The BJP National President will be in K’taka for the next 18 days and has moved into a plush 6 bhk villa near Chalukya circle at dawn on Wednesday.
  • Thursday, April 19, 2018 - 12:41

The cream and pink villa located at Fairfield layout, an upscale, leafy locality near Chalukya circle in Central Bengaluru was devoid of much activity in the afternoon. The gates swung open occasionally to let police personnel breeze in and out. A metal detector had been placed right at the gate.

The BJP supremo Amit Shah had just moved in to the house on Tuesday midnight and a truck carrying furniture pulled over in front of the villa and unloaded the supply.

The metal tables were thoroughly frisked with a handheld detector before being let inside.

Two police vehicles, an ambulance and security personnel were manning the villa outside the gates.

The arrival of the political leaders seemed to have kicked up some bustle and activity in the otherwise quiet and exclusive neighbourhood.

It is from this 6 bedroom villa, located close to Vidhana Soudha, the seat of power in Karnataka, that Amit Shah will operate during this election season.

A source working closely with him confirmed that Shah will operate out of Karnataka for at least 18 -20 days, and live in the villa.

"He has done this during many other elections, most recently in Gujarat. He will personally oversee the campaign and intends to control the BJP campaign narrative ahead of the polls, by understanding issues faced by each constituency as it rolls out. Also, living in Bengaluru for two weeks or more makes sense as he likes to hold meetings until late in the night with district incharges, core committee members, stakeholders, internal teams etc. He will also minimise travel to Delhi till the polls in the state,” said the source.

Though Shah had a busy schedule on Wednesday, he started the day with discussions with BS Yedyurappa, who is the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate for Karnataka.

BJP leaders were reportedly searching for a house since 2017, as the government’s Kumarakrupa guesthouse, where Shah usually stays is out of bounds as per the model code of conduct.

For the Congress and the BJP, it is a do-or-die battle and both parties want to win this battle of perception. The Prime Minister will address 18 rallies, says sources close to Shah.

Though the BJP has been taking on Karnataka Chief Minister Siddharamiah with much fanfare, the party is worried about its prospects in some regions and Amit Shah will burn the midnight oil charting the party's plans here.

"There is concern about how we will fare in Hyderabad-Karnataka region, old Mysore and Bengaluru district. Most of the planning will be for having a better strategy in place here," said a source.

BJP had won out 12 of the 40 seats in Bengaluru district in 2013 and the party was hoping to increase its tally in the region.

Security for the leader included police personnel deployed by the state, VVIP security by the central government and private security guards.

“When he arrived there were about 20 to 25 cars.  He left for the BJP campaign this morning and there were around 6 police jeeps accompanying him,” said one of the policemen manning Fairfield avenue.

“This Bungalow had been around for 20 odd years. It is owned by the Malpani group. Earlier, minister Murugesh Nirani had rented the house for a year. Now I heard Shah will be here for 2 weeks. There are police vans and ambulances stationed here,” said Mrs. Chamaria, who lives opposite to the bungalow and has been residing in the locality for 50 years now.

The train was arranged and tickets sponsored by the CSK management board to take its dejected fans to Pune to watch their team play.
  • Thursday, April 19, 2018 - 11:00

Chennai Central station witnessed a celebration of sorts on Thursday as hundreds of cheering fans boarded the Whistle Podu Express, a fans-only special train to Pune. A sea of yellow jerseys took over platform number 2,  dancing and waving Chennai Super Kings banners and whistling their way to the train.

The special train was organised by the CSK management board to cheer up their fans who were dejected after the team decided to host its home games in Pune following the protests against the Indian Premier League during the Cauvery Management Board issue.

"After the team's home games were shifted to Pune, fans were really upset. So we requested the CSK management board to give us discounted train or flight tickets to go watch the game or even reimburse tickets for the matches shifted out of the city. We suggested they get us one or two coaches to take fans to Pune. But the board went one step ahead and sponsored an entire train for us," said Prabu, a member of the CSK fan club who initiated the idea.

Fans who got to go to Pune on the Whistle Podu Express were carefully selected by the CSK fan club heads, which includes Prabhu, CSK superfan Saravanan Hari and joint secretary Sriram.

"We picked 20 fans from Twitter who had bought tickets for the CSK vs Rajasthan Royals match which was shifted out of Chennai, after verifying their tickets. Our fan club conducts blood donation drives and we even visit orphanages during Dhoni and Raina's birthdays. We picked those fans who regularly attend these events. Out of this, over 70 were those who attended the blood donation drives. Fans were chosen and the name list was put out within 24 hours as we got the permission on such short notice," says Prabhu.

Prabhu adds that the club was careful in choosing those fans who had never had a chance to watch a match live.

The special train will take fans to Pune to catch the game on Friday evening and will bring them back to Chennai the next day.

Further, the board has even promised to sponsor the stay and other facilities for fans during the trip.

On hearing this news, CSK fans took toTwitter to celebrate. 

One person tweeted, "You can take CSK out of Chennai but you cannot take Chennai out of CSK," along with a picture of excited fans waiting to board the train.

Super fan Saravanan Hari tweeted pictures of fans waiting to leave to Pune, along with the caption "Kya re, shifting aa?," referring to the punchline from Rajini starrer Kaala. 

An MS Dhoni fan club tweeted "Super fans are all set to storm Pune with Yellove"

"CSK is very close to our heart. There are many passionate fans who travel to watch the team live and most of them were even willing to pay for the tickets if the board discounted them. Now fans are elated with the CSK board's gesture," says Prabhu.

Human Interest
Their families moved to Chennai from Hubei province and set-up dental clinics in the Evening Bazaar in the 1930s.
  • Tuesday, April 17, 2018 - 13:18

The glass doors of the tiny dental clinic swing open to green tiles, wooden panels, lots of dental instruments and neatly stacked bottles and medicine packs. Dr Shieh Hung Sen is inside, dressed in a green linen shirt, attending to a patient with practised deftness, while directing his assistant Nila in flawless Chennai Tamil.

Dr Shieh, who is better known by his Christian name Albert Shieh, is a second-generation Chennaite of Chinese origin. He runs Dr Shieh’s Bright Smile, a 75-year-old clinic, the oldest among the 8 such compact Chinese dental studios dotting the sides of Evening Bazaar Road, Park Town.

“My parents moved from Hubei province in China to Madas some time before the World War II. The Chinese communists were forcibly recruiting people to the army. It was either abscond or die. So my parents along with 8 other families left in the cover of the night to Burma, from where they came to Chennai in boats,” says Albert.

His father, Saw Ma Seng, among others who fled the country, were traditional Chinese dentists who established their business in Park Town in the 1930s. Now, their children and grandchildren are running the operations.

“Dental colleges started in the city only around the 1950s. Yet, our fathers had set up thriving businesses way back in the ’30s and we sons took over when they passed on,” says Albert, who went on to a acquire degree in dentistry from Annamalai University, after finishing his schooling in Bishop Corrie School, Parrys.

Growing up in Chennai

As he reminisces of the Chennai of his youth, Albert, who specialises in denture making, prods open his patient’s mouth and fixes a perfect set of lower front dentures on his gums.

“The best days of my life in Chennai were my school days. We used to play cricket in the Park Town grounds until late evenings. I spoke English and Tamil with my friends group and at home we spoke Mandarin (Hubei dialect),” smiles Albert, who can also read and write Tamil. Albert also understands Malayalam, Telugu and Hindi, and even attempts speaking them occasionally.

“Today is Tamil New Year. You must be celebrating Vishu since you are a Malayali, right?” he asks this reporter with a smile.

Now married with two children, a son and a daughter, Albert reveals that his family speaks Tamil, Chinese and English at home.

“I got married to my wife, Hu Yu Kwan, who is from one of the families in the community itself. However, now the community is not as close-knit as we were, with the older generation passing on,” he says.

In his childhood, the families would get together every Chinese New Year and feast.

“The Chinese New Year’s Eve is a special day for us and the entire community gathers for a feast, which is a grand affair with Wuhan (Hubei cuisine) delicacies of Changyu fish and Sou Chin (stir fry) Chicken. It’s nothing like what you get in the Chinese restaurants in the city,” says Albert, who shares an equal and impartial love for south Indian cuisine too.

“Ïdly, dosa, sambhar and all other dishes I relish. My wife makes the best rasam and kaara kolambu, I feel. In fact, my son’s friends used to ask him if his mum was Tamilian or Chinese after tasting the lunches she used to pack for his school,” he adds with a shy smile.

Albert’s son, Joshua, is a practicing dentist in Canada and, interestingly, is married to a Tamil woman.

“When I was a kid, my mother used to threaten me that if I married outside of the community she would disown me. When I got married, I had a traditional two-day Chinese wedding and a church wedding. Now, times have changed; my daughter-in-law is Tamil and we had a register marriage along with a reception here in Chennai,” says Albert.

The family members are practicing Seventh Day Adventists who had earlier adopted Roman Catholicism. Over the years, many from the community have diverged to different denominations within Christianity.

In the next clinic, David Ma, also known as You Chang Ma, Albert’s nephew, is a Jehovah’s Witness and runs Venfa, a clinic started by his father. Unlike Albert, David belongs to the third generation of the Chinese diaspora settled in the city.

“I don’t have many ties to Hubei. All my life I have known this city. My favourite food is the karuvattu kolambu or the dried fish that you get here. I’m married to an Indian girl, who is from Sikkim. In fact, I had an arranged marriage and went all the way to Sikkim to find my wife, since they look similar to us,” David says with a chuckle.

From Kung fu to Kollywood

Emphasising that they don’t watch Chinese films but for the occasional Jackie Chan Kung fu movie that is released in Chennai, Albert and David reveal that they enjoy Tamil cinema, especially the songs.

“I love old Tamil songs. There are some beautiful songs from Mudhal Mariyathai,” says David as he hums ‘Poongatre’ from the Sivaji Ganesan-starrer.

While David had no qualms about breaking into song, his uncle is more of a closet musician.

“He is usually singing all the time. He loves SPB and sings very well,” his assistant Nila tells TNM.

Albert is a fan of Suriya too and says he is excited about Kamal Haasan’s entry into politics. Apart from this, the dentist also boasts of a few famous friends from the industry.

“Prabhu, Sarathkumar and drummer Sivamani are all my close friends. I became close Prabhu and Sarathkumar as an athlete in school when we met at an inter-school sports competition. We meet once in a while when I am in town,” says Albert, who migrated to Canada with his wife a few months ago and shuttles between Chennai and Ontario.

The future

The Chinese clinics like Albert’s and David’s cater to the local population in Park Town.

“We have a thriving business and clients who have been consulting us and our fathers before us. They trust us and we have sort of established a brand here in Chennai,” says David.

Although many of their relatives have migrated to the US, Canada and other parts of the world, David and Albert remain rooted to the city.

“Although I keep going to Canada, I can’t let go of my business here and most of the year I’m in Chennai,” says Albert.

And despite this mass migration to several parts of the world, none of the Chinese in Chennai have returned to their home province of Hubei.

“I once visited China on a packaged tour with my wife. We couldn’t visit our native place as we couldn’t break away from the others.I have a few cousins there and I hope to visit them once in my lifetime,” says Albert.

However, Chennai remains in their hearts even as they search for better prospects elsewhere.

“I have never felt like an outsider. Chennai has and will always remain one of the most welcoming cities here. My sentiments for this city, in IPL language would be Namma Chennai-ku oru whistle podu,” David concludes with a grin.

This follows the outrage in the county over the Kathua and Unnao rapes and the campaign saw opposition and regular people come together.
  • Saturday, April 14, 2018 - 13:31

“Girls below the age of 10 live in this house. BJP members should kindly not come here seeking votes.”

“***, this country is mourning for you. No entry for Sanghis. We have girl children in the house.”

“There are girl children in this house. BJP members who come seeking for votes, please stand outside the gate.”

Handwritten posters with these sentences written on it appeared in front of some houses in two constituencies in Kerala. The posters first appeared in Kamachal, in Vamanapuram panchayat, a CPI (M) stronghold.

CPI (M) members in the area told TNM that they were agitated at the support pouring in for Unnao and Kathua rapists from BJP and its supporters.

"We did as a protest against the rape of the little girl. We distributed the posters to nearly 20 houses, these were not our members. But all of them willingly exhibited outside their houses," Kannan, a CPI (M) member said. 

Put your notice and requests outside the gate. BJP members coming to ask for votes, please don't enter the compound. We have a girl child below the age of 10.

As pictures of these posters started doing rounds on Whatsapp, a couple of youngsters in Chengannur constituency started writing similar messages. Soon, CPI (M) and Congress members and a few people not affiliated to any political party stuck similar messages on their houses.

In Chengannur, the messages were not just about Asifa and Unnao, but also told BJP leaders and cadres not to come asking for votes. Chengannur is all set for high-pitched bye-election which BJP President Amit Shah has termed as the first step to BJP’s ‘Mission Kerala’.

"We made the posters in the night and distributed in the morning. By evening, Chengannur party members did the same" Kannan said.

However, in both constituencies, non-party members too were willing to put up the posters in their houses, says CPI (M).

“This is not a political campaign. All of us started this together. This includes CPI (M), Congress and even those not affiliated to any party. Two or three youngsters started this protest and everybody just followed,” Nasir, CPI(M), General Secretary, Alappuzha said.

TOI reported that in Chengannur, most of the posters were found in Puliyoor region in the constituency and later appeared in Anaganwadi in Cherthala, in Alappuzha district.

The poster war

BJP leaders however say that the poster war isn’t new to Chengannur. They say that they had put up posters asking CPI(M) men not to enter their homes after a pregnant woman had to undergo abortion, following an attack.

There is a pregnant daughter at home. CPI (M) members, don't come home asking for votes. Please

There is a girl who is above the age of 13 at this house. Comrades who are more than 40 years old, do not come here asking for votes

Twenty-eight-year-old Calicut resident Josna Shibi had to undergo a forced abortion because she was kicked in the stomach allegedly by a local CPI (M) leader, the state police arrested seven CPI (M) activists in the case in February.

National Awards
The actor said that although he did expect awards for 'Baahubali 2', he was extremely happy for the win of 'The Ghazi Attack’ at the National Awards.
  • Saturday, April 14, 2018 - 10:53

Tollywood superstar and heartthrob Rana Daggubati is a happy man after the 65th National Film Awards were announced on Friday. The reason? His films Baahubali: The Conclusion and The Ghazi Attack have won big at the awards. 

Speaking to TNM, Rana said that while he expected awards for Baahubali: The Conclusion, which won the Best Action-Direction film, Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment, and Best Special Effects, he was pleasantly surprised for The Ghazi Attack, which won the award for the Best Telugu Film.

"When it comes to Ghazi, a film that had so much resistance from producers, it’s turned out to be something exceptional. I’m very happy for everything we are winning," he said.

The Ghazi Attack, a drama that unfolds in a submarine and is set in the backdrop of the 1971 Indo-Pak war, initially had a budget of Rs 10 lakh and was to be released as a YouTube film.

However, in an interview to Firstpost, then debut director Sankalp Reddy said that the film had a turn-around of sorts, with a bigger budget, bigger star cast and even a bigger set, after Rana came into the picture. The film was well-received at the box office and was deemed a huge success within four days of its release. 

Last year, Rana had three big hits which include Baahubali: The ConclusionThe Ghazi Attack and Nene Raju Nene Mantri. The year was also unique as the actor, who is known to choose roles carefully, experimented with roles. 

“I’ve been trying to do many experimental things. I’ve played an antagonist for the first time in a film and that worked out extremely well and it was a big spectacle film," the actor said, referring to Baahubali 2

The actor will soon be seen in the upcoming Hindi Film Haathi Mere Saathi

Asked if he contemplates doing more Hindi films this year, Rana said, “Well, for me I never split these industries by languages, whether it’s Hindi, Telugu or Tamil. Ultimately, it’s stories that I tell. I’m hoping  they can be told in multiple languages. That’s how I look at it,”

The actor also believes that the awards are a big deal for the Telugu industry. 

“These are two regional films being positioned at a national scale. This did not happen at the box office (for The Ghazi Attack) or at every single scale. It gives a Telugu filmmaker an opportunity to make cinema and know that there’s an entire country out there to watch you,” he said. 

Human Interest
The room, painted pale green, has quirky furniture, stationary, colouring books and toys to put child victims who come to testify at ease.
  • Thursday, April 12, 2018 - 16:22

As you enter the room, you immediately feel warm and welcomed. It is bright and well-ventilated, with pale green walls and wonderful wall art. There’s also quirky furniture, stationary, toys, colouring books and magazines for children. This is not a new-age school playroom or a posh doctor’s waiting area. This is the waiting room for kids who come to testify at the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) court in Kochi.

The room was earlier a dark and dingy storeroom inside a dilapidated court building used for POCSO cases. Minors, mainly sexual abuse victims, who come for court examinations wait for several hours in this room before they are called inside. Now thanks to the efforts of Dilse, a city-based NGO, this has been converted into a warm and comforting waiting room.

“Some days, the court takes up 7 cases in a single day. So children, aged between 2 and a half and 18, who come to testify have to wait for hours before they are called. Sometimes they turn panicky while appearing before the court. It could be anxiety, fear and a myriad of emotions as they have to speak about their experiences of abuse in the court in front of strangers. They could also be worried on seeing the accused. In order to make the ordeal a little easier for them, we decided to make the waiting room colourful and child-friendly,” said Sandhya Rani, prosecutor at the POCSO court Kochi.

The idea of a child-friendly room was initiated by Cristelle Hart Singh, an Anglo-Swiss child rights worker and the founder of Dilse.

“The court was initially housed in the revenue tower, a relatively modern building with good facilities. Then they shifted it to a rundown colonial style court building in Kochi and the waiting room was very dingy. So my husband and I decided to give it a facelift,” Cristelle told TNM.

The room now is bright and well-ventilated, with pale green walls and wonderful wall art. There’s also quirky furniture, stationary, toys, colouring books and magazines for children to pass their time while waiting.

“My husband owns a furniture company called Mallet and Chiselle. They provided labour for free and Dilse bore the cost of the material. Another friend’s firm, Eunoians, painted the walls with quirky wall art, also free of charge. The judges and prosecutor too were very supportive. I would say it was a team effort,” adds Cristelle, who has been running Dilse in Kochi for 17 years now.

According to Sandhya, the child-friendly waiting room is the first of its kind in Kerala.

“There are other POCSO courts in the country, such as in Goa, where children’s rooms are available. We were inspired by this and we decided to turn Kochi POCSO court child-friendly too,” she said.

The waiting room is accessible to parents of the kids only if they are not the accused in the case.

The club hit the man-woman ration required by the international mandate 4 years ago and is now gearing up to go to the World Championships of Ultimate Frisbee to be held in the US.
  • Monday, April 09, 2018 - 14:00

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally a feminist. But dude, I don’t get these feminazis who want equality in everything, even in sports. There’s a reason why men and women play most sports separately. There are men’s teams and women’s teams, because we are naturally stronger (read “better”) at sports, and to deny that, is just absurd,” a friend of this reporter made this statement a couple of weeks ago.

Cut to Saturday. The venue is a large, muddy football ground in Auroville and the sun is unkind. On the red grounds, there are about 40 young men and women training intensely. These players form Stall7, a Chennai club that plays one of 21st century’s fastest growing sports – Ultimate Frisbee.

Clad in blue and purple jerseys, the players are gearing up for a game that is very similar in form and intensity to American Football, a sport known for being brutal, tiring, and according to some, “meant for male players”. However, the delightful twist here is that both men and women can form a single team of Ultimate Frisbee.

Stall7 players training at Auroville

“That’s the beauty of this game. The international rule is that a team, which comprises 7 players must have 4 men and 3 women or vice versa. Stall7 and several other Frisbee clubs in India play mixed teams. In fact, most of India plays the game with mixed teams, although you can have variations of the game which are played either as all-men or all-women teams,” says GK Harsha, Stall7’s captain.

According to Harsha, several other countries such as the US, Japan and Canada encourage all-men or all-women Ultimate Frisbee, despite the international rule. Strangely, in India, a country where sexism and sports go hand-in-hand, Frisbee is only popular as a mixed-gendered sport and this fact is as baffling as it is exciting.

The game 

 “Ultimate Frisbee is a game that originated 60 years ago in a college in the US. A non-contact sport, it was brought to India by young Indian men and women who studied in the US and returned to India. Popularizing the mixed version here, I would say is part intentional and part coincidental. It started off with some of us having only played in mixed teams in other countries. I played in a mixed team when I was in Colorado. A few of us who initially started in India thought playing mixed was a good thing as we enjoyed playing with women and they too had fun,” says Manukaran, 38 years old, one of the first players of Ultimate Frisbee in Chennai and now plays with Stall7.

According to Manu, when Stall7 started off in 2008, it had 6 men and 1 woman.

“The club was started by chance when some boys from Hindustan University found me and my friends playing in Besant Nagar beach. They asked if they could join and I told them that they had enough people to make a separate team. Their initial team was 8 for a sport that required 7 on the field. The club practiced on the Besant Nagar beach in the mornings. That was our turf and that’s where most of the Frisbee games in Chennai happened. At first we only had one woman on the team, but things changed gradually. In two years, they decided to make it 5-2. Then 4 years ago, they hit 4-3, which is the international standard. And last year, I joined them,” Manu says, laughing

Girl power

Today, the club sees good participation of women with several of them having 8-10 years of experience playing the sport.

“I came to know about this sport through a college senior. Those days, we (the club) were so desperate for girls to join that all they had to say was ‘oh, Frisbee? Nice’ and before they knew it, they would be dragged to play the game. This is what happened to me,” says Zara, one of the oldest players in the club, with a chuckle.

 With time, women Frisbee players from other parts of the country too began to join in. However, despite increasing female participation and the inherent equality in the game, many clubs ruin the spirit of Ultimate Frisbee by using women only for representation.

 “I came from Ahmedabad to play for Stall7. The earlier club I played for used to ask women to just stand there and pass the disc, while the men played the game. They just used us as it was mandated by the international rules. They taught us what we were ‘supposed to know’. After I joined Stall7, I realized that’s not how the game is played. Women here throw the disc, sprint, fight to get verticals and break the mark. We play side-by-side, as equals on the field. We have also played several matches with 4 women and 3 men instead of the reverse,” says Richa, 23, who regularly participates in the club’s camps and practice sessions.

Explaining why isolating women on the field is actually counter-productive to the team, Manu says “When they do that, teams do not understand that they are at a disadvantage. If you have strong women in your team, you have 7 strong players, instead of 4 overworked men and 3 under-utilized women.”

Stall7, in an extra effort, also holds special training sessions in Tiki Taka, Nungambakkam, for women players.

“Initially, it was harder to get noticed on the field as there were so few women. Today, we have many experienced female players and we also have the women’s training session, which is supported by all the boys at Stall7,” says Sangamitra, another player from the club.

An Ultimate Player from the Auroville team practising with Stall7 players 

Ultimate Frisbee – turning men into feminists

Besides the adrenaline rush that kicks in on playing the game, Ultimate Frisbee also makes room for breaking stereotypes, changing mindsets and reforming society as a whole.

“The game really helps in changing male-mindsets. I have seen a lot of men, who have never interacted with women in their lives, making comfortable conversation with them. I see men here treating women as equal players, instead of thinking they are some alien species that they need to get creepy with. Not knowing how to behave with the opposite sex in India arises out of a cultural problem, and the game definitely changes it to an extent,” says Manu. 

However, bad apples do exist in every sport and Manu agrees to this.

 “There are less than 5% of such cases in the games we have played. Instances such as catcalling and speaking crassly with women players are some of them. I would say that the culture of this game itself changes these bad apples or isolates them completely. Now, we even have married women playing the game. One of our players has a 5-year old, who hangs around in the grounds while his mum trains for the games,” says Manu.

Shattering the cricket/football mentality

Another form of power differential on the field, Manu says, is the entitlement that seeps into the mindsets of cricket and football players who join the sport. 

“They naturally believe that they are better than the women, as they have always played with men. The segregating culture that has been practiced in these sports, make them believe that women can never be as good as men. With Ultimate Frisbee, there is no scope for such a mindset. The spirit of the game is really different from that and these players, who come from cricket and football backgrounds, eventually come around,” says Manu

Playing a sport with nil government support

In many ways, Ultimate Frisbee costs hardly anything when compared to cricket.

“The disc costs Rs 800, which is shared by 14 players. We don’t need protective gear as it is a non-contact sport and players only intercept or knock down the disc mid-air. There is no tackling at all. However, the game is still popular only in colleges and is yet to be recognized as a proper sport,” says Manu.

Last year, the game received Olympic recognition, marking a huge achievement for the Frisbee fraternity.

“We will get to play in the Olympics after 8 years (minimum time for a sport to get inducted post-recognition), now that the recognition has come through. Ours is one of the youngest Frisbee countries in the world, and yet, the growth is astounding. When we participated in the 2011 championships, we figured among the last of the 60 participants as we had never participated before. Today, there are 72 countries and we figure in the 30s in the world-ranking. Chennai itself has 8 of the top Frisbee clubs in India. That’s very impressive,” says Manu.

Noticing the growing popularity and talent arising from the India, the World Flying Disc Federation (the governing body for flying-disc sports), in 2017, asked for an Indian team to play at the Frisbee club championships held in the US this year.

Following the tournaments held in 2017, Stall7 was the club chosen to represent the country in the 2018 World Frisbee Championships in Cincinnati. However, this is still a distant dream as there is zero government aid – despite the large amounts of money pumped into the IPL – and the club has to cough up the funds.

Despite, these challenges, the group is still hopeful of making it to the championships set to take place in July.

The Stall7 team 

“I believe this sport has immense potential to grow. And when it does, India has to have the place of honour among the Frisbee greats of the world. As a team, we are training our best for this and we hope that we will be able to test our hard work and represent the country in the upcoming championships,” Manu concludes.  

To support Stall7 by contributing to their funds, click here 

The KSRTC woman bus conductor's presence of mind ensured that two thieves could not get away.
  • Friday, April 06, 2018 - 18:33

In an act that's nothing short of inspiring, a woman conductor's prompt action helped bust a theft on a KSRTC bus in Alappuzha. P R Suja, a conductor on a public bus that starts from Alappuzha south ran after two passengers who suspiciously alighted the bus right after boarding.

"We started from the Kallupaalam stop and two women boarded at the stop near the General Hospital. They suddenly asked to alight immediately. I gave them tickets for the stop and they alighted. Their actions seemed slightly suspicious so I casually enquired whether everybody had their belongings with them. This is when a 68-year-old lady, Ayyanaparambil Saraswathy, said that she lost her gold chain," Suja told TNM.

Following this, Suja asked co-passengers if anybody was willing to help the lady. However, she claimed that none of them volunteered.

"So I quickly jumped out of the bus and ran towards the two ladies. The lane had several deviations and had they taken a turn, I would have lost them. I stalled one lady and told her that they couldn't leave as a theft was reported on the bus. While I was running towards them, I even asked passersby to prevent them from running. However, everybody was understandably a bit hesitant as they were women," she said.

While Suja managed to stall one of the women, the other had crossed the road and hailed an auto.

"By then, a woman police officer who was on her way to work noticed the chaos and came to inquire. Following this, we found the missing gold chain — weighing 3.5 sovereigns —  was with the lady who I had stalled,"

Once the incident was brought to the notice of the authorities, the bus moved and Suja resumed her duties.

"The women were taken to the station and I asked the lady whose chain it was to go to the station and complete all the formalities to reclaim her chain. After this, the bus continued its journey," she recalled.

On why the passengers never bothered to intervene during the situation Suja said that only one man spoke up during the entire incident, and even they should carry on and not bother.

"Most of these passengers alight from the bus to catch a boat to cross over to the town. So they would rather not get involved as they don't want to miss the boat. I was just doing my job as usual. But now I feel really happy that I helped an old lady get her belongings back," said Suja.

Human Interest
This was Winnie Mandela’s only visit to India and the only place she came to was Kerala.
  • Thursday, April 05, 2018 - 13:10
Winnie Mandela with the Sukumarans and Jacob Isaac. Image courtesy:

When Winnie Mandela, the famous anti-Apartheid crusader passed away on April 1, the entire world mourned with South Africa. Newspapers highlighted her achievements and stories from her  years fighting against the unfairness of Apartheid.

One such little-known story from her life ties her to the people of Kerala – the only state she came to during her only visit to India. And the person who was responsible for the great leader's visit was Jacob Isaac Kalimadam, a poet from the small town of Mavelikara in Kerala.

"I was writing Malayalam poems in Kerala before I moved to South Africa in 1989. There, I was teaching English in a school, during which time I was heavily involved in the anti-Apartheid movement and with the African National Congress," Jacob told TNM. 

Within a year, he decided to open a school for oppressed black kids in the country. The first school was opened in 1991 and this led him to meet Fatima Meer, a well-known writer-activist who was a great friend of Winnie's.

"Schools are important entities and this led me to interact with several prominent anti-Apartheid leaders in the country. I moved with the black people and fought against the 'tolerance allowance' - an absurd payment made to white teachers in black schools. It was during this time that, Fatima Meer became a great friend of mine. Through her I got the opportunity to meet Winnie Mandela," he said.

On how he got Winnie Mandela to come to Kerala, Jacob laughs and says that it was actors Prithviraj and Indrajit's mother, Mallika Sukumaran, who requested him to get Winnie to visit the state.

Jacob Isaac with Mallika Sukumaran and chief secretary of state K Jayakumar. Picture courtesy:

"Mallika's husband, Sukumaran, was a great friend of mine. She was then the secretary of the Children's Film Society in Thiruvananthapuram and wanted Winnie to inaugurate a programme they were hosting. So she sought my help," he said.

In 1998, Winnie Mandela and Jacob flew to Mumbai, and then to Thiruvananthapuram.

Winnie Mandela with Jacob Isaac's family 

"It was her first visit to India. I recall her saying that she was earlier invited by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, but she had to decline due to personal reasons. However, when Winnie visited in 1998, it turned out to be a boon to Kerala as she made a lasting impression in the minds of the people," she said.

She was received as a state guest by late Chief Minister E K Nayanar. In her short visit, she even went to the coastal town of Kovalam and inaugurated a children's movie Varna Chirakukal, made by then chief secretary of the state K Jayakumar.

"Her charisma and capabilities were just unimaginable. During the anti-Apartheid movement, she served as the president of the Women's League, one of the most powerful organisations in the country. Even as her contemporaries were jailed for over 20 years, she fought on, undeterred. She could have easily gone to become the president of South Africa. I believe, it was only her estrangement with Nelson Mandela that put a glass ceiling on her political career," Jacob says.

He also recalled his meeting with Nelson Mandela.

"He was a very busy man and I could only meet him once or twice. I remember I went to visit him during the 27 years he spent in the Robben Island prison. He was made to break limestone as punishment. This was probably a form of conditioning to vent his anger against the white settlers of South Africa. However this, I believe, was a futile exercise as the man was calm by nature," Jacob laughs.

Jacob currently resides in Pretoria and visits his native place of Mavelikara every two months. Some of his published works include a poetry book Sense of Enigma and Suggestion.

The Nadakkavu police filed a suo moto case after coming across the video which the victim shared on social media.
  • Wednesday, April 04, 2018 - 15:38
Photo: Rajan Nair/Facebook

In an incident that reiterates that public spaces in the country are violent to women in several ways, a man was caught masturbating on a KSRTC bus by a woman in Kerala. However, this time, the young woman who caught the man staring at her while masturbating, captured the incident on her phone camera and shared it on social media. And in a progressive move, the Kerala police have decided to file a suo moto case against the man on the basis of the video.

The incident, which took place on March 30, came to light after the video went viral on Facebook and WhatsApp.

In the video, the youth, seated parallel to the victim, stopped and got down immediately when he realised that he was being noticed. He was wearing a blue and yellow checked shirt and black pants and is seen carrying a green bag.

The woman, who captured the video without the man’s knowledge, immediately took to Facebook and asked people to share the post to help identify and nab the accused.

In her post, she said, "Help me please. The police should catch him immediately. Today while I was travelling from Kozhikode to Adivaram in a KSRTC bus, I experienced this (violation). While I was getting up from my seat to give him a piece of my mind, he escaped from the bus. Please share it as much as possible and help identify this 'decent' man dear friends."

The victim also informed that the accused got down at the Civil Station shop in Calicut to help locate the accused.

The video which was shared a lot came to the attention of the police, and a case was registered at the Nadakkavu police station.

"We came across this video on WhatsApp recently and filed a suo motu case against the offender. The case was filed by the Nadakkavu SI on Monday (April 2). Investigations are ongoing. We only have the face of the accused which we took from the clip. So far we don't have any leads," said an official from the Nadakkavu station.