Category Archives: My thoughts
The first time I saw the name Munroe Islands was almost a decade back. It was during a train journey from Kottayam to Thiruvananthapuram, that I noticed a small railway station called ‘Munroe Thuruthu’. It might have been the name that fascinated me. I used to wonder what was outside that railway platform. What the lives of the people there would have been like. I had imagined a place with British era bungalows.
Some where in 2019 after the one year anniversary of the devastating floods in Kerala, I happened to read a editorial article about the plight of the residents at Munroe Islands. The article went on to say that the residents live in water clogged houses through out the year and that many families have left behind their land and are looking for better living opportunities. And how the authorities have completed turned a deaf ear to the remaining people of Munroe Islands.
During one of my recent vacations to Kerala, we decided to visit this exotically name place called Munroe Islands.
We started of from our relative’s place at Kollam after a 1 hour drive the townscapes started giving way to the typical Kerala style villages. With narrow tarmac roads with foliage on both sides, interspersed with houses. And after every few kilometers there would be a junction, which had a handful of shops.
Then came the Ashtamudi Lake and now homes were replaced with ‘Home Stays’. There were canoes, ready to take tourists for a ride.
It was a little past lunch time so everyone in the group was hungry and we were on a look out for a decent place to eat before we continued further. We stopped to ask for a good suggestion and the a few local folks said that either we could drive to one of the home stays or they could take us on their canoes. After much thought and bargaining on the rates we decided to try the canoe ride.
We got on one of the boats one by one with the canoe shaking at each movement that we made. We almost were about to rethink our decision about getting on to the canoe, given the fact that my 2 year daughter was with us, but our boatsman Mr. Shiju assured as that the canoe was capable of handling even larger crowds and that there was nothing to worry. For some of us his assurance was not good enough so we enquired about life jackets, to which Shiju responded with a smile and told us that the water was not too deep.
The canoe moved through the canals. I have to admit that although I have been on boat rides in other parts of Kerala, like the famous backwaters of Alapuzha and Kumarakam and the likes of it. This was unlike any of those rides. There was a homely feeling to those narrow canals and the mangrove forests. The place was indeed beautiful. It was like on of those places right out of the travel guide pictures. It might not have been the English colony that I had once imagined but this was far more better. It really felt like God’s own country. Some of the Islands had houses. Yes they indeed were beautiful and might be perfect for visitors to enjoy the waking up to a cool breeze and the view of back waters, but one can only imagine the struggle of the every day people over there.
Mr. Shiju took us along those canals and tried to add in some adventure as well, there were areas where the mangrove branches were low lying and one had to lie down inside the canoe to cross them.
The whole place looked like scenes from postcards. After around 30 minutes of the ride. We approached a shack. Shiju docked the boat close to the shack. It was more like a small house with an extended shed. There was seating arrangement “inside”, as well as an outdoor seating arrangement. I couldn’t make much difference between the two.
We were served the regular Kerala rice with all sorts of fish and chicken curries. Maybe it was the hunger but everything seemed delicious to me. Although the shack was on the canal there was nothing out of the ordinary to see, It was just water on all sides. So I gave rest to my camera and concentrated on the food. Things were disappearing as soon as they were being bought to the table.
After lunch we got back on the canoe and we took a different route this time. We saw the infamous Perumon bridge. This railway bridge once
collapsed and caused on of the greatest railway tragedies in the history of Kerala. Shiju recollected the memories, he was small boy and some of his neighbors were on that train. We also saw the spot where the elephants cross the river for the Pezhumthuruthu temple festival. After dropping us at our car parking spot, The local men there asked us to take the traditional route that connected Kollam town to the Munroe Island, which involved crossing the lake on a ferry. Driving our cars onto a ferry was an exciting experience. And these ferries are no modern machines, They are old shaky boats, chugging through a 500m distance in about 10 minutes.
If any of my readers ever plan a trip to Kerala. I would suggest that they drop the regular touristy spots from their itinerary and try to include Munroe Islands as a replacement. You will not regret it and for the shutter bugs out there, you will thank me later.
For those of you who are wondering how the place got it’s name. After coming back from the trip I did search the internet and found that the place was named after Colonel John Munro who served as the Deewan of the King of Travancore.
I start my day by seeing the newspaper boy fling the paper as I watch its different pages landing all over the place. He has almost 10 seconds between the opening and closing of the lift at each floor, to fling papers to 4 different door steps. He is always in a hurry. I wonder why?
I get ready for office and leave, as usual the Bangalore roads are choked. I see drivers honking incessantly though they see that the poor chap in-front of them is as helpless as they are. At the traffic signals some drivers are impatient and race off even before the signals turn green. Everyone is in a hurry I still wonder why.
I reach office, and as I walk away from the parking lot I receive a call, It’s my mother. I pick up and reply, ‘Amma I’m on my way to office and I’m in a hurry…’
With another Onam round the corner, all Kerala restaurants are flaunting its customers with the promise of a Kerala feast or the Onam Sadya as it is more popularly known. I thought it appropriate to decode the Onam Sadya ( and no, Onam Sadya does not include beef and liquor).
The ‘Sadya’ is not specific to Onam, for a culture that believes in ‘Annadanam Mahadanam’, a feast is the part and parcel of all celebrations.
It is a time where kith and kin join together and have atleast one meal, which is prepared and savored by the entire family together.
The sadya is served on a plaintain leaf, that is laid on the floor where you sit with legs crossed( also known as Sukhasana in Yoga) infront of it. There is lot of information avaialble that explains the benefits of sitting in the Sukhasana posture while eating.
The items on the leaf are arranged in a particular order as in the picture below.
Pickles, chips and pappadam take the left corner, the side dishes or kootu curry takes the top row and the rice on the bottom row. This order is maintained so that the people who serve can identify what might be missing on a leaf and what needs to be served.
To really enjoy a Sadya one has to do a bit of planning in advance and has to be displined in sticking to the plan. The aroma of the steaming rice on a plaintain leaf makes it really difficult to stop yourself from over-eating. You have to decide on how much rice you are capable of eating. Divide this into three portions and during the first serving ask for only the first portion. One half of this portion of rice is to be enjoyed with parippu curry (dal), ghee and pappadam. The second half with Sambhar. The side dishes can be used to add more flavour to each scoop of rice you take.
Once you have savoured the taste of parippu curry with ghee followed by the taste of the moderatly spicy sambhar, with a touch of side dishes like olan, kichdi etc. Its time for your digestive system to get soem aid in digestion. This is where the second portion of the rice comes in. This portion is to be had with rasam or puliserry ( curry made from buttermilk). This gives a soothing effect to your tongue as well as your entire digestive tract.
Then comes the most favourite part of any meal, the deserts. For Sadya the desserts are the payasams. Sometimes you may have multiple varieties of payasam, but traditionally the Ada Pradhaman ( made from Ada, jaggery), followed by Palpayasam ( made with milk, rice and sugar). The payasams are to be had in the same leaf where you had rice. The sweet payasam mixed with the salt, sour and spices of the curries takes you on cloud nine. Usually a modern day meal ends with the desert, but for a sadya, the last part is the last portion of rice which should be had with curd. Ask any Tamilian and they will tell you how a meal is incomplete without curd rice. Having curd which is rich in lactobacillus, is like taking probiotics. This aids in digestion, prevents acidity from all the Payasam that you had. The sadya is usually served for lunch, and noon time in South India can be really hot, curd acts as a coolant to the body.
And then as a climax the guest folds the plantain leaf from top to bottom which is a gesture that he is happy with the food served. In a way it shows that the guest is grateful to the host for providing him with a meal and the host is grateful to the guest for having blessed him with his presence and well wishes. So the next time you are invited for a Sadya keep these in mind, enjoy the food and most importantly make it a point not to waste any of it. Happy Onam to all my readers.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 27,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Happy New Year Dear Readers,
I know that its a bit too late to wish a new year, but still its better late than never. I would like to thank all my readers and friends who have inspired me to write. I have been receiving comments about my blog and my articles through out the year. My facebook page has also gained a bit of activity. Towards the end of 2013 I do agree that I was unable to provide my readers with enough content, But I will try to make up for that in 2014.
My life also has changed over the last year. From corporate world I’m back to college life. Made new friends,
As the song goes
It takes every kind of people
To make what life’s about,
yeah Every kind of people
To make the world go ’round.
In the last year I have diverted my concentration to device driver development, and my dear readers can expect a few Blog posts on that, in the coming months.
Once again thank you all for reading and stay tuned 🙂
India is a country where women were once treated with dignity. The numerous goddesses in Indian mythology are examples to the fact that ancient Indians considered womanhood as a very important aspect of any civilization or culture.
But the recent incidents that have been happening in the country is disturbing and a disgrace to this beautiful civilization of ours. Mere words are just not enough anymore time has come to for the society to turn back and introspect our attitude towards women, when I say society it includes women too. Men alone cannot be blamed for the injustices happening around us. It is also a matter of how mothers educate their daughters to be bold and to stand against injustice at the same time it is a matter of men learning the fact that women too play an important part in the society and they just can’t be ignored like that.
So what can be done? I feel the solution is very simple, just treat them as equal and let them have their share of say in the society in family matters and let them have their personal life too. I wish everyone a happy Women’s day and lets still hope that the world will be a better place infuture for women.
It has been a long time since I posted something in blog and I didn’t notice it until a friend of mine pointed it out to me that I haven’t made any 2013 posts. So I started of thinking about topic on which I can blog. I thought about some technical stuff, I thought about some criticisms, or maybe my experiences in Chennai (Oh boy there is a lot to blog on that). But then I thought for the past 2 months, since I came to Chennai I have been experiencing some issues, Just when I thought my life is all settled and that I can sit back do the work go home and enjoy, as usual, Life has thrown me off feet, I was in a confused state for quite a few weeks, I could clearly sense that this is not the kind of work I want to do, not something monotonous and without risks. But when life throws a problem at you it also has a lesson along with it and a few references that go along with it. The first such Reference I got was from a TED video by Aravind Gupta and the two most important lessons I learned was “Sometimes you don’t know what you want to do, but it is definitely good to know what you do not want to do”. And I felt this was exactly my situation I don’t know where to go from here but I just knew that this was not my place in this big universe. But then I thought why is it that I don’t like my present situation, I have a respectable job, I have all the time in the world, so why should I quit all this, it is then that Life threw a second reference at me( I should thank my friend who physically showed me this reference) It was a lecture by William Deresiewicz on Solitude and leader ship( I would recommend this to all my readers). In this lecture Deresiewicz clearly explains what big corporations and MNC’s are like:
That’s really the great mystery about bureaucracies. Why is it so often that the best people are stuck in the middle and the people who are running things—the leaders—are the mediocrities? Because excellence isn’t usually what gets you up the greasy pole. What gets you up is a talent for maneuvering. Kissing up to the people above you, kicking down to the people below you. Pleasing your teachers, pleasing your superiors, picking a powerful mentor and riding his coattails until it’s time to stab him in the back. Jumping through hoops. Getting along by going along. Being whatever other people want you to be, so that it finally comes to seem that, like the manager of the Central Station, you have nothing inside you at all. Not taking stupid risks like trying to change how things are done or question why they’re done. Just keeping the routine going………………………………..
For too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. Who can answer questions, but don’t know how to ask them. Who can fulfill goals, but don’t know how to set them. Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they’re worth doing in the first place. What we have now are the greatest technocrats the world has ever seen, people who have been trained to be incredibly good at one specific thing, but who have no interest in anything beyond their area of expertise. What we don’t have are leaders.
What we don’t have, in other words, are thinkers. People who can think for themselves. People who can formulate a new direction: for the country, for a corporation or a college, for the Army—a new way of doing things, a new way of looking at things. People, in other words, with vision.
This lecture was an answer to my question, and I felt I shouldn’t be a part of a bureaucrats, like the ones I see around, life has much more to it than just earning money, its about how you can change lives not just others’ but yours too, Sometimes you just have to look beyond the horizon, sometimes you have to trust your inner guts. Even with all this said I still have no clear idea on what to do but definitely not the “rat race”.
I would like to thank all of my readers, who have supported me by reading, encouraging and criticizing, my work. At this juncture I would like to inform you all that I have a new web domain www.thebeautifullmind.com and my blog will be available at that address ( It still will be available at www.vineethkartha.wordpress.com).
The reason I selected this name is because I was Inspired by the movie A beautiful Mind IMDB. The movie is about John Nash( Nobel Laurette) who made significant contributions to The Game theory.
Anyway More on game theory and John Nash in a future Post.
Thank you All.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.
November 18th, Early in the Morning I was at the Chathrapati Sivaji International Airport, Back from my vacation trip to Kenya. As I was waiting for my Luggage I heard a security guy talking to a passenger about the death of Bal Thackeray, the Siv Sena leader, and that there was a strike all over Mumbai. I still had hopes on the prepaid taxi services and because I had learned from many people that Mumbai always keeps moving no matter what happens. Even during the Terrorist attack at Taj and CST, Mumbai kept its pace. But today was a different day Mumbai was like a ghost town, no one was to be seen on the streets, shops closed down, even the ATM counters where closed down. The city was calm and quite, but still it was a weird seeing the city without life. ( I should also comment here that the taxi guy charged me Rs. 4000 for a trip that would normally cost Rs. 600)