Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Kumbalaghi Village Tour


Had been to Kerala for five days and one of the activities that I enjoyed was the Kumbalaghi Village tour.
It is run by a family with all the members of the family chipping in one way or the other.
I found it both interesting and educative. I mean I never knew that I could hold a live crab in the hand till they showed me how!
OK first things first. As soon as we arrived at the Kumbalaghi bridge, there was a guy who took us to this waiting boat which was to ferry us across.  Have traveled in a Vallom (boat) in Kerala earlier, but never expected to be ferried across seated on a nicely decorated chair in a Vallom. 

There were two oarsmen who did a good job with their poles.



There was a small predetermined halt inbetween where we were shown how toddy was tapped from the coconut tree. This tapping sound was very familiar to me in the early hours of dawn when everything is silent but this is the first time I did see it in close quarters.
You will be able to follow it in the attached video below. The guy was good enough to give us a taste of the toddy and I must say it was sweetish with a slight tang.

We proceeded to the Kallanchery island where we were welcomed with tender coconut water.


Climbing a coconut tree is not easy but this guy did it with ease using a ring around his ankles. The ring is made of natural stuff, either from the banana tree or the coconut tree strands.
Coconut tree is one tree where no part goes to waste. This was demonstrated by showing us how the husk was separated from the coconut shell with a “paara” (as known in the local language)


This husk is left to be soaked in water for about eight months after which it was beaten to extract the fibers.



 These strands were used to make a rope. The weaving of the rope is done by manually rotating two wheels. There are hooks on these wheels that rotate individually thus giving the required twist to the rope.

These thin ropes are again entwined to make them a thicker one. They are pulled taunt to remove the coils permanently. Here you can see some of the tourists trying their hand.

Earlier this was done by rolling the fibers between the palms of your  hand.

The coconut is grated and it can be used in the coconut based curries. There was a demonstration of how coconut milk was extracted.  



The palm of the leaf is used for making brooms, or it can be woven to be used for thatching roofs.
Here you can see John (one of the tourists) explaining how he uses these broom sticks as a substitute for Rawal Plug !!



These woven palm leaves fetches about Rs 6 per piece.
The ladies who demonstrated the weaving were 75 and 88 years old but their smile knocked off many years. 
Those big earrings (known as 'kunuku') were in fashion about a century ago and so is the white mundu and chatta
Then there was this lady who made intricate chains by weaving fine strands of the coconut husk with a needle.

No wonder the coconut tree is known as the Kalpavrikhsa

Coming to Crab farming, there are two types of crabs. The Green Crab (mud crab) and the Red Crab. The latter is very aggressive but it is usually the green ones that are cultivated.
This guy showed us how to hold a live crab in the hands so that we are safe from the pincers.

Shalu (the young lady who explained the process) said that these pincers can really chop off our fingers if they get a hold of it. They showed us how to tie a crab so that the pincers are rendered harmless, and this is how they are exported as the crabs can stay alive without food or water for more than a week.

Clam meat processing is another means of livelihood in this area and a demonstration was held to show how the meat was extracted from the shell.

The traditional method of fishing with the fish net was shown and our guy was lucky to get some medium sized fish.

I could see that some birds were not happy that their daily meal was taken away every time some tourists arrived.  

After displaying his catch our guy threw back the fish in the water, and our friend (the bird) looked happy and relaxed. Yes its the same bird...... they can elongate their necks real long.

We saw this coconut tree which was supported by another tree but on a closer look it gives the  impression that the coconut tree went through and through the other tree.


They had these Chinese nets too which was lifted to show us how they were operated. (it is usually operated at night for a good catch)


These small prawns comes under the delicious variety and fetches good value in the market.

Finally we were treated to a sumptuous lunch of sea food and that too right next to the river front with the cool breeze.




Truly God’s own country when it comes to nature.
I have captured most of it on video and managed to compress it to a six minute video which is attached below. Hope you enjoy it.

When Mr Martin (the one who runs the show) came to know that I write blogs he told me with a smile “I hope you will give some publicity to this place”
I thought, why not, after all many don’t know about this place and its ideal for those who make a trip to Kerala.
For those of you who are interested, click here for more info on this. 
And for those who want to have a bird's eye view of the 44 rivers that cross the state, culminating in 1500 kms of labyrinthine canals, here are three views of it.







Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Calcutta Part 3


The next day early morning I decided to take a stroll with my camera (as it was really bright by 6 am)
From far I could see this huge board and as I came closer I realised that it was the entrance to a garden. The bench and the lamp post indicates it to be a place to relax. (sometimes simple illustrations convey the meaning in a subtle way)


Early morning joggers were already leaving the park (and I thought I was the one who got up early! )


A little ahead of the garden is  the south entrance to the famous Victoria Memorial. There is a lot of history attached to the Victoria Memorial and how it was built but I won’t go into it.

 After paying a nominal entrance fee of Rs 5, I came directly in front of King Edward VII arch. The statue over the arch is really big but you fail to notice it as it is very high up


Before clicking I placed myself in such a way that it looked as if King Edward was looking directly at me. The horse’s one leg was raised, indicating that the rider was injured in action (if both the legs are raised, it depicts that the rider has died in action)
The lawns around the Memorial had a few people doing their stretching and breathing exercise


while the squirrels and the birds were happy to sunbathe in the  morning




Saw this tree on the lawns. One may link it to one of those contemporary modern art (with some inner meaning that the artist wants to convey) but to me it looks like the tree is decaying from one side and needs immediate attention


On the front right side of the Memorial is this placid lake with an old rusty pump. A good example of how rotary motion is converted to linear motion.

On the way back I decided to have tea and found many outlets  near the Gurudwara chowk.

People were having their breakfast either in their car or  on the benches provided.


Hot jalebis were being prepared and this guy had to literally work  fast to meet the demands of his customers

  
One unique thing that I observed was the people sitting outside the eateries. I mean its not only in Europe  that you find this phenomena of sitting out. . . . .

I feel there is a similarity here in Calcutta



Later in the day wifey was all excited as we were going to …… yes you guessed it right, we were going shopping ! I was more worried about getting to the place, but as usual the Calcutta taxi came to the rescue. He took us to the right place   (Dakshinapan) through the shortest route.
The whole complex had emporiums from different states of India. We decided to visit this one which was sort of a co-operative shop run by the government. The prices were reasonable and we did buy a little more than half a dozen including some Dakhai Jamdhani sarees. 



These ladies were very helpful in ‘selecting’ the sarees (and I learned a few lessons in salesmanship )
While the sarees were being selected I was more engrossed in the game of carom that was going on outside the shop.  My hands were itching as its been ages since I laid my hands on a striker.

After dinner we went for a stroll and found these pandals with deities all lit up and displayed at many of the by lanes.

Now, how can I end a write up on Calcutta without a picture of Durga? 
Truly a city of joy.

Next post. . . . . . life in Goa