite casually how Eisenhower disembarked from his Presidential Motorcade at Erattakulam to watch the beauty of a brimming eponymous large pond by the side of the road and the green paddy lands beyond
Drenched in copious monsoon rains . But his audience at the teashop didn’t take the bait not deliberately but the sheer incomprehension of the farmhands accounted for this lukewarm response.
But a cub beedi roller who too was among the worthless scum got alerted to the mind-boggling significance of the sensational news but he was too young to take up the matter with the much elderly Kareem Annan on his own . So he slipped out in haste to pass this tiding of a lifetime to Muthalavi Annan who happened to be a political polymath .Muthalavi stood towering at his six plus and unlike others in the beedi guild was matchingly corpulent too. He called it a day at the local lower primary school after he just aced the grade two year end examination. Grinding poverty and the pointlessness of continuing education in the face of the need for self support between them enforced this dropping out at his little regret though .
Muthalavi decamped from his house as soon as the Presidential visit was made known to him by that much exited boy . But the ‘big ‘man’s wife proved red-herring because their three year old son was laid up with severe fever and diarrhoea and the couple was about to take him to the doctor’s office. A dejected Muthalai but ‘hunted down’ Kareem Annan without much lapse of time.When quizzed upfront Kareem came up with the details that the President was travelling by road from Cochin to Coimbatore and on the way the visit happened.Little convinced Muthalavi took his investigative grilling further ahead like how could have the President made his way to Cochin , an untenable derouting from the national capital and as per Muthalavi’s knowledge the President visited India in December 1959 and then how could our village landscape wear water soaked spectacle of immense beauty to act as a compulsive lure to the President. In the face of this barrage of pertinent questions Kareem’s confidence eroded and so he took asylum behind the façade of irritability before unilaterally abandoning the heckler in a split second . Kareem’s hasty exit had Muthalavi and his little ‘informer’ in splits. President Dwight D Eisenhower was the first US President to visit India and it took place as was rightly presumed by Muthalavi in December (9th to 11th ) 1959.
One evening Krushchave our neighbour grew intractably ballistic as he buttonholed me . The installation ceremony of a statue of SreeNarayanaGuru ( a temperance fiend as no other besides being a diehard an anti – caste and creed champion )was just over by 3pm on the day in question . Krushchave had been the custodian of the statue ever since it had been delivered some four months ago and been kept in his decommissioned shop space with all the attention and care at his command.But as soon as the ceremony was over none stayed back to buy Krushchave his two stiff shots of much looked forward to alcohol as a mark of gratitude . In the local political lingo the man was more known as Krushchave than in his christian ( or rather Hindu) name , his bald head and squat physique won him the Russian Namesake.
The year 1969 was a watershed in the history of free India for in the wake of efforts to upstage her Indira Gandhi put in place several progressive reforms such as Bank Nationalisation ,stopping of privy purse of rulers of India’s defunct princely states etc. One ‘Soda Rajan’ who ran a utility store and soda manufacturing unit at our village ‘town’ centre stood astoundingly impressed with Indira Gandhi’s ( then PM) Bank Nationalisation programme especially . He thought up an idea to felicitate Mrs Gandhi and so he went to our neighbouring village of Kavassery along with some of his congress party friends to place an order for two large bundles of very specially made Pappads which they would sent to the PM as a token of their great approval of her freshly minted maverick initiative.Much enthralled Pappad makers delivered the gift packed high quality substance of priministerial repast free of cost though they weren’t well off enough to forego the significant sum it would easily fetch. Since Rajan and company couldn’t share the privilege of the act they kept up the pressure to make the pappad manufacturing people accept the price gladly offering a premium too but the latter didn’t budge.The Congressmen kept their fingers crossed and felt that now they could be able to bask in the glory of self activated publicity to their much ingenious mode of thanksgiving.
SankaraMani Ettan was a CPI( Communist Party of India) ideologue and hence CPI(M) (Communist Party of India Marxist )was an anathema to him. His Party leader the very cerebral C Achutha Menon had an unbroken chiefminiterial tenure of some seven years starting from the immediate pre Emergency time right in to the closure of the very same period of internal Emergency .At that time CPI was in the congress camp .Post Emergency election to the Kerala Assembly saw EMS, the Communist Stalwart and ideologue , locked in Electoral battle in Alathur Assembly Constituency which except for once had proved a Red Bastion.That time around one Vijayagaghavan a congress candidate was all set to pick up the Electoral gauntlet against the Communist Titan .All expected the Goliath to romp home with an all time fabulous tally.As the counting began the two candidates fared a neck and neck and by the time the counting activity hit its last phase the puny congress candidate showed certain signs of upward swing and Sankara Mani Ettan who was closely following the counting on the radio went berserk with joy , put on his best clothes and was footing it out at break neck to the bus stop and some acquaintance on the way asked him where he was to in such an unusual haste . SankaraMani Ettan didn’t stand to answer instead in a fit of great triumphalism in slightly slackened pace declared that he was out to lend his manual mite as people took EMS cemetery wards. Much disparagingly he added that he was at the ready to put an end to the tree hoping politics (maram chadi rashtreeyam) of EMS.At the bus stop he saw his fellow comrades getting down from the bus . His eager enquiry with them met up with a bombshell that EMS had won. The great communist was just scraping through with just 2000 votes .
My colleague Johnny informed the school office that he would be on leave the following day and since he was who lent a helping hand to prepare our salary bill every month end the day he foretold about his absence indeed was one he was all set to begin the work and so in trepidation the clerk asked him why he was absenting out .He pointed his accusing finger towards me for he had seen me engaged in a talk with Mr.Vasu whose bicycle rental was on the road front and he saw us as he passed the place by bus in the morning of his day of leave submission and that day I had not gone to work .At that time (1991) Gorbachev had come up with his twin pills of Glasnost and Perestroika to cure USSR of its ill of decades old regimentation . Johnny presumed that Vasu and myself were in its discussion and on the following day I would harangue them with the subject in the staff room and hence his effort to steer clear of the brunt .To be fair to him he guessed it all right for in the light of long years of togetherness people would come to know one-another like the back of their hands .
In wistful hindsight the village has long lost its former enabler of curiosity which skilled its virtually untaught denizens in ‘world affairs’ which if put in perspective will turn the much educated new generation green with envy.

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Film Review: Odiyan

A discerning cinegoer from Palakkad who is a native to this place and who is above fifty and not eminently low brow will return from the theatre ,where he went to watch the flick Odiyan, hughly crestfallen .During his childhood he would have been weaned on many stories and the most prominent among them would be the lurid lore of Odiyan.During the pre -electricity times Odiyans ruled the nocturnal darkness of the countryside of Palakkad.Though nobody had ever actually seen him the hearsay amply made good for that sheer non visibility for the the rural atmospheric was always rife with Odiyan centric narratives . He invariably belonged to a particular lower caste and his assignment was to take care of the responsibility of guarding the vast rice paddy holdings and coconut groves against theft,pilferage,spiriting away of livestock and such plantation crimes which festered in the times .Pre -land reforms era teemed with such vast ranches in feudal proprietorship .Odiyans were congenital shape-shifters who used certain placental offal which they wedged behind their ears to realise shape morphing into animals most often uncastrated ,high velocity rural bisons . But whatever animalistic life forms that an Odiyan assimilates himself into has his giveaway in that an Odiyanisque faunal entity will have one of its limbs missing and it could be an eye ,leg and such.In the folklore Odiyans do kill not in the aftermath of a tumultuous fight but merely with a feathery touch.

But for Sreekumara Menon the Odiyan legend is a mere framework to re- choreograph a Pulimurugan or Bhahubali on.Much aged Odiyan (Mohan Lal) reappears in his native village of Thenkurrissi one fine morning and sits under a baniyan tree completely covered in his trademark black blanket right in the centre of the village square .His erstwhile teashop owning friend serves him tea at his place under the tree.All of a sudden a gang of young men who have congregated at the tea joint come to identify the odiyan and turn abusive and they threaten him with immediate annihilation but their ominous posturing is dented with implicit terror.One among them has some personal grouse against him for his uncle ,a former comrade, having been roughed up by the Odiyan in a skirmish which left the poor fellow bedridden with a neck condition.

A handful of flashbacks give the viewers a privy to Odiyan’s biographical matter the main features of which are Odiyan Manikkan’s infatuation with high caste prabha(Manju Warrier) in whose house the odiyan family traditionally laboured,her marriage to a booze -happy military personnel,her ever scheming and further ever stalking black hued canonical suitor,death of Prabha’s husband and that of her blind and expectant younger sister in almost similar circumstances and Manikkan’s suspected culpability in the gruesome act and all.These make us all much Manikkan wiser.But what sent him to his self exile was the death of two brothers in law which took place under the cover of darkness and in Odiyanisque operations and the second actually took place right in the courtyard of the feudal homestead.A staunchly suspecting and tearful Prabha’s plain speak proves the last straw for Manikkan and the village of Thenkurissi comes to see his summary deserting of the place .

Devi Varassyar relishes her liaison with Ravunni Nair and even prides over it but she is all in for a shock ,in an alchohol induced bout of bad temper Devi’s paramour sees his guards down and he blasts to Devi that he beds her as if she were his beloved Prabha .In further extension of the confessional he broaches the story of twin murders he orchestrated to reclaim his prized quarry with the incestous bonus of her sister. Fearing for her life Devi takes asylum in Varanasi where Manikkan also drops by in the course of his aimless subcontinental tramp which lasted some 15 years. There Manikkan saves Devi from drowning in the Ganges by chance and subsequently she tells him about her ill fate and how Ravunni Nair wrought it all and it occasions his return trip home .

By the time he revisits Prabha the cloud of suspicion has vanished courtesy the self same Varassyar. All smiles Prabha re-ushers Manikkan into the house kitchen quarter and ladles out servings of hot rice porridge.Post – rapprochement Manikkan unleashes all his ferocious occult and martial powers on his arch rival Ravunni . But unlike the textbook Odiyan with his subdued and insidious manoeuvres which form his macabre USP Peter Hains goes about executing his assignment with his diametrically opposite template of warfare . All noise,fire and brimstone and some from odiyanisque arsenal like levitation , deployment of biodiversity from his ghastly stable ranging from high power bovine hunk to deceptively meek antelope together take the audience for a rollercoaster ride of pure madness.

All songs of the film are visitations of misfortune at their untimely worst and bland at that .Mohanlal,Manju Varrier,Prakash Raj ,Siddique and other cast need not take the onus for damp squbbing the film. The predictability and funlessness of the film are too large in measure to merit a more charitable review.

Adieu America

My father was a voracious reader ,mostly books and periodicals in English .He read day in and day out and he smoked away as he read during most of his wakeful hours .Most often he would read deep into the night including the last night of his life and he met up with his death in the following morning .He called off his reading that crucial night because of a power outage that occurred much deep into the night . He was a diarist who would close every single day of his life only after recording the day’s happenings in his diary . He wrote it in exquisite English and his diary incorporated into its record keeping enterprise even the most trivial workaday happening like passing stool . He never left out the main news items of the day nor some not so newsy enough news but those that held some special fascination for him and none else . ‘No light no power’ was the last entry in his diary on that fateful night which referred to the said late night black out .His impeccable and sparse English prose rendered his diary eminently readable despite it held in itself no matter ‘worth writing home about’.
Sometimes his colleagues in the railways would drop by our house and among them they confabulated in stylish English which I would eavesdrop on with wide eyed fascination and with sharp attention .So at a very young age I got a notion that achieving excellence in English signalled good education ,classy sophistication and an intellectual and communicative showmanship .Some older kin from my maternal grandfather’s side too cloned the colonial English in their gear,gait & tongue since they had staffed the imperial government in various capacities .
All these legacy traits went into the making of a die-hard anglophile at a very impressionable age and it became the core of my selfhood .As a natural corollary to the evolvement of this persona it grew in me a strong desire to visit the ‘holy lands’ of English of England and America . So a windfall trip to America was a real dream come true to me even at this belated juncture of the 60th year of my earthly existence .
We took off from Sarasota airport to New York when the noon stood superannuated .I looked below through the window of the Aircraft and saw the blue waters of the Mexican bay and on the bay front stood the largely whitish Sarasota skyline .But when the plane scaled to the cruise altitude the window sported white cumulus clouds serenading the skies in their bleak & eventless sally .
The lay over at JKF was to the tune of 8 hours .The high point of the stop over was our securing two seats in the front row and one immediately behind it but the high point proper was allotment of a bassinet for little Madhav (kookuji) to cradle in .Sree had left no stone unturned to have it allotted the previous day but to little use .The Emirates had advised us to make a bid for it on reaching JFK which made us somewhat jittery as we weren’t sure of getting it .But as soon as the airline staffer at the airport saw us she obliged straightaway and we found ourself at cloud nine before the Emirates Airbus 380 took us there
.The sky was overcast and wintery in New York . We took several rounds in the Airport terminal building .Happiness and some pride were what I felt then .I and Suju took several photos together and we enjoyed the sight of several aircrafts taking off and landing .The foyer area had some fine looking bars where men and women were enjoying their drink in the style of the western world .I felt raring to join them but Suju dug her heel in and her mindless fatwa stonewalled a stealth essaying .
Though islamophobia could be a strong reality in the US the presence of a Muslim woman in black hijab vending snacks and cool beverages form yet another version of reality in America as manifested in the JFK international airport .Reality could never be linear it could rather be a zig zag puzzle with the most intricate pattern always defying effortless navigation .At the gate beside us they announced the departure of a flight to Heathrow in London . I knew it took 5 hours or so to complete the journey to London from New York.London is my next most cherished port of call .But as of now I kept looking at JFK airport with a sense of satisfaction and hope lurked in my heart to come again another day in America with a further ambitious itinerary that would extend from the northern most Canada down to the extreme southern most tip of Chile. Breadthwise it should be from ocean to ocean .I could be able to make it for sure for nothing succeeded like success .The wee hours of 16th October 2017saw us landing back home in cochin from our maiden trip abroad .

Atlantic hurricanes are actually tropical hurricanes ,tropical storms and tropical depressions .The world over tropical cyclonic activities go into overdrive late summer and it is exactly occasioned by the hiatus between temperature aloft and sea surface temperature gets further yawning .But the pattern of its brewing is basin specific .These hurricanes are not isolated or truncated storm eruptions in stead they run into a serial phenomena .
This macabre season runs from June 1st to November30th and within this time frame hurricanes find their extreme fury in September and October months .The intensity of the hurricanes is measured in terms of category 1,2,3etc.The hurricanes take many fanciful names such as Irma , Alexa etc and all of them sound feminine and this nomenclature can be attributed to either male chauvinism and misogyny or to received wisdom generated by long experience with female character .Usually the 700 islands in the Caribbean sea take the brunt of this annual disaster . The US mainland territories of Florida and Texas states too are invariably lash prone year after year .TV and Press covered this calamity quite extensively prying into every horrible toll that they took on life and properties .Time ran an article that dealt with the aftermath of hurricane in Puterico with the accompaniment of tell-tale photographs .The storm razed to the ground all human settlements , commercial establishments , buildings of every description or rather all trappings of civilisation . Even after the lapse of more than one month power and water supply etc remained completely unrestored
. A tall and handsome young man Gokul sat next to me in the window seat in my flight from JFK to Dubai . The guy flashed a smile in my direction and a conversation got kicked in in its wake .He was from St.Martin one of the islands in the Caribbean .He was in a managerial position in a company which dealt in food articles. The entire island got decimated in the storm and hence he had lost his job and he was heading home to Hyderabad .He had already sent his family home and since the entire economy stood completely obliterated on such scale that a retrieval appeared too distant a possibility. By the way he mentioned that he was a Sindhi and added that 98% of the entire business of the Caribbean was owned and operated by the Sindhi community . Since I did my Bed in a Sindhi management college in Mumbai I had a special love for the community which I communicated to him .

From Boston we flew to Miami and from there to Tampa and from Tampa we drove to sarasota in our car . Enroute we could see some residual havoc the hurricane had wrecked in the form of several uprooted trees and clusters of forested lands which had been had the tree branches violently dishevelled and broken up extensively and hence they hung limp sporting their dry brownish leafages .But none could figure out the extend of damage at that point of time for the disaster management system had functioned like clock work and they got global kudos for this season’s hurricane disaster control .

Walden

When we took the highway from Tampa to Atlanta we could pass through the interior Florida and Georgia states. I have always thought that the real selfhood of a country especially its Geographical identity lies with its upcountry villages and its littoral rural spaces too are exploration worthy for this purpose though not as much as the former . Usually a visitor from overseas can rarely come by such Arcadian experiences unless that person is studiedly venturesome .
As we sped our way to Atlanta along the freeway the sight on both sides of the road was enabling in that we actually were being naturally exposed to the luxuriant pristine vegetative cover of America interspersed with green grassy spaces which at certain points stretched to the infinitude of the country side .We could also catch sight of the certain waterbodies sparkling in the sun much far afield .America is a beautiful country with its munificent endowments of sylvan charm which at the hands of the impeccable spirit of conservation of the American people enjoys sustainability of a rare sort .This is a rare scenario if it is put into perspective the scale of eco degradation that plagues the countries in the third world .
At a certain point in our freeway motoring we met up with a roadblock which occasioned taking a detour and the road that we drove through was by no means an arterial highway but a road which went with the description of a country road .This journey took us through further real village eco – system and the visibility of which was unhampered by embankments which stood in precipitous relief nor the road flanked with the usual cumbersome fencing quite unlike the case with the highway transit .The real beauty of the American countryside unfolded in real time .It was virtual wooded lands on both sides and in some parts they flowered profusely and not a soul was spotted Enroute and only some minor human settlements punctured the vastness of the thickly forested territory .
The apostles of American conservationism could be Thoreau and Emerson . When these two names reared their heads in a casual talk with Unnikkuttan it put me in the mind of my PG English classes .Though my familiarity with them was just above rudimentary I felt a strong urge to visit their places since they weren’t far away at all .It was high noon when we drove to Concord to seek out Walden and we hit the place after just some 40 minutes or so .Walden was a thickly wooded land but there were roads that ran through its pleasantly shady Bowles .In the midst of this forest there located the spacious parking space of the facility .This place never marred the beauty of the forest as utility was happily married with strict conservation norms .In the wake of an effortless parking we de -cared to saunter leisurely into the forested territories’s deeper reaches .Though it was scorching heat the thick leafy canopy guarded the park goers against direct exposure to the harsh sun and the resultant deep exhaustion .
As it was a Sunday there were many visitors who belonged to all age groups and a few were of visibly overseas nationalities as well .All the visitors appeared serious in matter of their intention to visit Walden and they never behaved in a slipshod and merry holiday making attitude .
Henry David Thoreau was an American essayist ,Poet ,Philosopher , Naturalist ,Tax resister ,Developmental critic and Historian .He wrote a book called Walden which was a reflection on simple living in natural surroundings and his essay “Civil Disobedience “ was a call to disobey the dictates of unjust Governments especially those which presided over such extreme retrograde system of slavery
.Thoreau was a pioneering eco enthusiast who stood against developmentalism at the expense of eco health and sustainability . Dubbed unjustly an anarchist Tolstoy ,Mahatma Gandhi & Martin Luther King junior took sustenance from his idea of civil disobedience to replicate it in their spheres of activity. Thoreau wanted to pen his debut work but failed to find a peaceful space to do it in .His father’s pencil making factory right in their homestead itself was a great source of distraction .In late 1845 Thoreau shifted his residence to a very quaint place of Walden pond .Walden was a pretty large waterbody right in the midst of a very thick wooded estate .He built a spartan cabin in the woods close to the pond which was furnished with the bare minimum of self hewn and rough furniture items . He wanted to assert that happiness was associated with the rudimentary and never with opulence .It was a part of his experimenting with his truth of small was beautiful .He also explored the heavily vegetated natural territory to imbibe its beauty and to strike frequency with the deserted eco system which thrived with its biodiversity unmarred by human interference of any sort .
Though the original cabin had been long lost we the visitors could frequent a much faithfully bootlegged one which boasted items of household articles which commanded extreme fidelity to the prototype .A heavy bronze statue of Thoreau graced the courtyard of the cabin and true to the philosopher ‘s idea of egalitarianism it never stood on a looming pedestal but was literally planted on an equal footing with his visiting cheerleading public .Thoreau lived there for two years and wrote exponentially including his opus “Walden”.He believed that it was quite possible for humans to lead a life of their very personal specifications if seriously and purposefully attempted .He exited walden pond because the philosopher believed that he had many more lives to live .
Thoreau was a transcendentalist and like his Guru Ralph Waldo Emerson believed that all human virtues took their origin in human ‘s individual self and collectivism of any nature in any human affairs including politics ,Government etc would be sources of corrupt influences.We visited a Museum like facility in the park and the reference therein to the name of Mahatma Gandhi as one of Thoreau ‘s much celebrated global followers enthralled us .The intra and extra mural illustrations and scribbles (some glass cased) along the Thoreau trail informed and enervated us in equal measure .Then we four climbed down to the pond front .We saw many people taking bath in the pond and post -bath some people took to snacking and gulping some beverages and the drink items could not be alcoholic for sure .Unnikkuttan and myself were in a mood to trek but Sree and Suju were little inclined to buy into our idea so circumventing Walden ended up a non starter .As we hit the exact noontide the mercury registered a steep upward spiral .We retraced our step back into our car in slight hurry and drove out .If an reader wondered how a development hostile and anachronism smacking Thoreau could catch the imagination of the American public and the Government over such a long period and spanning several generations, a concerned writer is to add a rider as a demystification exercise . The Government of America had to have a special grouse against Thoreau because of his espousal of the line of thinking which verged on the anarchical .Thoreau was against mindless destruction of eco system to make way for development but he didn’t turn his back on development in complete , his advocacy was for moderation and responsible developmental paradigm and besides he wasn’t a luddite by all means .When it came to governance he always stood for its maximum rollback but absolute jettisoning of the system wasn’t his idea at all .
On the way back home we ran into the house of Emerson who mentored Thoreau and the former owned the Walden pond and the surrounding woods .He was a transcendentalist and a staunch abolitionist .Once Emerson was attending a liturgical function in a Florida church .But he couldn’t concentrate and at the very same time the other worshippers and the clergy went about their prayerful acts in un distracted peace .The raucous din just emanating from the church courtyard in front wrecked his peace .He exited in silence to enquire about the matter .What he saw there was a slave trading fare in hectic progress and auctioneering was underway in full throated blast .His disbelief wasn’t because of the proximity of the locales of these two activities but it had more to do with that none there nor anywhere else thought for a moment that trading in slaves was unchristianly at all. This very personal encounter with the practice of slave trade made him a hard abolitionist to his last breath and throughout his life he fought against it tooth and nail .His house was a moderately big two storied wooden house .Its visiting time had ended and so it stood in its closed facade .Though a busy road ran in front of it its surrounding fenced in area it had little human presence .Thick blanket of green grass had an unsparing coverage of the glades that flanked the house and beyond their untreed spaces the dense vegetation of tall trees ,long winding and hanging creepers thereon , tight packed undergrowth appeared primeval and staunchly forbidding . The Punjabi grill that we made it to as we drove further back home wasn’t blameworthy in respect of the quality of the eats and the restaurant service .But the dress of the serving personnels was careless to the point of perpetrating a national shame .It wasn’t shabby nor it stank but they were no reasons for consolation .

M I T,Harvard&Tufts

America is the most powerful country in the world to state the too obvious .Unfortunately this prime-hood never rests on all the right things for Vietnam , Hiroshima , World policing antecedents etc throw up an aegean stable no Herculean task could ever hope to clean up . But America boasts of some uber educational institutions in the existence of which the reputation of the Yankee land get ensconced in a firm eviction proof slot .
Mit,Harvard, Tufts ,Stanford,University of California Berkeley belong to that ivy League .Darkness had fallen and it was drizzling with fluctuating intensity and the street lamps shone through the needles of water and fluttering leafages of the tall trees on the sidelines of the boulevard that circumvented the campus of MIT .Right in front of the campus flowed the river Charles and the waters of which sparkled in the light of the street lamps and the powerful beams of the vehicular traffic that was moving fast along the roads on the river banks and the bridges that crossed the river Charles at two or three points close by to one another.We four and our baby Madhav and Unnikkuttans strode about the place in delectable leisure and a pleasant chill of the air was an added advantage .We were only marginally wet but Sree and Meera had to call off this amusement stroll because they had to protect their baby from irresponsible walkathon. They took shelter under the roof of a portico like structure in front of the institution .
MIT campus lived up to its international reputation in terms of its magnitude and the general majesty of its ambience when smothered with nightly darkness , sharp shafts of its street lamps redeeming the pitch dark ,rains in its weak drizzle , the promenades along river Charles largely deserted ,the extensively lit up nocturnal Boston skyline , the needling cold of the atmosphere , the awe inspiring aura of world class scholarship et al together was pleasurable and humbling .
Harvard university was a little upstream Charles with a kindred atmospheric . We wound up the trip by paying a visit to the Tufts University which was located a little further up north.Tufts would have been a non- port of call in our itinerary had it not been associated with Sasi Tharoor’s alumnus hood .The location proper of all these august institutions was arguably Cambridge

.Many an Indian eat joint stood cheek by jowl with other grills which carried names of their respective nationalities like Italian ,Peruvian ,Mexican etc .Some of the pubbing centres too had testified to their theme booze cuisine as they hard sold themselves with their appropriate nationalities literay writ large on their name boards .Celebration of plurality seemed an article of faith in the American psyche which might have emboldened these wine and dine merchants to go hammer and tongs about their non-mainstream merchandise ,if at all there was a mainstream variety as such in this El dorado destination was a different matter altogether .The Indian grill that we dropped by was typically Indian when it came to the atmosphere as reflected in the hotel staff , their dress and mannerisms,the general furnishing of the restaurant ,eating space and kitchen and the fluent Hindi of the staffers in response ,as Unnikkuttan and in its wake myself too broached a language switch .But the food that they served was lacking in fidelity because it was largely a cross fare meant to cater to the taste requirements of the Americans who formed their major patrons .I couldn’t figure out adequately well whether a strict and un compromised Indian cuisine made better business sense .

Plymouth Rock

It was a fine sunny morning and a party of four set out for Plymouth Rock in Unnikkuttan’s car .Besides him Sree,Suju and myself formed the four passengers .Leaving behind a lambrinthine Bostonian city roads we hit the Highway No 95 which was an arterial road that ran to the Southern most destination of key west which was at the extreme southern tip of the Florida state .As we took the road and sped past ,the forested territory that bordered the road made a grand spectacle . The wooded land never looked designer by all means nor they appeared significantly timber worthy . They grew in their untrammelled wilderness ,the trees as well as their under growth in their gap unbrooking density.
The treeless road periphery was under a heavy blanket of thick green grass in which a bald patch could exist only in the deceitful imagination of envious third worlders .The sight of some cropped lands the territory never conceded scrupulously .At ramps and exits the road tributaried into and branched off from the highway at the designated points .These freeway estuarial and distributarian locals were further spacious and were poster – places of sylvan road ecology in full blossom .
What was grossly missing was human presence in any form anywhere along the way .No pedestrians ,straggling villagers ,children at play ,Mofussil urban spaces ,stray livestock ,gawking simple folks ,rallyists in their single file et al were conspicuous by their sheer absence .This grand display of beauty of nature in its ceaseless unfoldment needed to find its crescendo and it wasn’t by any means a place of average beauty could ever aspire to .But Plymouth Rock definitely crowned the build up leaving nothing to be desired.
The unblemished cerulean sky above and azure waters of the sedate Atlantic inlet ,trees bordered and pleasantly shadowy water front of Plymouth were capable of treating its visitors to a heady experience of drinking out of a fizzy and brimming goblet of nature .The vista of Plymouth harbour never appeared a port of call of commercial shipping .
The water surface was strewn with yachts ,midget cruise vessels of pleasure sea going ,country boats of game fishing ,flat bottomed paddle – propelled gondolas and all of them were invariably painted spotless white .For those who weren’t satisfied with this metaphorical beer banquet a real swill festival was arranged on a green turf enclosure right at the western part of the heritage enclave .We four too made it to there and it was a carnival of the Bacchus .The green open space sported revellers enjoying beer sitting and standing under large parasols which stood unfurled in its bright colour collage .There were leafy trees which stood along the border fencing of this alfresco beer festival ground .Some of the custom who loved an organic canopy to beer under peopled this shadowy regions .Right atop a slightly elevated turf terrain there stood a roofed wooden stage on which a rock band was performing at full blast .The beer vending quarter was under a makeshift and colourful cloth roof .There you could buy your fill after tasting from a large variety on offer in minuscule servings for free. People belonging to all age groups and across the gender divide enjoyed their frothy drink in loud fun and frolic in the unapologetic hedonism of the western society .
We three went the whole hog with the orgy of beer laced exotica and being non beerivorous Suju didn’t have a matching level of amusement but the vibe could not have been un tantalising to her as well if her sly remarks in hindsight were anything to go by .But one thing was explicit in that Plymouth seafront would never have fallen off the map had it not been associated with a historical event .Its beauty of nature would stand it in good stead when estimation was called for from both lay and heritage enthusiasts tourists .

The breaking waves dashed high
On a stern and rock- bound coast
And the woods against a stormy sky
Their giant branches toss
And the heavy night hung dark
The hills and water o’er
When the hands of exiles moved their bark
On the wild New England shore
It was ,indeed,a stern and rock bound coast beneath which the gallant little May flower furled her tattered sails ,and dropped her anchor ,on the evening of 11th November in the year 1620.The Pilgrim fathers ,a much touted historical nomenclature which would strike a chord of familiarity even with the most indifferent studentry of high school social science classes the world over ,were purported to be the very pioneering set of British or European settlers in America whose presence fertilised and triggered a gestational exercise culminating in the birth of a nation called America
.It had factual backing in such a robust manner that any hint of other Europeans pre arriving the Pilgrim fathers in America would attract absolute derision from the part of any history laity and aficionados alike.

They were from the religious congregation of Brownish dissenters who had fled the antagonistic and restive political and religious environment in ,the 16th and 17th centuries England .At first they migrated to the neighbouring country of Netherlands seeking asylum which they definitely got there .They were a set of hardcore puritans and unlike the main stream puritans they stood for separation from the British state church system which arguably led to branding them as secessionist black legs who much rightfully merited harsh state oppression in the mother country .In Holland these high strung puritanical segment got no inclement political environment and instead the Diaspora host society was very tolerant and growth promoting to the hot headed ,expatriated British belief asylum seekers .In the wake of the win of an unruffled faith atmospheric ,the holier -than – though obsessed brigade self manufactured yet another cause for not being at peace with their lot among the believers who weren’t of their strict ilk nor their cultural template .
So in order to protect their civilisational self hood unblemished they decided to set sail to the New World of America which they had heard was a vast , unpeopled land only with a smattering of widely scattered heathen tribe communities where they could rule the roost in absolute singularity .

It was actually the second successful British settlement in north America the preceding one being the one at James Town Virginia established in 1607 .Further eroding the claim for the pioneer hood in Euro-peopling Americas south including , New Netherlands ,New France,Colonial Brazil,the viceroyalty of Peru and New Spain et al had been pre reaching the fake siring pilgrims from the British shores .
The May Flower had 102 passengers on board and it took 65 days for them to complete their miserable journey to cross the Atlantic .They were led by the famed puritan Minister William Bradford and Brewster .Plymouth rock was a largish white granite stone which marked the actual place of Pilgrim Father’s disembarkation on the soil of America .As of now it was roofed over with an elaborately and exquisitely built portico .Across the road that ran near the Gateway like structure there was a hilly terrain called Coleman’s mount .From the crest of the hill that we could scale to ,taking three steep flights of steps from the kerb of road below ,the sweeping spectacle of the harbour was quite entrancing .The area was thickly turfed over with green grass and thereon stood many a tree crowned with dark green foliage of sprawling spread and hence blocking out sharp rays of morning sun in immense measure casting pleasant shadows on the entire terrain in the process .All the trees were in full blossom .The sightly multiple hued flowers were odourless and had started falling down though not in significant profusion .
So it was flowery on the tree tops and on the tree under alike adding a designer garden like beauty to the naturally decked up landscape .On the left side of the Colman’s hill there flowed a rill which carried crystal clear water the transparency of which conceded a total sight of the pebbly stream bed and the water flowed in it at a faster pace because its upstream took a much uphill trajectory and by the time it hit Plymouth seafront it was virtually in the form of a minor waterfall negotiating its last leg of confluence on the precipitous hillside into the plain and placid estuarial mouth.

The plentitude of potable water that this brook held was one of the major reasons why the pilgrims dropped their anchor here to the exclusion of many other pre -scouted around disembarkation sites such as Cape Code etc .Plymouth plantations ,Pilgrims hall museum ,Burial hill etc were some of the most important sites in the heritage circuit there which we couldn’t unfortunately make it to .

There was a blackish statue of Massasoit chief ton sculpted atop a big glacial boulder looking towards the panoramic seascape in front with an expression of welcome to the deboating pale skinned set of humanity who were gate crashing in to their antique land .His physical attributes were impeccable in its crass masculinity writ large on his tall,muscular frame .On the back of his head he had worn a very long bird feather and its looming presence ,long maned sharp facial features together conferred on the tribal patriarch an aura of a majestic tragic hero .
Not easy to sneak into the eye shot of even a beady eyed exploring visitor stood an unassuming plaque sans any sculptural or other decorative flourishes , bearing a poignant reminder to the largest ever genocidal enterprise in human history .It bore the heading

National day of Mourning

Since 1970 native Americans have gathered at noon on Cole’s hill to commemorate a national day of mourning on the US Thanks giving holiday .
For the native Americans Thanks giving day is a reminder of genocide of millions of their people , the theft of their lands and the relentless assault on their culture .No conscientious visitor could return from Plymouth Rock without feeling a lurking heaviness of heart .
The fall season in North America got the largest number of home and global eco tourists .In its incipient stage all the green leaves of the trees would turn extremely multi – coloured throwing up scenes of eco-pyro – technique at its full effulgence .In the close wake of fall there would erupt winter with all its unsparing severity being unleashed nowhere but on the profligate branches of the flamboyant tree populace. Fury of winter would denude the trees of all their leafy cover in its entirety .The heavy snow and ice fall would paint the land white with their heavy depositions .Sometimes the bare trees and undergrowth would take this ice loads on themselves to the point of not transgressing the demands of the power of gravity.Certain chemical changes that would happen at the onset of the fall season account for the bizarre tinting of the green foliage .As we sped back from the plymouth country we came across trees on both sides of the road showing signs of hoisting leafs of slight red and yellow colours swapping their original dark green .Our needing to leave America before the fall maturing to its full collage ,it turned out to be ,an unwelcome proposition.

Throwing tyranny overboard

Samuel Adams the hot headed patriot spoke to us in the meeting hall of the museum .Adams was in his period gear which in itself was much attention hogging and besides that he was a demagogue like fiery and inspirational or rather insurrectional public speaker charged with the zeal for repeal of anti -American orders and enactments of the British king Emperor George the 3rd and his parliament . Mere roll back of such draconian legislations like the stamp act and the annulment of retention of tax on tea as a provision in the much known Townshend act apart Adams nursed a far more ambitious intention of unyoking colonies from the hegemonic rule of Britain once and for all and creation of a free state of the integrated colonies of America .
Before entering this hall we each had been given a long brownish bird feather and a card .The card was scripted on both sides .All cards carried the same message on the one side.It was issued to the towns people of Boston on the 16th of December 1773 cajoling them to be rightly aware of the brewing crisis in their city which had made them gather at that designated site to raise their voice against tyranny and oppression . It was a strong incitement to act however seditious it could turn out to be.
On the flip side of the card I was to step into the shoe of a Bostonian citizen whose name was William Pierce .I was a local barber who had set shop in the Marshall street in the North end .I was always boastful of my clientele of celebrated Bostonians from whom I got wind of the crisis on the horizon .Since I was an obsessive name dropper I could hardly make it a simple exercise in verbal flourishes alone any longer .So I decided to put some action into it and that morning I saw nothing holding me back from dkiving into the vortex of a great revolutionary feat .
The narrater’s wife was to turn into one Samuel Howard who was a shipwright staying in Boston’s North Square and the house of Paul Revere was in the close vicinity . It was just across the square Where Governor Thomas Hutchison’s mansion was sacked during the stamp act riot of 1763 .All these tyrannical outrages against the helpless colonial people drove me to turn wrathful and I was raring for a solution however pricey that could evolve into .
In the midst of accumulating huzzahs and yells of shame the roster of English perfidious acts were mouthed by the speaker and a woman in period gear and then they drove some 35 of us who had assembled in the hall to act mock audience of mock Adam’s spirited holding forth ,to leap back to our feet and dog Adams down the gang plank to the deck of Beaver. It was one of the ships that had been docked in the Boston harbour that fateful night of December 16th 1773 with their cargo of 342 tea chests on which a despicable British tax was going to be slapped the next day .
Dozens of Bostonians in red Indian incognito boarded the ship,took out the chests of tea , tore them open using their tomwhaks and threw those boxes over board with their costly content spilling out in to the river waters turning its slightly blueish waters into deep brownish tea colours .Heavy with unspilt residual cargo and heavy water inflow all the boxes sank much sooner than a belated later .Only a couple of them held themselves out as they were flown to the swampy riverine shore and they ran aground there.
Then we were led into the sub deck chamber of the ship .It was cavernous and much stuffy in side .It needed a deliberately focussed peer around in order to see the artefacts there.It included the sleeping berths for sailors where some of them slept in effigy ,reproduction of drum like wine containers of the period besides several lengths of ropes and other sailing equipments which were parts of the paraphernalia of an era of un motored and wind driven trans ocean vessels .
Aboard the replica ship of Beaver an animatronic Capt .Hzekia was the centre of tourist attraction.The long locked helmsman was engrossed deeply in his activity of writing with a quill in the ship’s log book in the eerie twilight of his cabin and the sight transported the visitors across the boundaries of centuries taking a break from their current existence however fleetingly .Reenactment of history till that point were to do with presence of the facsimile ships of Beaver and Eleanor ,Museum personnels in elaborately choreographed period apparels and mannerisms ,Larger than life Samuel Adams statue in belligerent gesticulatory flourishes right in front of the museum down to the knick knackery of the historical drama.
But when we reemerged from the bowl of the ship on to the deck we ran into a handful of slightly off white and wet boxes with the stamp of the East India company thereon being happily and playfully collected from the gangway kerb and hurtled overboard into the waters of the harbour by turn. Since they were by no means disconnected but were leashed with sturdy ,black ropes that were retrieval worthy with a marginally effort some reboarding pull in . I didn’t want to miss out on this chronological gaming and pelted a box back into water after it was fished out. My wife followed suit having had her tea chest hauled out on her behalf by her over enthusiastic consort
.At the concluding phase of our museum crawl we were ushered into the presence of two holograms of Samuel Adams and king Emperor George the 3rd .Before activation they appeared just a pair of ordinary two dimensional and lifeless portraiture exhibits but when switched on (not visibly) they leapt to their acrimonious loud din of a brawl in their antiquated lingo about their contentious colonial issues .When the quarrel was played out the holograms bounced back to their life less formerself in a split second as if they had not forayed for a moment into a spell of high decibel verbal duel at all .Before this battle Royale we had been to a much less high profile filmy stand off between two women of street ,one a rebel and other a tory .To pick up the rear a tinsel enactment of a military show down between the forces of the crown and colony militia too were envisaged in the museum trail .The only original and un replicated historical prototype item was the Robinson’s half chest ,which ,we were told was one of the two known tea chests still in existence from the original event which was mounted in a protective cylinder within which it rotated .The reexperiencing theme history trip had us delivered into a tea joint upstairs where they served tea items ostensibly using tea brands which had been destined to form political brew of the much famed Boston tea party.

Boston tea party

American history is unique in so many respects .First of all America as we understand today has a history which traces back to just a relatable short period of 500 years .It all began with the landing of Christopher Columbus in Bahamas islands lying close to the south eastern coast of the southern most state of America of Florida circa 1492 .
As for the history of the USA it starts with the first set of British household settlers (pilgrim fathers ) arriving in a place called Plymouth rock in the modern US state of Massachusetts in the year 1620 . So the chronological stature of the US gets further dwarfed by nearly 125 years and when put into perspective ,the modern history of America which in its turn stands miserably puny among nations and continents of antiquity which can be measured out using millennial scale only .But the history challenged USA suffers further diminution of history in that its political independence was won in the year 1776 only
.Some three  years prior to that an unassuming act of insurgency called Boston tea party took place . I have always taken an avid interest in American history and so Boston tea party occupying the top most slot in my Wishlist when I ventured into America on my maiden visit is premised a foregone itinerant imperative
.We headed for the Boston tea party museum in the morning and the climate was very cool and pleasant .We parked our car in down town Boston the skyline of which spotted much looming skyscrapers.It was a Sunday and hence we hit the business district without its usual milling crowd of office goers at their brisk pace. The streets wore a pleasantly deserted looks ,motoring was minimal , a cool breeze wafted in from Charles river nearby and since the season was bordered on a harsh New England winter the air was rarefied and chilly .
But at the same time a bright sunny morning was all set to move in and hence its heralding beams though not very harsh still were sharp enough to throw the shadows of the tall buildings across the streets .So we could foot it out towards the museum in the cool of esplanades not in respiteletss chill but through warm sunny flourishes which were generated by the intermittent hiatus in the hyper looming skyline .The streets were spic and span and eminently frequent worthy unlike metro spaces in India of the early morn for they would stink to the depth of the skies because of the heaps or general spread of garbage of the day before .A lazy Sunday morning would turn much too communicable in its effect on the city’s scavenging man power.