Thursday, 15 December 2016

Observation exercise on Venduruthy Bridge, Thevara, Kochi

The Parallel lines.

It was 10:15 am when I entered the narrow path between thick green bushes.After a few steps upwards I landed in front of a rail way track.Like a kid at a candy store, different choices ran through head. Go left, no… no... go right. Look at that, there is a small bridge over the road. If you choose that option then you are gathering unwanted attention. And people will see you standing up there, so you better take left.This was the kind of instruction brain was sending to body.
          Started walking through the track.How can someone declare Kerala as an ‘open deification free’ state, either side of the track was drastic.So the journalist started walking on the tack.The track was rusty so it is evident that a train has not passed through it in the last few hours.And another fact is passenger trains does not run there.
             Venduruthy bridge and a signal post with an orange light gave warm welcome. The Railway bridge was very lonely. There  was a man on the bridge with thick beard and hair. A very grumpy face in extreme lazy mood.The water beneath was in a hurry.From the place I started  walking towards the bridge, the place is covered with thick vegetation. A good  hide out for literally anything. To my utter astonishment there was another human being near by.But under the bridge, in a totally uncivilized ambience. He had a traumatic behaviour.Shaking head as if he is listening to some hard rock genre.Holding a black PVC piece, in a striped full sleeves and a loose trouser.He wore a piece of cloth like a sling bag.He took a coconut probably running water brought to him.I was little frightened as if he was going to through it towards me.But he was to eat it. He is substance abuser in a total devastated state.
       Leaving him back moved on to the abandoned old bridge through which some vehicles occasionally passed.Everything there lies parallel.New parallel to old, speed parallel to slowness, life parallel to death. Power pylons to fishing posts.Fish hooks in a long chain parallel to running water.
     The sun was just above my head making us perpendicular to each other. But there was no scorching heat.Why should that two teenagers one wearing an ID card inside a T-shirt come to the bridge in a normal school time and bid bye ending the conversation, fixing a next meeting time around 2:30 in the afternoon.And move away in opposite direction when a gentle man in Kakhi trousers came near them.The time was around 12 noon.By the time I’ve finished scaling both the bridges. The cool refreshing lime juice marked an end to our perpendicularity, me and sun.
      


Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Celebrating 90 years of 'inking'.


Sacred Heart School of Printing is going to celebrate its printing legacy of 90 years. The then Little Flower press was started in 1926.  Printing press made significant growth under the leadership of CMI fathers. The three storied building near Sacred Heart monastery at Thevara, Kochi has witnessed the growth of printing technology over 90 years. The first printing techniques and equipments now lead their retired life at Kerala Folklore Museum at Thevara. Initial printing mechanism was based on wooden blocks. Later the composing techniques came. Letters and symbols were moulded on metal, then they were arranged according to the text on a platform. Proof correction involved the rearrangement of blocks on the platform. The entire process was time consuming and difficult. But the technical expertise of  skilled labourers managed to do it with ease. In 1992 offset printing was introduced. Then the entire technology changed from layout to printing. Butter sheet and film techniques were initially used to make the basic stuff for printing. Desk Top Publishing and CTP technology are now reigning  the industry. Adobe page maker remains the favorite software for page developing. Employees were quiet cooperative in adapting to  changes.

Contributions of Little Flower Industrial press in the field of vocational training is considerably large. The deprived sections of  society who were not able to proceeded higher studies joined the training institute for job oriented training in binding, composing, creasing, tailoring and weaving. The press supplied fabrics for the traditional Portuguese costumes. The weaving section was in charge of production and training. Creasing deals with precise spacing, marking and  cutting of finished paper goods and printed matters. Now it is termed as ‘scoring'. A socio religious magazine was published form the press named Snehadeepam. Press had a publishing house named Janatha Book Stall which had more than 16 branches. One hundred plus employees including trainees worked in day and night shift. The main operation was manufacturing of cartons to pack different types of threads. The consignment was for ‘Kota' industries. This manufacturing operations remained as the major revenue generating activity of Little Flower Press. Due to lack of skilled labourers this production was stopped. Thus the institution began to face set backs from industry.

On the first of January 2013 Little Flower Industrial Press became SH School of printing. SH College principal Rev. Fr. Prasanth Palakkapillil is the director and Smt. Manu acts as the manager. More about the manager means more about an ordinary lady acted extraordinarily to safeguard a prestigious institution at a crucial time. Press faced a shut down situation due to various internal reasons. CMI Provincial House had no hesitation to hand over the operational responsibility to an experienced hand. Long 27 years of service for the press is something comparable to that of a mother who brought up a 27year old human being. The management is planning grant celebrations for 90th anniversary. BA students of SHSC get first hand trainings of copyediting at the press. Gradual businesses expansion projects are getting designed. SH School of Printing succeeded in making a good social contact. The people of Thevara consider this institution as something which is close to heart. This is due to the good will of the institution and the social intervention through vocational training initiatives.

'Lettering thoughts, Colouring imaginations'

The Kochi International Book Festival is at its 20th edition. The first edition was inaugurated by Justice V. R Krishna IIyer in 1997. With participation from writers, publishers, dealers and voracious readers from all over Kerala the book festival marks a significant position in the literature timeline of the state. The Kochi International Book Festival, (KIBF) is organized by the Antharashtra Pusthakotsava Samithy, Kochi (APS), a registered charitable society, established with a vision to promote reading and encourage writing by providing high quality literary activities, accessible to all. Relying mostly on volunteer efforts, APS has been able to silence the constant laments on the 'demise of reading' and has been able to inspire thousands of readers and young writers, through it's various activities. KIBF held annually is probably the only book fair in the world, organized by a voluntary organization. Says the team behind the scenes.

From 2007 onwards APS is organizing  annual Children's Book Festival. In a two month long festival, children are encouraged to display their home collection of books. One of the prestigious literary awards in Kerala –the Balamani Amma Award for lifetime achievement in language and literature has been instituted by APS. For the first time in Kerala, an award for the Best Publisher was also initiated by APS. Other awards are  for media personnel, both print and visual, Reader Prize for students. Every year a large group of selected literary enthusiasts call on eminent  writers, cultural leaders and have discussions; visit memorials, and organizations of importance to readers, pay tributes to the great masters, in a week long programme, in various parts of the state.

Guru Chemancheri Kunjiraman Nair inaugurated the book fest. Poet S. Rameshan Nair received the Balamani Amma Award from Dr. Satya Vrat Shasthri. Former R. S. S national leader R. Hari visited the book festival. Book Fest auditorium at Ernakulathappan Grounds, BTH Bharath Hotel, Ernakulam and St. Teresa’s College were the three venues of KIBF 2016. Book publishing was conducted at BTH Bharath Hotel and Author interactions and conversations were hosted at St. Teresa’s College. The stalls of different cultural and religious organizations grew in number compared to previous years. Prominent newspaper agencies also opened stalls, but less in number. POS swiping machine to tackle the currency crunch was a common scene in every stall. Demonetization made a negative impact on the fest. Book sales and stall bookings declined considerably.

The book festival had and impact of the present social tends too. The increase in number of religious stalls and the decrease in the number of new secular publishers was easily noticeable. Another missing  in the book festival was the  absence of foreign publishers. But there were many translated books available in stalls. The Paragon publishers had something interesting to showcase  in front of the book fest audience which included collection of history notes related to various top brands, prominent discoveries  compiled by National Geographic, Fox history and  Discovery channels etc.  Khadi products which are hand carved literature of Indian  villages had a wide range of finished goods in their stalls.  Wholesale book dealers  engaged in  seeking new business opportunities was a common sight. The possibilities and potentials of such a great venture seemed to be well explored by innovative people.
Mr. Haridas Secretary of the book festival  a down to earth man, managed to talk to us amidst of his busy schedule. According to him , compared to previous years the audience response was not up to the mark and the book  fest team will evaluate the decline in audience response. He is a high profiled corporate man volunteering for the  betterment of literature in our society. Many such people offer silent service to conduct and coordinate the book festival annually. This shows the  initiatives from society to safeguard values through literature. There was active participation of youth both as guests and as hosts. APS has its office at Kaloor towers near Kaloor, Kochi which is always open for discussions  for literary outreach initiatives. Panel discussions and cultural events were also arranged in the fest. The Kochi International Book Festival of 2016 came to an end with the closing ceremony on 11th Sunday evening 4:30pm. ‘As the number of programs increased organizers became busy and their friends too. The sweetens and warmth of gatherings once we had miss these days. But happy to see the growth of KIBF'. Says Sri. T Sateeshan in his book fest memories.

Kochi Muziris Biennale 2016


Art has  a transforming power, it eliminates man-made gaps. The third season of Kochi Muziris Biennale unites human begins under the flag of art and culture. KMB 16 is a well planned organized and executed art exhibition. The Biennale foundation create a space for the contribution of native people of Kochi. Auto-rikshas passing through  the streets whistling for Biennale and the sweat of head load workers filmed in the teaser video and the home stays which keep the gusts feel at home are the best examples. The rich cultural heritage of Kochi suits the ambience for Biennale. The inauguration ground was in a festive mood with  Chenda- melam  performed by Padma  Sri Peruvanam Kuttan Marrar.
        Kerala embraced the mega art expo wholeheartedly. The Biennale is receiving huge acceptance and support from different sector of the society. The cause which Biennale upholds is very relevant. The art expo  acts as a mode of social outreach through art and culture. Mr. Gawtam Pemmaraju a Mumbai base film maker shared his Biennale experiences. This is for the second time he is attending KMB. Gawtam is in a great work to make a documentary on Kochi Muziris Biennale. He  visited four art works in the short time. All of them were outstanding. Says the film maker. He was lucky to meet his brother and family at the venue. It was a sweet coincidence. KMB is becoming a reunion platform for people all over the world who share aesthetics.
   The feel one person experience each time he/she enters a Biennale venue is of the warmth of  humanity expressed through shapes, scribes and constructions. ‘The water of Arabian ocean is the epitome of adventures' says Mahatma Gandhi. The land near Arabian Ocean is witnessing an act of bravery to bridge the gap through the transforming power of art.