We just completed our elections in Tamilnadu on Tuesday together with Kerala and Pondicherry. The elections was held over one day and was largely peaceful as can be expected in our state. However, results will only be out on May 5th as they do not want these results to affect the elections in the other states. So, we will get all kind of conspiracy theories till then. West Bengal for example has their elections spread over 8 phases and 8 different days and is still in the progress.
The Feral Nomad
‘If you are in doubt, just be still, and rest will be taken cared of’. No, this is not a popular saying with a deep meaning. This is what I say to my European friends before we cross a road here in Sri Lanka. After a few instances of almost getting knocked by the motorbikes, they are slowly learning the art. The biggest takeaway of travelling to South Asia is the improved reflexes. We usually learn it from our daily commutes on the roads. One will be attacked from every possible direction and should be ready for it. If the situation gets out of hand, we stand still. The approaching vehicle will find a way and go around you. South Africans who visited and shopped in T-Nagar in Chennai would have experienced this. Nevertheless, the Asian roads and its traffic has a charm to their organized chaos.
One of the first things I do after moving into a new place is to explore the local food scene. I try to walk in to at least one new restaurant every week while travelling. At the end of my stay, most of the restaurant people would know me and my order well. This is something I have learnt from my parents. Appreciating food and building network. Food, a very basic necessity of life can build and break communities. So, I use food as a gateway to meet new people and build relationships.
The first week here we mostly had food from outside as we were slowly getting used to our new house and neighborhood. The very first meal I had in Matara is the famous Chicken Kothu of Sri Lanka. Kothu comes directly from the Tamil word ‘க ொத்து’ meaning ‘to dig’. It refers to the way it is prepared. And believe me, anyone who has a plate of kothu in front of them will start digging into it instantly. The clanking of spatulas as it is getting prepared, the saliva inducing aroma, and the soulful blend of shredded parotta with spices is a treat to all our senses. Kothu having its origin in Sri Lankan Tamil culture was also introduced to Tamil Nadu and Kerala by Sri Lankan labourers who worked in fishing ports. Glad to see a cuisine offered by the minorities is holding the pride high for Sri Lanka. Like the biriyani in India and bunny chow in Durban. The oppressed will always be the torch bearers of society.
My next food destination was filled with love, strength, and resilience. Hela Bojun Hala (Traditional Food Court), a restaurant chain started by the Ministry of Agriculture that is entirely run and operated by women. The restaurant serves only traditional food which is produced pesticide-free. An initiative to promote sustainable food, healthy food habit and support women agriculturists and entrepreneurs.
The restaurant is set along the picturesque Matara beach. One will enter to a sight of buzzing women who welcome with a big smile even on a hot humid afternoon. The cheap price (50 LKR equal to 3.50 ZAR for a meal) attracts many local and foreign customers every day. Nothing like when the oppressed play a major role in the economy. In this case, the women. Hoppers, rice pittu, and jackfruit kothu along with traditional soups/juices are the healthy and tasty palates offered by this place to satisfy your tummy and heart. Hela Bojun Hala is present in most cities and towns in Sri Lanka. Add this to your Lankan bucket list. More weeks to go and more new restaurants to try but his will definitely be my go-to restaurant this semester
Mandela Telugu Movie
Mandela is a Tamil movie on Netflix in the comedy-drama political satire genre. The is film written and directed by Madonne Ashwin on his directorial debut and produced by S. Sashikanth and Ramachandra of YNOT Studios. Incidentally our niece Samyuktha works for this studio and there are some really good movies coming from this company. The story is set in the background of a local village election where the two communities that live there is equally divided numerically. In this village is Smile (Yogi Babu) who is treated like a slave by the rest of the people there and is mostly paid by leftover food instead of money. While applying for a post office savings account, he is given the name Nelson Mandela (as he cannot remember his original name) by the lady in charge as she says mandela represents courage and determination. She also applies for a id card and voters id. Thus, he becomes the extra vote and is wooed by both sides with cash and freebies. This almost echoes the promises made by the political parties in the recent state elections. The movie is very enjoyable and gives you a good idea of life in the village and also all the antics that happens during an election.
Arivarasu Kalainesan, more commonly known as Arivu, is an Indian rapper, lyricist, and playback singer. Of recent he is known for the song “Vaathi Raid” from Master alongside Anirudh and for his single “Enjoy Enjami” with Dhee.
This 27-year-old singer has been plying his trade for many years but is now being recognised especially after singing for movies and the latest hit song.
His grandmother Valliamma was taken to Sri Lanka as a bonded labourer, and when she returned, nothing had changed. They continued to live landless. “She educated my mother by doing dishes in several houses. Because of her, my mother became an educationist, and as a result I am an artist. So, of course I wanted to make a mention of her”. Arivu whose both parents are educationist is keen to do a PhD in Oppari music in the near future. I first heard him a few years ago with his band The Casteless Collective which specializes in protest rap songs.
As for the song Enjoy Enjami it has gone viral. I learnt so much about the politics behind the lyrics watching reactions to the song by different people around the world. Just about everyone is doing dancing videos to this song. Every time I listen to the song, I discover something new.
Covid cases are drastically increasing again in India with almost 119,000 new cases yesterday, the highest in six months. This looks like the second wave. In Tamilnadu (estimated population of about 80 million) there are now 30,131 active cases, the highest for 5 months. Yesterday’s count is now 4,276 new cases and 1,869 discharges. 19 people died yesterday bringing the total number of deaths in our state to 12,840. All figures as of Thursday night.
I did go to the government clinic for my April 3rd appointment but was told that they did not have stock of the vaccines, so I have to try again later. We are now going into a partial lockdown from tomorrow.
The Great Indian Kitchen
The Great Indian Kitchen is a movie in Malayalam on Amazon Prime which I think is a much watch movie. It highlights just about everything wrong about some Indian housewives that are treated as a little more than slaves. This movie is brilliantly done.
Shaadi Mubarak is a Telugu movie on Amazon Prime and is a romantic comedy starring Sagar and Drishya Raghunath. Madhav Sunnipenta (Sagar) an NRI from Australia who is in search of a bride, lands in Hyderabad to attend three interviews in a single day. Satyabhama (Drishya Raghunath), daughter of a wedding consultant, accompanies Madhav to his three bridal visits. However, sparks fly between the two while spending the day together. Each of the visits throws up its own drama and especially as he does not know the politics of these interviews, he give the impression to two different families that he is agreeable to marriage. Both actors who are relatively new to cinema give off very impressive performances and makes this an enjoyable movie.
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