How to drive safe in Kerala


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For those who were ‘unfortunate’ enough to learn road rules being in some other country might find it very difficult to come to terms with what is considered civilized driving in this part of the world.  Having been on the road with four wheelers for over ten years, here are some insights on how to drive in God’s own country. (Disclaimer: Almost all of the below mentioned techniques are illegal and against road rules, however if you don’t trod the road the masses are taking, you are in for a bumpy ride)

 

  • Lane driving – lane is where the driver chooses it to be. If he envisages a lane  where his vehicle runs right through the middle of the dividing line, then please cooperate and squeeze through either side if you want to move ahead. This sort of lane driving provides you added advantage of swapping lanes at your own ease without bothering to turn on indicators as nobody behind is sure what your next move is.
  • Lane driving – there is no fast lane and slow lane. The lane to your left is where bicycles, pedestrians, hawkers, two wheelers drive. Lane to the right is where vehicles with more than four wheels consistently ply at 60km/hr. All other vehicles are permitted to take part in a slow and furious gear shift/honking sequence to find their way across.
  • Two wheelers feel it is not only safe to hug left side of the road but also the right lane divider just so that every vehicle can ply through the center of the road with so much space.
  • Arrival of an ambulance into a thickly populated road invites basic courtesy by the vehicles ahead of the ambulance initially followed by a sequence only seen in this part of the world. The ‘new lane’ created by the roaring ambulance is accompanied by vehicles finding the moment opportune to skip large volumes of traffic. So next time you find an ambulance you know what to do.
  • Apart from the designated function of car indicators – left/right turns and emergency double indicators, the interpretation is taken to a completely new level – not even taught in the motor vehicles department.
    • Right indicator and slowing down to allow someone to overtake from right.
    • Double indicator to indicate moving ahead on the straight road.
  • Occupying the left most lane of the road at a signal and cutting across three other lanes to right.
  • Appreciating life of hawkers is best if you are within first four rows of a signal.
  • Appropriately dropping indicators for changing lanes will invite unwanted stares – quite an atypia here to do such things.
  • Indicating a turn early with your indicator might be misconstrued as an indicator forgotten to be turned off. So make sure you turn it on just 50m from where you want to turn so that all passerby vehicles can honk and hurl abuse and take last minute accident inviting evasive action.
  • The moment you see two people wanting to cross the road at a zebra crossing, it is ideal that you speed past and let them cross after you go. Suppose you read or heard somewhere it is right to stop and let them cross, you are asking for trouble as either you are going to get run over by another vehicle, or another vehicle will make sure to convey that you are the reason that they almost killed the pedestrians!

More tips next time around for safe four wheel driving 🙂

 

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Peace, Prosperity and Good Health – Swami Sharanam


Almost a year since my premier pilgrimage to Sabarimala, the abode of Lord Ayyappa. Embarking on my second this month. God willing, I hope to go there as often as my health permits.

From tomorrow, will be embarking on a fast and this time have included facebook to the list of forbidden activities during the fast. Hopefully it will help me wean off completely from the time I spend on it.

Will be visiting the Maha Ganapathy temple and the Kadapakkada Ayyappa Temple daily during the course of the fast. The fast gives me the time to really reflect upon my life and serves as a check point to regulate all emotions in the right manner.

Swami Sharanam!

Kollam Pooram


When it comes to Pooram, the name that pops up in any Malayali’s head is Thrissur Pooram. Well Kollam Pooram is the equivalent of it in South Kerala.

I was able to attend it the last couple of years and been yearning to blog on it.  A half day holiday is usually given for all schools and offices the day following Vishu, the Malayalam New Year [mid April]. The whole event occurs at the Ashramam ground, in sync with the annual festival of Shri Krishna Swamy Temple.

Around 15 temples in and around the city take part – Anandawalleshwaram, Puthupally Madaswamy, Asramam Sree Maryamman, Pattathanam Sree Subramanya Swamy, Kadappakada Sree Dharma Sastha, Thumbara, Erattakulangara, Sree Sankarakumarapuram, Uliyakovil Kannamathu, , Kollurvila Bharanikavu Koikkal, Uliyakovil Sree Durga, Sree Narayanapuram Subramaniyam, Thiruvadivattam and Chekodu.

Pooram Ezhunallathu

The tuskers from these temples set out early in the morning to participate in the pooram. On an average around 50-60 elephants take part ranging from the little ones, to the old tuskers. All the tuskers are then bathed and readied.

 

 

 

Thirumumbil Melam and KettuKazhcha

Kollam Pooram 2010


The tuskers then line up in the temple ground, and we are treated to some wonderful percussions by the Chendamelam and Panchavadyam groups

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Kudamaatam

Following the melam, the tuskers are dispersed, except the two teams participating in Kudamaatam. Invariably the two teams come from Thamarakulam Maha Ganapathy temple and Puthiyakavu Shri MahaBhagavathy temple. The two teams are then paraded to the Ashramam ground where the eminent guests [Ministers] will officially kickstart the pooram celebrations. The two teams display a multitude of umbrellas one after the other, and the team with the better innovation wins.

Fun and Frolic

As we always religiously wait indefinitely for the arrival of the ‘Guests’, a multitude of eats, fun toys, balloons and objects of interest will keep us occupied till the event kicks off. Thousands of people crowd up the entire Asramam ground on the day to be a part of the big event.

 

 

 

Fireworks, Programmes

The kudamaatam is followed by a 30min long fireworks, which, well hasn’t impressed me as much [I have seen better ones at my college campus, but then Manipal is Manipal]. The evening is further lit up by the presence of some wonderful stage programmes by movie|tele artists to wind up a wonderful day of celebrating the start of a year.

I plan to blog in detail of the events this year hopefully if I get time to attend it.

 

 

 


 

National Voters Day – Jan 25


When I read the paper today morning, it said at 2pm today, the District Collector would inaugurate the 60th National Voters Day event and thereby initiate the distribution of the Voters ID. Mom having applied 2 months ago, needed me to collect it for her.

So after a sumptuous lunch I took a lazy half hour break watching highlights of the 2nd half of last night’s Chelsea romp of Bolton.

Knowing how all inaugural functions in India start typically at +30 min Indian Stretchable Time [IST] I headed to the Boys HSS Kollam around 1430ish.  The numbers were just coming in and people were settling and as usual the eminent guests yet to arrive. As I lazed around adjusting my focal lengths on objects of interest, I came across a pamphlet with the program schedule and was excited to see that among the listed guests, was a Malayalam Actor Kundara Johnny! Probably most of you don’t recall him by name but this pic will say it all. Looking the very same, I was a tad excited of having seen him at arms distance for the first time. [Din’t carry my camera as the last thing I was expecting to do was capture shots of people from the Election Commission ;)]. Was kind of odd to see him drive up here in an 80’s model Ambassador  RESPECT

Eventually at 1530 when the final bell of the school rang, all the students ran out excited with the prospect of a holiday beckoning [Republic Day], and all of us who were eagerly waiting for proceedings to begin were not disappointed.

Some of the eminent guests were: Malayalam Actor Mukesh’s mom, District Collector, Olympian Suresh Babu and a student of the school who recently won the Gold Medal for the State Kalothsavam Kathakali.

One by One, each of them elaborated the beauty of democracy, the success of it in India, the power of the people and many more. It reminded me of the days while I was attending Social Science or Social Studies as it was called when I was in school.

This being a working day, as the time was passing by, almost 1500-2000 people had crowded up in the school and were waiting and waiting, desperately for the ID cards to be distributed.  What irked me more was when the Kathakali female started doing it on stage for like 20min!!

At around 1700hrs, we had reached the last speaker of the day, one Mr. Jayadevan, a professor of Political Science. His opening statement was, “I am a professor of Political Science, I am not bound by protocol or hierarchy of the government. I have the freedom of speech, and the right to dissent. I can do anything I want within the purviews of the law of the land…..” and he went on about how he has been an active participant of politics right from his college days, when all of a sudden, someone vented out his frustration by walking up on stage and asking him to cut the show short and distribute the cards immediately. Such was the worrying nature in which the mob was reacting that this man who was just talking about the laws of the land etc ended up saying “ Ok I am stopping!” and he left the podium to the most rousing ovation I’d heard all evening 😉

Immediately the Electoral Commission members decided, it is in the best interest to wind up the program and distribute the cards. And that is exactly what they did, and after all the waiting for close to 3 hours, almost everyone left frustrated with some people still not having got the IDs. J

I did feel privileged to be attending the “Eshwara Prarthana” and the National Anthem in the end. In fact I don’t remember the last time I stood in a crowd and sang it.

Olympian Suresh Babu pointed one very significant thing and that was the decision of the Kerala Government to initiate Physical Education as a compulsory subject in the curriculum of schools and I personally agree with him. Think it will do a lot of good to the all round development of students and at the same time help both students and parents understand, appreciate talent and maybe even pursue a career.

  • As always at a public event, lack of organization was written all over, with people turning up not being given the right guidance on the where and the what to do.

If you are an Indian, Non Resident or Resident, 18 years or more, please do apply for the voters ID, be a responsible citizen, and vote on the merit of your good judgement and not others.Put words into action and be Proud. Jai Hind

 

Ganga, Yamuna, Upper Circle, Lower Circle


Ganga, Yamuna, Upper circle, Lower circle, 40|50|60. In a town as big as Kollam, the only thing lacking is a pVr or Imax or Big Cinemas! The college going and the youthful ones below 30s are no doubt the bunch who eventually decides whether a movie ‘makes or breaks’ here in Kollam. While some of the theatres hold tradition and history and have been around for a longer time, some have emerged more recently and are doing a fair job.

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On an average a movie runs only 10 -14 days, with Malayalam suffering the most and Tamil enjoying the best collection. Families throng the theatres preferably for first shows on weekends, and sadly I have seen a small % of people using the theatre merely for a 2 hour nap or to smoke up!

Dhanya theatre is the lead promoter of English films, and hence is my favorite among the lot. However Pranavam and the Archana Aradhana complex come fairly close. Prince –Grand and Kumar tend to run movies for a much longer period due to its mere location in the heart of Kollam and easy accessibility, though quality of service has deteriorated.

Kumar:  8.884361, 76.591007

Prince – Grand: 8.886124, 76.590529

Pranavam: 8.884515, 76.594834

Archana – Aradhana: 8.889555, 76.586766

Dhanya: 8.89135, 76.60351

So next time you are in town, you will know where to head for a movie!

P.S: There is an Adult rated theatre if I am not mistaken right in the centre of town, but I am not listing it here 😉

In the Name of GOD


Finally bought myself a bicycle and been more than happy to drive around town and capture photos. As a part of my effort to list the important places of Kollam on the world map [Google], here I begin with some easily accessible places in and around Kollam town, kickstarting off with a few churches and temples.

P.S. To see my uploads on panoramio, go here.

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Shiva Temple, Thamarakulam – 8.883307, 76.586230

Shree Ganapathy Temple, Thamarakulam – 8.881030, 76.591570

Puthiyakaavu Temple, Opp. Railway Station – 8.885167, 76.594124

Vasudeva Temple, Vadayattukotta – 8.886023, 76.588416

Ooramman Durga Devi Temple, Vadayattukotta – 8.886161, 76.588204

St. Sebastian Church, Convent Road – 8.886890, 76.585602

Velankanni Shrine – 8.889608, 76.585205

Mahadevan Temple, Anandavalleeshwaram – 8.89334, 76.573248

Shree Maha Ganapathy Temple – 8.890806, 76.574879

Moorthy Temple, Ammachiveedu – 8.889343, 76.572864

St. Antony’s Church, Vady – 8.882946, 76.573951

St. Peter’s Church, Moothakkara – 8.882660, 76.577148