Kottayam, in Central Kerala where I am now for a week on a teaching assignment is also known as Akshara (alphabet) Nagari or Land of Letters. It is one of the main centres of literature in Kerala. Many of the first Malayalam dailies like Malayala Manorama, Deepika and Mangalam were started and are headquartered in Kottayam.
During the British period, various missionaries and the Christian churches established many schools, colleges and other educational institutions in and around the city. This is the place where English education first began in Kerala.
It is a calm and serene place in comparison to the hustle bustle of Cochin. The demographic and sociological profile of Kottayam is interesting. There is a sizeable Christian population in Kottayam. However, I found people here wearing their religious identity very lightly.
Life here is laid back and unhurried like the water in its backwater, or senior citizens reading newspapers soaking early morning sunshine on their varandah.
Dear Kerala Weather
When my wife was packing my clothes before coming to Kottayam, Kerala, she insisted to put in couple of winter wears thinking of the early January chill. Little did she know that Kerala practically experiences no winter. It is as hot here as in early March in Dhenkanal, Odisha.
So thinking that the labour I undertook to carry those woolen garments will go waste, I posted an appeal on my facebook page: Dear Kerala weather, please show some respect for January and some compassion for my dear wife, who packed my bags with woolen garments.
Pat came a comment: Go visit Munnar. The temperature there now is hovering around 3 degree cencious.
I had to take back my appeal.
Power of Photographs
A small board was placed on the table of the restaurant I went to eat my dinner. It had a beautiful picture of a bird and a rabbit in a playful mood. It also had picture of squid. Rates for each and how can you eat them were written on the board.
I am a non-vegetarian. But the bird and the rabbit looked so adorable in the photograph and the squid so obnoxious that I could not bring myself to eat them.
I ordered chicken instead. There were no photograph of a playful hen on the board.
Teaching is such a pleasure, especially if you have a bunch of bright young students eager to learn. You share ideas, crack jokes, answer their queries and questions. Your intellectual faculty is constantly challenged and enriched. I love teaching. Thank God for making me a teacher and for giving me this opportunity to travel across the country to teach, learn and reinvigorate yourself.
As a teacher, I prepare a lot before taking any class, anywhere. I consider it a sacrilege to enter a class without preparation. Even then I get nervous before taking every class. I have been teaching for the last 20 years. Even then I feel nervous. It seems every class is my first. My son (who also is a teacher now), when he was a kid used to be surprised when he found me reading the night before and used to ask his mother ‘why is Baba reading fat books, he is a teacher, isn’t he?’ (He probably understands now.)
But when I enter the class and start teaching the nervousness melts and a sense of joy prevails.
It was the same feeling I used to get when I used to anchor a weekly science programme on ETV for over four years.
Fat Achha Hai
A new report shows that being overweight is not as harmful as is commonly believed, and actually confers some surprising health benefits. Being 3 to 6 Kg overweight could protect people from ailments ranging from tuberculosis to Alzheimer’s disease, research indicates. Those carrying 8 to 13 Kg extra are better able to recover from adverse conditions such as emphysema, pneumonia, and various injuries and infections, states the report.
15 to 20 Kg of flab could help fend off breast cancer, kidney, pancreatic, prostrate, and colon cancer. And an extra 25 Kg on the scale may improve eyesight, reverse baldness and cure the common cold.
In general, the report concludes, overweight people are happier, more successful in business, smarter and friendlier.
The study was funded by a research grant from Munna Halwai, Pappu Pakodewala, Chaat Bhandaar, Krishna Kulfi Corner, Lallu Pav Bhaji, Salim Biryani, Gudia Tikki wale, Suraj Samosa Centre and Khan Sahab ke Kabab.
Now you know why it is important to know who has funded the research.
Often media persons commit this mistake and all kinds of bullshit get published as research study.
Mrinal Chatterjee is a journalist turned media academician. He lives in Dhenkanal, Odisha. He writes fiction and columns. A compilation of this column written in 2018 is being published on 26 January 2019. [email protected]