Category Archives: Amazing Feats

Kerala girl at centre of ‘period poverty’ campaign in London

Last month, thousands of protesters gathered outside Downing Street as part of the campaign. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

With her #FreePeriods campaign, Amika George hopes to help young girls in Britain stay in school

On a cold London morning last year, 17-year-old Amika George was at the breakfast table when a news story caught her attention. It was about young girls, some just 10 years old, in the northern English city of Leeds missing a week of school every month because their families couldn’t afford to buy them sanitary napkins.

A Leeds school had, in fact, sought help from a charity that provided hygiene products to women in Kenya, the report went on to say.

Shocked, Amika knew she had to do something. She launched the #FreePeriods campaign, and prepared a petition that quickly garnered support, with over 1,33,000 signatories. Last month, a thousand protesters, including politicians, activists and models, gathered outside Downing Street to ask for the government’s help to end ‘period poverty’ in the U.K. — by providing free sanitary napkins to the poorest students.

“I think one of the reasons the campaign attracted so much attention is because people have been shocked that such levels of poverty exist in the U.K., considered a developed country,” she says.

Amika George

Talking about the motivation behind the initiative, the North London-based student says, “It seemed wrong to me on every level that there were children creating almost primitive, makeshift solutions such as socks stuffed with stolen toilet paper or newspaper. Missing school means falling further behind in academics, and these girls find they are such a long way off from attaining their goals and ambitions, all because they bleed.”

Too poor to bleed

The protest garnered widespread media interest. Amika’s campaign also tapped into wider sentiment — both about women’s equality and the larger issue of poverty in austerity-ridden Britain — with several political parties making commitments to help end the problem.

The Labour party has committed £10 million to end ‘period poverty’ in schools, while the campaign has spurred the Green party to pledge free sanitary products for women and students from low-income households.

“The root cause is poverty, and while eradicating poverty is a challenging mission in itself, making life better for a small pocket of the population is what I’m aiming at,” says Amika. The teenager hopes to now attract the attention of Education Secretary (minister) Justine Greening with her campaign. “I’m encouraged that there are a huge number of people who’re working to put pressure on her.” Amika hopes to use the impetus the campaign has generated to push for a wider examination of attitudes towards periods, which she believes reinforce the obstacles the poorest sections face.

“There’s certainly a feeling now that periods should not be all cloak-and-dagger, as it’s been in the past. I’m trying to be as outspoken as I can about menstruation; it’s a normal biological process, but we speak about it with embarrassment and shame.”

Going places

Given her background, Amika, whose family is originally from Kerala and regularly visits there, is keen to broaden her campaign beyond the U.K., and enthused by the way campaigners, from Nepal to the Philippines, have reached out to her. She is motivated by initiatives such as Kerala’s She Pad Scheme.

“I’d really like to connect with campaigners in India to work to end the taboo and help campaign to ensure all girls can access menstrual products. It’s staggering that we haven’t really moved away from the taboos our grandmothers faced back in their days, but it horrifies me that there are thousands of girls in India who drop out of school altogether and feel ashamed to go back because they have their period.”

“It really is a global issue, and I’ve been contacted by women in many countries saying that period poverty is affecting girls there, so we should all be joined in working to stamp out period poverty across the globe. We really can do it together,” says Amika.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Profile> Society / by Vidya Ram / January 13th, 2018

Keralite in tourism encyclopedia team

World’s largest encyclopedia on Tourism

‘Gods Own Country’, billed as one of the ten paradises in the world and one of the 50 must-see destinations of a lifetime, is now seeking attention through an academic contribution to the world’s largest encyclopedia in tourism.

Dileep M.R., a researcher in tourism-related issues and Head, Department of Tourism, Pazhassiraja College, Pulpally, Wayanad, has made this possible by getting nominated as a member in the expert team of hundreds of researchers and academicians from around the globe that prepared the Encyclopedia of Tourism.

Published by Springer, New York, the United States, the reference book, running more than 1100 pages, has elaborate descriptions consisting of definitions, explanations, examples/cases, and references for more than 700 key topics spanning travel, tourism, hospitality, and allied areas of the industry.

Dr. Dileep was included in the team based on his research paper published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research brought out from Hong Kong.

“The encyclopaedia is more research-oriented, collects the essence of the world’s leading tourism research with its application, and provides authoritative definitions and explanations of all important tourism topics. It is going to be the epicentre of this emerging discipline of tourism,” says Dr. Dileep.

source:  http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / by S. Anil Radhakrishnan / Thiruvananthapuram – December 29th, 2017

A giant ‘edakoodam’ aims Guinness record

Thiruvananthapuram:

‘Edakoodam’ is a word familiar to most Malayalis, which means ‘a puzzle which is difficult to solve’. However, not many people know about a curious toy similar to the Rubik’s cube. Made up of six wooden blocks, the ‘edakoodam’, once dismantled, can be assembled to its original position only with proper mathematical skills.

Art director and painter Rajasekharan Parameswaran popularly known as Marthandam Rajasekharan is attempting a world record by making a huge edakoodam. The blocks made of wood and metal frame, which is almost ready at Parasala, will be shifted to Raviz, Kollam, where it will be a permanent exhibit.

Currently, the Guinness record for the largest wood block-puzzle is held by a firm Foffa Conrad in Valchava, Switzerland.

The record winning puzzle is a Devil’s Knot, ( a puzzle similar to edakoodam’) has six pieces, each measuring 6m (19 ft 8 inch) x 40cm(1 feet 3 inch) x40cm (1 feet 3 inch). Rajasekharan said that his ‘edakoodam’ will have six pieces each having size 24 feet x 2 feet x 2 feet. “We have informed Guinness authorities about the plan to break the previous record,” he said.

Breaking a world record is nothing new for Rajasekharan who holds Guinness record for the largest easel painting, with his portrait of EMS Namboodiripad in 2008. The easel was 56.5 feet tall and 31 feet wide and held a 25 feet tall and 50 feet wide portrait of EMS.

Rajashekharan is also the recipient of the state award for art direction for Naalu Pennungal directed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan in 2007. The film was his debut work as art director. When asked how he was drawn to ‘edakoodam’, he said that he knew about the toy from his childhood days. “Since I am a mathematics graduate, I know how to reassemble it. The structure is the blow-up version of the small ‘edakoodam’. You can play the game if you know mathematics,” he said.

The 53-year-old artist is from Marthadom in Kanyakumari district.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Thiruvananthapuram News / TNN / December 19th, 2017

Turning Malayalam calligraphy into a fine art

Calligraphy work by artist Narayana Bhattathiri

Thiruvananthapuram:

Asked to point out some of his best works is probably the stupidest question one can pose to Narayana Bhattathiri, a name synonymous with Malayalam calligraphy. Rather than point out some his unforgettable drawings for the titles of novels ‘Randamoozham’ or ‘Neermathalam Pootha Kalam’, he gently prods you to look up his Facebook page ‘Bhattathiri Calligraphy’.  Bhattathiri is that rare artist who draws energy from his work and not from society’s acceptance.

Meeting Bhattathiri a day after the announcement of the Jikji international award for the best calligraphy work instituted by the South Korean government in memory of their first printed book ‘Jikji’, he was, as usual, busy with his work at his office on the first floor of his house at Forest office lane, Vazhutacaud.

It was an employee of the Indian embassy in Seoul – Dinesh Moorakkal – who saw his works on Facebook and suggested to Bhattathiri to send some of them over. Last year, the Korean government included Bhattathiri’s three calligraphy works as a permanent exhibit at Cheongju culture centre in North Chungcheong.

This year, Bhattathiri collected and sent 27 works of around 14 calligraphy artists in the country to Seoul. Among those, Bhattathiri’s work on Jikji won the award. He will receive the award in Seoul on December 8.

A native of Pandalam, 59-year-old Bhattathiri started his career in Kala Kaumudi while doing his degree at Fine Arts College in Thiruvananthapuram. He also worked in Samakalika Malayalam. During his tenure in magazines, he drew titles for various novels such as O V Vijayan’s Pravachakante Vazhi, M Mukundan’s Daivathinte Vikrutikal, Malayatoor Ramakrishnan’s Aaram Viral to name a few. He also did titles for all the works of M T Vasudevan Nair when Malayala Manorama made a CD of the writer’s works. Though Bhattathiri could not recollect the exact number of films he worked for, the list includes most films of Padmarajan to latest films like ‘Ennu Ninte Moideen’ and ‘Clint’.

The calligraphy style of Bhattathiri is that even a person who is unfamiliar with Malayalam script might get a feel of it. With a few strokes and some dots, he can write ‘Niram Marunna China’ resembling Chinese characters. His ambigrams are highly popular.

“Earlier, people used to hang quotes from the Bible on the wall, which were excellent calligraphic works. I wish such a culture would come back where people could hang calligraphic works on their walls,” Bhattatiri exclaims.

It was the exhibition ‘Ka cha ta tha pa’, that brought together a few of his innumerable works, organized on the pestering of his late friend Sundar Ramanatha Iyer in 2013, that made Bhattathiri popular.

The exhibition was an eye-opener to several artists. Orion Champadiyil, who is a senior art director at Maitri advertising, says that it was from the ‘ka cha ta tha pa’ that he started thinking about Malayalam calligraphy.

“Till then, my calligraphy experiments were limited to English. After learning about his works, I started asking myself why I didn’t try Malayalam calligraphy. I was more into typography and it was after getting inspired by him that I started doing Malayalam calligraphy,” he says.

Bhattathiri once saw a Gulf-based music band using his calligraphy as their logo which he had originally designed for a musical event of musician Ramesh Narayanan. Out of curiosity, he asked how they got it. They replied that it was from the internet. Of course, using his works without permission or credit was not a concern for Bhattathiri. When asked about recognition and money, he says it is up to the people who use his work to decide. “I already got my reward from the satisfaction of doing it,” he says.

While Malayalam is experiencing a dearth of Unicode fonts, Bhattathiri and free software developer Santhosh Thottingal, who is the designer of Malayalam Unicode fonts Chilanka and Manjari, have been planning to develop a new Unicode font for a while.

“With the support of Bhattathiri, we could create a unique Malayalam font. I am ready to provide all technical support for developing a new font,” Santosh says. “Among the present calligraphy artists, Bhattathiri is the greatest. He can be considered a continuation of the great lineage of Vasu Pradeep, C N Karunakaran and Bharathan.”

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Thiruvananthapuram News / Jisha N  / December 18th, 2017

Kollam youth gets dream ticket to the Arctic

Niyog who has been selected for the polar expedition
| Photo Credit: NP

Niyog is first Indian to take part in Fjällräven Polar, an expedition across the Arctic, in 2018

Niyog is all set for the adventure of a lifetime. This 26-year-old adventure traveller from Punalur in Kollam has just got through an online poll that will make him the first Indian to take part in Fjällräven Polar, an expedition across the Arctic set to be held in April 2018.

Fjällräven Polar is a dream expedition of adventure travellers across the world. It is an annual expedition organised by the Swedish company Fjällräven since 1997. The participants will have to travel 300 km at minus 30 degrees Celsius through the Arctic wilderness in Norway and Sweden on sleighs pulled by eight Siberian Husky dogs.

As only around 20 aspirants get the chance to take part in the expedition, and with thousands of adventurers across the world aspiring for it, the competition is quite tough. Entries are invited from adventurers in 10 wide categories of countries, most of which are for people residing in the Arctic belt. Indians get to participate in the poll under the category ‘World’.

Only one person from each of the 10 categories is selected in the online poll. The rest are nominated by a jury. After physical tests and intense training to survive in the Arctic for almost a month, the team of 20 sets out for the expedition.

This year’s entries started pouring in from November 16. Niyog registered only on December 1, with bare minimum expectations. But his friends and followers took over the campaign requesting people to vote for him.

Within four days, Niyog emerged as the top competitor in all categories. When the polls concluded on Thursday, he scored 51,078 votes, around 10,000 more than his nearest competitor.

Niyog is used to travels and adventure since childhood. He had travelled solo to different parts of the Himalayas and believes it has conditioned him for adverse climatic conditions. He was in news just a few months ago for his nomadic journey across the country as a penniless hitch-hiker.

Niyog is excited about the polar expedition that starts on April 8 from Norway, yet a bit apprehensive. “More than the temperature, the sleighs thrill me. Managing the sleigh and the dogs is quite hard. Besides, we have to look out for thin ice, which only a trained eye can notice,” he told The Hindu.

Having won the poll, it’s now preparation time for Niyog.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Aabha Raveendran / Kozhikode – December 16th, 2017

Guinness memory record for Keralite

Santhi Sathyan has been undergoing memory training for seven years

There is a misconception that memory is an innate skill whereas it is a result of years of training and perseverance, says Santhi Sathyan, who holds a Guinness world record for the longest sequence of objects memorised in a minute.

The 28-year-old from Kadakkal needs just 60 seconds to save 45-odd objects to her memory, and after reshuffling, she can arrange them back in the same precise order in 2 minutes 57 seconds.

The previous record was held by Arpan Sharma of Nepal, whose record of 43 objects was easily broken by Santhi.

“There are many scientific methods to enhance memory. One of the main tricks is to convert the objects into visuals, something that will last longer in your memory,” she said at a press meet here on Wednesday.

Santhi has been undergoing memory training for the past seven years and started preparations to break the Guinness record a couple of years ago.

Her husband, Anith Soorya, an IT professional-turned-counsellor, is her coach.

From school days

“I have been practising this from my school days though I have never entered any competitions. Two years ago, a friend encouraged me to make an attempt to break the current record that had remained unbroken for two years,” she says.

The postgraduate student in psychology entered the Guinness Book of World Records at a programme held on May 28 at the Kadakkal panchayat conference hall in front of a panel approved by the Guinness World Records officials.

“I am grateful to the Kadakkal panchayat authorities, whose immense support helped me achieve this feat,” she says.

Gearing up for more

Santhi next wants to win the World Memory Championship.

“Many of us are not aware of memory training and its benefits. I want more and more children to come to this field and I am willing to train them,” she says.

A wish

Santhi is currently waiting for her Guinness World Record certificate, which has been shipped to Kerala,  she says.

“Usually it’s handed over by a renowned personality and I wish I could receive it from cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar,” she adds.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Staff Reporter / Kollam – December 06th, 2017

World record? 191 tumours removed from Omani woman’s uterus at Kerala hospital

A doctor at the hospital said they performed the operation in four hours without removing the patient’s ovaries or uterus. The previous record was held by an Egyptian woman, who had 186 tumours removed from her body last December.

Mediapersons interview the medical team that conducted the surgical procedure. (HT Photo)

As many as 191 benign tumours were removed from the uterus of an Omani woman at a private hospital in Kozhikode, north Kerala, on Saturday.

Doctors at the city’s Starcare Hospital claimed this was a new world record. They said the previous one was held by an Egyptian woman, who had 186 tumours removed from her body last December.

Dr Abdul Rashid, the hospital’s chief gynaecologist, told Hindustan Times they performed the operation in four hours without removing the patient’s ovaries or uterus. “We blended keyhole and traditional mechanisms to do it. We were expecting 80-odd tumours, not so many,” he said, adding that the woman was now recuperating from the procedure.

The existing record in the country is 84 tumours.

Dr Rashid said the hospital will soon update Guinness World Records authorities on the development. “We did not operate on the 34-year-old woman to break any record. We had initially considered laparoscopic surgery, but decided against it when we realised that the tumour was really big,” he added.

A team of three doctors had performed the surgery.

The chief gynaecologist said a leading medical body has already confirmed that this was a unique case. “The woman seemed to be in an advanced stage of pregnancy when she first came here, but we were keen on protecting her ovaries and uterus. She can now lead a normal life, and even conceive after a couple of years,” he added.

According to Dr Rashid, there has been a significant rise in middle-eastern patients visiting super-specialty hospitals in the state lately. “Our facilities are economical when compared to hospitals in the West, while keeping with similar standards. Kerala has always been a leading tourist destination, but it may soon become a medical hub too,” he said.

source: http://www.hindustantimes.com / Hindustan  Times / Home> India / by Ramesh Babu – Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram / November 19th, 2017

What’s got Malayalis on a record-breaking spree?

Pulling a bus with teeth, smashing coconuts with bare hands, and singing endlessly for days — the feats attempted by some Malayalis are as diverse as those who sought to achieve them.

In recent years, there’s been an obsession among Malayalis to create world records and the latest in the list is Thiruvananthapuram-based caricature artist William Panipicha, who broke the world record for the longest caricature marathon on Saturday.
Is the craze for the world records only for the 15 minutes of fame or something more? We talk to a few record holders to find out:

A mode to inspire others


The latest Malayali entrant in the Guinness Book of Records is William Panipicha, an art teacher at St Thomas HSS, Poonthura. By sketching non-stop for 72 hours, with just a five-minute break every hour, the teacher says he wanted to inspire his students.
“I wanted to convey to them that hard work pays. Drawing is my God-given skill and I wanted to use that for something good for the next generation, who loves to draw and paint,” says William, explaining that he broke the record of 61 hrs 55 minutes caricature marathon set by Australian artist Ronald Francis Heberling.

William, who hails from a fishing community, says that he hopes the recognition would also motivate the children from the community to chase their dreams.

“I am a self-taught artist and it’s with my sheer will power that I reached where I am today from poverty. Nowadays, fine arts can lead to prolific career opportunities in our society including animation sector. I want my success to motivate the youth to take up art and be successful,” he says.

Inspiring others is not the only reason for attempting such feats. Noted mridangam artiste Kuzhalmannam Ramakrishnan, from Palakkad, has five Guinness World Records to his name — including longest performance by a solo artiste and longest mridangam marathon.

While the feats showcase his creativity and diligence with the instrument, he says his first attempt in 2004 by setting the record of a 36-hour mridangam marathon, was dedicated to all cancer patients in memory of his sister, who passed away due to lung cancer the same year.

“I was not even aware of the world records at that time and it was meant as a musical tribute to my sister,” says Ramakrishnan. “When the event was over, my friends suggested that it can be submitted for the record.”

Later on, he chose the recording-breaking attempts as a mode to popularise the percussion instrument. “My final attempt in 2009 was sort of a musical therapy. As an artiste, I feel responsible to contribute for the musical world. Music has the power to heal and thus I performed Hridaya Talam — the longest percussion concert that lasted more than 500 hrs at the Nandavanam Hospital at Ottappalam,” he says, adding that he chose the venue as the hospital as that’s where his sister breathed her last.

Chasing records tests your potential
More than competitions to set records, chasing feats aid exploring one’s skills, echo the world record holders.

Ramakrishnan says that he experimented with new genres for his feats. “I was able to test the potential of mridangam and myself while setting these records. When our contributions are engraved in the history of music, it will also give the upcoming artistes confidence to discover their skills.”

Supporting the veteran’s view is 18-year-old music prodigy Anantha Krishnan S R, who etched his name in Asia Book of Records for the longest flute marathon earlier this year.

The fame has given him confidence and also more stages to perform, he says. “Because of the title, I now have a small celebrity status in the music arena despite being so young.

I wanted to give my music teachers the best gurudakshina and that’s what prompted me to chase the record,” he says.

Despite the laurels it has brought him, the youngster says, “I am not obsessed with the record. In fact, I want the upcoming musicians to break it. These challenges help us to analyse our potentials better.”

The satisfaction of chasing your dream and being the best in the world is something that completes you, says Payyanur-based, 30-year-old Prijesh Kannan, who entered the Guinness World Records for his memory power, a few years ago.

Creating records are never easy, he says. “It was my childhood dream to enter the record books. My preparations began while I was in Class 6 and it took me around 14 years to create the record. There were days when I slept only for four hours, so I could prepare,” he says.

Prijesh now is using his fame to help others improve memory power as well as training others based on his experience.

Some Malayalis have also attempted bizarre task in a bid to set records – one among them being Abheesh P Dominic from Kottayam, who found his way to the Guinness World Records by smashing 122 coconut shells with bare hands in a minute in February this year.
“I have tried to do so many weird things to enter the book of records. However, it was not to attain fame but to prove that our body has the potential to endure whatever we wish to do,” he says.

The dangerous stunts he has attempted till date includes pulling a 10 tonne bus for 50 meters using his teeth, stopping a high-speed pedestal fan, breaking helmets, hockey sticks and smashing tender coconuts using elbow, knee and head.

While most onlookers would think that Abheesh is abusing his body, he says on the contrary, the road to records has him living a disciplined lifestyle. “I avoid processed food, keep away from drugs and alcohol and eat healthy. That’s what has helped me achieve the feat,” he says. “Making your hands as hard as a rock was a result of determination and patience.”

Fame subsides eventually
While records help achieve fame and recognition, it’s not something that Abheesh ultimately wishes for. In fact, he wants to use the feat to find a livelihood. “Though I am credited for world records, it doesn’t help me find a job,” he says.

He works as a temporary mechanic at the Erattupetta KSRTC depot. “Despite the records, I have not received any support from the government. I have been working in a temporary post for the past 10 years but they did not convert me as a permanent staff. If we visit foreign countries and introduce ourselves as a world record holder, they treat you with respect. But it’s different here. We are ignored. A world record cannot satisfy the hunger of the family,” he says.

In Video: Kerala art teacher makes Guinness record for longest caricature marathon 

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kochi News / by Arya UR / TNN / November 06th, 2017

Blind Football Academy to be opened today

Union Minister K.J. Alphonse at a function where membership of the Blind Football Academy was handed over to C.S. Falhan on Thursday.

First member receives membership

C.S. Falhan became the first member of the Blind Football Academy when he received the membership from Union Minister K.J. Alphons here on Thursday.

Sunil J. Mathew, Indian Blind Football Federation sporting director; Fr. Robin Kannanchira, director, Chavara Cultural Centre; and M.C. Roy, attended the event. The academy, which has been established by Indian Blind Football Federation, will be opened on Friday at Jogo Football arena near Bund Road at 4 p.m.

source:  http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / Kochi – September 14th, 2017

Former freedom fighter K.E. Mammen dies aged 96

Students of Holy Angels’ Convent greeting K. E. Mammen on his 94th birthday in Thiruvananthapuram. File Photo

The Kerala native had participated in the Quit India Movement

Freedom fighter K.E. Mammen, who had participated in the Quit India Movement, passed away here on Wednesday morning. He was 96. He had been under treatment for age-related diseases at a private hospital in Neyyatinkara for the past three months.

Mr. Mammen had always followed Gandhian principles. He became active in the freedom movement as a college student. He was first jailed for taking an open stand against C.P Ramaswamy Iyer, the then Dewan of the erstwhile Travancore state. After being denied an opportunity at continued studies here, he shifted to Madras Christian College in 1940. He was ousted from there too, following his participation in the Quit India Struggle.

In recent years, Mr. Mammen had been active in anti-liquor struggles in the state.

source:  http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Special Correspondent / Thiruvananthapuram -July 26th, 2017