Rain Lashes On Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram: Under the influence of Cyclone Gaja, Kerala state will experience isolated rains and strong winds till Monday. Squally wind speed reaching 35-45 kmph gusting to 55 kmph likely over Southeast Arabian Sea. The sea waves could rise at a height of 2.8 m in Kerala coast and Lakshadweep region till Sunday. Fishermen are advised not to venture into these areThe meteorological department has warned the formation of low pressure in the middle of the southern Bay of Bengal by Sunday.

Landslides, mudslides and other damages were reported on Friday in various parts of Idukki district, where the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) had issued an orange alert for November 16. The heavy rains have largely affected Munnar, one of the main tourist destinations in Idukki. Landslides were reported in Mammal and Edamal areas in Vattavada near Munnar on Friday around 10 am. A home in Vattavda was partially destroyed due to the landslides. The landslides and heavy rain also submerged acres of winter vegetable farms in Vattavada. Traffic was partially disrupted in the Kochi-Dhanushkodi national highway in old Munnar as the roads were submerged in the rainwater. A mudslide was reported near Mattuppetty road in Munnar and the traffic disrupted in the top station route.

Incidentally, the recently rebuilt Periyavara Bridge was also washed out due to heavy rain on Friday. The bridge, which is on the Munnar-Udumalpet interstate route, connects tourists to Rajamala tourist destination and the Eravikulam National Park.

WIFI On Optic Fibre Is Here

So we have these monster speeds now available in Kerala. I just saw this add spring up all over Youtube and a couple of other places. Would I really need 200Mbps speed for my internet at home? What am I planning to download – the history of the world? Unless you are on the USS Enterprise or one of the other starships, I doubt you could really need those astronomical speeds (maybe) and I bet the monthly charges are astronomical as well.

I will wait and watch as my 10mbps speed seems ok to me at the moment (I could use 25 but let’s see).

RIP Balabhaskar

Noted singer-violinist Balabhaskar who was seriously injured in a car accident last week in Kerala died at a hospital early in Thiruvananthapuram this morning. His two-year-old daughter was killed when the family’s car hit a tree after the driver lost control. He died at around 1 am after a cardiac arrest, hospital sources said. Balabhaskar’s wife Lakshmi and the driver are recovering in hospital. Balabhaskar, 40, and family were returning from a visit to a temple in Thrissur after thanksgiving prayers for their daughter; little Tejaswini Bala was born after 15 years of marriage, according to sources close to the family.

The car rammed a tree on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram around 4.30 am, the police said. The couple’s daughter was declared dead in hospital. The driver is believed to have dozed off and lost control of the vehicle. Balabhaskar was on ventilator support after being seriously injured and had undergone a surgery. His body was taken to Thiruvananthapuram’s University College, his alma mater, where people from all walks of life queued up to pay their last respects. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Finance Minister Thomas Issac were among those who reached the college.

The last rites would be held on Wednesday in Thiruvananthapuram. The musician shot to fame when, as a 17-year-old, he composed music for a Malayalam film and has scored music for several films. A rising musician, he was was known for his stage performances and concerts in and outside Kerala. His fusion music was popular among his fans. Balabhaskar and Lakshmi were students of the same college.

Kerala Style Egg Puffs

This morning at around 10:45 am, having had just bread and mayo at 8 am for breakfast, I was craving a hot coffee and a snack to eat. I called on one my colleagues and we went to the cafeteria’s tea/coffee counter and got a tea for him and a coffee for me and we ordered some eggs puffs. Flaky, warm (not hot but warm enough to know that it was freshly made just an hour or so ago). Delicious and it satisfies the hunger.

How do you make it? Heat oil in a wide pan and add sliced onions. Cook till the onion becomes golden brown. Once the onion becomes golden brown, add crushed ginger and garlic and cook for 2-3 mins. Add 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder, 1.5 tsp Chilli powder, 1/2 – 1 tsp Coriander powder, 1/2 tsp Pepper powder, 1/2 tsp Garam masala / meat masala , all masala powders and salt. Cook till the oil appears, around 2-3 mins. Add 1 – 2 tbsp hot water to bring everything together. Add ketchup, curry leaves and mix well.

Beat 1 egg with 1-2 tsp water for egg wash. Apply this egg mixture on four sides of the puff pastry. Place about 1 tbsp of masala on each puff pastry, followed by half a slice of egg. Put some masala on top of the egg as well. Bring together the diagonally opposite sides and seal. Apply the egg wash all over the sealed puffs. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins or until the puff pastry is golden in colour.

Serve with some ketchup and drink hot coffee or tea. On a rainy day in Kerala, this evening snack has few rival.

Life Returning To Normal In EKM Atleast

While rescue missions are seemingly done in Kerala and the cleaning and sanitation are in full swing while there are still people in camps and trying to find a home, the rebuilding stages seem to be a while away. As politicians do what politicians do and the arguments, disagreements and blame games begin in full form, the rest of wonder how long will it take for things to be back to normal. Have no doubts about it, Kerala will not be the same again but hopefully we will become wiser and better.

Meanwhile here in Ernakulam/Cochin live is back to normal for the most part. I went back to work from Monday and things were even more normal on Tuesday. Yesterday was a public holiday and so is Friday but I do have to go the office today. On Monday and Tuesday we had a lot of people still not able to come to work, especially those from the areas of Kerala which were badly affected. I hope most of them have come back from camps and are just busy with the cleaning and rebuilding parts of their homes.

After today I have the next three days off and here is how I plan to spend it; Friday – watch movies and some Star Trek tv show episodes, Saturday – go out and enjoy the day and see if cousin Sujith can join me for a nice lunch and finally Sunday – back again at home and sleep and watch movies with a heavy dose of Youtube video watching. Keep it simple.

A Kerala Flood Update

The death toll from the fresh onslaught of rain in Kerala since August 9 has climbed to 75 as the state is reeling under one of the worst floods in history. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had once again called PM Modi on Thursday to seek more aid considering the situation. or the first time in history, the state has opened 35 of its 39 dams. Meanwhile, operations at the Cochin International Airport have been suspended till August 26 due to flooding in and around the airport. A red alert has been issued in all the 14 districts of the state.

Train services have been disrupted and road transport services are in disarray with stretches of roads coming under water. Officials said a holiday has been declared for educational institutions in all districts barring Kasaragod for day while colleges and universities have postponed exams. Rise in flood waters in Periyar River due to the rains and opening of all shutters of all major dams including Mullaperiyar, Cheruthoni, part of Idukki reservoir, and Idamalayar, have severely affected lives of people in downstream areas.

My uncle and aunt in Chenganuur have their rented house flooded and they moved to the second floor. The second floor is quite higher than the ground level so they are ok for now. The Navy is patrolling on boats and checked on them but they are good for now. Tomorrow they might have to move. They have biscuits, bread and some snacks with water. My cousins in Aluva have had to move from their home to their mother’s family home yesterday but the water levels in Aluva and neighbouring suburb of Kalamaserry was rising way too high. So they evacuated based on the advice of authorities and moved to a flat that one of my cousin’s own in another area of Cochin.

No cabs are running today and even autos seem to be rare. I stayed home from work after thinking about it for a while. A lot of people did.

Floods In Kerala

Days of incessant rain have led to raging floods across Kerala. Buildings and infrastructure have collapsed, leaving over 54,000 people homeless. Dams, reservoirs and rivers have overflowed, roads have caved in, sections of highways collapsed, and homes swept away in ferocious floods. People are homeless, tourists are stranded, and wildlife is in danger as more than half of Kerala is dealing with severe flooding due to the unforgiving rain. Opening of all five gates of one of the dams of the Idukki water reservoir have only added misery to the already-dire situation.

29 people have died and tens-of-thousands have been evacuated from affected areas. Rescue operations are being carried out round-the-clock, and around 500 relief camps have been set up so far. Over 50 tourists stranded at a resort in the popular hill station of Munnar in Idukki, have been rescued by the army. The army, navy, air force, coast guard, and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have joined hands, by coordinating on a massive scale to carry out evacuations and relief operations. A fourth red alert has been issued for the Idukki reservoir, the gates of which were opened yesterday after 26 years.

The water level at the Idukki reservoir went down from 2,401.60 feet yesterday to 2,400.72 feet today. The maximum capacity of the reservoir is 2,403 feet. Northern and central Kerala have been battered by heavy rains resulting from the southwest monsoon since August 8. Of the 29 people who died, 25 were killed in landslides, while four people drowned. Officials said that over 54,000 people are now housed in around 500 relief camps across the state. The situation however, eased somewhat on Saturday afternoon, with the intensity of rain reducing considerably.

Pot Hole City

It’s been cold for several days. It’s been raining almost every day and on some days it’s been raining almost non-stop. My last post was about floods in the town of Pala in Kerala but it’s bad everywhere. Kottayam, Kozhikode and even Cochin. The railways stations in Eranakulam North Junction and in South Junction are both flooded and people are even using boats to float on the waters above the railway tracks.

Worst parts are the roads! Cochin is famous for having potholes that the local government take their own sweet time to address and when they do get to fixing it, they do a barely minimum job which they either ruin by having pipe work done on the sides immediately after or they fix the roads just before the monsoon season. All this ensures that the contractors get their contracts signed every year regularly and the corrupt politicians gets to steal money.

Yesterday the cab I was in had to use two diversions because of huge pot holes on two side roads onroute to my office in the evening as the waters were deep and sedans as well as smaller cars and bikes won’t get through without damages. I lost a lot of time, almost 30 minutes because of this.

Building Basement Collapses During Piling Work

Last night as I passed by Kaloor on my way home from work, I saw the commotion on the streets. Tension gripped the city on Thursday night when the basement of a building under construction at Kaloor collapsed, threatening the structural stability of nearby buildings and roads, besides forcing the suspension of the Kochi metro services. The incident happened around 8.30 p.m. when the two-storey deep basement parking area of the building of an upcoming textile major caved in during the course of piling work being undertaken using excavators.

Following the incident, occupants of a section of Gokulam Park Hotel and another three-storey commercial building, which reportedly developed a slant to either side of the upcoming building were evacuated as a precautionary measure. As a crack appeared near the road in the impact of the collapse, traffic between Kaloor and Kacherippady was also fully suspended. At least three Kochi metro services were suspended midway through following the incident. The last train from Aluva to Maharaja’s terminated service at Palarivattom, while a train bound for Aluva from Maharaja’s suspended service at MG Road. Another train bound for Aluva never took off from Maharaja’s station.

Track experts of the Kochi metro are already at work, and the service up to Maharaja’s will be resumed only after their assessment as the incident took place close to the metro pillars. The site identified for the third extension of the culvert in front of PVS Hospital had developed a crack, and that if it had already been constructed, it would have collapsed in the impact. A Kerala Water Authority (KWA) pipeline also burst in the impact of the collapse, and the thick jet of water further worsened the situation.

NO BROADBAND INTERNET FOR THREE DAYS – ASIANET

My internet connection has been down for three days! It went down early Friday morning – I reached home at 2am and wanted to stream a football match but the connection went down and so I called and complained. This is day THREE and I still don’t have a solution. Congratulations Asianet Broadband, this is a new low performance in customer care for you.

This is despite two technicians coming to my apartment and who told me that the problem was fixed. The internet then worked for 45 mins after they left and then went dead again. When I asked them what was the issue for me not getting internet since early Friday morning, they told me that after a fibre cut in the area they were upgrading the system here which is why I had no connectivity. So this is a known problem and yet no one in Asianet bothered to inform me about this!

Also wonderful fixing of the solution – they come here, it works for 45 mins and then it goes down again. Terrible service. 3 whole days and you STILL have no solution to the problem. I have called up one of the technicians and informed them that it is still down. You have no answer. I just spoke to someone at your call center and he told me that as it is a Sunday they have less technicians which is why there is a delay in solving my problem. When I reminded him that I raised the complaint on Friday and Friday and Saturday this should not have been a problem, he had no answer. “Sir tomorrow morning you issue with me solved – for certain”. He has no clue as to what is going on!

What are you planning to do about my problem? No internet service for 3 days other than a bit here and there (in total maybe 3 hours). THREE DAYS AND YOU CANNOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM!! Fibre Cut or System upgrade, I don’t know what is the real issue. I only hear excuses. Even before these three days I was having regular outages for over a month (PLEASE CHECK MY CALL HISTORY TO YOUR CUSTOMER CARE CENTER and the COMPLAINT HISTORY) – is this all a fibre cut and gross incompetence on your technicians part?

New Burger Hut @ Ravipuram

Last night after work, I wanted to go to Dominos in Ravipuram but they were already closed (it was just after 10pm) and I was starving. I happened to see that there was a new, barely one month old, Burger Hut on the opposite side of the road. Alright, I’ll go in for their cheap and simple burgers. While I placed my order I also asked them what the deal was with this whole Burger Hut vs Burger Hutz thing. The guy there said that they were one franchise originally and then later they split up though their menu, logo and overall look was quite similar. Those Hutz do not seem to have fried chicken and wings while Hut does not have momos. Weird!

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Anyways, I had the double cheesy burger with a mango shake and medium french fries. The shake was a very generic almost vanilla shake with mango syrup squeezed in. Tasted very bland. It was just about ok. The fries were fresh and hot and I liked them. It comes with a little mayo. Burger was ok, decent and not something you’d tolerate in one of the bigger places like TBJ or Cocoa Tree but still satisfying in a way. I hate that they add lots of ketchup in their burgers – I don’t like ketchup with burgers! Odd since I normally add ketchup with anything and everything. Fried rice, noodles, sandwiches, heck once I even added ketchup to a biryani (I know, kill me).

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Light on the wallet and a good choice when you stuck to get something to eat late at night. They have delivery too!

ChicKing India VS KFC India

So, off the bat let me tell you that this is a comparison or atleast this post is only about the Indian versions of both these franchises. KFC is an American giant which has a global franchise and reach while Chicking is an Indian owned, Dubai based company that has outlets in India and the UAE but no where else that I know off. They also outgun KFC in the number of outlets in Kochi & Kerala overall. I think KFC has four franchisees in Kochi while ChicKing may have 5 to 6.

Now what matters is the taste. Head to head having had their flagship style batter fried chicken buckets in the last 2 weeks – Chicking two weekends ago and KFC last weekend – I must say that taste wise and even option wise, Chicking seems to be the outright winner. Along with the various options for buckets, they also give you buns, coleslaw, garlic sauce dips and buns. KFC will give you buns & French fries but neither of the other two. Both will give you packets of ketchup. I just feel like as a meal, KFC have to start getting you sauces and coleslaw to make it a real meal especially for family size buckets.

And taste wise Chicking seems to have the edge too. KFC has a bit of a metallic taste in their meat; not too pronounced but just there. Chicking’s chicken meat feels more juicy and fresher compared to KFC. I think they are clear winners!

My Favourite Street

What Is Your Favorite Street?

My favourite street in my hometown is Panampilly Nagar Avenue, the main street of Panampily Nagar which is one of the most happening places in Kochi. This long stretch of road has amazing stuff from the beginning to the end stretch. First of all the road is wide so we have plenty of cars that can pass by, the road is decent in it self and we have plenty of walking space.

We have lots of stores and shops and banks and mobile showrooms, computers and laptop showrooms and plenty of eateries and hotels. The side roads too have these amazing food joints that will tickle your taste buds and keep you wanting more. This place has so many banks, it’s crazy but it’s a prime location as most of the really rich people of Kochi have homes there, including several actors.

This avenue has my favourite hot dog place (Lil America), my favourite burger joint (The Burger Junction), my fav doner place (Doner Kebab), my fav pizza place (360 Degree Pizzeria), my favourite French toast place (French Toast) and ofcourse there is Subway, Ming’s Wok, Zataar and the always good cafe and eatery Cocoa Tree. There’s more but I haven’t been to any of them yet. What more could you want in a street?

Prompt from The Learning Network at The New York Times