Monthly Archives: April 2016

Church award for Dayabai

The annual feast of the Bethel Saint George Orthodox Pilgrimage church at Nalila in the district commenced on April 23 and will conclude on May 5. Parish priest Fr. Jose M. Daniel said a highlight of the festival is the presentation of the Georgian award.

Social worker Dayabai has been selected for this year’s award and it will be presented to her at a function to be held at the church in the morning on May 1.

The function in this connection will be inaugurated by N.K. Premachandran, MP.

Former Chief Secretary Jiji Thomson will speak and the Metropolitan of Ahmedabad diocese Geevarghese Mar Yulios, will present the award.

The annual convention in connection with the festival will be held in the evening on that day.

source: / The Hindu / Home> National> Kerala / by Special Correspondent / Kollam – April 28th, 2016

Kannur to get state’s first jail museum

The quarantine block of the Kannur central prison, where the first jail museum in the state would come up (TOI photo)
The quarantine block of the Kannur central prison, where the first jail museum in the
state would come up (TOI photo)


Kannur central prison, the first central prison in the State that was established in 1869, is all set to create history, with the first jail museum in the State, which would come up in its quarantine block soon.

“The government has approved the project, and now we will have to consult an expert regarding the curatorial aspect as well as the interior design and selection and display of the items,” said jail superintendent Ashokan Arippa.

The museum, which is the first of its kind in the State, will showcase rare items like the uniform of the jail staffers since the British period, guns, important documents, as also the model of the gallows and the noose that were used to hang the prisoners in those days.

“We have a whole lot of records, and other items that would arouse the curiosity of the common man as well as history enthusiasts, and these would be displayed in the quarantine block of the jail, which is no longer in use,” he said.

The prison has a huge collection of gazettes from the British period to the post-independence period. The gazettes range from the St George Fort Gazette to the ones with the emblem of Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments. The ones with Kerala government emblems give a picture of its transformation from a single elephant and coconut tree in the emblem to its present form, said jail officials. The jail which executed 75 convicts after 1947, the last one being Ripper Chandran who was hanged in 1991, would also display the convict record.

Since the documents are very old, and also highly valuable from a historic perspective, they have to be preserved carefully for which the support of an expert would be sought.

A segment of the records with the details related to the leaders imprisoned during freedom struggle, and also the records pertaining to the 1921rebellion apart from the Kayyur struggle have already been retrieved and this would also be part of the exhibits. Also, there are some rare items like an old water pump manufactured in Manchester, England, by Crossley Brothers, which was recently recovered from the junk. Similar articles would also find place in the museum.

The quarantine block was established at a time when the medical facilities were limited to check communicable diseases. So the prisoners were first made to stay here for a few days to confirm they have no contagious disease before shifting them to the cells.

The authorities selected this double-storey building with twenty cells, because it is no longer in use and also because of its vintage value. Once they get the expert opinion about the way the museum should be designed, the budget would be fixed and the work would begin, said the jail authorities.

source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Kozhikode / TNN / April 29th, 2016

The man who taught reverse reading

Cartoonist Toms
Cartoonist Toms

Toms, till his last breath, held on to the temperament of a rustic Kuttanadan farmer

That one page embodied entertainment for Malayalis for more than one generation. It was an age sans TV, comedy shows, mimicry or the new media, and no surprise, Bobanum Moliyum which appeared on the last page of Malayala Manorama Weekly became the weekly entertainment slot for the family. And Toms, the creator of the cartoon siblings, earned for himself a niche slot among the cartoonists.

“It was pure comedy though at times it slipped to slapstick variety,” says Raju Nair, cartoonist. However, he will be remembered for the creation of a peculiar structure for the cartoons, which has been copied several times,” he said.

At one level, the cartoon talked about the escapades of the two siblings. However, there was another layer where the supporting characters talked about and commented on concerns of middleclass social realities, providing a continuum for the strip.

Toms, alias V.T. Thomas, till his death, held on to the temperament of a rustic Kuttanadan farmer. And so were his characters, most whom he collected from real life. The two siblings were from his neighbour’s house in Kuttanad. Their father, a ‘non-practicing’ advocate, was modelled on a personal friend of his, who later left Kerala in search of a job only to return. The henpecked panchayat president and his imperious wife too were real life characters he picked up from his own village while the nameless political leader, a later addition, was a composite character.

Then there was Appy Hippy, his take on the rebel youth of the sixties and seventies. The person who provoked Toms for that character still lives in the town.

Says Sebastian Paul, who appeared for Toms in his legal battle with the management over copyright of the cartoons: “Toms was not a political cartoonist, but his cartoons were perfect political cartoons where he brought out the underlying politics of the social realities against the backdrop of the contemporary social milieu.”

He was the man who taught Malyalis the art of ‘reverse reading’ ‘(reading the weeklies from the last page to the first), Mr. Paul said. According to him, it was this underlying political satire in his cartoons which prompted the highly politicised Malyali reader to go first to the last page.

Says Mr. Nair: “Every new weekly started in the height of the “Ma Publication” spree wanted one cartoon strip modelled on the original. But now it is a new generation with a different perspective and temperament and a whole lot of new media the cartoon has to cater to. Only a new generation cartoonists and story providers will be needed to take these characters forward,” he said.

source: / The Hindu / Home>  National> Kerala / by George Jacob / Kottayam – April 29th, 2016

Google honour for Kochi techies

Wading through the plethora of recipes on the Internet for an easy-to-cook dish, six engineering graduates were led to their eureka moment.

It all began with the culinary dilemma of six young bachelors.

A screenshot from the video of the app.
A screenshot from the video of the app.

Wading through the plethora of recipes on the Internet for an easy-to-cook dish, six engineering graduates were led to their eureka moment. “How about forming a start-up and developing a recipe book app?”

A year later, the app named Recipe Book, refined by artificial intelligence with over six lakh recipes, is basking in the glory of being picked as the Editor’s choice in Google Play. “It is the first app from India to receive such an honour,” said authorities at the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) Startup Warehouse at Infopark, where the start-up is based.

Even as that recognition had barely sunk in, came another: “We have been told that our product will be featured in the prestigious Google I/O, an annual global event showcasing creative coders and their innovative products, to be held in California next month. A Google team is also on its way to profile our company,” Nikhil Dharman, one of the founding members of Recipe Book, told The Hindu.

The app, which boasts a million downloads in over 67 countries on Google Play Store, shot to the top in USA Google Play placements on April 14.

The integration of ‘snap n make,’ an artificial intelligence-driven smart feature, into the app in December seems to have won over the Google Play editorial board.

The features works on a highly imaginative level — take a snap of any food ingredient and the app identifies its diverse features, and a mere shake of the phone will list out all possible recipes using that ingredient.

“We are working on a more refined version of the feature, ,” said Bestin Jose, another founding member.

source: / The Hindu / Home> National> Kerala / by M.P. Praveen / Kochi – April 29th, 2016

Documentary on Pinarayi Vijayan


Kochi :

Writer and critic M K Sanu will release a documentary on CPM PolitBuro member Pinarayi Vijayan at the Children’s Park Theatre here on Thursday. Film personalities Renjith, Renji Panicker and the documentary’s director K R Subhash will attend the function scheduled for 12pm.

Pinarayi Vijayan will also attend various programmes in the district on Thursday in  connection with the campaign programmes of the various LDF candidates.  He will attend meetings at Kalamassery at 10 am, Perumbavoor  at 4 pm, Kunnathunad at 5 pm and Aluva at 6pm.
source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Kochi / by Express News Service / April 28th, 2016

Inventor of Vageeswari Camera Passes Away


Alappuzha  :

Inventor of Vageeswari wooden field camera K Karunakaran alias Thankappan, 90, a native of Alappuzha, died here on Tuesday. The Vageeswari cameras were once known as the best field cameras in the world.

These cameras were the contribution of Alappuzha to the world and it was as famous as Nikon and Canon brands. The Vageeswari camera shop and manufacturing company was started by Karunakaran at Mullackal in Alappuzha in 1945.The cremation was held.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Kerala / by Express News Service / April 20th, 2016

Boost Your Spidey Instincts


Thiruvananthapuram :

Remember those good old days when we used to yell out loud ‘I am Spiderman’, mimicking his each and every move, reciting his famous dialogues, yet disappointingly not making it to the gravity-defying Spidey climb! Seems like the students of Marian Engineering College, Thiruvananthapuram, have an answer to our woes!

As a part of their final year project (B Tech Mechanical Engineering), Dheeraj Sudesh M, R Aditya, Selva Manoj R and Sooraj K built a ‘vacuum assisted climber’ under the guidance of Ajith C Menon, assistant professor in the department. “Top twenty videos of the ‘You have been warned’ series kindled the idea in us,” said Selva Manoj, one of the team members.

This project which works against gravity enables one to climb any wall – be it glass, brick or concrete, claim the students. It works on the principle of suction created by the vacuum motors with the help of impellers placed within them. The user can scale his way up by means of a pressure release mechanism with the assistance of two suction pads attached to the backpack and foot stirrups. The machine can climb efficiently up to an height of 30 metres, the students said. However, due to safety considerations they had to limit their testing to ten metres in the college premises.

The machine, which cost around Rs 25,000, works on direct AC current and on a voltage of 220 Volts. It has an extension cord of four metres attached to the backpack to connect it to power supply. The product finds application in military, construction and rescue operations, Sooraj K, the team leader, said. The students said they would like to work further on the product to make it noise-free. This project, which is graded as one of the best one under the Marian Innovation Technology along with two other projects, received a financial aid of Rs 5,000.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / by Express News Service / April 26th, 2016

Roger That! Mathachan Ashan Keeps Ham Radio Buzzing

Mathachan Ashan operating his ham radio at his residence in Idukki (photo courtesy: Vincent Pulickal)
Mathachan Ashan operating his ham radio at his residence in Idukki (photo courtesy: Vincent Pulickal)

Idukki :

When connectivity is no longer a barrier in this digital age, does using wireless telegraphy for communication make any rational sense? Apparently Yes!

Mathachan Ashan, the first ham radio licensee in the district, is operating it successfully, especially at times of natural calamities.

For Septuagenarian, Puthanpurayil P M Mathew, better known as Mathachan Ashan among his dear and near ones at Ambalakkavala in Kattappana here, ham radio is not just a means of communication, but an integral part of his life. It was in 1982 that he bagged the licence for running a ham radio for the first time in the history of Idukki.

He later upgraded his license to first grade in 1995. The Central Ministry of Communication and Information Technology’s Wireless and Planning and Coordination wing is the authority that provides ham radio licences. Hams have to pass a test consisting of three papers on rules and regulations on ham radio, fundamental theory of radio, and morse code. Now, around 50 hams are there in the district alone.

People used to rely on him for passing urgent messages when even land phones were not so popular and available. So he is still treasuring all his old communication devices. Mathachan Ashan, who got lured into the world of electronics when he happened to see a radio exhibition at his school, also interacts with hundreds of other hams in and out of the country every day through his ham radio.Ham radio plays a crucial role when communication facilities get damaged in disaster like situations and wherever mobile phone coverage is very weak. Even the governments approaches private hams, at times of calamities. The district ham radios were in the forefront to help out the government for communication during Thekkady tragedy and  Pullumedu stampede occurred. Mathachan Ashan remembered how he contacted the relatives of Kattappana natives at the time of Peruman tragedy and Kashmir flood through his ham radio.

“Through the ham radio, I and my friends tracked seven of the doctors from Erankulam who went missing in Kashmir during the flood. “Later, they contacted to thank us. It’s really a great feeling when we realise later that we did a big thing,” says Mathchan Ashan.

source: httpP:// / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Kerala / by Sruthi Paruthikad / April 25th, 2016

Guv opens SBT’s banking museum


No urban citizen can do without availing banking services, sometimes in the form of a cash transfer or maybe a financial loan. But a majority of us are ill-informed about the tremendous evolution the banking system in India has been through. Filling this vacuum will be ‘Footprints,’ the official banking museum set up at Kowdiar by the State Bank of Travancore.

The museum was inaugurated by governor Justice P Sathasivam in a function presided over by the managing director of SBT Jeevandas Narayan. Also a book titled ‘Tradition of Trust’, depicting the bank’s history, was released by the governor by handing it over to royal family member Gouri Lakshmi Bai.

The museum will walk the visitors through the history of both the bank and the banking culture that prevailed in Kerala. Started as the Travancore Bank back in 1946 by the then Maharaja Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, the bank was expected to serve as the central bank of the princely state of Travancore. On display at the museum are age-old banking instruments like cheque books, accounting ledgers, share certificate and share agreements. Also invoking curiosity is a larger collection of coins across different time frames in Indian history.

Artefacts from across 20 earlier branches of the bank were collected and brought in to be exhibited at this museum. “The initiative is highly welcomed by the branches from across 18 states we have presence in,” said Jeevandas Narayan. “The bank has a rich heritage that the public is often unaware of and that prompted us to establish such a museum,” he added.

“Banks have a crucial role to play in the lives of the common man. Coming from a family of farmers I had the opportunity to visit banks at a young age with my father. When I look at the facilities and ease of doing business now compared to then the scenario has undergone a progressive change,” said P Sathasivam while inaugurating the museum.

source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Thiruvananthapuram / TNN / April 24th, 2016

To dye for…


Dyed fabrics, Japanese Shibori and Rajasthani bandhni, made in Kochi? Sri Lankan designer Merian Dissanayake takes the art and craft of dyeing to a new high

The Rajasthani bandhni, tie and dye, sari made in Kochi? The famed Japanese printing Shibori from a unit in Kaloor? This may cause surprise and doubt but Sri Lankan designer Merian Dissanayake is scaling the art of dyeing to a new high in the city. Till a couple of years ago most boutiques, big and small, used to depend on North India for dyeing and shading fabrics as there was no unit doing so locally.

“It was either Delhi or Coimbatore but not Kochi,” says Merian who today is perhaps the biggest supplier of dyed fabrics to the local market – textile shops and boutiques. She set up her boutique The Reeta The Rose on Convent Junction recently.

Coming from a garment and textile business family from Colombo, Merian had this stream of business in her blood. Here tryst with Kerala began with her sister’s marriage to a Malayali from Thiruvananthapuram. That brought her mother to Kerala frequently. In 2007 Merian enrolled for a course in fashion designing at the Mangalore University. Her hobby, modelling, brought her to Kochi to participate in related shows. Simultaneously she did cameo in films.

The world opened itself to her through small assignments, modelling related travels and the fashion industry.

It took her to Mumbai where she says she learnt the ropes of textile and design industry working her way diligently to become senior creative assistant under designer Anand Gupta.

“I collected a huge experience in Mumbai; I learnt dyeing fabric in large volumes and working with 20 to 30 embroiderers, working for 10 to 12 hours with samples,” recounts Merian who is fluent in Hindi and Malayalam. Back in Colombo Merian’s family run Sriya Garments manufacturing units that produce thousands pieces of garments a day. She worked in the business for four months before deciding that the excitement of producing personalised couture was her niche and not mechanised and factory produced clothes.


At The Reeta The Rose, named after her mother Reeta Rose, she not only dyes fabrics but also does hand embroidery. “That’s my forte along with dyeing,” she says adding that her prêt line is on the cards.

Having worked in Mumbai and Kerala she makes a pertinent observation. “People in Kerala are discerning. They think before buying and collect all information they can, unlike in Mumbai people buy casually and everything.”

On her moving away from modelling, a hobby that gave her immense joy and exposure, into full time designing and a business venture Merian is pragmatic. “Modelling lasts five to six years and involves lot of travelling. I had that in mind.” She has modelled with FFK (Fashion Federation Of Kerala), FTV, Reliance Shows, Surya TV Live, Oh My Gold shows.


Setting up a business venture in a different country and a new city has not been intimidating. She has learnt from experience. Her unit at Kaloor employs seven outstation dyers and embroiderers. Before she established herself, Merian would take orders, collect and deliver fabrics herself. She dyes for most big stores in the city – Milan, Seemas in Aluva, D-Fab, Club Burgoyne, S-Designs and Zatin to name a few. She supplies to berries in Thiruvananthapuram.

The expertise of tie and dye and of Shibori is taught to the karigars personally. “Give me white fabric and I will match it with the shade you want,” she says confidently adding that she dyes not only fabrics but beads, ribbons and all accessories required to match the material.

Her inspiration is her grandmother who she says would embroider the most beautiful motifs. The wedding dress for former President Ranasinghe Premdasa’s wife was made by her. She remembers her grandmother talking about the intricate work of the karigars from Kolkata who worked at their unit. “Now my karigars here ask me to take them to Colombo for work,” she says. It’s come a full wheel for her, Colombo to Cochin and now pleas of taking The Reeta The Rose to the place it originally came from. Merian has come a long way…

source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus> Society / Priyadershini S / Kochi – April 22nd, 2016