How will the Vizhinjam port affect Colombo?

The first consequential announcement that the ECT deal is kaput came from Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. Early last week he was reported to have assured the port workers that the East Container Terminal (marked East on the map) “will neither be sold to any country nor handed over to any country for administration.” The PM’s announcement came as a surprise to everyone, most of all to the Indian High Commission in Colombo. It was not clear if, when and how India and Japan were formally advised of the government’s decision. It was clear, however, that the Prime Minister was trying to diffuse a gathering political storm at home and was not worrying about diplomatic niceties.

Both local politics and diplomatic caution were clearly lost on the Indian High Commission spokesperson who blurted out the same day that he wanted “to reiterate the expectation of the Government of India for expeditious implementation of the trilateral Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) signed in May 2019 among the Governments of India, Japan and Sri Lanka for the development of ECT with participation from these three countries.” It was hardly the way to express India’s position given the context in which the Sri Lankan Prime Minister had announced his government’s decision. Indian diplomacy can still learn a lot from the Chinese about being suave in dealing with smaller countries with worrisome politics. That difference first showed up way back when in Bandung, between Jawaharlal Nehru’s impatience and Zhou Enlai’s charm.  

Never mind. By Wednesday, Prime Minister Modi (Nehru’s current antithesis) was calling the Sri Lankan PM to felicitate Sri Lanka’s 73rd Independence anniversary. He was the first foreign leader to do so, beating Xi Jinping to the wire. The Chinese President later sent a message of felicitations to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Mr. Modi may have taken the high road in his call with the Sri Lankan PM, without harping on the ECT deal cancellation, and leaving it to his High Commissioner in Colombo to formally register a protest with the Sri Lankan government. High Commissioner Gopal Baglay has reportedly done just that, and has called on the President and the Prime Minister separately in a double registration of India’s protest. 

What will India do?

What will India do? For now, it is all a matter of speculation. Will it retaliate by reducing the transhipment of Indian goods via Colombo? Indian goods account for the largest volume (70%) of cargo in Colombo, and according to Indian commentators “Colombo tranships more Indian goods than all of India’s own ports.” Sri Lankan commentators have noted that without the Indian volume, Colombo will not be able to maintain its current port-status in the world – 25th largest container port and 19th best-connected. 

The new port in Vizhinjam near Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, has been touted as a response to this regional imbalance, and as a new deep water (20-24 metres) port Vizhinjam is anticipated to be India’s first Mega Transshipment Container Terminal. Coincidentally or not, the private developer of the port is none other than Adani Ports apparently India’s leading private sector port developer and operator. The USD 930 M port is being developed as a Public-Private BOT undertaking with the Kerala State government as owner and the Central government providing USD 110 M gap funding support. Prime Minister Modi is also reported to have mused about a new transhipment port in the Great Nicobar Island, which too could be a threat to Colombo’s current status. 

How will the Vizhinjam port affect Colombo? According to former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who joined the ECT fray with his own little statement, the now defunct 2019 ECT Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) that his team had negotiated included the condition that committed India to treat the Kerala and Colombo ports equally without giving preference to the new Thiruvananthapuram port. Will India continue to do that? Or will it divert and reduce Indian transhipment through Colombo? Could it be that India cannot do anything about its cargo that now passes through Colombo because it suits India’s own distribution requirements. For example, increasing the country’s cargo handling in Kerala, at the expense of Colombo, might require significant expansion in the ground transportation infrastructure within India. So, Sri Lanka might be left with the better of both worlds. Keep the ECT as a sovereign enterprise and still receive the same volume of Indian transhipment cargo.  

More speculatively, how will India and Japan respond to what the Indian media is calling as Sri Lanka’s “compensatory offer” of the West Container Terminal (WCT) to be developed as a Public Private Partnership undertaking. As can be seen in the map above, the contentious East Terminal is partially developed, whereas the West Terminal (that will be to the left of CICT in the map) will be an entirely new undertaking involving a full construction component. Colombo government sources have apparently touted it as a bigger and better deal for India and Japan. According to the same media reports, sources in Colombo have indicated that the Indian response to the WCT offer has been “ambiguous” and “almost rejecting.” Indian officials, on the other hand, are said to have countered that there had been “no formal communication about WCT” from the Sri Lankan side. I have not seen any formal government announcement about the compensatory WCT offer by Sri Lanka.

As well, to Indian media queries about the likelihood of a future political opposition to WCT down the road, the Sri Lanka government sources have reportedly ruled out  “chances of any further trouble on the cabinet-proposed West Terminal offer.” Can anyone be so sure that the ECT history will not be repeated for a future WCT deal? If an apparently smaller ECT is so crucial to be kept under 100% Sri Lankan control, how could the bigger WCT be given to foreigners in the future, and that too to the Adani group that is allegedly in cahoots with the Modi government?

Port Development

The first major development in the Colombo harbour was the late 19th century (1872-85) construction of the Southwest Breakwater. It was directly undertaken by the colonial government without hiring contractors to keep costs within estimates and loans repayable. Both were accomplished successfully. The loan repayment was made entirely out of the port revenue. The cost of construction was kept lower than normal because the labour used was convict labour supplied cheap by the Prisons Department, which collected less than minimum wages as its revenue and fed the convicts with “wholesome food.” The convicts were preferred apparently because of their “superior physical strength … and a certain degree of regimentation.” It was also because of the short supply of regular “coolies,” local or Indian, and their alleged lack of physical strength and regimentation. The harbour expansions thereafter were few and far between. Notable milestones are the conversion to a “sheltered harbour” in 1912, and the completion of the Queen Elizabeth Quay and expansions in 1954. 

Much container cargo has transhipped through the Colombo port in the intervening years, but all of the current container terminals were added only after 1985. Three of them under the protection of the old breakwaters – the Jaye Container Terminal (JCT), Unity Container Terminal (UCT) and the  South Asia Gateway Terminal (SAGT) – were developed between 1985 and 1999. The South Asia Gateway Terminal is the expansion of the old Queen Elizabeth Quay and is the first and perhaps the most successful Public-Private Partnership undertaking in the Port and in Sri Lanka. 

The subsequent expansion of the port facilities has been under the umbrella of the South Harbour Development Project, the technical studies for which were completed in 2006.  The South Harbour expansion is a significant addition to port’s terminal and operational capacities. The expansion is based on the construction of new breakwaters and the development of three new container terminals, viz., The Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT, already built, and known previously as the South Container Terminal); the now famous East Container Terminal; and the now-touted-compensatory West Container Terminal. 

But the procurement process for developing these facilities has been getting murkier and murkier with every passing cargo ship. Not everything was transparent in the selection of the consortium for the CICT facility, although the main consultant and the contactors apparently did a good job of work, at least according to the project evaluation report of the Asian Development Bank, which has been the prime lender for the South Harbour undertakings. And nothing was made transparent about the negotiations and the eventual agreement for the ECT. Why?

The answer may lie in the internal decision making processes of the government of Sri Lanka. Rather, the answer is in the lack of any process for the procurement of public goods and service, big or small, local, or foreign. Things get complicated when public undertakings are large and involve foreign investment and participation. Add to the lack of process in procurement, the lacuna of parliamentary scrutiny and overall transparency. In fact, there is no better and more compact example for the deteriorations in process, scrutiny, and transparency in the matter of public undertakings in Sri Lanka than what you will find in the saga of the recent developments in the port of Colombo and its terminals.

The original article is written by Sh. Rajan Philips

Posted in Business, Construction, Infrastructure, News, Projects, Vizhinjam | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment Crafting Hues for Humanity

Karimadom is a clothing label entitled to bring hues of humanity by handcrafting a modest fashion brand. Karimadom brings out the season’s most coveted apparel trends, gorgeous outfits, breathtaking prints, pretty hues and everything else that matters for a modest lifestyle. Karimadom brings you the most elite and exclusive collection of apparels in modern, contemporary designs that range from casual/everyday wear and high street fashion to limited edition festive/occasion wear.

Karimadom sticks to its rich tradition in delivering the best from their kind. This brand exclusively strives for the empowerment of women in Karimadom Colony, a slum located near the capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuramm.

The brand is ideated, manufactured and managed by a women grid who are socially enthusiastic about contributing something to society and empower women.


Karimadom is a clothing brand crafted by the women of Karimadom colony in Thiruvananthapuram through the ‘Sewing Hope’ project by Urvi Foundation.

Sewing Hope

This project ‘Sewing Hope’ for the well being of slum people in Kerala. It tries to enable the underprivileged population to lead dignified lives through productive work and build sustainable communities.

Karimadom is a slum in the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram city in India. The slum is almost 90 years old with about 600 households. The colony is economically, socially, culturally and educationally backward. 89 % of the population do not have a permanent source of income. Lack of proper resources for the satisfaction of basic needs makes them more vulnerable. They face discrimination by the wider society.

For the overall development of the Karimadom colony, the project focuses on the empowerment of women, community development and livelihood security. So establish a branded clothing manufacturing unit by giving skill training to unemployed women of the slum community and sell them at an affordable price and Profit sharing to the needy and thereby develop a culture of modest way of clothing.



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Karyavattom & Kazhakkoottam: A Tale of Two Villages

Karyavattom and Kazhakkoottam were once the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram city. Eventually, these sleepy villages became a ‘Technopolis‘. The Kerala University campus is 50 years old and Technopark is 25. Technocity and The Sportshub stadium are recent additions. High rise flats have mushroomed. The roads have widened and are still being widened. The population is truly metropolitan. Like all new cities that appear like a flash mob, most of its new inhabitants are unaware of the local history while they themselves shape the future of the place and presently, its history too.

Kazhakkoottam Mahadeva temple   Kazhakkoottam Mahadeva Temple |Photo Credit: Achuthsankar S. Nair

Is Karyavattom a place where people (or some argue, the scheming landlords, Ettuveettil Pillamar) sat in a circle (vattam) to chat (kaaryam parayan)? Totally unlikely. Vattom is seen in the names of many places in Kerala such as Kuthiravattom and Aanathalavattom and is merely a generic reference to a place. The name ‘Karyavattom’ arguably originates from the word ‘Kaaryakkar’, a reference to temple employees. Personnel associated with Kazhakkoottam Mahadeva Temple/Thrippadapuram Temple near the Kerala University campus may have created settlements near the temple.

The ‘karyam’ in Karyavattom is seen embedded in other nearby places such as Sreekaryam (Sreekaaryakkaran refers to the superintendent of a temple, according to Herman Gundert). Old timers refer to Sreekaryam as ‘Cheeyaram’. There is also a place Kariyam, near Sreekaryam, but the ‘Kari’ in it may also refer to farmlands as in Raamankari in Kuttanad. To comprehensively prove that Karyavattom does not originate from the story of the Ettuveettil Pilla family, one needs to locate references to the place name prior to 1700s.

What about Kazhakkoottam? ‘Kazhakkoottam’ may have originated from ‘Kazhaka Koottam’, kazhakam being a reference to the temple authorities (a temple chiefly considered in its political bearing, according to Gundert). Kazhakkoottam Temple is ancient and lends credibility to the above arguments.

Kumizh Theertham pond           Kumizh Theertham pond   | Photo Credit: Achuthsankar S. Nair

There are other theories for the name of the place. ‘Kazha’ could be timber used for construction or ship building. In Mathilakam Records of 1770 AD, the place is mentioned as ‘Kazhai Koottam’. Dense plantation (koottam) of kazha could have been there in the place. One of the traditional houses in the area, near Arasinmoodu, bears the name Kootta thengu. Yet another explanation is that there could have been a Kazhaki temple (village goddess) during the Sangam period. V.V.K Valath opines that ‘Kazhaki Koottam’, gathering in front of ‘Kazhaki’, could have become Kazhakkoottam. There is an Amman shrine near the Kazhakuttom Shiva temple to lend credibility to this argument. Naduvattam Gopala Krishnan mentions that Shuka Sandesham, a work of the 13th century, refers to travel from Thiruvananthapuram to Kollam through a place full of Kazhukan (eagles). He opines it could be ‘Kazhuka Koottam’ that became Kazhakkoottam. But the travel from Thiruvananthapuram to Kollam could also have been through the sea-side instead of the national highway we see now. Unnineeli Sandeham describes travelling from Thiruvananthapuram towards North and refers to the route Palkulangara-Thirippapoor-Muthala Pozhi-Varkala.

There is then the belief that the temple was consecrated by Kalakkode Maharshi, who lived near Kumizh Theertham, a pond, a few kilometres away from the eastern part of the temple, which is extant even today, and the place was named after him as Kalakkode. That Kalakkode could transform to Kazhakkoottam is not tenable. Among all the explanations, one tracing Kazhakkoottam to ‘Kazhakam’ of Mahadeva temple seems the most tenable.

Ward and Conner (1818) refer to Kazhakkoottam temple along with the major temples in Thiruvananthapuram. They wrote: “The most ancient building is the pagoda on Terumalla Covil hill. Besides the above, there are Hindoo temples, at the following places viz. Trivandrum, Ooloor, Colatoor, Cullicootum and Cuddanumcolum.”

They describe the place thus: “Cullicoottum is a populous village on the high road 7.5 miles N.W. by .5 W of Trivandrum; a pagoda stands on the North of the road, the roof covered with plates of brass, having a gilded minaret on the top. An agarum lies to the South of it dedicated to the Goddess Mahadavee, where a festival is annually celebrated and attended by the Rajah, who has a palace on the bank of the reservoir East of it.”

Article Courtesy: “The Hindu”

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Eve’s Coffee: Games, Books & More on Board

“Hey Alexa! Play a pop song,” Eve’s Coffee shop owner Beta Jayakumar calls out to the Amazon Echo resting beneath the large TV in the library. A chess set, ready to be played, sits between two green lounge chairs near a wall full of books. As music fills the vibrant interiors, he leads me to a green-painted room with three large tables on the right and a smaller one on the left along with a football table. In the shelves near the entrance are a TV, an X-box gaming console and joysticks while the cafe counter is at the far end. In short, life is good at Eve’s.

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Crafted out of the first floor of Beta’s family house on Pettah-Venpalavattom road in Thiruvananthapuram, a steel stairway besides the house takes you to the coffee shop above. Entering a small waiting room, you are welcomed by a framed poster of Kung Fu Panda with the quote ‘there is no charge for awesomeness’. From there you go to the old balcony, which has been turned into a vibrant space, with tables overlooking the main road while chalk art, done by students of Government College of Fine Arts Thiruvananthapuram, adorns the black wall next to it. Further in lies the library and the cafe room.

But what makes Eve’s truly unique are the board games that Beta offers for customers to play free of cost, making it the first board game-based coffee shop in Thiruvananthapuram city. Shelves in the counter room are stacked with more than 130 games that he has painstakingly collected from all over the world.

“Some of it cost me a fortune. The most expensive and toughest of the lot are kept in the middle shelf,” Beta says, pointing to the boxes kept in the space above the TV.

Although born in Thiruvananthapuram, Beta grew up in Abu Dhabi. He returned to India to do his MBA, but went back after that and worked for years in a construction company there as HR manager. As is usually the case, Eve’s was born out of the corporate executive’s dreams of getting out of the corporate loop to open a coffee shop somewhere far away. “This is something I have wanted to do for a long time. Since Thiruvananthapuram is where my family is from, the choice was obvious. But the idea for board games came later,” he adds.


Off the grid

People, especially youngsters, sitting in cafes for long periods working on their phones or laptops was a ubiquitous sight for Beta during his days in UAE. “I myself have done that several times. So I thought it would be quite an achievement if I can get them off their gadgets while they are here in Eve’s. Plus, a board game cafe was something new to Thiruvananthapuram city,” Beta says. The other day, he adds, a guy was at the coffee shop with his friend and he was on his phone for a long time. When Beta enquired, he said it has become impossible for him to not check for updates every now and then.

“I asked him if he would mind playing a game of Jenga with his companion. He agreed but said that the phone would be with him while he played. The game went on for more than 40 minutes and the whole time he did not touch the phone even once” he adds.

A hands-on solution

The entrepreneur believes the addiction to smartphones and tablets is a serious issue and board games are his solution to the problem. Beta and his wife, Jessa Sheena, often join the visitors for games. “We show them how to play if it is a game we know. There are many in the collection that we are yet to learn.”

Beta’s favourite game is Happy Salmon, a fast, amusing card game that comes in a pretty salmon-shaped pouch. The adults game Cards Against Humanity is another house favourite while Jessa loves watching players getting the shock of their lives playing Bad Dog, a game which involves a battery-run English bull dog and several plastic bones.

A bookworm’s haven

The fun at Eve’s doesn’t end with board games alone. The in-house library has more than 1,600 books, including entire collections of Tintin and Asterix comics, while Beta also provides two e-book readers that holds another two million books!

“The collection belonged to a friend of mine and it took a lot to make him part with it,” he says. For those with artistic inclinations, there are Mandala colouring books, along with colour pencils. Visitors can either complete the page in one go or book the page for ₹50 and finish it another day. A place for family, friends and colleagues to enjoy and relax, that is what Eve’s is for Beta. He adds, “Families with kids would love to be here with all these games and activities. Corporate team-building exercises are getting popular here and that is another crowd that I would love to attract.”


Having grown up in Abu Dhabi during 1990s, Beta’s parents didn’t want him and his brother Alpha to face religious discrimination but they also wanted their names to be unique. Hence the names, Alpha and Beta.

Cup of freshness

Eve’s offers a range of hot and cold beverages such as different coffees, teas, frappés, crushers, mojitos and sundaes. Homemade cakes, quiches and chocolates too are on the menu. Have a cup of matcha latte with a piece of warm delicious apple-walnut cake while playing a game of scrabbles or sharing an adventure with Tintin.


Pettah – Venpalavattom Road
Kallummoodu, Anayara
Thiruvananthapuram – 695 029
Ph: +91-96452 63333


Eve’s Coffee is open from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm on all days.

Article Sourced from “The Hindu”

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Popular film locations in Thiruvananthapuram

Did you know that Thiruvananthapuram is where it all began for Malayalam cinema? In 1930, J.C. Daniel shot Vigathakumaran in his own studio, the now non-existent Travancore National Pictures at Pattom and since then the city has been a preferred location for filmmakers, even during the days when shooting was mostly confined to studios. Although, for a time, Malayalam cinema shifted to Chennai, countless movies from 1950s to 1970s were shot in Merryland Studio at Nemom.

Moving forward, Malayalam cinema embraced realism and shooting in real locations became the rage. The capital city continues to remain a favourite location for writers and directors to set their stories in. Here’s our pick of top film locations in Thiruvananthapuram city.

Bridging the past

‘Kireedam’ Bridge is perhaps the only location in Thiruvananthapuram city that’s now known by the film that made it famous. Who can forget Sethumadhavan (Mohanlal), the hero of Kireedam (1989) sitting on this dilapidated little bridge of sighs in pivotal scenes in the film, especially in that heart-rending song Kanneer Poovinte… The bridge that connects the Punchakkari wetlands to Vellayani lake is now an offbeat tourist destination and a nice place to take in the picturesque surroundings.

Studio town

Since the 1980s Chitranjali studio at Pachalloor has been the place for many Malayalam films and tele-serials, with set designers waving their magic wands and turning the studio’s many production floors into homes, offices, schools, hospitals and even temples. A lot of the post-production work in Malayalam cinema and serials is done here as well. PadayottamGeethanjaliOppamMunnariyippuVeeram… are some of the films that were shot here.

White façade of power

The cunning Balachandran Adiga in Vasthavam and the charming Krishnakumar in Lion have their eyes set on the Government Secretariat. The seat of political power in the state, in real as well as reel life, the imposing white columns and corridors of the Secretariat are a ubiquitous sight in several notable Malayalam flicks. In movies such as Vasthavam, Thanmathra, Vakkalathu Narayanan KuttyAugust 15 and so on, the plot or a portion of it is centred around the 140-year-old sprawling building at Statue junction.

Life in Jawahar Nagar

The sight of a listless Vinod (Jagathy Sreekumar) perched on a compound wall in Jawahar Nagar while listening, for the umpteenth time, to the brave tales of Fauji Rajashekharan (Shankaradi) is as nostalgic as it gets when it comes to Malayalam movies. The scene is from Venu Nagavally’s Sugamo Devi (1986), which was shot entirely in Thiruvananthapuram. The rib-tickler Odaruthammava Aalariyaam, was also extensively shot in the residential area. So was Thalayana Manthram and several other flicks. It was a favourite location of Priyadarsan’s during his early days as a director.

The quintessential green

Much like the Central Park in New York, we have our own little green haven in the middle of Thiruvananthapuram city. The landscaped expanse of Napier Museum and zoo have been a backdrop for innumerable songs and movie scenes. A brooding Venu Nagavally walking endlessly on the banks of the lake inside the zoo is a defining image from K.G. George’s Ullkadal (1979) and who can forget the colourful climax of Salt n Pepper (2011) set in front of the Napier Museum. Right from the black and white era onwards, the Museum grounds have seen many film stars ace it for the camera.

Waves and rocks

During a 1980s’ tourist season, Fabien (Gavin Packard), a drug dealer with a penchant for fraud, wrecked havoc in the lives of the locals desperately making a living from the growing tourism on Kovalam beach. The 1989 P. Padmarajan classic Season has a cult following among movie buffs for its haunting depiction of the rocks, blue sea and never ending coconut palms carpeting the hillsides of Kovalam. Much before Season, Amitabh Bachchan and Sreedevi romanced, for the movie Inqulab (1983), on the beaches and rocky heights of Kovalam. More recently the beach was featured in Shyamaprasad’s Off Season, one of the ten shorts that was part of the anthology film Kerala Cafe (2009). The Inspection Bungalow, perched on a cliff, mid way to Vizhinjam, is also a favourite with film makers, featuring in films such as Chattakaari (2012).

Something foreign

The Park Centre, inside India’s first IT park; Technopark Thiruvananthapuram, has been a movie star since the time it was opened in late 90s being a set for films such as The Truth (1998), Superman (1997) and FIR (1999)The tree-lined streets and green spaces inside the park have often been that odd ‘foreign’ country in certain movies. Rithu (2009) was perhaps be the first film in Malayalam that discussed the life of techies in the IT hub of Kerala.

College days


The image of a teary-eyed Arathi (Manju Warrier), staring down the red corridor of University College to the tunes of Aaro viral meetti is still a striking visual, from Pranayavarnangal (1998). University College at Palayam, Government Women’s College at Vazhuthacaud, Mar Ivanios College at Nalanchira, All Saints College at Chacka, and, recently, St. Xavier’s College at Thumba have been the setting for that happening campus in quite a few Malayalam movies.

Article Courtesy: The Hindu
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Tiffin4Me, a meal subscription service, delivers home cooked food

Meal subscription service Tiffin4Me delivers home cooked food daily to your home or your office

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a tiffin from home to get you through your work day. However, it’s just not possible to always make or pack home cooked food. That’s where Tiffin4Me comes in. It’s a new meal subscription service for everything home cooked. The food is delivered to home or office in Thiruvananthapuram, according to each customer’s preference.

“Our mission is to be the best alternative of not eating from home,” says Monu Gopinath, the brain behind the food-tech startup, along with his fiancée and co-worker, Reshma. “Most of us in the corporate world find it difficult to pack and carry meals from home and often end up eating from restaurants, which need not necessarily be good for health in the long run. We did a bit of market research and found that there was a dire need for a food delivery service that’s dependable,” adds Monu, who runs HR firm, Connecting2Work.

Tiffin4Me was started six months ago with just a handful of customers in the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College area. It now delivers breakfast, lunch and dinner to some 60 homes all across Thiruvananthapuram city, plus one-time parcels to a few dozen other customers throughout the day.

The name of the startup comes from the reusable, airtight tiffin boxes that the meals in the subscription service are delivered in. The one-time orders come packed in toasted banana leaves. “We give the meals in tiffins only to regular customers because they can be returned when we deliver the next meal and so on. Most of our regular customers are office-goers, doctors and retired folks. We also deliver to people staying in service apartments in the city,” says Monu.

The menu is mainly ethnic Kerala food, rather simple fare sans any froufrou. All the food is cooked by Reshma’s mother, Prasanna, along with a bunch of women, in the kitchen of her home in Thamalam, near Poojapura in Thiruvananthapuram. The menu is fixed for a week. For example, if one day breakfast is dosa, sambhar and rasavada, the next day it might be idli, chutney and uzhunnuvada. Lunch is constant — white rice with five side dishes, including fish curry and sometimes fish peera too. Dinner, meanwhile, is either chappati or gothambu puttu with curry.

Their USP

One of their USPs is flexibility of food delivery. “For example, if a customer wants breakfast delivered at home and lunch at work and dinner again at home, we can do that. Or if they want breakfast and lunch delivered together early in the morning, we can do that as well. And that’s every day on time, even hartal days. It all depends on the customer,” says Monu.

Another USP is that you pay only for what you eat in the meal subscription service. “Customers only have to pay at the end of the month. So, say the customer is not in town for a week, then he/she does not have to pay for that week,” he explains.

Otherwise, just call in your order for breakfast between 5 pm and 8 pm the previous day. Lunch orders will be taken till 11 am and dinner orders till 4 pm on the day of delivery.

Contact: +91-9037043614

Article Courtesy: The Hindu

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Tuck into delectable rustic eats & fast food at Kerala Hotel, Thiruvananthapuram

Kerala Hotel at Akkulam has delectable rustic treats with some surprises, all at reasonable prices

Vehicles whizz past on the NH bypass near Akkulam bridge in Thiruvananthapuram. If you follow your nose while on the service road that goes to Akkulam, you will reach Kerala Hotel, a small space with a thatched roof, opposite an upcoming mall. The aroma of spicy meat dishes lingers in the air. It is packed to the rafters and banana leaves are wiped clean by hungry gourmets.


Something different

In a corner seat, there is someone biting into a juicy Kerala Burger. Yes, Kerala Burger! It is one of the several innovations of Manoj Manoharan who runs Kerala Hotel. Since opening a year ago, the restaurant has been trending on Facebook and other social media on account of its delicious non-vegetarian treats as well as their improvised eats like the Kerala burger, porotta lappo and Kerala pizza.

“I experiment a lot and, fortunately, most of them have worked with the customers. For instance, Kerala burgers have become a favourite,”says Manoj.

The feast kickstarts with Kerala burgers and pothu kizhi. While the steaming burger arrives on a piece of banana leaf, kizhi comes in a bundled banana leaf. The burger with capsicum-flavoured beef roast filler in two coin porottas is a little hard to hold but is a heavenly bite. Warm spicy beef gels well with fluffy porotta. Kizhi, although it is similar in looks to the burger, has two layers of beef — one a bit juicy and the other dry — and tastes more local.

The burger, roll and kizhi, Manoj says, were inspired by street food memories of his childhood.“We used to buy porotta and spicy beef from thattukadas at festival grounds. The sellers used to pack them together in a bundle and by the time it reached home, it would be like meat rolls that we have today and it was delicious,” he remembers.

Next up on our wishlist is KH 6 pack chicken (a whole fried chicken). But Manoj informs us that we are late and the last one was served a few minutes ago. Not to be discouraged, we go for ‘chicken 85’ and chappathi. Chicken pieces fried, some a little too much, is garnished with caramelised onion and is a treat to be had with the chappathi.

A glass of fruit sarbath full of banana and apple with poppy seeds for flavour tops off the evening.

What’s for lunch

A traditional Kerala meal and kizhi biriyani are the only two options for lunch at Kerala Hotel. Boiled rice served in clean plantain leaves along with avial, coconut chutney, mango pickle, salted and fried chilli and red spinach thoran, is a mini-sadhya in itself. Dal and fish curry are in plenty. We have a bit of both. Fish fries of various kind arrive on a large platter. For us, it is a mackerel and a plate of squid fry. While the squid is soft and ginger flavoured, the mackerel has been fried dry to an irresistible crunch. A plate of beef varatiyathu follows. Cooked exquisitely with thick garlic-onion gravy, it goes wonderfully with dal- drenched rice. It might go even better with porotta or chappathi.

Manoj offers different discounts at the hotel. On Mondays he gives 5% discount on the bill for Kerala Hotel Facebook group members, now 7,800 strong and counting. Likewise, bachelors and women get similar discounts on Tuesdays and Wednesdays respectively. Ex-servicemen, senior citizens and all differently abled customers can avail themselves of a 10% discount on any day from the Kerala Hotel. The list of discounts doesn’t end there as there are other offers like special combo meal for students and free food for children below eight on all the days.

* A wholesome meal for two, which does not include whole fried chicken, would cost around Rs 250.

* Pothu kizhi, KH six pack chicken and fish delicacies are among the must haves.

* Kerala hotel is open Monday to Saturday from 12 pm to 10.30 pm.

Contact: 9995276467

Article Courtesy: The Hindu

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Ajay Prasad; “The Millennial Man”

Development evangelist Ajay Prasad on giving back to his home town, with the upcoming mega infrastructure project Taurus Downtown Technopark.

It’s called karma. Long ago Ajay Prasad, then a strategy consultant at a real estate management firm, social development blogger and torch-bearer of the Trivandrum Development Front (TDF), a citizen-led initiative to push the capital city’s development agenda, told me, that I should interview him on his big plans for Thiruvananthapuram, his home town. I brushed it off as an idealistic youngster’s dreams.


At present, Ajay, Country Managing Director, India, at Taurus Investment Holdings, is the man behind the much talked about Taurus Downtown Technopark, that is set to come up in Technopark Phase III in Thiruvananthapuram. When completed, the ₹1,500 crore project is set to snazz up the scene with it’s swanky office spaces, shopping mall, restaurants, a 11-screen multiplex and a hotel, among others.

Today, it’s rather difficult to pin Ajay down for a interview, busy as he is flying around the world on work, Singapore one day, Sao Paolo the next and Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he is now based, the third! When we do catch up with him — in Munich, Germany, where he is on a ‘workcation’ — it’s endearing to hear that same spark for his home town alive and kicking. “I am a Trivandrumite first and foremost, having spent the first 22 years of my life here,” says Ajay.

The talkative, flamboyant 37-year-old is a former student of St Thomas Residential School, Thiruvananthapuram and graduate in Electronic Engineering from the College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram. He also has an MBA from Indian Institute of Management – Calcutta and a Masters in Real Estate Development from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.

Ajay is already quite well-known among netizens for his blog,, where he used to write detailed posts about everything and anything infrastructure- and development-related to the city, from ‘Why Vizhinjam makes all the sense in the world’ to the cinematic extravaganza that is the International Film Festival of Kerala.


Ajay insists that his passion for all things Thiruvananthapuram is not only what tipped the scales in favour of the city, when Taurus Investment Holdings, a Boston-based global private equity firm, decided to kick start its first project in India. “The capital city has a strong service sector-oriented economic base, a lot of skilled workers and relatively well developed infrastructure,” explains Ajay.

Thiruvananthapuram, he goes on to explain, has many features that make it a sought-after destination by employers, millennials and investors. “Cities like Thiruvananthapuram, Austin in Texas and Munich are strongly based on the knowledge economy, with great educational and research institutions, lots of smart, young people and an established ecosystem of service-oriented industries such as technology, life sciences, media, tourism, health care, education and the Government. Thiruvananthapuram has over a dozen truly world-class research institutions, and scores of colleges from where thousands of undergraduates and graduates in a wide variety of subjects emerge every year and it ranks up there with Bangalore and Pune in this regard. Also, the city offers a much higher quality of life than congested metros,” he says.

That said, he admits that the city was not an easy sell to potential investors. “Truth be told, very few smaller cities in India are on the map of most decision makers outside the country. The investment industry has a herd mentality and it is always an uphill battle to convince anyone to risk investing outside the top five or six cities in the country,” he explains, adding that even in mega IT/ITes companies the only notable exceptions are Infosys and TCS, both of which have large campuses in Thiruvananthapuram.


Apparently, the lack of high quality business and social infrastructure in Tier II cities hampers the expansion of multi-nationals into these places. “We are looking to address this gap with our project. There has been very little to no destination marketing of Thiruvananthapuram and this has made it a exhausting task to build awareness and interest in the mind of potential occupiers of office space. But then, we love challenges!”

With the acquisition of the around 20 acres of land for the project in the coming month, Taurus will have achieved a major milestone.

Ajay says he’s relishing the bumpy road ahead. “While we have already completed the concept design and master plan for the project and also ticked off some of the key approvals needed to commence development, the devil is often found hidden in the details. Building five million sq.ft. is never a simple task anywhere, be it in the capital city, Istanbul or New York. Developing the largest single phase development in Kerala will definitely present a challenge,” he says, signing off as the coos of his one-year-old daughter, Ava, capture his attention.

Short takes

Ajay is married to Viji Krishnan, a management professional. The couple enjoy travelling and watching movies and are huge fans of Game of Thrones. Ajay’s fondest wish is to “be a part of the Star Wars and Marvel cinematic universe.”

He is also into reading and enjoys sci-fi, thrillers and non-fiction relating to military history, engineering and contemporary geopolitics. Ever since moving to Boston six years ago, he’s become a fan of the American NFL team New England Patriots.

Article Courtesy: The Hindu

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The Century Old Living Rubber Tree in Thiruvananthapuram!

Natural Rubber tree or Para Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis – Family Euphorbeaceae) is originally a native to Amazon and Orinoco river basins in Brazil and Bolivia in South America. But since it tends to be attacked by a fungal disease in South America, rubber is not produced in significant amounts there. It was Sir Henry Vickham successfully introduced the Natural Rubber tree or Para rubber from the Amazon forests of Brazil to South East Asia. The Commercial cultivation of natural rubber in India started in the Southern State of Kerala in 1902.

But the first ever living rubber tree came to the capital city of Kerala – Thiruvananthapuram in 1880 as a gift from the Britishers to the then Raja of Travancore, His Highness Visakham Thirunal Ilaya Raja. The photograph below shows the century old (approximately 137 year old) rubber tree growing luxuriously in the premises of Thiruvananthapuram Museum.

Photograph by Chetan KarkhanisImage Courtesy: Sandeepa Chetan’s Travel Blog

About 90 percent of the world’s rubber is produced in south and southeast Asia, where its commercial cultivation began a century ago. The Periyar Syndicate, a European venture, began the first rubber plantation near Aluva in Kerala in 1902 with seeds brought from Brazil. India is the sixth largest producer after Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Malaysia. In India, Kerala alone accounts for 80 percent of the country’s rubber, followed by Tripura and other states.

Article Courtesy:

  1. Shri. Nazeer M.A, Retd. Joint Director, Rubber Research Institute of India
  2. First Post Media



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Kerala State Central Library in Thiruvananthapuram to be blind-friendly

The 188-year-old Kerala State Central Library in Thiruvananthapuram, one of the oldest book houses in the country will soon have a separate wing for visually challenged bibliophiles. An exclusive ‘Braille wing’ will be opened soon adjacent to the main library building, located in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram city, as part of the authorities’ plans to make the 19th century institution differently-abled friendly. Popularly known as ‘Trivandrum Public Library,’ the heritage structure, housing one of the finest collections of rare titles starting from 16th century, was established in the year 1829.


According to authorities, steps are already on to convert a room of the three-storey new building, being set up in front of the heritage Gothic style main structure, into the Braille wing. The Braille wing is envisaged to provide all modern amenities to help make visually impaired visitors comfortable. State librarian P K Sobhana said they would join hands with various outfits and organisations including Dehradun-based National Institute for the Visually Handicapped and Kerala Blind Association for the initiative.

“Our new building is getting ready. One of the major features of it will be the Braille section. We are planning to open it in a room in the ground floor of the building,” she told PTI. Besides books in Braille format, the new wing would also have an impressive collection of talking and audio books in various languages including English and Hindi besides Malayalam. “We think, the audio books will be more useful for the visually challenged people. Not only that, it will also be a solution for the space constraints issues. Usually Braille books will consume more space which we cannot afford,” she said.

The official said she would soon visit institutions including the National Association for the Blind in New Delhi which offer advanced facilities before giving a final shape to the plan. “In future, we also have plans to prepare audio books in Malayalam with the support of outfits in this regard,” Sobhana added. An integral part of the state’s cultural landscape, the Central Library has over five lakh titles and subscribe 300 periodicals. The book house had amazed several people including world renowned English writer William Somerset Maugham.

Astonished by seeing the wide collection of world classics and continental literature, including his own works there, the writer, during his visit to the princely state of Tranvacore in 1938 had scribbled in the visitors’ book that he was ‘pleased and flattered.’ Historians say, the library was ordered to be set up in 1829 by the Travancore royal Swathi Thirunal and renamed as State Central Library in 1958. Interestingly, the visionary ruler took the initiative to build one of the first public libraries in India, before even the famed Imperial Library of Calcutta was established.

The task of organising the library was assigned to Col Edward Cadogan, the then British Resident and the grand son of Sir Hans Sloan, the founder of British Museum. The library was shifted to the present building in 1900 under the reign of Sri Moolam Thirunal, who built a structure of architectural beauty in the Gothic style in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. While the Public Library was handed over to University of Travancore in 1938, it was taken over by the government in 1948 after a resolution was passed by State Legislature.

The library, in the year 1988, was granted the status of a minor department under the administrative control of Higher Education Department with the State Librarian as its head.

News Courtesy: The New Indian Express

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